Nijigahara Holograph could be summed up as a surreal slice-of-life with sprinkles of folklore and mild darkness. Shallow characters you do not know and incoherent story telling makes me not care so hard. Here is a table with a doll for you that does not have anything to do with anything. It requires several reads or getting further in to know who is who when the characters are school kids and then adults. Let us flood the panels with Boogiepop Phantom butterflies that could give symbolism, but let us not give them any so we can give a poor attempt at abstraction and supernatural elements that will not exist. Perhaps I should not be hard on it because it is suppose to have a dreamlike atmosphere with its progression, but I will because because of regret.
Leaving much to the reader to imagine works best if there is something left for them to imagine about or at least a setting and/or characters that can stimilate imagination. With this manga the reader is forced to flip back and forth between the past and present with characters you will not care about. There is not any horror in Nijigahara Holograph despite boasting from hipster bloggers and sites that slap a genre on whatever for a lack of a better genre to classify it. The issue of not knowing which character is which and again the lack of care leads to just simple dark themed panels.
Artwork is of overall solid quality with most effort in the characters than backgrounds. Many pages and panels can either be seen as minimalist or lazy depending on expectations and preference. New chapter, so lets add a little box on a blank white page as a stronger example. Hair lacks layers and detail for characters and background surroundings are too clean and lacking mood for my tastes. Main exception for the lack of mood however is the warm and cultured summertime’y moments that may fill you with nostalgia of warm summer days outside. That of course is dependent on the time of day of reading this, your local climate, and if your school years were remotely similar.
Some of the reason for my purchase of Nijigahara Holograph is the severe lack of new manga licenses, new volumes of what little I follow, and few manga of interest. In short it was the awesome cover art, descriptions, and most of all desperation. My lesson from reading this has been not to give into impulses (pre-ordered) based on deprivation and instead look to older overlooked manga. Perhaps returning it to Amazon would have been a wise, too.
Fantagraphics gave this a wonderful hardcover like the great manga Wandering Son and it has a wonderful printed smell. I will not give hints to the ending, however it does things right that I criticized the rest of the manga for.