Friday, August 21, 2009
Warning: Not for the faint of heart. Skip this one if you don't enjoy horror.
Overall Rating: A
Summary: A three volume horror seinen manga by Junji Ito, which is set in the small Japanese town of Kurôzu-cho and follows high school student Kirie Goshima. In the first volume, Kirie finds out that her boyfriend, Shuichi ,is worried about his father, who has begun a strange obsession about spirals. He has begun to collect anything he can find with a spiral pattern, and his obsession goes so far that he stops going to work and instead simply stares at his collection. The situation becomes even more disturbing when Shuichi's father begins making spirals with his own body, and eventually kills himself by contorting his entire body into a spiral.
After his death, Shuichi's father is cremated, and the smoke from his ashes form a spiral in the sky. Understandably, all of this drives Shuichi's mother insane, and she develops a phobia of spirals. She is hospitalized, and Shuichi, scared of what she do if she finds out, has the doctors remove anatomical diagrams of the ear which (of course) contains a spiral. Unfortunately, she realizes that her cochlea is a spiral, and stabs herself with a pair of scissors. This causes her to suffer from vertigo until she dies. Her ashes also form a spiral when she is cremated, and this is only the beginning.
Soon, things intensify: a lighthouse throws out spiral beams at dusk; babies are born, only to sprout spiral-capped mushroom-shaped appendages from their stomachs, and people begin turning into snails. Can this infestation of spirals be stopped, or will it swallow Kirie and Shuichi as well?
My friend Mark recommended this manga to me, and so I borrowed all three volumes from him. Junji Ito does an amazing job of using traditional manga settings and scenarios and making them creepy by adding in spirals and horror elements. For example, in one scene Kirie is at school and things seem normal until a kid who is known for being slow shows up with traits similar to a snail. Over a few days he becomes more and more snail-like until his transformation is complete. At first the other kids bully him as they would normally, but as the transformation continues they bullying becomes more vicious, but the bullies also become scared of the creature. I won't give away what happens next, but it's both creepy and awesome. If you enjoy a really interesting horror plot that builds its creepiness until the very end, then you will probably enjoy "Uzumaki".