For these last couple of weeks and Halloween, we’ll be focusing on one manga, Uzumaki, from Japanese horror manga icon Junji Ito.

Title: Uzumaki, Volume 1
Written & Illustrated by Junji Ito
Translation by Yuji Oniki
Published by Shogakukan (Japan) and Viz Media (USA)
Publication Date: October 2001

Available from Amazon.com & RightStuf

The Premise

Kirie Goshima is an ordinary high school girl in the town of Kurozu-cho, a small coastal town in Japan. However, the town itself is far from ordinary. The problems begin with the father of Kirie’s boyfriend, Shuichi Saito, began developing and unhealthy obsession with spirals.

High Points

This manga is intensely creepy, and fairly disturbing. Frankly, while the manga works incredibly well collected in volumes, you can tell it was written with a manga magazine in mind, as you really need to take a break every chapter or so to clear your head.

Low Points

Shuichi’s father’s obsession with spirals and in turn Kirie’s father’s feels distinctly Japanese. While I will not deny that there is a stigma to mental illness in the US,  it’s nowhere near as bad as it is in Japan. Thus, in the US, Shuichi’s dad probably would have gotten committed once he self harmed or got close to self-harming. This probably wouldn’t have stopped him from showing his Spiral obsession (probably by drawing spirals on the walls of the padded room – which still would have been a creepy image). Still, I could see Western audiences not familiar with Japanese pop-culture wondering why Shuichi’s father wasn’t committed sooner.

Content Notes

Contains nudity, violence and body horror.

Scores

Originality: While this story borrows a lot from the works of H. P. Lovecraft, with the idea that the root of this cosmic horror is the naturally occurring shape of the spiral. 6/6

Story: This is a fantastic horror manga, with these first few chapters being particularly unnerving. 6/6

Artwork: Uzumaki has an art-style conductive to horror. Dark, oppressive shading, aggressive speed lines, deep shadows and gritty textures. 5/6

Characterization: While Kirie, as the audience perspective character is expected to be a little passive, this seems to be a bit much. The rest of the characters either fell into one of 3 categories – oblivious, jerks, or the insane, all of  which may also overlay with a fourth category of “victims.” 3/6

Emotional Response: This volume creeped me all the way out. Only the occasional idiot ball juggling hurts it. 5/6

Flow: 6/6

Overall: A great start to a promising horror manga. 6/6

In total, Uzumaki, Volume 1, gets 37/42

October Horror Manga Reviews

October 1st – Domu: A Child’s Dream by Katsuhiro Otomo
October 8th – Berserk: Volume 2 by Kentaro Miura
October 15th – Berserk: Volume 3 by Kentaro Miura
October 22nd – Uzumaki: Volume 1 by Junji Ito
October 29th – Uzumaki: Volume 2 by Junji Ito
Halloween – Uzumaki: Volume 3 by Junji Ito