Saturday, February 04, 2006

Uzumaki

Back in October I won a contest (well, 2 actually) at Dark, But Shining and I told Sam, the incredibly nice fella who put this particular contest on, that I would review my winnings. Here goes:

I should preface this by saying that my experience of manga is woefully inadequate. I enjoy Domu and Akira but that is like saying that you know everything about American comics by reading X-Men and Superman.

The farthest I've delved into Horror Manga is Oninbo and the Bugs from Hell by Hideshi Hino. Again, this is like saying I like horror movies because I've seen Scream once. I didn't really like it.

I'm a little averse to japanese comics due to the incredible bulk of them. There are just a lot of them to choose from. When Uzumaki crossed my path. All that hanged.

This is one of the best horror comics I have ever read. Junji Ito is a brilliant horror artist. He uses dark space as well as Mike Mignola does, maybe better than Mignola. The art is intricate and innocent yet creepy.

It's not the art that really grabbed me. It is the episodic yet thematic story thread. A coastal town in Japan begins to have odd occurrences. More specifically, it is cursed by - as the tortured male lead Kirie says - by the spiral. Uzumaki, is Japanese for "spiral" by the way.

His father is the first afflicted by this curse. Obsession bounds him as he collects spiral imagery until he is found dead in one of the most beautifully horrific death imags I have every seen.

The story continues in successive chapters by outlining the next object of spiral obsession. Kirie, and his girlfriend the main character Shuichi, investigate each strange happening. Of course each of them ends badly with the ashs of a cremated body taking the form of a spiral in the air above the town before being deposited in a lake.

The story is what grabbed me the most because I find manga storylines, in English, to be very poor. The dialogue is pedestrian and the plot serves to show terrible thing after terrible thing. Not here, my friends.

Here, there is a sense of creeping dread that builds and builds. It is Lovecraftian in every sense of the word. The dialogue is tolerable. It is well adapted into English. The best I've seen yet.

My one complaint is that it is not an insular story and I now have to pick up volumes 2 and 3...damn you Costello!*

*And thank you sir!
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7 Bitching, Moaning and Praise

Blogger Sam Costello said...

Hey, man, I'll take the daming as long as you read Vols. 2 and 3 and like 'em!

Glad you dug this one. And you're entirely welcome.

4:31 pm  
Blogger Sam Costello said...

er, I meant "damning." Move along folks, nothing to see here.

4:32 pm  
Blogger Dav said...

I was more disturbed by this series than anything I've read or seen in a long time, and yet I couldn't stop reading.

I can't remember, did the first volume have (and I don't think I'm wrecking anything if this part is in the books following) the people turning into snails yet? Gah, the scene is making me shudder even as I think of it now.

6:24 pm  
Blogger Sam Costello said...

You know, I don't remember when the snails show up either. But that was the point where I was like "wow, this is really something different." That was also the point where I started to feel like my skin wasn't fitting quite right.

Awesome.

8:19 pm  
Blogger Des said...

Yeah no snails in this one but it's good to know that Ito is influenced by Lovecraft and Kafka in later installments.

9:35 pm  
Blogger Megan said...

Hi, no comment on the post, but I thought I'd let you know that your son stinks. Like really stinks.. he also sneezed a humongous booger this morning. Are you proud? Do you miss it? hahah! I'll post a cute picture today for you to see.
Love you!
Megan.
PS: I feel like we're in quarentine!

6:00 pm  
Blogger Des said...

You should have seen the booger I wiped from his nose before you guys left yesterday. Waving in and out of the nostril with every breath. That made me proud.

You? I feel like the still living fella on the infected zombie island who has seen his healthy family off. Slow and morose music plays as he watches the boat drift off into the sunset as the zombie horde closes in behind him.

10:12 pm  

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