on 19 December 2002
In my opinion, Uzumaki has to be one of the most disturbing visual remedies I've used to quench the utter state of boredom I sometimes find myself immersed within. Its ocular metaphors, coupling the ingenuity of Junji Ito's mind with believably sculpted pictorials depicting horror after sometimes nameless horror, are something unique in the field of terror.
The concept (taken from the back of the book because of its wonderful description):
Kurozu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. But the spirit which haunts it does not have a name or a body, only a shape: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic shape of the world. It possessed the father of teenage Kirie's withdrawn boyfriend, causing him to remake himself in its image before he died. It grows in ferns, in seashells, in curls of hair, in the crooked folds of the human brain.... As more people are caught in the pattern, over the town of Kurozu-cho hangs the spiral of cremated corpses; because even in death, there is no escape.
In this installment:
In Chapter 7 through 12, more issues are fleshed out, leading us away from the strange occurances at Dragonfly Pond and our two mainstay characters, using them somewhat but still dancing in other venues of thought. Briefly, these are:
In Chapter 7, Jack-in-the-box, Kirie catches the eye of a seventh-grader named Mitsuru Yamaguchi, a boy they simply call Jack-in-the-box because of his habit of surprising people by springing out at them from anywhere he can conceal himself. He decides that he must have her because it will surprise people to see him with such an intoxicating vision, constantly dogging her every step as he tries to obtain her. This, of course, leads to an ill-fated accident that Kirie blames herself for, one that invites the horror of the spiral into a cryptically grave-unveiling manner. It also shows us the impact the recent events have been having on the town, with the introduction of burial once again taking place, something that people have deemed necessary after the black-spiral clouds that come from cremating a resident of the town anywhere, not just in the town itself.
In Chapter 8, The Snail, (one of my favorites in the series thusfar) it begins to rain, a signal that the slowest boy in class, Katayama, will be coming to school. In fact, it is the only time he comes to school, and he even does this in the most tardy of fashions. Because of the speed he operates at, he is constantly taunted by one of his peers, Tsumura, who actually strips him down after gym class one day and drags him out in the hall. That's when they notice it, the spiracle impression looming upon his back, one that grows and grows as the days progress. Soon its apparent that there is a change transpiring in Katayama, one that causes him to slink across the ground and elevates the impression upon his back. In this, he isn't alone, either.
In Chapter Nine, The Black Lighthouse, an abandoned old lighthouse begins emitting a strangely spiraled ray from within, one that begins to effect people within the town in many a strange fashion. This alarms many of the town's residents, and they demand a party be sent to check it out. There requests are heard and people are sent, and their fate remains a secret until Kirie's younger brother decides that he and his friends should explore this decrepit monument.
In Chapter Ten, Mosquitoes, the mosquitoes begin to fly drowsy circles that put people to sleep, feeding on blood irregularly, large amounts of it in fact, to the mystery of the doctors within the town. While this is going on, herds of pregnant women are being attacked and admitted into the hospital, plus the killing are elevating at even the hospital itself. Victims with holes bored into them are found within their beds, leading to a question of "what the" thast is answered in a most gruesome manner.
In Chapter Eleven, the umbilical Cord, the pregnant women deliver the most adorable, most behaved, babies ever seen. This, of course, can't be good, nor can't it be dwelt on by me for fear of giving something away.
And, lastly, in Chapter Twelve, The Storm, A hurricane comes aground, stopping over the town and simply hovering. It seems to want something, too, because in the night it can be heard calling out a name, one very familiar to the readers.
All in all, I would say that this is wonderful installment, wetting the appetite for the final portion of the storyline. It does a lot to build on the first Uzumaki book, keeping the proverbial ball rolling without making it a boring spectacle. It isn't for the weak of heart of mind, however, and would only be recommended as bedtime reading to your children after you initially dose them with heaping helpings of horror movies and storylines to harden their soft pallets. O, and its in black and white, for those that think color is the only venue producing meritable works.