on 30 August 2014
Usually, and as opposed to horror movies, I am quite cynical of the power of comics to truly terrify the reader. Though there are good and bad works in every medium, I never really have found myself really creeped out when reading something of this genre. I have certainly found good stories with a creepy atmosphere, but nothing truly memorable. So when I purchased Junji Ito’s Uzumaki I didn’t really expect anything in particular, and certainly nothing memorable. Oh, how wrong I was. I had heard of the brilliance of this comic and Junji Ito, but I had never hoped to get to read something this good.
Whilst I didn’t find Uzumaki truly horrifying (though I rarely do, probably a side effect of having read too much of this genre), it was definitely a lot better than what I expected. It is creepy from start to finish, and not only that, is practically impossible to put down. It features a town that, rather than being haunted by a ghost as would typically be the case, is haunted by a pattern; mainly, that of spirals. It is bizarre, and though it has numerous characters it really follows Kirie Goshima and her boyfriend as they confront the many things caused by this haunting. From characters becoming obsessed with spirals to metamorphosis, ‘Uzumaki’ contains a lot of different stories featuring many different events. What is more impressive ist he way the theme of spirals makes its appearance in every chapter. Ito manages to pull through the idea of a pattern haunting a town amazingly well, and it manages to become incredibly creepy and understandable very fast. Spirals seem to be everywhere and affecting everything, and the characters are quite quick to catch on.
Though there is quite a wide cast of characters, most don’t seem to last more than a chapter (or one of the interrelated stories). Sadly, there isn’t much of a character development for the protagonists, and though they are well developed not much about them changes as the story progresses. They succeed in being interesting and empathisable – it is very hard to not root for them – and I found myself quickly invested in them as they had to confront the events happening in the town. There is a lot of death too, and it fits perfectly with the story and outright eerie feeling in all the comic.
The art itself, though not the best, is still good and portrays well the plot of the story. The art always seemed to excel in the most horrifying parts of the story, which also happened to be my favourite. Here, it was detailed and with the right level of gruesomeness, however the same thing can’t be said about the art in all of the comic. The black and white benefitted the story greatly, and did a great job at setting up the subdued mood of the story. It made the town and characters feel oppressed, prime to obsession and the supernatural. The art, in its own way, is certainly beautiful. It can’t be really compared to the art in other similar mangas, such as in Hideout, but still is a great addition to the story. The detail in the most gruesome parts is amazing and memorable, and adds a lot to the story itself. All in all, it isn’t really astonishing, but there is nothing bad about it either.
For this review I purchased the Deluxe edition of the comic (containing the tree published volumes in a single one), and it is absolutely beautiful. Whilst I normally don’t refer to the appearance of the thing in a review (and instead comment on the story and other elements), the hardback cover features spot gloss on the title and a blurb in the back cover. The colour endpapers and coloured manga pages are astounding. Everything about the volume seems gorgeous, and combined with the story elements of Uzumaki, I am really happy with having purchased this manga.
Uzumaki is, in conclusion, a brilliant piece, and absolutely memorable. It was both creepy and interesting, so much that even after I finished I found myself remembering the events in the manga for quite a long time. Though the art isn’t the best out there, this doesn’t harm the story in any way, which –perfectly executed – succeeding in being a brilliant example of the genre. Both an original and fascinating horror manga, Uzumaki deserves the highest rating. It is ‘awesometacular’ in all levels, and will not disappoint the reader. It probably one of the best horror stories I have been able to read.