Saturday, October 11, 2008

Oh, The Horror! #11: Uzumaki

Thanks a freakin' lot, Junji Ito! Now I'll never look at spirals the same again!

Months ago I was reading some stuff on Hine (my favorite writer who everyone should know by now!) and I saw he was into this horror manga called Uzumaki by Junji Ito. As many of you know and can tell I'm a horror fan and lately I've been trying to expand my horizons, from movies, art, etc etc. I've actually never read a horror manga and I looked up the main plot for Uzumaki and found it to be pretty weird, but something about it just stuck to me as for months I always had it in my mind to check out the story. I had asked a few people I know about it, most of them manga fans and they always told me no, they had not heard of it or read it. Finally I got to read the books. I started yesterday and the only thing that stopped me from reading was my friend coming over. This morning I woke up to catch TMNT but my cable service was messed up so I just went straight to Uzumaki and read the whole series. This thing basically consumed me! I just couldn't stop reading!

For those who don't know, uzumaki is the Japanese word for spiral. The story of this manga is about a small town in Japan called KurĂ´zu-cho that, well... gets haunted by spirals. At first it starts off as an obsession for some characters, that leads to some people being afraid of spirals, which leads to death... and... stuff. Heh, I don't know how to quite explain it. Throughout each chapter we follow around Kirie Goshima as she watches the horrific events happening in town. Her boyfriend's father is the first person we see who's obsessed with spirals. He won't eat anything that doesn't look like a spiral, he won't even bath in the tub without making the water move like a whirlpool. Eventually he kills himself by twirling his whole body into a spiral. And that in turn brings the rest of the town in a downward spiral. One person gets so frightened of spirals that she cuts off her fingerprints! Hell, some people even begin to turn into snails! Each chapter gets weirder and weirder and you've no idea how many times my mouth just opened itself in horror when I looked at a new page and there's been times that I've been so submerged into the story that I find myself jumping from an image on the next page. There is not one chapter that doesn't catch you off guard and surprise you. I had no idea whatsoever where this would take me. One of my favorite sequences was the Romeo and Juliet type story where the two lovers at the end twist their bodies then twist them together to be one and disappear from their warring family.

Eventually the town starts to go mad, as if it weren't already, but you'd have to see it for yourself in what I mean. While the first two volumes focused on a different character connecting to the spirals, volume three begins to show the whole town together in turmoil after a hurricane nearly destroys the town. No one can escape as they're constantly being brought back into the town and people begin to get rather desperate in their ways of living there. As I read through this I kept thinking how I would be affected by this town. How crazy would my own mind be driven. Now I wasn't really attached to much of the characters but the things that would happen to them just made me feel so sorry for them. This is seriously a horror story and the author is damn cruel to treat his characters this way, haha! And I laugh especially thinking about some of the crazy stuff happening because some of the stuff is in fact rather humorous. When I was telling my friend about the first six chapters yesterday I couldn't help from dying in laughter at each ending of the chapters.

Now, the ending is random. I understand it but don't at the same time. When everything gets explained, it seems a little out of nowhere but then again with the previous chapters... I mean, c'mon. It makes sense given the world it's in but at the same time there's no explanation within that explanation... okay, it's confusing the way I'm trying to say without spoiling it so you'd have to check it out for yourself. But yes, once again I will never look at a spiral the same again. That's true horror for ya! Check it out, its good fun. And from what I understand there was a movie made of this. That I may have to check out!


Jay Clarke said...

From your description, it looks like a lot of the book made it into the movie version. That last screen cap was transferred pretty much exactly if you can believe it. I'll never forget that image.

Greg said...

I was informed the ending may be a tad different though, because the when the movie was being made, the manga hadn't been completed yet.