Now, I haven't read all that much manga in comparison to the anime I've watched, but I love horror in all its forms. On sothis' recommendation, I picked up Uzumaki and could not stop until I reached the grim, grim end. One of the delicious differences between Japanese and American tales of this type is the pervasion of atmosphere so integral to the Asian concepts of fear, and Junji Itou brings it in spades.
Through its escalating set of vignettes, Uzumaki paints a picture of a town and population descending into madness. Nearly all of Itou's little stories could be considered fables, as each one focuses on a few central people affected by the spiral phenomenon slowly engulfing the town. While none of the characters seem original at first glace, the mangaka's disturbing and inevitable logic transforms each one into a horrifying harbinger of events to come.
Unlike Gyo, where the visuals and unoriginal plot escalate the camp of the series, Uzumaki's mystery and increasingly strange events draw the reader deeper into the world of Kurozu-cho like the grip of the almighty spiral that dominates the work. However, some of the entries mess with the pacing a little, and the final chapters leading up to the "twisted" conclusion don't inspire the same morbid fascination as "Mosquito", "Medusa", and "The Scar".
Uzumaki's harrowing visuals carry the manga, no two ways about it. More so than in Gyo (GASHUNK!), Itou juxtaposes beauty, both human and natural with the horrific transformations that dominate the work's pages. Kirie's fair features contrast the grotesque surroundings and events so starkly her face alone moves the readers to fear for her. Similarly, Shuichi's descent into dark-eyed terror and paranoia stands at odds with the almost ecstatic expressions and attitudes of the manga's victims.
Of course, it's the grotesque that defines this work. Itou's monsters and bizarre mutations deliver some shocking thrills, even when the reader can guess what a particular image might hold (see the end of "The Spiral Obsession Part 1"). The mangaka's endless inventiveness in twisting each character and scene to its utmost keeps his audience coming back to see what terrifying visage he'll bring to each chapter. In addition, he possesses an astute eye for cinematographic technique. In "Medusa", "Mosquito", and "The Spiral Obsession Part 1" he shrinks the focus to show us the finer details of human transformation; In contrast, he widens the scene in "The Firing Effect", "The Umbilical Cord", and "Labyrinth" to lay bare the true scope of the horror taking over the town.
If there is a weakness here, it comes from the characters. Itou's love-letter to Kurozu-cho could care less about characterization because the events here overshadow their victims. Shuichi starts to sound like a broken record by the middle of the first volume, and Kirie--while adorable and sympathetic--shows all of the depth of your average horror-tale-heroine. Despite being drawn attractively, the secondary characters can all be boiled down to one or two traits, identifiable long enough to define their relationship to the town's spiral obsession.
This manga grabs hold and does not let go. From the first feelings of unease to the final, fantastic layout, Uzumaki drips with horror and ineffable, twisted atmosphere. If you're a fan of the genre, this one will sit atop any must-read list, and anyone with enough fortitude to stomach the visuals owes his or herself a trip to Kurozu-cho. In this work, Junji Itou turns the benign and slightly mysterious into the grotesque and terrifying.
Story: I will never look at spirals the same way again, and never did after reading this. Or snails. Or hospitals. Quite frankly, this is some disturbing shit. It doesn't simply create a shock scare or two, you see it gradually going to shit, the transformations of the spiral, the horror that is right there infront of you. It doesn't shirk on that front and that just makes it even more chilling.
Bone-chilling, as some of the chapters are simply nightmarish. Transformation body horrors first and foremost, with some blood mixed in for good measure and a dose of Vitamin Die. Too many chapters to list, but it's filled with varying degrees of mind-scarring disturbiness. The price is that sometimes, it doesn't work and a great chapter can be followed by a lesser one. The author isn't shooting the head with all six shots of the revolver; some miss the killshot and tickle a bone or just a mere graze.
I'm only talking about the horror because that's why you're here. The premise of spirals fucking everything up is neat and all but the horror, body disfigurement and all the weird shit the mangaka came up with are the main attractions. You aren't here for much else, so horror or take the next bus to shounen town.
Art: To compliment the horror is equally horrific art, in the good sense. It may be a tad dated but it still presents the horrors within this cursed town. The curse of the spirals manifests itself in many ways, horrible and disturbing. Outside of that, things are fine and dandy but not... as eyegrabbing, I guess. Once again, it's the black flowers to the skeletal tree with branches of blood fruit, so to speak.
Characters: Kids back then sure were dumb. Once that freaky shit started up, I would have fucking gotten the fuck out of there, just run and never look back. That's what she should have done, but crazy shit keeps on happening to her and she still stays there, alive, relatively unharmed compared to other poor saps. But you can't help but feel sorry for her, despite her inability to be genre-savvy enough to get the fuck out.
And there's the guy, who might have been a bit smarter but still dumb enough to stick around.
Gah! You aren't here for the characters! It's the events that they're put through that you're here for! Know what? I'm wrapping this up.
Overall: Some damn good stuff. Disturbing, creepy, unsettling and one of the most fine ass endings I could hope for in a horror manga. It's worth getting some brain bleach for your poor mind just for the ending.
This manga tries so hard to be dark and horrifying. Granted, it does manage to pull it off some of the time, especially at the beginning, but at other points it made me cringe at how hard it was trying.
A town, who's name you will probably not remember, is haunted by spirals. The pattern drives everyone there to insanity, and makes some pretty crazy things happen. It's hard to explain without spoiling the story, but believe me when I say some pretty messed up things happen, regardless of whether they make sense or add to the story.
As with most horror series, the characters are pretty much irrelevant. They only really exist so that events will actually happen. A bit more thought did go into some of the characters, but the manga is too short to get a real feel for them anyway.
Depite its shortcomings, I did enjoy this. It definitely had a high impact, and if you say you aren't a little bit freaked out by spirals after reading it, you are lying. Even so, there were moments I felt the mangaka added mostly for effect rather than to actually add to the story, and some of it felt very forced. If you like a high shock value and don't really care about plot, then you would enjoy this. If you're after a good plot and characters you might actually learn to like given enough time, then this series is probably not for you.
I read this a LONG time ago, but it is always fresh in my mind. I will not be going into complete detail on the story, or the characters, but will review points in a more general sense.
Uzumaki was awesome. I began reading it with no real expectations. I mean c'mon a manga where people become obsessed with spirals? What's the appeal? This anime becomes terrifying, and the art (which is perfect in so many ways) makes it a horrific and intense experince.
The manga mainly followed one character, but also the one's who became obsessed. Sadly the manga begins to lose some appeal because it is not convincing enough to draw you in per se, it seems sort of fake at times. It isn't bad enough to take away from the manga, but it could have been better in that respect.
In short, Uzumaki was great. The art was perfect, the story was interesting, and even the characters were interesting. The truth, the ending, and all things that happen in the manga are just great.
I read this on a whim almost, and found myself enthralled with Uzumaki and it's story. I would recommend it and say it is worth the read.
Thanks for reading.
A small seaside town turns upside down when its occupants become mysteriously obsessed with spirals. How can something so small and insignificant become the catalyst for an entire population's descent into insanity? Only Junji Ito, Japan's master of horror manga knows, and he's not telling until you get to the last volume of Uzumaki.
Uzumaki is a series of short horror stories that have one thing in common: the spiral. Each story can stand alone, but also works cumulatively to build suspense as the spiral's grip on the villager's sanity tightens and more people, young and old, succumb to its hypnotic allure.
The spiral incidents, each more bizarre than the last, are narrated by Kirie, a teenage girl who lives and goes to school in Kurozu village. At first, she's skeptical when her childhood friend Shuichi begs her to leave town with him because he senses the evil surrounding them. Later, as the madness claims her classmates, her family members and even herself, she begins to realize to her horror that it may be too late to escape the supernatural spiral snare that is choking the sanity and life out of her hometown.
The story concerns the people of a small Japanese town who become obsessed by the occurrences of natural and artificial spirals around them. The result of this obsession is a slow transformation into something other than human, leading to a gruesome, realistically-depicted death.
Kirie Goshima Kirie is a teenage girl who lives in Kurozu-cho, a small seaside town in Japan. She's also the narrator of Uzumaki, and the stories of the villagers' descent into madness are seen through her eyes. At first, mild-mannered Kirie is skeptical about the spirals' power over her fellow villagers, but soon enough, her friends, her family, and soon even she herself gets pulled into its vortex of terror.
Shuichi Saito Shuichi is Kirie's childhood friend and confidante. Generally intellectual and rational, Shuichi is one of the first villagers to recognize that something strange is going on in Kurozu-cho, perhaps because his parents are one of the first victims of the deadly spiral obsession.
Mr. and Mrs. Saito Shuichi's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Saito used to enjoy a peaceful, middle-class life in Kurozu-chu. But lately, Mr. Saito has been spending all his time collecting and obsessing over anything with a spiral design or shape to the point where he's stopped going to work and stopped, well, behaving like a normal person. Mrs. Saito tries to shake her husband out of his fixation, but her attempts to restore normalcy to her home ends in tragedy.
Mr. Goshima Mr. Goshima is a potter, and is Kirie's father. We first meet him when Mr. Saito commissions Mr. Goshima to create a spiral ceramic plate, but eventually, even this humble craftsman and his artwork becomes infected by the spiral obsession.
Azami Kurotani Pretty and popular with the boys, Azami is Kirie's classmate. Azami's beauty attracts all the boys, but given that she has all the suitors she could ever want, she's a bit jaded by the attention. When meets Shuichi and finds that he's immune to her charms, she too is infected by an obsession that exacts a heavy toll upon all around her.