Rustling in the Grass

Alt title: Kusane

One Shot
2002
3.413 out of 5 from 29 votes
Rank #32,743
Rustling in the Grass

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nathandouglasdavis
2

Many horror and ghost stories follow this simple formula--some people are out in an isolated location and then encounter a mysterious phenomenon. What makes these stories interesting are essentially two factors: what happens next after the encounter occurs and what is the nature of the mysterious phenomenon. Though even if those two factors were on the weaker side, the story can still be entertaining if the storytelling is riveting, the characters are captivating, or the aesthetic is intriguing. So now that I've given a handful of criteria for what might make a formulaic horror story interesting, let me walk through why I think this particular Junji Ito oneshot has failed in all of those criteria: "what happens next"--Nothing happens next. The manga only consists of an initial encounter and then ends. It's only 11 pages long, after all. "the nature of the phenomenon"--I suppose some people might find this aspect to be intriguing, but I personally didn't. I think part of this is that the artwork didn't do the best job of portraying what happened (it just looked like lightning balls or something). And it also didn't make sense that Naoto and Mimi didn't see anything dropping until the corpse turned around. What about the corpse facing them made it so the lightning balls were visible? I think Junji Ito was trying to play into the gross-out factor of bodily excretions and discharges and just went weird with it in order to make it a ghost story. "the storytelling"--The storytelling wasn't very good. Things happened to the characters instead of the characters feeling like they had any agency of their own. The dialogue felt like it was narration intended to push the desired plot forward more than actual dialogue. The ending of the story, despite being slightly creepy, was also underwhelming. And the set-up for the story left a lot of details out (like where this walk is taking place in relation to where Naoto and Mimi spend most of their time). I didn't get drawn into the world and I didn't really care about what happens next. "the characters"--The characters didn't act or talk in ways that made them feel like real people. They're also very bland and nondescript. Their screaming and running away feels over-the-top and exaggerated. Like, yea, the encounter they had was creepy, but how far are they planning on running? "the aesthetic"--The aesthetic isn't all that interesting. The setting itself is just a forest, but also not drawn all that beautifully or anything. There's a lot of reliance on filling space with hatchmarks for the backgrounds. As for the creepy-creep, I guess it's okay. The corpse feels corpse-like and has enough detail to be gross and off-putting. But the lightning balls (or whatever they were supposed to be) look like crap. They don't look creepy or horrific or cool or gross or really anything. They just kinda look lazily drawn, to be honest.

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