Saturday, 7 August 2010

"Uzumaki: Volume 1" by Junji Ito

Year of Publication: 1998
Number of Pages: 208 pages
Genre: Graphic novel, horror, manga

Summary: High school student Kirie Goshima lives in the quiet Japanese coastal town of Kurozo-cho. However her life slowly becomes a nightmare as her withdrawn boyfriend Shuichi Saito becomes concerned about his father's obsession with spirals, collecting anything he can find that has a spiral pattern on it and beginning to exhibit grotesque physical transformations. Soon Saito's mother, Kirie's potter father are drawn into the nightmare, along with a high school girl with an almost supernatural power over the boys in the school, a pair of teenage lovers whose feuding parents are determined to keep them apart, and a girl who yearns to be noticed. As events worsen Shuichi becomes conviced that the town is "cursed" by the spirals.

Opinions: This genuinely bizarre Japanese graphic novel mixes teenage angst with a kind of cosmic horror. The horror elements are very obviously influenced by the works of classic American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. The artwork is beautifully drawn in black and white and filled with memorably horrific images. The book, the first in a three part series, is more of a collection of interlinked short stories about different townspeople's experiences with the "Spiral Curse" but linked by the shared setting and the recurring characters of Kirie and Shuichi. As with most graphic novels this is a quick read, although it is definitely worth checking out for fans of Lovecraftian horror and managa (Japanese for comic). Interestingly, in the English translation at least the book is printed to be read right to left, which is usual with Japanese comics and is the reverse of the way English language comics are printed, this is in order to preserve the look of the original artwork. A live action movie adaptation of Uzumaki (Japanese for "Spiral") was released in 2000, directed by Higuchinsky and starring Eriko Hatsune and Fhi Fan.

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