Month: August 2019

  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    Love As Scripted

    I started to see past the script and its limitations, and I began imagining I was chatting with him for real.

    Kaori watches the video that Takahashi made for her

    Love as scripted — Synopsis

    We join the story in the throws of an argument between a couple. Their names are Kaori and Takahashi. Kaori is very upset due to her boyfriend (Takahashi) telling her that he’s leaving her. In the heat of the row, Takahashi does something very unusual โ€” he gives Kaori a video tape of himself to play whenever she misses him. The way that Ito draws him, makes me think that there is no evil intent in his actions; he seems sincere in his gift.

    But Kaori, after having apparently been warned about him before, lashes out with a large kitchen knife. Then just as that knife is coming down towards him, we flashback to some time before they were together.

    We go back to when Kaori was a new recruit in her theatre troupe and the screenwriter for that group was none other than Takahashi. When we see the beginnings of a romance start to blossom, she is warned off him by a friend in the group. But love is blind it seems, as she moves forward into her new relationship without regret.

    We soon catch back up to the present day, where the results of her violent actions are revealed. But instead of worrying about needing to dispose of Takahashi’s body, she instead decides to play the video tape that he had gifted her. What this video contains is something very odd indeed, and may even be the reason why she could possibly fall in love with him all over again…

    Video killed the…

    This was an enjoyable read with little to no real body horror within, save for a single stabbing. Instead, Love As Scripted is more of a psychological look at love and what it possibly means to love someone.

    Despite her actions, I found myself feeling sorry for Kaori โ€” indeed all girls that Takahashi had presumably dumped in a similar way. I mean, technically there is no crime against dumping girls one after the other, but the way in which he does so can definitely be thought of as malicious.

    And that is the key thing I wanted to explore here โ€” the interpretation. Although I don’t condone how he seemed to mess these girls about, I couldn’t help but dig a little deeper into some of his possible motivations.

    Panel from Love as scripted
    Kaori does a terrible thing

    Man with a camera

    Here we have a man who never really comes across as malicious in how he treats these ladies, at least not when he’s with them. Instead he seems to almost fall in love with each one in turn. Then the fact that he writes and records hours and hours of what is essentially a personal monologue, along with spaces for the video recipients to converse with the recording, makes me think that he is sincere with that gift. The way that Ito draws him also seems to support that theory.

    Odd, yes. But sincere.

    Maybe Takahashi suffers from a crippling inability to commit. Or perhaps he believes himself to be no good for these women? Maybe that’s why he goes to the trouble of making all of these recordings? Again, I’m not looking to condone any of his actions, I’m just trying to look at those actions from fresh angles.

    But then he could always just be a complete bastard with zero regard for others’ feelings.

    A predictable love

    The real sadness in Love as Scripted, at least for me, was the conclusion of Kaori’s story. It’s a shame how her love, and anger, for Takahashi drove her to stab him. She pretty much seals her future with that fateful blow. It is also a shame how she realises just how much she loves him through the medium of the video that set the attack off.

    Panel from Love as scripted
    Kaori isnt impressed with Takahashis video

    But that video will never be self-aware. It will always be exactly the same tomorrow as it is today. It will never offer anything new by means of conversation and will never surprise her. But she seems content in this predictable love.

    What I found perhaps most sad with her was that even when she realised what she had done, and is then offered a chance to save him, she just passes it up. She knows that her new Takahashi will never leave her; will never cheat on her; and will never upset her.

    But ultimately it will never be able to love her either.

    In conclusion

    Although this is one of Junji Ito’s shorter stories, I found Love As Scripted to have lots of charm. Despite it being a sad, more psychological piece than others, I found myself enjoying what I was looking for between the pages.

    Perhaps I am looking too deep into it. Maybe Junji Ito just thought of a weird idea for a relationship and just ran with it? Perhaps he had no real intentions of exploring deeper themes. But I like to believe that he knew full well all of the themes he was exploring.

    I think that this story could be enjoyed thoroughly as an introduction to Junji Ito as well. And while it gives no indication as to depths he goes to with his more graphic depictions of horror, it does give you an introduction to his work and his excellent story telling.

  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    The Spiral Obsession part 2 (Uzumaki part 2)

    What’s inside… the human ear? Don’t tell me… there’s a spiral.

    Mrs Saito becomes increasingly tormented by the spiral.

    You can buy Uzumaki here.

    Synopsis โ€” The Spiral Obsession part 2

    High over the sky of Kurouzu-cho sits a blanket of spiral-shaped smoke, with what seems to be the face of Shuichi’s father coming out of it. This strange vision seems to be the last straw for Mrs Saito’s sanity though. She quickly suffers a breakdown and is immediately sent to a nearby hospital to monitor her fast-declining mental condition.

    Mrs Saito soon becomes afflicted with the same cursed obsession as her husband before her – the Spiral; Uzumaki. She starts noticing the spirals all around her, as well as the natural spirals of the human body. This only serves to drive her further over the edge and further out of help’s reach.

    But where the father would be embracing these spirals, she is instead physically repulsed by them.

    After some disturbing nightmares, and some ungodly acts she performs on herself, she becomes convinced that there are spirals hidden away within her body โ€” places she can’t get to with ease. But just how far will she go to rid her world, and herself, of the spiral shape that seems to be haunting her?

    Searching for spirals

    I found it interesting to be able to follow this first story line of the spiral through to see how it actually affected those left behind. Normally we are served an eye-watering final reveal by Junji Ito, only to be left to imagine the following events in our own minds. Think about the majority of stories in the Tomie Collection. Although I love a good cliffhanger to think over, I also love staying with these characters. I love exploring what comes to those affected after those big reveals.

    This is what Uzumaki allows us to do here.

    Nightmares of Centipedes

    Although the actions of his father were weird and somewhat shocking at times, there were no real gross-out images in that first chapter โ€ save perhaps for the final state of the father and, of course, that tongue. However, nothing could have prepared Shuichi, or me for that matter, for what would become of his mother.

    Effects of the Spiral

    What was especially interesting to me was how the spiral seems to trigger different emotions in different people. Where the father would embrace the spiral, even being somewhat excited by it, the mother is disgusted and horrified by it.

    Perhaps for the father the spiral was a path of wonder to journey to its secret centre. Whereas maybe the mother saw nothing but the inevitable dizzying descent into death and madness. Different interpretations of the same pattern could be a metaphor for how we as people can interpret the same events in life in vastly different ways.

    Shuichi’s family has been torn apart by the spiral obsession. This has been exhibited by both of his parents now and I hope things start getting better for him. It seems somewhat ironic that the only person who seemed to feel something was wrong in Kurouzu-cho, Shuichi, is also the one most directly affected by it so far.

    In Summary

    If the first part of the spiral obsession was the somewhat calm introduction to Uzumaki, then this second part is the foot-to-the-floor, visceral continuation.

    No longer is Junji Ito sugar-coating the effects of the spiral. No amusing curling tongues or cute pieces of pottery. He’s now showing us violent, nightmare-inducing images of what this obsession can actually do to people. God help the rest of the citizens in Kurouzu-cho.

    I can’t wait to see where he takes us next…

  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    The Spiral Obsession part 1 (Uzumaki part 1)

    You’ll see! You can express the spiral through your own body!!

    Shuichi’s father’s obsession is getting out of hand.

    You can buy Uzumaki here.

    Synopsis โ€” The Spiral Obsession part 1

    In this opening chapter of Uzumaki, we are introduced to the two central characters who we will follow throughout our spiral adventures. These two are Kirie Goshima, who is telling us the story, and her best friend Shuichi Saito.

    Kurouzu-cho is a small coastal town that is home to both Kirie and Shuichi, as well as their respective families. Shuichi, however, does not go to school in the town โ€” he goes to the nearby city of Midoriyama-shi instead. The reason for this is unknown, but his time spent outside of Kurouzu-cho has helped him realise something that all the other residents seem blind to…

    …that something is very wrong with this place. Shuichi shows Kirie the strange spiral patterns in the water gutters around the town. They also cross paths with a few small whirlwinds that seem to pass by pretty often. But our real introduction to the horrors that the spiral is slowly bringing down upon them, is through the actions of Shuichi’s father.

    A Father’s obsession

    Shuichi’s father is the vessel for our first steps into this world of terror that Junji Ito is building up. Kirie first notices him in a small dark alleyway, his face up against a wall, transfixed by the pattern on a snail’s shell. This spiral obsession of his, however, is greater than just those found in nature.

    Shuichi explains about the strangeness of his father’s new hobby, and his unhealthy interest in the spiral shape. He explains about the obsession that has stopped him from going to work or even coming close to leading a normal life. He even explains to Kirie of his father’s body slowly changing โ€ his eyes specifically being cursed by this evil pattern.

    The spiral is slowly consuming him…

    The eyes of Shuichi’s father

    Tail end of the spiral

    This is a perfect introduction to Uzumaki. We get up and running with an understanding of the central characters pretty quickly, considering this first chapter is only 45 pages long. I loved how Junji Ito hasn’t gone all out with the body horror here either. He eases us in gently for the most part, lullying us into that false sense of security no doubt. Yes, there are some moments of disgust, especially the big 2-page-spread reveal at the end. But he is surprisingly tame as he leads us on to his spiral path.

    The characters in Uzumaki are your quintessential Ito characters. Kirie is the cute young woman who seems to have it all together; who is ultimately heading towards a scare that could either make or break her. And Shuichi is that troubled person with slightly darkened eyes who knows something is wrong. He’s a young man with a darkness weighing over him.

    But what’s interesting here is, is that this darkness is weighing over all of the town’s people. It’s just that Shuichi seems to be the only one who notices it. I can’t wait to journey deeper into the cursed shape and find what lies at its heart.

    In conclusion

    Uzumaki is one of the most well known, and highly regarded horror manga titles. Junji Ito really created something special with this 20-part story. His artwork within it is some of the best he’s even produced in my opinion, and the first part of The Spiral Obsession shows this off perfectly.

    The opening colour panels are beautiful – especially the title page with Kirie looking out over the town from the hill above. The details later on really impressed me too. I loved the delicate details that Junji Ito put into producing what we discover inside the wooden tub at the end of this chapter. Despite the huge obsession that Shuichi’s father shows towards spirals, it is evident that Ito has at least that amount of obsession over his own perfection โ€ and it really pays off.

    I would recommend every person and their dog to read this series. If you aren’t into horror then you probably aren’t going to find joy here. But if you are, or are just a little bit curious about what horror manga is all about, then this should be one of the very first places you go to.

  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    Awesome Junji Ito inspired art by Jack Batty

    I have just come across this awesome artwork by an artist called Jack Batty. He has drawn a number of really cool Junji Ito inspired pieces, which I definitely think you should check out.

    I really love his style. He even manages to make someone like Fuchi from Fashion Model look… well… cute.


    Jack Batty’s Tumblr.

    Jack Batty’s Instagram.

  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    Lucky fan gets Junji Ito’s autograph on her back. (via Reddit)

    Original link. Imagine having the master himself drawing on to your back like this (or on a t-shirt more precisely). Imagine the look on this very lucky fan’s face as he does it. She must be over the moon. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    Uzumaki by Junji Ito

    In Uzumaki, Junji Ito unleashes some of his most creative work to explore the dark sides of the spiral pattern.

    If you like horror manga, or are even just vaguely aware of it, chances are that you have heard of this manga title. Uzumaki is pretty much the quintessential horror manga series and is one of the titles to cement Junji Ito’s title as the master of the genre.

    What is Uzumaki about?

    The word Uzumaki itself is Japanese for spiral. From wikipedia:

    “In mathematics, a spiral is a curve which emanates from a point, moving farther away as it revolves around the point.”

    Wikipedia definition of a Spiral

    And it is exactly this shape that is the core focus for the entirety of Junji Ito’s masterpiece. It starts off small, with one particular man’s interest in small shells and patterns he finds in nature. But, in true Ito style, the story quickly escalates into a terrifying journey into the depths of all spirals.

    Slowly, over the course of twenty chapters, Junji Ito explores the spiral pattern in many different areas of life. All within a small coastal village in Japan and its residents. From schools to hospitals; from the young to the old; and from love through to terror and disgust.

    An exploration in twenty parts

    Over the course of the next few months, I will be exploring each of the chapters of Uzumaki in turn. I will be attempting to dig through the horrifying visions to find the meaning within the pages. To really dig deep and explore my own thoughts and feelings about this awesome series.

    Much like the Tomie Series I wrote about, I feel that this series would do better as a series of posts, instead of just one huge post covering it all. There are just too many great parts and interesting characters to risk washing over any of them.

    I invite you to join me

    I would love for you to join me each week to explore the Uzumaki series. And if you find this post after several months of me having published it, you should have a collection of posts to read – one for each chapter.

  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    I think I prefer reading on a Kindle

    I have always tried to maintain the belief that reading novels from physical books is always the best way to go. And whilst there is something to be said about a physical living breathing book that can’t run out of batteries, I have found something interesting with my kindle.

    When im reading a book, I always tend to see how big a chapter is before I start it – even if I have plenty of time to hand to read. And the size of the book tends to begin intimidating me when it is over a decent size.

    But with the second book of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, The Drawing of the Three, I have whizzed through 60 pages out of the 513 total. And it didn’t feel like it.

    I think it takes 2 to 3 kindle pages to equal a page in the physical book with my current text size settings. And I think because of that — and the fact I’ve not had the rest of the book sitting in my hands daring me to put it down for a bit — I have just read with a much greater ease.

    I think my kindle could be my default method of reading moving forward.

  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    Started reading The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower 2) by Stephen King

    The Drawing of the Three book cover

    Only yesterday I started on IT, but have decided to keep my concentration on The Dark Tower series. I really wanna see where this series goes.

  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    Started reading IT by Stephen King

    Decided I’d finally give this gargantuan book a read.

    One of the earliest films I remember seeing was the 2-part mini-series of Stephen King’s IT. IT scared the undying crap out of me when I was about 6 or 7.

    Now, many years later, I have decided to actually read the novel before part 2 of the new 2-part films is out.



    Edit: After reading 50 pages, although enjoying it, I have decided to concentrate on The Dark Tower series for a while.

  • ๐Ÿ“‚ ,

    The Gunslinger – The Dark Tower part 1

    Some thoughts of mine after finishing the first book of Stephen King’s epic series ‘The Dark Tower’.

    (Image by Michael Whelan.)

    It took me to my second attempt to actually read this book to completion. And although it started off as a bit of a chore, by about a third in I found myself drawn in to the Gunslinger and his pursue of the Man in Black.

    I found the story to be a slow burn โ€” an ongoing pursuit interspersed with necessary backstory of the titular character. And I mean that in a good way. I have the feeling that this is going to be a build up over a long time โ€” especially knowing that how many books there are now in this series.

    I found it really intriguing how the Gunslinger and the boy he finds, Jake, interact. Their relationship seemed to be building into an interesting one and really hope that it can somehow be explored further. Somehow.

    And Jake’s history too. His origin that spoke of New York in some other world, or that’s what I presumed. Yet the world in which we follow the Gunslinger seems to be in some post-war-ravaged, desolate future of the very same Earth.

    Whatever ends up happening, and however this crossing at the nexus of realities is explored, I’m looking forward to the ride it brings.