Tag: manga

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    Butterflies (Uzumaki part 14)

    The flapping of a single butterfly’s wings can create a hurricane on the other side of the world. That’s what’s happening in this town.

    Chie Maruyama describes the “Butterfly Effect” to Kirie.

    Butterflies — Synopsis

    Butterflies is the continuation of the story of Uzumaki. It follows on some time after the shocking events of The House — after an unknown period of time. We begin by following the car journey of a set of new characters — a news crew sent to Kurouzu-cho. We learn from their discussion that a number of further hurricanes have passed over the town. So we know at least a bit of time has occurred between chapters.

    On entering the outer limits of the town, the news crew’s car is flipped by a small whirlwind — a “twister” — that seemed to have come from out of nowhere.

    From out of the car wreckage only the lady is able to stand — the two men are left unconscious in the car. She quickly heads off into the town to try and find help. What she finds, however, is the once-picturesque town of Kurouzu-cho now mostly decimated by hurricanes.

    The place is no longer fit to live in.

    During her search she comes across three young boys that have been tied up to large posts — their mouths covered. Her first instinct of course is to help the boys out of their binds. However, she will soon regret doing so, as the boys have all undergone a very odd change.

    And not only that, but they also have their eyes set on further destruction — to both the town and the lady who has freed them.


    In Butterflies we see the return of something that was actually featured in the very first chapter of Uzumaki — albeit on much smaller scales — the twisters. Twisters are miniature hurricanes that would sometimes be seen whizzing through the streets of Kurouzu-cho. In fact, Shuichi warns Kirie of these in the opening pages of that first chapter.

    Of course it wouldn’t be Junji Ito if this theme of Twisters and Hurricanes wasn’t turned up to crazy. He shows us three young boys that are able to use the power of the wind for their own destructive ends. They somehow have control of the hurricanes and seem to just enjoy destroying for the sake of destroying. In fact, it appears that they are the ones that have demolished most of the town.

    What’s interesting here is how the old row houses — those run down and falling-apart wooden shacks — seem to be the only buildings that are immune to the hurricanes.

    From what I can remember of the later chapters (from my reading of Uzumaki about two years ago) I believe that these houses have a bigger role to play in the town’s curse with the spiral. And although there is no disease present, as in the previous chapter, the spiral’s influence is never the less still around.

    The Air Feels Heavy

    Kirie the protector

    I found it really cool to see Kirie come to the aid of the news lady from out of the town’s remains. She came across as a kind of vigilante, roaming the desolate wastes of earth’s future; helping those who are in need.

    Kirie has always been a fighter, and never at the mercy of others to help her — except perhaps the odd occasion where Shuichi would thrust his help upon her.

    It was great to see that fighting spirit was still there despite the chaos. She seemed to be the only one out on those dangerous streets savaging for food and supplies. Along with her younger brother in fact — that strength must run in the family.

    All of the other survivors we see look very weary and without hope.

    But not Kirie. She still picks herself up and does what she has to for her and the people around her.

    Kirie Goshima

    Kirie is a Queen. ๐Ÿ’š

    This chapter felt like a real change of pace for the overaching Uzumaki story. Mostly due to The Goshima’s converting their new home into a place of protection and refuge for others.

    The story of “Butterflies” really made it feel as though we’ve transitioned from an almost “monster of the week” feel, into a more overarching saga set amongst the wreckage of Kurouzu-cho.

    Almost a battlefield of sorts.

    A battlefield in the war against the spiral.

    A war that I am sure will claim much more destruction and many more casualties before the end.

    And I’m willing to bet that Kirie Goshima will be on the front line.

    Two of the Hurricane Boys

    In Summary

    Butterflies really felt like a turning point in the Uzumaki story for me; The beginning of the end. Until now we have seen many strange, outlandish events unfold that all relate to the towns ever-widening spiral curse. But with each new chapter the town still felt relatively normal overall. Each of the smaller story arcs felt somewhat self-contained for the most part.

    However, this chapter shows us the almost-complete destruction of Kurouzu-cho. The town simply can not come back from this.

    It feels to me like it has set us on a crazy course of mayhem and chaos, hurtling towards the collection’s huge ending.

    Definitely not a chapter I would recommend reading outside of the surrounding Uzumaki collection. None of it would be very relatable without the knowledge of what came before it. But as a part of the overarching collection, it does well to set us up for the war-torn events that are sure to follow.

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    Ghosts of Prime Time

    …but we’re makin’ things happen with our comedy. We’ll take control one o’ these days!!

    Tasogare Kintoki says some strange things during their comedy routine

    Ghosts of Prime Time — Synopsis

    Keisuke and Tsuguo are two friends talking in a small cafe. Tsuguo is an every day regular young man, whereas Keisuke is more withdrawn and “gloomy”.

    Tsuguo tells his friend of a story of a recent local killing of an obscure comedian. The comedian was found in the street with an expression of equal parts suffering and laughter.

    Later that day, the two friends go to a local comedy club – Tsuguo wanting to cheer Keisuke up – to see the comedy lineup. One of these acts in the line up is the aforementioned duo Tasogare Kintoki.

    Tasogare Kintoki are objectively bad at comedy. Their jokes fall flat and most of their banter is regarding how they will one day “make it big” and live in a mansion. A very strange double act indeed.

    However, after a few moments of complete silence with the odd whisper, one audience member begins laughing uncontrollably. And then, just as Tsuguo comments on this strange occurrence, another person does the same. The effect starts to repeat through the audience until the entire club is in a vicious roar of laughter. That is, everybody except for Keisuke.

    There is no doubt that something is not right in that comedy club, but what is it? Keisuke is the only one not affected, but what does he have that the others don’t? And what might Tasogare Kintoki do when they realise that there is one person seemingly immune to their unique brand of comedy? Their sinister grins promise a future of pain and torment.

    Some spoilers below

    Horror and Comedy

    Horror and Comedy are very closely related. Both genres have a willingness to go over the top with absurdity and exaggeration. While comedy uses it’s exaggerations to poke fun and make its audiences laugh, horror conversely uses it’s own to scare and unsettle its audience.

    But what’s often more interesting, at least to me, is when an artist manages to combine the two into something often greater than the sum of the parts. Many people often cite Quentin Tarantino’s famous ear-cutting scene in his first major film, Reservoir Dogs. (Despite never actually seeing the cutting itself, audience members still tending to look away)

    What I think Junji Ito has managed to craft here though, is a different way of blending horror and comedy. Instead of taking the elements of both genres to make his story a “horror comedy”, he has actually taken horror and made it infect the comedy inside the story. I am referring to the fact that the laughter and enjoyment apparently felt by Tasogare Kintoki’s audience, is in fact the direct result of the phantoms/ghosts that they project out into the crowd.

    I think the blending of genres is always interesting to see. But I especially liked here how Junji Ito hasn’t necessarily blending the genres together. He has instead kept this as a horror story, but used the comedy within the narrative as the vehicle for that horror.

    Faces of Comedy

    Junji Ito has always been an artist who draws great facial expressions. Especially faces of pain and obsession. In Ghosts of Prime Time, he has on display some brilliant faces of extreme laughter and, of course, pain.

    The first example is actually on the very first page — the story of the obscure comedian who is found dead in the street. The close up of his face does indeed show laughter at the time of death. But so to it manages to put across pain and suffering from, I believe, the completely white eyes and taught muscles around the neck and face.

    And I can’t mention the faces in this story without mentioning Tasogare Kintoki themselves. Their expressions always that of faces on the cusp of laughter, sometimes without pupils in their eyes. Almost like they are being possessed at times. And despite their smiles, they are always projecting a sinister intent towards all those who see them.

    Poker face Keisuke

    Keisuke definitely takes on the role as the sane compass centre in Ghosts of Prime Time. He reminds me a little of Shuichi in the Uzumaki collection. Whilst all the craziness is going on around him, he seems to stay grounded and be able to look objectively at those things.

    Just as Shuichi seems to be able to detect and know of the spiral’s control within his town, so to does Keisuke in his town. He can see the spirits that leave the bodies of Tasogare Kintoki to tickle the audience into submission. He knows they are not to be trusted and warns his friend of that.

    I think these sorts of grounded characters are important to these stories. Without them we would just see the events unfold with no-one really to fight back. But Keisuke does fight back — and with gusto.

    In Summary

    I really love Ghosts of Prime Time. It doesn’t seem to be as well known or regarded as Junji Ito’s more popular stories like Tomie or The Bully, for example. But I want to change that! This story is, as are most of Ito’s works, wholly unique.

    I believe this one would be a perfect first story of Ito’s to read if you were looking to get into his stuff. Especially if you wanted to avoid the kinds of body horror that come with so many of his more celebrated works.

    And believe me when I say that it will become a journey for you. Because once you have read this story, you will most likely want to start exploring his other great works too.

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    Human Chair

    …but I have a feeling that there really was a man living in the chair… and he leaves the chair every night…

    Is Yoshiko’s paranoia getting the better of her?

    What is The Human Chair about?

    When a lady author speaks with a furniture maker about getting a new chair, he goes on to tell her the story of an author from long ago, Togawa Yoshiko. Yoshiko had a large, soft writing chair bought for her by her husband — similar to the one that the Young Lady is being shown today.

    Yoshiko would often receive letters from new authors in the hope of guidance and / or exposure into the arts. One such letter details the story of a chair maker who decided to build secret compartments into the lining of his chairs — places for him to sit beneath those sat on the chairs.

    Yoshiko’s paranoia gets the better of her, and she becomes convinced that her own chair is the one spoken of in the letter. Whether that is the case or not, I will leave you to discover through reading The Human Chair for yourself. What I can say though, is that Yoshiko’s story has a direct effect on the lady author from the start of the manga.

    Whether that is good or bad, I will leave you to discover for yourself…

    Based on a short story of the same name

    In 1925, the short story “The Human Chair” was published in Kuraku literature magazine by Edogawa Ranpo. In Junji Ito’s manga adaptation, he has used the narrative of that short story as his backstory. It is very much a sequel to that original story.

    The chair’s history is actually described in more detail in the original short story, I believe. However, in the context of Ito’s interpretation, this isn’t as important. Instead he uses the basis of that original story as a spring board from which to explore the darker recesses of the tale.

    Apologies if I am wrong here, but I think I am right in saying that Ito seems to create his own additions to the end of Yoshiko’s legend. The original ends at the point at which the chair-maker’s confession letter turns out to be a short story manuscript from an aspiring writer. However, Junji Ito takes us further into Yoshiko’s paranoia and the horror that may just be hidden beneath her chair’s soft upholstery.

    Perhaps the original story was left ambiguous for the reader to formulate those possibilities in their own minds. Here we get to see how Ito interpreted that story, and just how he imagines it moving forwards.

    Horror in plain sight

    Once again, Junji Ito brings us a slice of horror that would have perhaps never been considered — chairs. Yes it was based on a previous work, but he obviously saw something interesting and creepy in that story that he wished to bring into his own world of Horror Manga, before sharing it with us — his fans.

    Although most of Human Chair is telling the back story of Yoshiko — it is an adaptation after all, I found the present day story interesting too. The unnamed modern-day lady author and the creepy chair maker / salesman. If I’m honest though, I’d liked to have seen a bit more story around the two of them.

    I myself have a history with chairs and horror, ever since I saw Ghostbusters when I was young. That scene with Dana Barrett in her chair… and those arms… damn still creeps me out to this day.

    Since then I can not really sit in a room with space and a door behind me. For fear of someone grabbing me from behind — especially when watching or reading horror. In fact I’d not even considered this to be an actual fear of mine until writing this post. ๐Ÿ˜•

    Perhaps this is a fear more common than I thought. Maybe that is what drew Ito to it for working on his adaptation.

    In Summary

    Human Chair is a story I will find myself revisiting now and again. I love how Junji Ito manages to find horror in the everyday things. Like with his own cats in ‘Yon and Mu’ or everyday shapes, such as the spiral in Uzumaki. Chairs are such ubiquitous things that to consider them as places of horror is perhaps not often considered.

    But Junji Ito considered it. And not only that, he has created a mystery that uses a classic Japanese short story as a basis from which to explore his themes of paranoia and a yearning for love.

    His artwork in it is just as great as I have come to expect too — detailed and demanding to be read multiple times. It’s a pity that the only versions I can currently find are small scans that have been roughly translated into English online. I would really love to own this story as part of an original collection.

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    The Umbilical Cord (Uzumaki part 11)

    So it’s been born. I wonder what it looks like. A baby gorged with human blood…

    Kirie is curious about the newly born

    Some time after the bloody events of Uzumaki’s tenth chapter, Mosquitoes, Kirie is faced once again with the insidious spiral that seems to haunt her. The pregnant women who she saw feeding on human blood are about to give birth to their little bundles of joy. But what sorts of monsters will be born from such horrific actions?

    As it turns out, the baby’s are born and are all perfectly normal — the cutest baby’s ever, some would say. But you can trust that these baby’s are going to be very far from normal. In fact, each of them is hiding a gross deformity and a very strange desire to return to the womb.

    Of course, Kirie is alone in her suspicions and is still doubted about the events of the hospital massacre. But by the time this chapter reaches its own bloody conclusion, you can bet that there will be no room to doubt Kirie on the events that unfold.

    Some spoilers below

    The Source of Life

    The umbilical cord is the source of life for humans as their grow within their mother’s womb. What the mother feeds on has an effect on the kinds of nutrients that the baby will ultimately be absorbing. So is it any wonder that the feeding on human blood did strange things to them?

    The introduction of the mushrooms in the hospital food was equally inventive as it was disgusting. Our first feeding as humans comes from the umbilical cord so it was interesting how the patients were attracted to this strange new food without knowing its origin.

    I have heard of people actually eating their own placenta after giving birth. And whilst I would never dream of doing such a thing, I wont say bad things about those that choose to. I just love how Junji Ito, once again, takes this occurrence in real life and delves deeper into his strange imagination of “What ifs”.

    A Yearning to return

    Who has dreamed about just being able to return to the womb? To just leave all the cares of the world and struggles of life and just be taken care of once again. Many of us, myself included, even occasionally sleep in the fetal position — it’s a feeling of comfort very deeply rooted in the psychology of us humans.

    I love how Ito took this and had us witness these babies literally wanting to return back to their mother’s womb. With a deranged doctor willing to carry out the surgery!

    This led me to imagine this omnipresent spiral presence, the Uzumaki, in control of all of this — the spiral patterns in the regrown placentas no doubt being used to hypnotise him into carrying out this force’s will.

    Coming back to the spiral

    Let’s imagine for a second that we humans are all metaphorical spirals that begin at the moment of our conception. We grow into our fetal positions, almost as if we are trying to wrap around ourselves.

    Then we are born. If we are lucky we are soon held closely by our mother, who will hold us the tightest that they ever will, metaphorically speaking. And then, as we get older and older, we are held less and less. And even though the love is always there, for those of us who are fortunate enough, the gaps begin to form and we go out into the world on our own. Perhaps to start our own families.

    I can imagine this way of life, the growing apart yet still being connected, as the motions of the spiral as it continues round on its journey. Still connected to its origin yet moving further outwards into the world.

    The spiral really is all around, both in Junji Ito’s Uzumaki and our everyday lives.

    In Conclusion

    Umbilical Cord rounds off its three-chapter mini-arc nicely as it follows directly on from Mosquitoes and The Black Lighthouse. (The light burns Kirie received in The Black Lighthouse being the reason she was actually in the hospital as a patient).

    This chapter is also a daring one too, I would say, as it deals with the births of babies. And not just regular babies either — babies born after their mothers have been feeding on human blood. But Ito handles it with his expert pen as you would come to expect from him.

    Whilst I wouldn’t say there was too much in the way of violent horror in this one, there is a good dose of creepy body horror. Body horror that does a really good job in unsettling its readers. At least it did with me on my first time reading.

    I would probably not recommend this as a first time read for Ito’s work. Perhaps I would recommend reading Mosquitoes first followed by this one. But then again I would say that Uzumaki is worth it from start to finish.

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    Envy horror manga short by Paul Rikky Talbot

    Envy horror manga short by Paul Rikky Talbot

    Via Paul Rikky Talbot on Facebook.

    I absolutely love this one-page horror manga story by Paul.

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    Army of One fan art in red ink

    Natsuko from Junji Ito’s Army of One – fan art in red ink

    Via Guillen Cardenas Luis on Facebook.

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    The Art of Junji Ito: Twisted Visions can now be pre-ordered

    Junji Ito displaying his Art book

    The upcoming book, The Art of Junji Ito: Twisted Visions, is now available for pre-order at the following places:


    Book Depository


    It will be officially released on the 14th May 2020.

    From the picture above it looks like its a good size too — a little larger than A4 size I reckon. All the better to focus in on Junji Ito’s excellent craftsmanship and twisted imagery.

    I’m looking forward to this one as it looks to contain many pieces of Junji Ito’s original artwork. Perhaps even some that were cut from some of his stories?

    Snippet from Twisted Visions

    How excited are you for this new book?

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    New horror manga – Genkai Chitai (Disturbing Zone) released in Japan

    Junji Ito has launched a brand new horror manga called Genkai Chitai, which is Japanese for Disturbing Zone. It seems to be a part of a new horror omnibus series called “Phantom Zone”.

    From what I can find out so far, it revolves around the more mundane aspects of every day life and how strange occurrences around those things happen. No doubt bringing weird and interesting horror themes into the lives of some very unsuspecting characters.

    It has been released through a publication called “Line”. I have found a website called Line Manga, however, it is only available to be viewed from Japan. ๐Ÿ™

    I’m really looking forward to reading this one and can’t wait for an official U.K. release.

    Excerpt from Junji Ito new manga, Disturbing Zone

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    Fixed Face

    This is a facility made specifically to capture the features on the lower portion of the face.

    The Doctor explains the chair that makes Yagawa feel so uneasy.

    Synopsis — Fixed Face

    Fixed face is one of Junji Ito’s shorter stories, but is no less terrifying in its smaller page count.

    Yagawa is a young lady who has gone to a dental hospital for some unknown reason. We don’t know her treatment and, for the purposes of this story, it isn’t really important. On arriving, the doctor welcomes her to take the only seat — the dental chair — and to place her head between two ominous-looking clamps.

    These clamps, the doctor says, are to fix the person’s head in place to allow them to capture exactly the features of the lower part of their face. The clamp is made up of a huge over-arching machine. That machine reaches round a person’s head with pointed metal pieces that are to be placed inside the person’s ears.

    However, on fixing the lady in place, the doctor realises he needs to leave the room for a moment. Not long after leaving, he trips down the stairs on one of the hospital’s lower floors — killing himself.

    The location of the dental room is an area of the hospital not often covered by many people. So the lady is left alone, head clamped in place, without a word from the doctor or any other soul.

    She has no idea about the fate of her doctor. And has no way to get herself out of the place in which she is trapped. What will happen to the lady? Will she ever get out? And if so, at what cost will she manage to break free?

    Fear of never being found

    I remember hearing an urban legend when I was younger about a person buried alive and never being found. The thought of being trapped in a place where nobody knows where you are is scary in itself.

    But Junji Ito has created a similar story here, no doubt inspired by his own time as a working dentist. When Yagawa is fixed in place into the dental chair and then left, she is left in a very vulnerable position. But when we see how the Doctor ends up dying, she has no idea — however, we as the readers do.

    We have a power over her that somehow reinforces Yagawa’s increasing anxiety. As she freaks out in the chair, unable to free herself and with seemingly no one coming to her help, we are forced to just watch her struggle.

    What I found interesting too, was that there are no malevolent forces in operation here. There are no evil spirits, forces of nature, or a bad doctor trying to trick her. It is a situation of pure bad luck — for both Yagawa and her doctor. A situation that Yagawa must then try to escape from.

    Yagawa tries to get out

    It reminded me of Tomie: Babysitter and Amigara Fault

    In Tomie: Babysitter, the main character, Erita, falls into a similar situation. After being locked in a family’s baby’s nursery as a precaution, she ultimately finds herself trapped. With the only people who know she’s there unable to let her out. Although it is for very different reasons that her captors are unable to free her, the result is still similar.

    Perhaps this fear of been locked away, or being forgotten, is a legitimate fear of Junji Ito’s? And maybe it’s that fear that he lets feed into his work in these stories? Or maybe it is just that the fear of being forgotten is such a common human fear, that it naturally ended up finding its way into his work.

    Another similarity I felt in this story was of The Enigma of Amigara Fault. When we see Yagawa struggling and convinced that the ear clamps are pinching further into her head, it reminded me of the closing panels of Amigara Fault. Where we would see the tunnels gradually squeezing and bending the people who entered out of shape.

    That idea of being trapped and seemingly under the control of some outside force closing in on you is scary. And I think that similar theme was used well here in Fixed Face too — albeit without the human-shaped holes.

    In Conclusion

    I find Fixed Face to be a very effective little horror story that is light enough on its surface to make for an easy read. But I think there is a lot to admire in those moments where Yagawa is getting more and more frightened in her fixed position.

    There are some great examples of Ito’s penmanship on display. This is especially apparent where we see the lady’s close up face broken out into a sweat and panic. The fear is palpable and really jumps out of the page. Even the sense of motion as Ito draws her swinging to get out of her trap is really well done. Her increasing stress and anxiety is put across in a way that made it feel as though the pace was truly picking up. Almost as though I could hear the woman’s ever-increasing heart beat growing louder and louder.

    Despite the slightly-contrived way in which Ito sets up this situation — the man just having to leave the room and just so happens to trip and die — this is still up there as a favourite of mine. This is less of an evolving story per-se. It is more of a situation that this woman, and by extension us as readers, must endure.