Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Uzumaki: Spiral into Horror - Junji Ito

Manga horror. Manga might not be your thing, but this is quite different. The Spiral starts with madness and recurring spiral patterns "infecting" a small Japanese fishing village and evolves in a series of individually shocking stories into a surreal mix of monsters, mutation, violence, darkness and death.

Absent are all the normal Manga materials - busty high school girls, battling robots, reality defying ninjas, cute side kicks and a mix of bewildering angels, aliens and faeries. In contrast, the Spiral is populated by the nervous inhabitants of the village and the recurring, sinister presence of the spiral shape. The series follows the life of one inhabitant in particular, Kirie. She has an uncanny physical resemblance to John Tenniel's illustrations of Alice in Wonderland! The stories report her many close encounters with the growing evil. Sometimes Kirie is merely a witness but gradually the stories draw her into greater danger, along the way involving her reclusive boyfriend and the rest of her family.

At first the stories revolve around a crazy obsession with the spiral shape, but gradually the surreal visual elements start to become more obvious. I couldn't put it down. By the end, the whole thing is so surreal it is simply shocking to move from panel to panel. I think I'll have to think twice before going back to Newgrange!