Otaku USA Magazine
[Review] Franken Fran
© Katsuhisa Kigitsu 2007, 2008

As a horror manga connoisseur, I’ve always stuck to the classics: Junji Ito, Shintaro Kago, and Hideshi Hino. Katsuhisa Kigitsu’s Franken Fran was always one series that called out to me, however, after untranslated images hit the Internet and I began reading about the title via forums of like-minded Japanese horror fanatics and other manga. It was right up my alley, but I had nowhere to actually read it, until now. So was it worth the wait? Answer: I’m chomping at the bit for the next release.

Fran herself is a Frankenstein-esque creation (hence her name), the “daughter” of Dr. Madaraki. The doctor goes missing and leaves Fran in control of a house full of bizarre scientific experiments and medical equipment, so Fran takes it upon herself to solve problems for anyone and anything that comes through her door. Unfortunately, she’s a little lacking when it comes to common sense. That means certain situations that call for finesse get bizarre solutions, and others not optimal solutions at all. Weirdly enough, that’s what makes this series so fun.

Fran is often too enthusiastic to fix someone’s problem, resulting in horrific mistakes involving graphic mutilation or body horror. One of Fran’s “resolutions” includes removing a girl’s head, filling up the vacant space with other organs instead of the brain, and then keeping the dismembered head as a pet. Sometimes, the patients are no better than Fran is. In one story, selfish parents cut off weird growths on their daughter’s body because they can’t afford to give her proper medical care, and when it becomes too much of a hassle, they simply abandon her. It’s a cruel world, but one that Fran fits into quite well. Still, there are plenty of moments for black humor if you look for it.

In Volume 1 of the Seven Seas Omnibus edition (which I’m glad is 400 pages long since each vignette seems way too short) Fran creates a human chrysalis so a woman with a ruined body may live again, creates a bizarre two-faced man after raising a corpse from the dead, and tries her best to figure out how to cure a strange disease. It’s ghoulish good fun, and often legitimately disturbing. Perhaps the creepiest part is Fran’s own childlike innocence: she’s not really aware that what she’s doing is inherently wrong, since in her eyes she’s healing people and making them better. But we know. We all know as we thumb through the pages and watch her unravel people’s lives with her idea of “surgery.” And for some weird reason we keep reading, dismemberment after dismemberment. It’s an engrossing story, and if you love gore and guts as much as I do, you’ll find yourself with a new favorite in no time. Recommended.

publisher: Seven Seas
story and art: Katsuhisa Kigitsu
rating: 16+