After reading Uzumaki, good luck looking at spirals the same way again.
Teen Kirie Goshima lives in a small town that’s… off. Her boyfriend Shuichi says he can feel it and they need to get out. Unfortunately, neither one of them heed his advice.
It starts with seeing whirlwinds and Shuichi’s father becoming obsessed with the image of the spiral. It leads to Shuichi’s father dying in the shape of a spiral, and Shuichi’s mother becoming so horrified by the shape that she cuts off her hair and the skin on her fingers and toes so she doesn’t have to see any spiral patterns.
The strangeness continues. When people die and are cremated, the smoke and ash turn into the shape of a spiral in the sky. Hair takes on a life of its own and turns into spirals. A boy gets a strange spiral on his back, and then it starts to puff out, and it turns into a shell. Before long, he’s a giant, humanoid snail. More people are turning into snails, and pregnant women start needing to drink blood like vampires. But as things get worse and worse, the townspeople realize there is no escape from the town. People who come into the town to try to rescue them also find themselves unable to get back out.
Uzumaki is a horror manga, but rather than spooky or creepy, it mostly goes for the weird and the gruesome. While there aren’t really scary pictures in here, there are images meant to turn your stomach and make you squeamish—be forewarned if you’re overly sensitive to these things. The mangaka’s biography mentions how he was influenced by Kazuo Umezu and H.P. Lovecraft, and you can definitely see those influences on these pages.
The art—though admittedly unpleasant-looking at parts—is very skillful. When I say “unpleasant,” I mean he chooses to show disgusting images, not that he lacks any talent. In fact, it’s thanks to his talent that the images manage to be as disturbing as they are. Ito goes into intricate detail, whether it’s a background scene, a face trapped in fire or a snail person.
Uzumaki has been published before, but now VIZ Media is releasing a hardcover that contains all three volumes — the whole series — in one nicely packaged book. Some of the pages are in color and there’s a “lost chapter” at the end. It’s also a fun move that a major horror manga like this is being released so close to Halloween.
Publisher: VIZ Media
Story & Art: Junji Ito
Available: October 15, 2013