October Frights #2: Uzumaki Manga Omnibus

Here is a spine tingling horror comic perfect for the Halloween season. I nearly put Red River on hiatus to do Uzumaki as a Halloween read along, but decided against it. Uzumaki is simply best experienced without each eerie vignette being spoiled. This handsome hardcover omnibus containing the three trade paperback volumes of Uzumaki on nice sturdy paper. Uzumaki follows Kirie Goshima and her paranoid boyfriend Shuichi, two teens living an isolated town in Japan, as they witness strange phenomenon concerning spirals.

At first it is small things, like little whirlwinds becoming common as they blow through the streets, but then people become obsessed with the shape. They start to act strangely, by hoarding spiral shaped objects or going into a panic when they see a spiral, but soon the residents of the town afflicted by the obsession start dying. The deaths are usually accompanied by a terrifying physical transformation as humans are twisted into a noodly loops or become large snails (complete with spiral shell). The smoke of their cremation fires form spiraling clouds in the sky and the ashes always fall into the pond at the center of the town. Shuichi’s parents are among the first victims and he is the first person to figure out what is going on, but as he is helpless to do more than protect Kirie, who always finds herself at the center of each strange incident.

And bizarre the incidents are. Some of the chapters are almost comical. Such as the one where Kirie’s hair is possessed by the spiral and begins to turn into flamboyant curls that hypnotize her classmates. But even at its most absurd, Uzumaki still manages to be very unsettling. Each chapter is self contained but the narrative slowly builds to its horrifying, apocalyptic climax. Junji Itoh relies heavily on body horror. Bodies are turned into grotesque mockeries of the human form. If you are squeamish and the idea of watching an eyeball get sucked into a spiral shaped void in the middle of where a face should be, Uzumaki is probably going to be more than you can handle.

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