I haven’t read a lot of manga in my life. Mainly because I’ve never felt like I wanted to pay for a story I could watch free legally in animation form.
But there has been some manga that I’ve always wanted to own. And a few of those are the works of Junji Ito.
This mainly came from Super Eyepatch Wolf’s video on the Junji Ito adaptation, where he talked about what makes them so good.
And from then on, I’ve had this interest in him.
But then I couldn’t take it, and I finally got a copy of one of his work. That being Junji Ito’s masterpiece Uzumaki.
Uzumaki follows Kirie and Shuichi in the town of Kurôzu-cho, where hauntings begin to happen. All of which taking the form of spirals. And with such a weird premise, you’d think that it wouldn’t be that scary. How could spirals be scary? Same thing I thought before reading the manga.
The best quality of Uzumaki and all of Junji Ito’s other works is its artwork. I have never found anime or manga that scary. And while Uzumaki never gave me nightmares or anything like it, I can see how it could terrify someone. The extremely detailed lineart and the inhuman creatures drawn in his stories make for a very scary tone. And while it can be (relatively) easy to draw a deformed body scarily, drawing something like a spiral or a housecat and making it terrifying is hard and it’s where we see how well Ito Junji’s drawings work for the tone. That even something simple can be so terrifying in his books.
And while it is the visuals that take most of the attention, I think the story of Uzumaki needs as much of it. The majority of the book consists of one chapter stories that all have to do with the spirals that are haunting the city, and then end with a 6 chapter long story where the hauntings go crazy and become more like one of Ito Junji’s biggest inspirations, Lovecraft. And this is where the story is arguably at it’s best. While the one chapter stories are very good at times, they can sometimes feel under-developed or useless. Stories like “Twisted Souls”, “Jack-in-the-Box” and “Mosquitoes” feel like they were horror stories Ito Junji thought of and then put the spirals in, and not the other way around. It made a 1/3 of the book very boring to read since the spirals were never integral to those stories making them less interesting.
So when the story ended with a longer story, it felt like Ito Junji had more time to develop the story he clearly wanted to tell. Cause that part was honestly perfect. That ending was amazing. And so I was so sad that such a big part of the amazing story was ruined by un-used potential. If those chapters were cut out to either make the book shorter or to flesh out the other chapters, then I think that would’ve been great. Cause I feel like those stories never did anything to me, and so I think cutting those out could’ve worked better.
Yeah. I don’t know what to think of this. Its beginning and end are both amazing. But the middle manages to stop the momentum that the beginning had which is such a shame…