Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Uzumaki, vol. 1, 2nd ed.

By Junji Ito
Released in the US by Viz

Slugline: At what point do you stop saying it is a trick of the light and run for the hills?

Kurozo-cho is a cursed town, where there are spirals everywhere, attracting the inhabitant's fascination and leading to self-destructive behaviors. Kirie has lived in the town her whole life and has never noticed just how many dust devils and random whirlpools that exist in the water. But her boyfriend Shuichi has started to notice the differences since he started to go to school the next town over. Perhaps it is the awareness of the spirals that cause a rising spate of strangeness and death, each connected to the act or mesmerism of a spiral. Both of Shuichi's parents die haunted by it and Kirie's father, a potter, starts creating pottery that shows it. Spiral related mishaps start claiming Kirie's friends and classmates, culminating at the end of the volume of Kirie only barely escaping a fate that claims another classmate.

I haven't actually read any of the version of the Ring, only watched the original movie, so I do not know how this feels in comparison to it, which is a claim on the back cover blurb. However, at the moment it feels very episodic, much more so than the Ring. Which leads one to the question of the slugline, when do you realize everything you know has gone mad and you run for it? I would like to think the tipping point would have been episode five, when something simply impossible happens in broad daylight and with multiple witnesses. The art is both a strength and weakness, in which horrible things are simply and clearly drawn, with no speed lines or anything else to distract you from the concreteness of the events. But the characters, when they are not facing a horror, seem rather stiff and unresponsive. Still, it does do a good job of creeping you out.

This is the 2nd edition of the manga, and in this version the story has been presented in the original format, unflipped. The previous edition from 2001 seems to have been flipped. And though you can't see it here, there are ghostly images on the cover, in a contrasting shade of black.

Uzumaki, vol. 1, 2nd ed. is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


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