Creator: Junji Ito
Publisher: Viz
Age Rating: Mature
Genre: Horror
RRP: $15.95
Uzumaki v1
Reviewed by Michael Aronson

�Kurozu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in small ways: seashells, ferns, whirlpools in water, whirlwinds in air. And in large ways: the spiral marks on people's bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi's father, the voice from the cochlea in your inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurozu-cho are pulled ever deeper, as if into a whirlpool from which there is no return...�

There is nothing as creepy as Uzumaki on the stands today. Nothing. It�s not the outright scary blood �n guts kind of horror, but a near perfect mixture of psychology trauma and extremely detailed distorted imagery. A single read-through can easily demolish a reader�s appetite, and this isn�t even the most twisted volume of the three books.

Ito knows that real horror isn�t necessarily about what�s on the page, but what�s in the characters� and readers� minds. Fear and madness are the means by which the characters are haunted, chased, abused and slowly whittled away by forces beyond their reckoning, that is, the spiral. The spiral isn�t a person or a living being, but it�s a recurring image that brings madness and obsession wherever it appears. It doesn�t possess others, but they nevertheless become infatuated with it, such as Shuichi�s dad who stirs spirals into his soup, Kirie�s friend Azami who uses the spiral scar on her forehead to attract boys, and the residents of the town who are unable to look away each time it presents itself. There are a couple stories that are less horrifying and slightly silly, which robs the overall story of some of its suspense, but on the whole it�s incredibly strong.

If the story had not been as effective as it is, the art could have easily carried it along. Ito lives up to the theme of obsession on his own by scrawling excessive spiral imagery whenever the opportunity present itself, and makes each transformation and warped disfiguration in the characters and their world that much more gruesome.

Uzumaki is the measure by which all horror stories should and will be judged. The meticulous detail only makes the terrifying world of the spiral that much more believable. The stories will stick with you far longer than you will want them to.

12 October 2007
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