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Charles Tan

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Uzumaki Volume 1 (Junji Ito)

Viz Media

Uzumaki Volume

Publisher Viz
Age Rating
Older Teen

Kurôzu-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 According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the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 everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people's bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi's father and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurôzu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!

What's impressive with Uzumaki isn't simply that Ito tells us a horrifying tale or depicts terrifying art but he manages to do both by combining both elements--the perfect synthesis of sequential art and text. Without one element, the other simply won't work. In this manga, Ito starts with a simple shape, a spiral, and transforms it into something gruesome and scary. However, we also have a long story that grounds us in an interconnected narrative although that isn't apparent yet in this particular volume. There are six chapters in this manga, each one a short story on its own, yet the first chapter begins the conspiracy of Uzumaki.

While Uzumaki isn't a new release per se, Viz re-released it a few months ago and re-packaged it in a smaller but cheaper format, as well as keeping the right-to-left reading format. Moreover, it now comes with a sleek black cover with the illustration of the female character embossed on it--an improvement in my opinion over the old cover art (which was too colorful). The sound effects in this manga has been translated into English and probably makes a lot more sense to non-Japanese readers. As for the art, Ito is quite detailed and this is easily his best work as he emphasizes the spirals that is the source of the horror in this particular title. The story is gripping and ensnares you into its ludicrousness, which I think wouldn't have been possible without the illustrations to back it up.

The first volume ends on a good note, giving one enough closure but at the same time leaves room for expansion. I already owned the previous version of Uzumaki yet I bought this copy anyway and I feel it was worth it. Astute readers will be rewarded for it is here that the seeds of the epic finale is planted. Nonetheless, you don't need to read its sequels to enjoy this particular volume. Highly recommended unless you're prone to fits of terror and vertigo.


Summing Up:

Easily the best horror manga available.

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Comment by John Thomas at 20/02/2008 00:36:00

Nice review, Charles. I couldn't agree with your rating more. I am not sure if it is "easily" Ito's best artwork, but it is certainly top-notch.

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Comment by Charles Tan at 20/02/2008 04:40:00

For me it's the one manga that maximizes the medium. There wouldn't be horror without the art and the art in this manga is the most visceral.

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Comment by Sabrina at 20/02/2008 07:11:00

I have never read this particular book, but everyone whose read it loves it. I like your comments about the cover art. :)

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