Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Uzumaki: 3-in-1 Deluxe Edition (2013)

Author: Junji Ito | Illustrator: Junji Ito | Page Count: 648

Spirals… this town is contaminated with spirals.

Some fears are universal, such as the eeriness of an empty corridor or short-cutting through a shadowy graveyard at midnight, and some are more specific, such as islanders and their complicated relationship with the sea; Junji Ito has the uncanny ability to tap into both kinds and use them to full effect.

Uzumaki (Spiral) is the story of a small coastal town, Kurôzu-cho, and a girl named Kirie Goshima. The town has a strange influence upon its inhabitants that most of them are oblivious to, but as the peculiarities escalate Kirie begins to take notice of how horrific everything is and how difficult it is to escape.

Making the source of the horror a shape, the titular uzumaki, as opposed to an entity that can be hunted and killed creates a fine line between bizarre and ridiculous, but Ito seems to be fully aware of that; he takes that invisible line and warps even it into a spiral. The result is that the weirdness creeps from deeply unsettling to just plain silly and back again, sometimes from one panel to the next, but approach it with an open mind and you’ll be drawn invariably and uncomfortably inward. The attention to detail in the environment helps a lot. Everything feels saturated with a Lovecraftian aura. The people that live in Kurôzu-cho are warped but believable.

Each episodic chapter is somewhat self-contained but also adds to the overall arc and moves the narrative forward. Something that I'm certain will divide readers is the abrupt way each one ends. Some people will feel they were cut short. I'm guessing that by withholding a traditional resolution Ito was hoping to leave the reader with disturbing thoughts, thoughts that would wriggle and worm their way around the consciousness until they’re exorcised. In my case that exorcism was sometimes as ineffectual as the attempt at purging malady was for some of the book's characters. (Those mushrooms! Wiggins.)

The book collects into hardcover all three volumes of the Uzumaki manga.

4½ bent shapes out of 5

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