Uzumaki Volume 1 Review

Uzumaki Volume 1

Art and Story by: Junji Ito

Published (JP) by: Shogakukan Inc.

Licensed (US) by: Viz Media

Spirals seem pretty harmless—until Junji Ito’s Uzumaki comes into the picture.

Uzumaki is a manga about Kurozu, a small coastal town cursed by all things spiral. When Shuichi Saito’s father becomes obsessed with anything spiral, a series of events reveal the deep-seeded curse of uzumaki, or the spiral. Told from the perspective of Shuichi’s mild-mannered girlfriend, Kirie Goshima, Uzumaki follows the twisted fates of the town’s inhabitants.

Uzumaki is more of a psychological horror with a corporeal feeling about it—almost as if spirals can grab any reader and drive them crazy. With each event surrounding the residents of Kurozu, readers become just as confused and fearful as the townspeople. No one knows why the spirals are causing such chaos, and the characters don’t try to seek out why the events are happening in the first place.

By the end of the first volume, the spirals seem to be just a natural occurrence. With the repetition of spirals throughout the manga and the characters not making a break for another city, Uzumaki leaves any reader wondering how much more damage can be inflicted by spirals.

The art of Uzumaki is truly beautiful while depicting gory scenes. There are points in the manga where certain scenes could be isolated from the rest of the manga and framed inside a J-horror exhibition. Ito does an excellent job in making impossible things—Shuichi’s father twisting his entire body into a spiral—believable. It helps the imaginative story become more realistic and visceral for the reader.

Uzumaki showcases the talent of Junji Ito, one of Japan’s leading horror comics artist. Besides Uzumaki, Ito has released horror greats like Gyo and Tomie, which was turned into a live-action movie. Drawing from famous inspirations Kazuo Umezu, Hideshi Hino, and H.P. Lovecraft, Ito has forged several unforgettable horror manga that garnered him the prestigious Umezu Prize for Horror. His background as a dental technician also appears in his work, especially in the various illustrations of the human body.

With its chilling story and convincing artwork, it is easy to see why Uzumaki was nominated for “Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material” in the 2002 Eisner Awards.  Uzumaki has the whole package in a horror manga. This is one manga that will definitely have readers thinking twice about spirals.

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