by Emil Favila, Reporter
Recently, I had the pleasure of reviewing the Uzumaki (3-in-1 Deluxe Edition) by Junji Ito. Released last month (October 15, 2013), the series was drawn from 1998 to 1999 with a live action movie debut in 2000. Uzumaki in Japananese translates to “spiral”. The series was inspired by Ito’s study of the shape. For a time he studied and ate everything spiral shaped like swirled ice cream, sushi, candy and rice. He also studied snails, whirlpools, and shells. He immersed himself in his own spiral obsession and that’s how the story was born. Uzumaki will most likely be the scariest thing you read in print for a long time.
The story takes place in Kurouzu-cho, a small town in Japan surrounded by fog. It’s centered around 2 main characters, Shuichi and his girlfriend Kirie. Every story arc has a different spiral dilemma involving various sub-characters, but ultimately they are (spoiler alert!) the main characters who stay alive the longest. Uzumaki begins from Kirie’s perspective and how she begins to eventually believe the town Kurouzu-cho is “cursed by the spiral” according to her boyfriend. On her way home she encounters a whirlwind out of nowhere and witnesses Shuichi’s father strangely photographing a snail in an alley. Kirie asks Shuichi about his father’s behavior and he tells her that lately he has developed an obsession of spirals. Shuichi tells her all about his father’s obsession but Kirie thinks it’s mostly silly. That is, until one night, when she witnesses Shuichi’s father moving his eyeballs like a spiral within his own body. A few days later Shuichi’s father fits his entire body into big pot by turning himself into a spiral. When Shuichi’s father is cremated his ashes form in a spiral shape into the sky and his mother swears his spirit is talking to her.
The initial story with Shuichi’s dad sets the events on how various people in the town of Kurouzu-cho are affected by the “Spiral” curse. Immediately after the death of Shuichi’s father, his mother grows a fear of spirals ultimately taking her own life. Other side stories include a girl with spiral hair, an obsessed boy in love with Kirie, an inseparable young couple with disapproving parents, pregnant women giving birth to hornets, a new girl who all the boys in school are drawn to except Shuichi, and last but not least people who become snails. All these stories incorporate how the “spiral curse” affects them.
The concept itself is different enough to set it apart from other Japanese horror tales like Ju-On (“The Grudge”) or Ringu (“The Ring”), which deal with strictly ghosts. While most of the Japanese horror stories deal with mostly psychological horror, Uzumaki is not afraid to display a bit of gore into the story, or afraid of being called cheesy. Some part’s of Uzumaki can be found quite quirky, despite the horror element. If you’re a fan of the Evil Dead series, which combines horror with subtle humor, then this may be down your alley. It’s scary because the “spiral” is an every day occurrence whether we pay attention to it or not. It comes in the form of food, items or just mental thought. If you’re a fan of horror, or have never read Uzumaki, then this is a must own!
Comics Online gives Uzumaki (3-in-1 Deluxe Edition) 5 out 5 swirls.