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Spirals Will Never Be The Same For Me
By Ghia Vitale
In the spirit of Halloween, I’m reviewing a classic seinen horror manga: Uzumaki by Junji Ito. There are light spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution!
Junji Ito is a leading creator of horror manga in Japan and the otaku world. He’s so popular, Crunchyroll has turned a good amount of his works into anime. When you immerse yourself in the worlds contained in his manga, the artwork and words give you serious chills. Ever since I read The Enigma of Amigara Fault, I’ve been eager to read more of Ito’s work. I appreciated how the aforementioned manga combined cool horror art and concepts with social commentary.
Shortly afterward, I learned about Uzumaki, which is one of his most famous horror creations. This manga appeared as a serial in Big Comic Spirits from 1998 to 1999. This manga is old school and that’s part of what makes it so appealing. If you like classic manga, you’ll never forget reading Uzumaki because it's the scary manga equivalent of a cult classic.
The word “uzumaki” is a Japanese that means swirl or spiral. True to its namesake, the series is about a town that’s under a spiral curse. For the record: The town is called Kurōzu-cho, which is Japanese for “Black Vortex Town.” The stories primarily follows 2 protagonists as the curse creeps further into their lives: Kirie Goshima, a high school student and her boyfriend, Shuichi Saito. The curse of the spiral manifests itself in truly shocking, terrifying, and supernatural ways. I appreciate how Ito’s imagination brought this curse to life in vivid detail. While Ito calls upon certain horror tropes, his ideas are very original and bound to make your skin crawl.
In fact, one of Ito’s most iconic drawings come from this manga: the one that features Azami Kurotani (a “friend” of Kirie’s) with a giant spiral on her face. Her eye sits on the spiral’s edge, exposed as it dwells on the verge of swirling back into her skull. (As you might already know, I’m a big fan of cute manga, but I’m also big on horror.) I liked this horror image so much, I eventually bought a shirt with Azami and her spiraling eye on it.
As a Witch who has experience with casting curses, I appreciate how Ito injects some realistic curse effects and psychology into this world he's created. For example, I’ve heard of people who believe they’ve been cursed being followed by certain symbols. According to LearnReligion.com, spirals signify the natural world, the cycles of nature (including death and rebirth), and the cosmos. If you take these meanings into consideration, the force that’s manifesting the curse in Uzumaki is either nature itself or a cosmic force. I love how this manga puts a horrifying spin on a fairly common symbol. I'll never see spirals the same way ever again.
If you’re into body horror, you’ll love this manga series. Ito’s portrayals of body horror are amazing—I am in awe of the stuff bodies are capable of doing in his imagination. From epically bad hair days to full-blown transformations, Ito has truly nailed it when it comes to body horror. Furthermore, the way his characters react to all that body horror makes the story even better. If you read this, get ready to see some truly jaw-dropping behavior from the characters in this story.
Originally, Uzumaki was released as 3 separate books. Fortunately, you can now get the entire series in a single book on Amazon. The Uzumaki (3-in-1, Deluxe Edition) contains all 3 volumes of the manga. I recommend getting this book so you can read the whole series without any interruptions.
Enjoy your Halloween and stay spooky!
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