One of my favorite things about "Uzumaki" is that you can open up to just about any page and you’re guaranteed to see something disturbing.
Uzumaki starts out simple enough. Kirie Goshima and Shuichi Saito are a couple of high school kids in the seaport town of
It doesn’t sound like a conventionally horror hook, because it’s not. There’s no ghost that needs to be appeased or a vampire to stake, just spirals. But how do you fight back against a shape? Especially one that’s part of you, in the twists of your fingerprints, the curl of your hair, ingrained into the double-helix of your
Junji Ito uses the basic set-up to just go all out and put on paper all of the crazy-spiral related stuff in his head. For example, from the basic premise of ‘Spirals take over small town,’ you wouldn’t expect people to turn into snails, would you? But they’re there.
While most of the stories are pretty episodic, the tension and craziness gets ratcheted up every volume. And considering that the snail people happen early in volume two, you can guess just how crazy things get by the end of volume 3.
Volume one is the slow-burn start of the series, focusing mostly on the Saito family. What I like about this volume is how, in the beginning, it’s conceivable that this is all just one man’s twisted obsession. But with each chapter it gets clear that things are much bigger than the main characters originally thought.
Volume two has the previously mentioned snail people, but it also has one of the creepiest arcs in the series: a couple of stories set in the neonatal ward of the town hospital. I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say that if you ever looked at a smiling baby and thought it was too cute to be true, than this story will prove you right.
Volume three concludes this whacked out horror story. The town is in the grips of the spiral, but even worse the citizens have also just completely lost it. Shuichi and Kirie decide to make a run for it.
Uzumaki isn’t perfect: even though Viz did a great job with it, the dialogue is wooden and the characters are pretty flat (Kirie’s boring and Shuichi’s a jerk). But it shows such inventiveness in the art and story that it really doesn’t matter. Even if you don’t like manga, if you’re a horror fan in any sense you need to check this series out.