Name: Uzumaki | Uzumaki: Spiral into Horror
Author: Junji Ito
Published: January 12, 1998 – August 30, 1999
Length: 3 Volumes | 19 Chapters + 1 Extra Chapter
Genre: Dementia, Drama, Horror, Romance, Supernatural, Psychological, Seinen
One afternoon during work, I was thinking about a short manga I read a few years back. It was mainly about a mountain that had human shaped holes that perfectly fit humans that people believed was made for them and only them. It was a short little horror story called The Enigma of Amigara Fault and I really enjoyed it. Look it up online, it’ll only take a few minutes to read through. Wanting to read something similar, I looked up the author, Junji Ito, and his other works. One of them that was recommended was Uzumaki. I remembered that I managed to finish reading the manga in less than a couple of hours since I was just so captivated by the plot and concept.
If you’re interested in anything Lovecraftian, the cosmic horror of the unknown, and want to read it in manga form, then Uzumaki is a pretty good recommendation. The story revolves all on a single pattern. A spiral. Such a simple concept takes on a horrifying form as we see in this manga. The story takes place in a small fogbound town, Kurozuchou, that’s believed to be cursed. We follow Kirie Goshima, and her boyfriend, Shuichi Saito, as they live life in a town haunted not by someone but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral. Throughout the story, the spiral takes on different forms in the environment – from seashells to whirlpools and then spiral marks on the bodies of the inhabitants of the town. Madness covers the town as strange situations pop up one after another with no means to an end, as if it were a spiral.
In my opinion, the story really takes off right from the get-go with the first two chapters. Although I feel the story near the end falls off a bit and doesn’t feel as enticing as the beginning, the story of this manga is quite mesmerizing and fun to read. Each chapter of the manga we watch as Kirie and Shuichi, mainly Kirie, go through different scenarios involving spirals. At first, the chapters of Uzumaki seem like a collection of short stories involving spirals, each different than the last. You can probably read any random chapter without any prior information of the manga and still enjoy reading it. But as you dive deeper into the manga, you begin to see how each chapter story connects together towards the main plot.
The main part of horror in this manga is obsession. The obsession with spirals. Rather than using jump scares or anything of the like, the true sense of being scared in this manga is the feeling of the unknown. What do the spirals mean? Why are they everywhere in the story? What do they mean when “the sound, it pierces my ears”? Is there someone controlling the town behind the scenes? Turning page by page, you don’t know what to expect if you haven’t read or seen anything like this story. When I imagined the ending of the story, it was different to what it was when I actually read it. I’ve read online that people were somewhat disappointed and felt that it was a cop-out, but I was satisfied with it. It left questions unanswered which I believe is a strong point in this manga. It has the reader use their imagination and come up with their own explanation of the events occurring in the town.
The art in this manga is simply sublime in my opinion. Junji Ito really knows how to creep a reader out with his art style in this story. The art style really contributes to the creepiness in this story. If this were a web novel or something without the art, you probably won’t have the same experience of fear and tension as you would in this manga. Though some characters are drawn similar, they are usually not as important in the main plot as they are the main protagonists and their family. You’ll find a spiral drawn in every chapter that just adds to the freakishness of the pattern. A lot of contains images that aren’t suitable for the faint of heart. So if you think you can’t handle the story and art of this manga, it’s probably best not to read it, however, I truly believe that this manga should be on your plan to read list since it’s just so out there regarding creativity and imagination.
The main two characters in Uzumaki are Kirie and Shuichi. We mainly follow Kirie from her point of view, but we do see a lot of her boyfriend, Shuichi, as well. Along with them, we see recurring characters, mainly both of their families. Most other characters we see that are introduced in a chapter usually only last for said chapter, we usually never see them again, with only the plot of the chapter left in our minds.
In the beginning, we’re introduced to Kirie. From what we see from her, she looks like a normal girl, and that’s what she is. She is someone that keeps getting into troublesome situations even though she isn’t looking for them. However, as we progress through the story, she is probably one of the only ones that’s able to keep her sanity despite everything she’s going through. After witnessing what she’s done and been through, she is someone I pity the most in the story.
Shuichi is Kirie’s boyfriend in the story. He seems like your typical high school boy. He goes to different school than Kirie, in a neighbouring ciry and when he returns home he can tell somethings wrong with the town. He suggests to Kirie that they should leave this town, only for Kirie to think that her boyfriend’s gone a little crazy and decides to stay home. Throughout the story, we see Shuichi protect Kirie in numerous occasions, saving her life. You can’t help but respect the guy. He’s truly the voice of reason. But as we progress, we watch Shuich as he becomes mad due to the spiral. He still acts like a normal person yet withdrawn, but still cares for Kirie especially at the end with the two of them.
Other than our two main protagonists, the town’s people themselves go through changes in the story, Near the end of the manga all the town’s people have practically gone mad from spirals and they themselves have become, well, less “human” in a sense. Read the manga, you’ll get what I’m saying.
Overall, I’ve totally enjoyed reading this manga in one session and will probably reread it again in the future just to give myself a good shiver. This story may not appeal to everyone, but if it does, the freakishness and disturbing images are definitely worth the ride. If you’ve got a couple of hours to spare, then please read and enjoy this manga, as well as Junji Ito’s other works such as The Enigma of Amigara Fault since it’s short.