“This Town Is Contaminated By Spirals”
Uzumaki is a fantastically disturbing manga and holds up as one of the best Junji Ito has ever produced. It’s the perfect example of how to take a very simple concept and extrapolate that out in horrifying ways, delivering a psychologically charged horror that’s horrifying to read – and impossible to put down.
The story takes place in a sleepy coastal town of Kurouzo-ho. The narrator here is teenager Kirie Goshima, and as she heads through town, meeting up with her withdrawn boyfriend Shuichi Saito, he tells her there’s something wrong with the town. Specifically, that “This town is contaminated by spirals”
Across the 19 chapters that follow, the horror intensifies and part of the allure with this manga comes from the warped and imaginative ways that spirals are used. From killer mosquitos to a bizarre lighthouse, all the way across to a series of tornados and whirlpools, Uzumaki has heaps of creativity packed into its gorgeously drawn pages.
There’s 653 of them to be precise, and not only are the pages incredibly detailed, they’re all completely done in black and white (with the exception of one chapter.) That’s an ingenious move to be honest as it works to heighten the horror. It also leaves a lot up to the imagination, especially during some of the more gnarly or squeamish parts of the story.
This is most certainly not for kids and there are a few segments here that will have you wincing or wide-eyed in shock. You’ll certainly never look at spirals the same way when you’re finished, that’s for sure!
What’s particularly impressive about this manga though is the way it manages to blend both an episodic and serialized structure together. The opening few chapters set the scene but then the middle chunk of this essentially work as standalone chapters, twisting and distorting this concept of a spiral in as many different ways as possible.
As the story progresses, the situation becomes more bleak and hopeless, before the final few chapters round out this narrative on a bone-chilling note. No spoilers here but the ending was certainly not what I envisioned!
If you’re a fan of horror or manga, Uzumaki is an absolute must-read. This is a horrifyingly creative venture and a story that just gets better and better the longer it goes on.
Verdict - 9/10