torachan: a cartoon owl with the text "everyone is fond of owls" (everyone is fond of owls)
Title: Tomie
Author: Itou Junji
Number of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 2/5

Summary: After Tomie is murdered, she shows up at school as if nothing had happened. It turns out that any part of her body, no matter how small, can eventually grow to a new Tomie, and all these Tomies are kind of evil and cause all sorts of trouble all over Japan.

Review: I really loved Uzumaki, so I downloaded this gigantic best of Itou Junji collection, which had all of his early works, and I fully expected to read the whole collection, but after the disappointment that was Tomie, I ended up deleting everything. :p The original premise isn't that great, certainly not great enough for a whole bunch of stories about new Tomies growing from bits of her body and causing trouble. One or two short stories would have been okay, but it's the exact same thing over and over and over again and I just got so bored, it was a chore to finish reading. There is a sequel, too, but I'm not going to force myself to bother with it.

Title: Gyo
Author: Itou Junji
Number of Volumes: 2
My Rating: 5/5

Summary: When Tadashi and his girlfriend Kaori go to Okinawa on vacation, they are attacked by fish who seem to have grown legs. They manage to get home safely, but soon these legged fish begin attacking the rest of Japan as well. Meanwhile Kaori falls ill, and their only hope is Tadashi's strange uncle, who himself has become obsessed with the mystery of these fish, but does he really have Kaori's best interests in mind when he takes her in?

Review: This one, on the other hand, I loved almost as much as Uzumaki. It had a good mystery to the horror, which I think is necessary for me. There was no mystery to Tomie. I mean, it was mysterious how she could replicate herself, but it wasn't treated as a mystery, nor was it ever revealed why (and I didn't really care, either). But this has lots of mystery and reveals, and a good pace. I was kind of eh on the ending, which felt a bit abrupt, but overall I really enjoyed it. I may selectively check out more of his stuff, but definitely don't want to slog through the whole collection. Anyone have recs for specific titles?
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Title: Uzumaki
Author: Itou Junji
Number of Volumes: 3
My Rating: 5/5

High school student Kirie first begins to notice something strange is going on in her town when her boyfriend Shuichi's father becomes obsessed with anything spiral-shaped or -patterned, and eventually kills himself by forcing his body into a spiral. Things only get worse after that. Shuichi says the spiral has contaminated their town, that it's the spiral that's causing all these mysterious mutations and deaths and weird happenings. But what is the spiral and what is its purpose?

This is a pretty awesome horror manga. The chapters are very episodic, each with one weird new happening, but it all comes together, and things from earlier on show up later just when you thought the author and Kirie had forgotten about them. The art style is very retro. I was surprised to see it was written in the late '90s. I would have guessed decades earlier from the looks of it, but I like the retro feel. (The town itself also feels very timeless in that smalltown sort of way. When someone comes in from outside later, she has a cellphone, but before that, it could be taking place any time in the past several decades.)


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