Uzumaki: Spiral into Horror (vol. 1) by Junji Ito, translated and adapted by Yuji Oniki
If you liked Koji Suzuki’s freakishly scary Ring/Spiral/Loop trilogy, you’ll definitely appreciate this fairly recent (I just discovered it at our local library!) horror series. Uzumaki means whirlpool, swirl, vortex … and that bottomless maelstrom visually represented by spiral shapes here is at the root of unspeakable horror (not to mention gruesome deaths) in the small Japanese coastal town of Kurôzu-cho.
The town’s name is definitely a warning … I haven’t seen the kanji for the name, but I’m guessing it’s derived from kuroi, which means black or dark, but could also be a Japanization of the word ‘closed,’ which gets phonetically translated as kurôzu in katakana, the Japanese phonetic alphabet used specifically for foreign words. The addition of ‘-cho’ merely means town. In contrast, the next town over is Midoriyama-shi, or ‘green mountain village.’ Now we know exactly where all the evil lurks, right?
Teenager Kirie Goshima suspects something isn’t right, especially after witnessing the strange behavior of her boyfriend Shuichi Saito’s father who becomes suddenly obsessed with spiral shapes of all kinds. Shuichi, who gets out of Kurôzu-cho every day to go to school in green mountain Midoriyama-shi, is distraught enough to suggest to Kirie that running away might be their only option for survival. But Kirie won’t leave her family, even when Shuichi’s father dies violently and his mother is on the verge of her own desperate demise. No one is safe in their dark, closed town … from lovers to classmates to any unsuspecting bystander.
Oooh, and a day after reading the book I went to our son’s doctor’s office … and what did I see on the wall but an anatomical chart of the inner ear – the cochlea is a spiral! – a duplicate of such a chart in the psychiatric ward of Kurôzu Hospital where Shuichi’s mother ends up! I have to admit, I definitely had a visceral moment of EEEEK!!
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2001 (United States), 2007 (VIZ Signature Edition)
Uzumaki 1 © Junji Ito
Original Japanese edition published by Shogakukan Inc.