Manga Review – Uzumaki

Oh, where do I begin with Uzumaki?  I had such a hard time writing this without spoilers, because there is just so much I want to say about this manga.  I may actually write a second part to this, just so I can share all my feelings and thoughts that will contain spoilers, so those that don’t mind them can read it, and the those that do mind can avoid it.

The images of the manga featured in today’s review were all scanned from my copy of the Deluxe Edition.  I apologize if some of the images I share here are a little blurry.

Without further ado – Uzumaki by the amazing Junji Ito.

 

Uzumaki Cover
Cover of Uzumaki Deluxe Edition

The Basics:

My best friend (who I sometimes refer to as my soul sister) bought this as my birthday gift off Amazon.com.  This manga is three volumes long and 19 chapters long, not including a lost chapter and afterword.  I have the Deluxe Edition, which has all three volumes, including the lost chapter and afterword.  I found this version of the manga at my local Barns & Nobel for $27.99 without tax, and on Amazon Prime for about $18 without shipping.  Uzumaki is rated OT for older teen, and is full of graphic and disturbing images.  If you’re into horror, especially psychological horror, then Junji Ito’s work is for you.  On a scale of one to ten for graphic content, I’m going to rate an eight.

I read the first two chapters the night my friend gave it to me, and knew right away it wasn’t something I should read at night.  I’m the kind of person that certain images stick with, so even though I love all things spooky and bloody, I have to be careful not to take certain things to bed with me otherwise I may have difficulty sleeping.  That being said, quite a few things in this manga made me cringe and shocked me, and during the day I handled it just fine (lol).

Uzumaki chp 1 intro
Chp. 1 – The Spiral Obsession. Pgs 4 and 5 of the Deluxe Edition

The Plot/Story:

Kurouzu-cho is a small town on the coast of Japan.  A town that happens to be cursed.  Shuichi Saito, a withdrawn high school student who commutes out of town for school, believes this place is haunted by the pattern of a spiral.  He tries to bring the bizarre feelings this town emits to his girlfriend, Kirie Goshima’s, attention, but she doesn’t really start to see it for herself until he invites her to his house to witness some strange behavior his father has been displaying.  From then on, things take a spiraling down fall as Kirie narrates to us the strange events that took place in Kurouzu-Cho.

This story pulled me in right away.  Immediately the story indicates to you through it’s narrative and images that there is something wrong with this town.  Within the first few pages, it also becomes clear that whatever is going on here is also effecting the people in incredibly strange ways.  I found myself curious as to what was going to happen next, and I wanted to know how all of these things were happening, and despite wanting to be hopeful, the entire time I read this all I felt was impending doom.

I have been looking forward to, eventually, getting my hands on one of Junji Ito’s manga, so when it was given to me as a gift I was so excited! I had been watching several YouTube videos talking about his stories, and I was so happy to have him added to my collection.

I fell off track a little there (sorry), but all that being said – I very much enjoyed Uzumaki. I felt a variety of things going through this story, I can’t stop thinking about this story, and I highly recommend it.  I haven’t read anything like this in a while, and I am so happy.  I’m rating the story a definite ten out of ten, especially considering I plan on reading the whole thing again soon and I want others to read it so we can all talk about it.

 

Uzumaki pg 7 chp 1
Chap. 1; pg. 7 Deluxe Edition

The Artwork/Style:

Junji Ito created Uzumaki in the 1990’s, so the art style is older but amazing.  The attention to detail brings the town and the characters to life.  How realistic the artwork was made all the different expressions and reactions from them feel very believable.  I’m not sure if the original volumes of the manga feature these, but separating each volume in the Deluxe Edition are colored pages.  These pages are, in my opinion, very stunning, and are definitely eerie (as the whole manga is).  Without even reading the text, I could tell right away that there was something wrong – just by looking.  If you enjoy older anime and manga, then I think you’ll definitely enjoy the artwork Junji Ito has created.  I may be a bit bias here (I’ll admit it, because I’m so in love here) but I got to give the artwork/style a ten out of ten.

However, if the older styles aren’t really your jam, you may not care for it at all.  I still recommend giving a chance despite artistic preferences because the story is so intriguing.  As I said before, if you enjoy psychological horror, then I highly suggest looking into Junji Ito.  The story of Uzumaki is definitely creepy on it’s own, and I think his art style only adds to that feeling.

 

Uzumaki pg 18
Chap. 1; Pg. 20 Deluxe Edition

Overall:

Maybe I’m still excited by simply owning a piece of Junji Ito’s work, but I really enjoyed this story.  It had me totally sucked into it’s twister of a story, and it still does.  I cannot recommend it enough, because I really do want to talk more about the experience that is Uzumaki.  I’m looking forward to reading again myself, as well as looking forward to collecting more manga by Junji Ito.

Graphic Content:  8 out of 10

Story/Plot:  10/10

Art/Style:  10/10

Uzumaki pg 600 - 601
Chap. 19 Completion; Pgs. 600 and 601 Deluxe Edition 

©S.T. Jul. 11, 17 *Disclaimer – the writing is my own, however none of the images you see in this post belong to me.  I do not own any rights to any images used, only the writing portion*

 

Judge – Manga Review

This is actually a review I wrote a while ago.  The date at the very end of the post, next to my signature, is the date I originally wrote this.  I’ve made some edits since then, and I’m excited to be sharing this.  So, without further ado, I hope everyone who comes across this enjoys it.


Before continuing, I’ll quickly explain the breakdown of my review. I’ll be starting off with the basics – how long the series is, how much I bought it for, and what the recommended reading level is (I’m not sure if all manga have these, but I know some of the ones I’ll be writing about do). I’ll briefly explain the plot/story next. I’ll be sure to warn ahead of time if there’s anything I think will be a spoiler for anyone. I’ll also let you guys know what I think of the artwork and style of the manga. At the end, I’ll give my overall thoughts on the series, and based off my number scales, I’ll let you know if this is a series I recommend reading or not. The majority of manga I’ll be reviewing will be completed series, rather than one volume at a time.

The number scale I’m using is a typical one to ten scale on how much of something there is or how much I enjoyed reading things. There’s an example of this in the basics for the manga I’m reviewing today.

Today’s review is of a series called Judge, created by Yoshiki Tonogai. Here we go!

judge_2
Volume 1 cover found on Google Images

                                                     

The Basics:

This Manga is six volumes and 32 chapters long. Each volume was bought at my local Barns and Nobel for $12.99, not including tax. This particular manga is rated OT for Older Teens. It does have violence and some gore, along with some harsh language. In my opinion, the violence and language are well placed and don’t take away or distract from the story in anyway. Actually, it’s completely necessary for it to be there, as it’s part of the story. This, by far, is not the goriest story I’ve read or seen. On a scale of one to ten (one being not gross at all and ten being so over the top I could barely handle it), I’d say the level this manga hits is a three.

The Plot/Story:

Two years after causing the death of his brother, Hiro is kidnapped and confined inside an abandoned courthouse. Awaking there with an animal mask on his head, he discovers that there are others who have been kidnapped as well. All of them soon face judgment, as they each are tasked with deciding whose sins are greater. Lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, sloth, pride and greed (all represented by the animal masks each character starts out wearing) are all under judgment of each other. Every 12 hours, the group must vote on someone to sacrifice to make up for the sins they have committed, until there are only four survivors left.

Judge has a decent amount of twists in it. As I read, I found myself wanting to know more and more about how everyone got there, what their histories were, and who was behind the whole set up in the first place. People are definitely not who they seem to be in this manga, and it really did keep me on my toes. Even at the very end, I found myself surprised.

The development and speed of the story is just right. For only being six volumes long, the story is not rushed or cut off short. The pace the story sets suits the eerie mood of the manga. Character development was decent. Trust was either made or broken among the characters during certain events and choices that took place throughout the story, and the consequences of their decision making were well reflected in each person. This made it easy to either side or become suspicious of certain characters.

In the beginning, it did feel like the protagonist was being a bit too hopeful for what the situation called for, as I saw him attempting to be the hero by trying to find ways to get everyone out alive. Despite the others around him having major doubts, he still attempted this. However, overall, I do think that the rationality of the characters and the thought processes they each had made sense for each individual person in the story. The story goes back into each character’s background just enough for the reader to understand what their particular sin could be, and to relate to how they are feeling and thinking.

My one to ten rating for the story, based on how much I enjoyed it and its pace, is an eight. I would definitely pick up this manga again and give it another read. I also have recommended it to friends, and let a couple of them borrow the series so they could read it for themselves. It’s a well written story that will keep you guessing as to what the true purpose of the judgment is.
Now, as I began writing this review, I did learn that Judge is actually a sequel to a series called Doubt. I haven’t read that series yet, so I’m not sure how the two play into each other. However, in the future I will be collecting that series as well and therefore should be doing a review on that. This will probably take some time, but I’ll be sure to let everyone know when I’ve officially began reading Doubt.

Artwork/style:

The first few pages of each volume are actually colored, which I really appreciate. In high school, the majority of manga I collected was always in black and white, so when I first saw colored pages I was surprised and in love. The colors used in those first pages definitely set the tone for what’s about to happen in the rest of the volume.

judge-1183965
Colored page from volume one.  Source:  mangareader.net

In my opinion, the artwork style isn’t anything special. The style in which the characters are drawn is a style I felt I’ve seen before, so because of that, I’d rate the character art as a five out of ten. This didn’t necessarily bother me, as the style of the environment helped better set the mood. As the characters cast their votes for the sacrifice, more of the courthouse becomes unlocked to them (I won’t explain it anymore than that, you guys just have to read it for yourselves), and the more eerie the atmosphere feels. The courthouse in itself felt like a mystery to me, as well as what the characters where doing there.

judge-1206330
Source:  mangareader.net

 

Overall:

I felt like this series was a good read. For those who read or watch this kind of genre (horror, suspense) it may not feel like anything new to you. For those who aren’t so familiar with it, this may be a good first series to pick up to get you started. I do recommend it to others, and as I said before, I would read it again. It’s just the right length, it doesn’t leave any loose ends, and I felt satisfied after I completed it. The major good thing is, I don’t regret investing in this short series.
Ratings:

Violence – 3 out of 10

Plot/story – 8 out of 10

Character art – 5 out of 10


 

Let me know what you all thought in the comments. If there’s any other points you would like me to touch on in future reviews, please let me know. Also, is this a manga you would consider reading? Is there a series you would like me to pick up and read? Any questions or suggestions are completely welcome.

As before (and always), thank you for reading, and I’ll catch you all for the next review!

©S.T. Nov. 6, 16  *Disclaimer – the writing is my own, however none of the images you see in this post belong to me.  I do not own any rights to any images used, only the writing portion*

 

My Brief Anime History

In my Formal Introduction I stated that I discovered anime around eleven or twelve.  There’s a possibility that I was a little younger than that, but I don’t exactly remember.  What I do remember is watching Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z with my brother and sister in elementary school. I believe I was in the fourth grade when I started watching it, or at least that’s as far back as my memory of it goes.

The three of us would wake up at midnight to catch the show on Toonami.  I believe we either set alarms or one of us would wake up first, then stir the others, but regardless we’d all end up in the living room together watching the epicness that would take place in the episode airing.  I also recall doing something similar when we started watching Cowboy Bebop, but I recall seeing that one specifically with my brother.

From there, I continued watching anime with friends or even my step siblings (I didn’t mention that I have step siblings in my introduction, but I do have them).  My love for it grew and grew as I enjoyed anime such as Outlaw Star, Inuyasha, Fruits Basket, Yuyu Hakusho, Full Metal Alchemist, Sailor Moon, and yes, even Pokemon.

I don’t remember exactly what age I started reading manga at, but once I started that, it became my main fix.  Manga at the time was cheaper and easier for me to collect, so I collected as much of it as I could.  The first series I started collecting was Angel Sanctuary by Kaori Yuki.  I fell in love with its story and artwork, some of it still being some of the most beautiful work I’ve seen.  My collection grew as I got my hands on things like Because I’m a Goddess, Princess Ai, D.N. Angel, Loveless, Fairy Cube, Absolute Boyfriend, After School Nightmare, and (more recently) Judge and Corpse Party.  I haven’t finished collected all of these necessarily, but the majority of what I have in my collection is completed, which I’m pretty proud of.

As I got older, my love for the darker side of anime got stronger and stronger.  The first time I saw Tokyo Ghoul I fell in love.  That became a quick favorite of mine, for reasons I may write about later. I also highly enjoyed shows such as Hellsing, Blood C, Shiki, Parasyte, Another, Future Diary, and (currently) Monster.  At this point in my otaku life, I’m enjoying gory and psychological thriller types of anime/manga to be more and more.

Recently, I got the inspiration to write about the different manga and anime series that I’ve seen or read.  Part of this was sparked by watching YouTubers like Akidearest, Misty Chronexia and The Anime Man (links to their channels will be provided at the end).  The other part of this was sparked by the pure fact that I really love the otaku community and want to be more apart of it.  It’s been in my life for a long time, being something I grew up with, and I think it would be a fun topic to share and explore with others.  I’m much too big of a chicken to ever do YouTube confidently (too much ‘stage fright’), but writing is what I do, so here I am.

Anyway, a little while ago, I wrote my first manga review.  I will be proof reading it soon to post here.  Also, just for fun, I’ll be creating a list of things I’ve seen or read, am currently watching or reading, or that I’ve got on hold.  I also recently started attending local conventions and will be sharing my experiences of those soon too.  I’m excited to be continuing my otaku journey on my blog, and hope to make some fun connections with others by doing so.

©S.T. Feb. 8, 17

YouTube Links: