Uzumake - Spiral into Horror Rothdas book review RSS
4.0 Stars

Uzumake is a series of Japanese comic books, or as they call them over there, "visual novels". There are ~20 issues in the series, where each issue covers one incident in the gradual infection and corruption of a village by a supernatural terror. The terror is less of a monster and more of a platonic idea, the idea of the Spiral, which entrances and maddens and transforms and kills the inhabitants of the village.

The collection was surprisingly good, for some values of good. Visually the novel is great. The "spiral" idea lends itself very well to the comic book form, and there are dozens of neat and creative visual motifs and riffs on this form. The stories themselves are not really scary in the sense of a jump scare or an afraid of the dark scare, but rather they are deeply unsettling. I'm not sure how well I can measure this, as thanks to the internet I've already lost most the Sanity Points I have to lose in this area, but I thought that a lot of the imagery was really out there and disturbing. There is a lot of body horror, warts and growths that consume their host, corrupted placentas growing into fungal blooms, babies moving back into wombs, etc. (Ed. Keep it up Japan!) There were a number of shared themes between this and Jeff Vandermeer's Annihiliation series; you have the lighthouse and inverted lighthouse, the transformation of human into beast, the idea of semiotic contagion and corruption, the idea of a region where reality itself has been marked out and claimed by an alien power. Vandermeer is a lot more restrained with his weirdness though; here it is more balls to the wall weirdness from from page 1 through page 500. Partially as a result of that, the stories feel less grounded than Vandermeer's. That's kind of a weird criticism to have of a book of Weird Tales, but I think it can be important to have some sense of consistency or breathing room in the story. I feel like in terms of realism A) There is no way the protagonist actually stays in the village past issue 2, or maybe issue 3. I think any half-way rationale person would be packing the car at that point. And B) there is no way the protagonist survives past issue 10 or so. I can see why the stories are laid out this way (it's a monthly comic book where each issue needs to be its own self contained thing while maintaining the theme), but it makes the story perhaps less interesting than it would be if told as a cohesive whole. Still, a really well done work.