Mania Grade: B+
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- Art Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: C
- Text/Translatin Rating: B
- Age Rating: 18 & Up
- Released By: Viz Media
- MSRP: 12.95
- Pages: 208
- ISBN: 1-59116-140-1
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
Gyo Vol. #02
By Josephine Fortune
December 02, 2005
Release Date: February 01, 2004
© Viz Media
Translated by:Yuji Oniki
Adapted by:What They Say
The terrifying conclusion! Can Tadashi save the horribly mutated Kaori from a fate worse than death - or can he even save himself? And even if Kaori can be saved, will the treatment prove worse than the disease? All will be revealed - as well as the final, stinking secrets of the "walking fish of Okinawa"! In the struggle between man and machines-powered-by-dead-flesh will mankind survive?! Plus: two bonus Ito short-story masterpieces!The Review
Time for the freaky dead-flesh circus!
Like the last volume, this series sticks with the larger format and higher price point of older Viz releases, which I'm happy with since it maintains consistency. Plus the price isn't as high as some of the older, $15.95 releases Viz used to have.
The front cover is the same style as last time too, with two separate pieces of interior artwork stuck together and colorized - this time a large, bloated Kaori with Tadashi and Dr. Koyanagi's assistant cowering in the background. Once again, the large, gross illustration of Kaori is quite eye-catching, but I don't like the overall style of the illustration. I've since found out it's the exact same cover artwork used in the Japanese edition, so at least that's maintained. The text on the front cover this time around is blue instead of red, so it winds up being less appealing than last time. The blue text at the bottom that has Ito's name and a tagline about being the creator of Uzumaki is very hard to read, especially since the illustration behind it is quite textured. The back cover is still pretty nice though, the illustration wraps around and the summary on the back is contained within a white box with a small version of the cover illustration reproduced below it.
Extras in the strictest sense are once again absent, but I think the two bonus stories at the end of the volume more than make up for it. In terms of the usual extras, we get the cover illustration reproduced on the title page, a plain table of contents with the text rendered in a fisheye effect opposite an extremely faded illustration taken from the interior art, and then at the end we get a brief paragraph about Junji Ito and a page of Editor's Recommendations. The short stories are better than illustrations or other notes though, in my opinion. One is only about four pages long and is rather hilarious in a black sort of way, and the other is a very creepy and surreal tale of a similar sort to Uzumaki, and I quite enjoyed both of them.
The translation is good, there were no spelling or grammar errors, and everything read really well in English. The Japanese sfx are deleted and entirely replaced with English sound effects. They match the original sfx somewhat stylistically, but not as well as some recent efforts in other companies. Overall though, I prefer this method to giant English overlays or sfx with no translation or explanation made.
Once again, Junji Ito's artwork shines in its ability to be extremely detailed and extremely grotesque. You get less and less of his plain character designs here... or perhaps more and more since all the bloated people look the same, but I think the people looking the same and being somewhat indistinguishable from one another after catching the disease is sort of a positive and makes the whole thing a lot creepier. Here it's almost entirely people who are diseased, bloated, and disfigured, and the environment has degenerated into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. He does super-detailed backgrounds and scenery, and with his art style the abrupt shift from the normal landscapes of the last volumes to the doomsday environments of this volume is quite abrupt and very fully realized. The fish are less important this time around, so you don't get to see as many of them, but taking their place are people and pets clamped into the robotic devices that seem intent on destroying the human race for whatever reason, and somehow those are much more grotesque and horrifying than the fish of the last volume.
Tadashi wakes up to find a month has elapsed since he was knocked unconscious at the end of the last volume. He finds that the disease has degenerated the town a great deal in that time, to the point where many people have fallen ill, many fish have almost completely rotted off their mechanical legs, and soldiers prowl the streets since martial law has been declared. The outside world is a swirling mass of gas, disease, soldiers, and rotting flesh. Tadashi returns to his uncle Koyanagi's house to find out if Kaori's okay. Much to his horror, Tadashi finds that Dr. Koyanagi has been using Kaori's bloated, diseased body to power a spiderlegged machine of his own, and while he's showing it off, the machine runs out of control and darts out the window with Kaori. As Tadashi runs outside to chase her, he finds the fish on the spiderlegged machines exploding, and where there was once fish powering the machines bloated dogs and people have appeared. Most of the population living outside seems to be diseased as he asks for help in finding Kaori. Some machines are even powering themselves with piles of people instead of just one.
On his search for Kaori, Tadashi encounters a bizarre circus that consists entirely of people and animals infected with the disease, run by a ringmaster who explains to him the faces Tadashi sees in the gas are basically the true nature of the epidemic. While watching the bizarre circus as the sole audience member, he finds that their newest attraction is Kaori. The circus is fascinated by her since her machine is man-made and not one of the ones that comes from the sea. Kaori surprises the circus workers and breaks free, and Tadashi finally catches her and brings her back to his Uncle's lab... where he finds tragedy in several different degrees, and the story winds down from there.
The first of the short stories is a rather brief 4-page black comedy about a family who just finished their new house.
The second story is about a series of man-shaped holes mysteriously appearing along a fault line after an earthquake. After everyone sees the news coverage, it seems many people have found a hole that seems as if it were meant just for them...
I read both volumes back-to-back, so a lot of the momentum I initially had with the first one and my out-and-out love for the story carried me through much of this volume, but there was a couple things I didn't like. The biggest problem I had with the story is that it never really explains the artificial intelligence behind the machines past the fact the gas/disease may have something to do with it, or is indeed what is behind it, but even that has some holes in the logic. I didn't really care for this, but on the other hand, I think it may lend an element of mystery to the story, especially since the ending is quite open and abrupt. I did like the ending and how the events in the story were dealt with, but people who like really concrete and definitive endings will find themselves disappointed, and those two reasons are basically why I gave the volume a B+. There were many other extremely positive things about the story here, however, much of which had to do with how the world had suddenly degenerated after Tadashi woke up. I loved that transition gimmick, not only as a transition between volumes, but also as a storytelling device so we didn't have to see a lot of inconsequential events that led up to the city being a wasteland. I also like the use of people on the machines after the fish literally blow up, and I like that the machines pile the people on where they did not with the fish. There's something especially twisted about seeing those spider-rib machines carrying around bloated corpses, and there's a certain elegance to the art when Ito illustrates these bloated bodies expelling gas. I also liked the bizarre and random element of the disease circus... it doesn't really add anything to the plot other than a somewhat realistic viewpoint on the events that are happening within the story, but it is still a rather interesting event all the same. This all takes place with very little elapsed time, so we get an entire day crammed into the last part of the story here. The pace works out to be quite nice, and I liked that most of what went on was Tadashi chasing Kaori around, building up to a somewhat twisted finale. The stories afterwards were unrelated, but I wound up liking both of them a lot. The shorter one was really stupid and funny... like a really bad joke, but the kind you can't stop laughing at. The last one will probably appeal to anyone who liked Uzumaki, as it's the same sort of unexplained twisted (but not quite as literally twisted) phenomenon that seems to affect people without their full comprehension or consent.
There's really not much to say about the characters this time around except that three of the main four characters continued along the personalities that they had established in the first one. Kaori's the exception, but she does maintain a slight shred of her humanity. Tadashi continues to be very dedicated to her despite the fact she's clearly a rotting corpse beyond his ability to save. Dr. Koyanagi just gets crazier, and winds up causing the climax of the story. Dr. Koyanagi's assistant stays pretty much in the background, though she winds up stirring up a couple controversies in this volume. Overall, this story is definitely more plot-driven than character-driven, and they definitely take a back seat to the weird goings-on in the plot.Comments
The series is only two volumes long, and it's not for people who like a definitive, concrete ending, but it has many other good points about it. The grotesqueness of the disease, the horrible imagery in the bloated corpses, and just the absurdity of the story itself provide more than enough material for the two volumes, and the extra two stories thrown in at the end of this volume make it quite a worthy read.