Lullabies from Hell Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Dark Horse
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 226
  • ISBN: 1-59307-538-3
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Lullabies from Hell Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     June 04, 2006
Release Date: April 19, 2006

Lullabies from Hell Vol.#01
© Dark Horse

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Hino Hideshi
Translated by:Naomi Kokubo
Adapted by:

What They Say
Welcome to one of the most disturbing minds in Japanese manga! Hideshi Hino has long been considered a master of the horror manga genre since his coming out in the late seventies. And the four stories in Lullabies from Hell will show you how demented the man can be.

The self-titled first chapter introduces you to the author himself, a horror quasi-biography of sorts. The second story tells of Hino's having willed his pregnant wife into birthing a horrible, planet-devastating reptile baby that eats puppies and children! And you can imagine how the stories progress from there.

Take a look inside the mind of a madman! Published in the popular, unretouched and unflopped manga format, Lullabies from Hell might make sleeping a bit of a challenge!

The Review
Dark Horse has done a great job with this older title. First is their great looking cover that really shows off the style of art and the attitude for this title. Look at those crazy bloodshot eyes and the cracked teeth of lunatic mangaka Hino Hideshi. The bloody Japanese logo is a hoot as well. This is a title that is a little bit of humor and a little horror and everything here illustrates that. The opposite cover has the same logo in black and what looks like a huge pile of something! Truly hellish!

Inside the print is fine. There is not a lot of tone in this title, so I had to judge based on how clearly I was able to see the line work. Black are strong and even where Hino does use tone patterns the print stands well. No extras and no cultural/translators notes.

Hino's art is just monstrous and I would not have it any other way. Hino purposely draws his characters in a comical caricature style that focuses on deformities and maladies. Many of his characters are little rolly polly looking things with huge heads and bug eyes. Hair is often drawn disheveled and looks almost greasy and strange. Teeth are crocked and cracked. Moreover, the eyes he draws are often not only bulging, the might even be diseased to a point where they are falling out of their sockets! Many of his "normal" characters still do not look very normal. They have strange cheek structure or huge noses. Some of them seem to sweat and drool heavily. And all of that is drawn in with pen work that provides the shading, tone and texturing.

The imagery is simply disgusting. He has characters cutting living beings up. There are diseased and infected characters being eaten alive. The scenery is just as vivid, with rotting bodies, polluted skies and rivers flowing with dark water. He does not let up on the violence or gore, but he makes sure it is not done in a way to completely frighten readers. Instead, he makes it sickening to make it more palatable yet disturbing. Mood is expressed well through manpu " tension lines, negative panels, and freak SFX.

Good looking stuff but a little on the silly side.

The translation for Lullabies is excellent. It really captures the creepy style of writing Hino uses, but more importantly, it also has a tinge of humor to it. I never thought it was very dry (like most of Kokubo's translations), so I tip my cap to her and Jeff Carlson for a fine adaptation.

Another positive is how Dark Horse is now translating SFX in their new titles. The SFX are subbed beneath the original FX. They mix up fonts and generally try to maintain the feel, while not compromising art.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
A collection of short stories from the disturbing mind of horror manga masters Hino Hideshi. Three of these stories are told from something of a biographical point of view opening up the dark world of this prolific mangaka.

Lullabies from Hell:
Hino describes his life and the inspirations for his mad manga. He chronicles his childhood and the difficult life he had with his mother. From a very early age, she considered him a little devil and eventually he became the monster she imagined. After being bullied and picked on for so much of his youth, he would then take out his anger on those weaker than him. Animals, insects and even his own body would feel his pain as he experimented with torture. And now with his popularity, he is able to terrorize people around the world with his manga!

Unusual Fetus:
After discussing the premise for a new manga with his wife, the Hino's give birth to a baby that is nothing like normal. Their child is a small lizard and this little beast is going to break this family apart. If it was not the fact that the monster quickly begins to feed on the neighborhood animals, but he is not opposed to attacking his parents either. However, when the world finds out about the strange child, everyone realizes that this is only the beginning.

This is a story of the end of humanity and a story of new beginnings, and Hino is going to write all about it.

Train of Terror:
Remembering his childhood, Hino describes the memorable return from a summer vacation. After having a great trip in the country with his friends, a horrible tragedy occurs while he is on the train ride home. Unless you were really paying attention, you might not have noticed but something happened when they went through a train tunnel. Everyone onboard lost their sense of humanity. Hino and his friends are going to have to run and find someone who has not been influenced by the darkness.

They will find that might not be possible anymore.

Zoroku's Strange Disease:
This is the only story that is not about Hino's "life".

The tale of a mentally disabled man during the Edo Period, born with a passion for color, Zoroku obsesses with obtaining the perfect color for the paintings that he draws. While the members of his village fear his strange nature and fear his disease even more, they will eventually realize that despite his disability he was able to create (and become) treasures.

Like the Crypt Keeper, mangaka Hino Hideshi himself takes readers to the depths of his own personal comic hell. As he draws himself and his grotesque world readers are given a glimpse at the mind of this horror manga master. His art it definitely humorous, relying on the disgusting instead of the frightening. However, his melodic way of storytelling not only makes his stories creepy it almost gives pause as to support the probability that these tales might actually come from his own demented reality. There is an ease and humility to how Hino talks about his terrifying history and with Lullabies, you almost end up wondering if these are Hino's stories, his dreams or his strange perspective on life.

Told in a mock autobiographical form, these stories unveil the hellish "life" of Hino Hideshi. From the personal introduction of his life as a dark comic artist, where he details his inspirations and the sights from his shoddy 2-story home, to the birth his two "children" the main stories in this title are told with him playing a role - always experiencing the terrors of life in Japan. Moreover, Hino seems to have fun with the whole project, as on one occasion he writes himself into a story as a horror writer literally writing the manga he has drawn.

The writing is vivid, filled with concepts that can conjure up fears on a primal level. He covers the extinction of the "human" race with a sense of humor that completely covers up the environmental and social messages that drive the tale. He also digs deep into the old urban legends around tunnels and the darkness that might be hidden inside them. In what might be his best story, he describes the long-lived fear people have of those who are different. The disabled, the sick, the poor and those of different color are often feared and ostracized. Our differences are minor, but the emotions that can surface when in contact with someone different may have powerful results.

Like the best horror poets, Hino creates stories that move people not really by violence or an abstract terror; instead, he works the fundamental inadequacies of humanity. These concepts are easy for any reader to understand, but with Hino's disgusting grotesque designs, we forget the seriousness of racism and fear of the unknown. We do not see the abusive nurturing that raised Hino; instead we see the evil results of his own "experiments". And as readers we can even laugh at how silly and absurd his art can be. In a way, that is what is most frightening because fans are enjoying these tragedies. Humans are a scary animal! Maybe that's the point? Maybe we are all living in Hino's hell! If only it were always as entertaining.


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