Uzumaki Vol. #02 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Art Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 1-4215-1390-0
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Uzumaki

Uzumaki Vol. #02

By Greg Hackmann     December 04, 2007
Release Date: December 11, 2007

Uzumaki Vol.#02
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Junji Ito
Translated by:Yuki Oniki
Adapted by:

What They Say
Kurozu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. But the spirit which haunts it does not have a name or a body, only a shape: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It posessed the father of teenage Kirie's withdrawn boyfriend Shuichi, compelling him to end his life by remaking itself in its image. It grows in ferns, in seashells, in curls of hair, and in the twisting folds of the human brain.

As events unfold, giant snails are sighted near the high school, an eerie glow shines from the abandoned lighthouse, mosquitoes seeking blood fly in drowsy circles, and babies seek to return to the womb. The very smoke from the crematorium hangs in an ominous spiral over the town, reminding everyone that even in death there is no escape...

The Review
Right off the bat, the second volume of Uzumaki reveals some significant stylistic diversions from the first collection, with Kirie's importance to the story varying wildly from chapter to chapter. Beginning with the first chapter, Kirie is effectively demoted to the role of a glorified prop; with her escape plans apparently on hold, she does little more than stand back and provide commentary while the spiral curse transforms her classmates into snails or zombie jack-in-the-boxes (!). The third chapter restores Kirie to the forefront as she investigates the effects of the town's omnipresent lighthouse on the townspeople's behavior; but this return to focus is ultimately only temporary. The two-part story comprising the fourth and fifth chapters drop Kirie in the middle of a mosquito-borne epidemic, with the newly-infected hosts again displacing her as the central focus throughout the extended storyline. Nevertheless, Kirie takes center stage once again for the book's closing chapter as she tries to escape a spiraling hurricane that seems to exist solely for the single-minded purpose of engulfing her and Shuichi.

Unfortunately, this shift in story format is largely a failed experiment: with the overarching escape storyline put on hiatus, a good number of these disconnected episodes degenerate into simple, "lookit, weird stuff happening" horrorfests that lack much of the creative spark exhibited throughout the first Uzumaki collection. The two-part "Mosquitos/The Umbilical Cord" story is the worst offender here, as Ito resorts to covering up the unexciting premise with copious amounts of blood and gore. "Jack-in-the-Box" and "The Snail" serve as mild improvements with interesting beginnings, but likewise soon fall victim to their respective obsessions with decomposing things and slimy things. On the bright side, the remaining two chapters reveal glimpses of the kind of unsettling yet darkly inventive storytelling that drew me into the first volume; "The Storm" is this collection's standout episode, ending this book on a creative high note that echoes some of the best work in Uzumaki's previous installment.

Needless to say, Uzumaki's marked decline in storytelling quality comes as a big let down to me. I'm equally disappointed that Ito has, for whatever reason, simply dropped the larger (and, as of the end of this volume, still unresolved) story arc that worked so well in earlier chapters. Still, "The Storm" and "The Black Lighthouse" suggest that, when push comes to shove, he still has it in him to spin a decent yarn. So are the book's middling sections simply a temporary lapse in quality, or a sign that Ito has already milked this concept for all it's worth? I suppose that only time -- and the next volume -- will tell.


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