Horror Corner Summer Manga Recommendations Part I tiptoed into the world of Japanese horror manga. This time, we will delve deeper into this frightening realm with more horror manga recommendations.
Junji Ito’s first published work, Tomie is a class horror manga, beautifully illustrated and reminiscent of traditional Japanese onryo, or female vengeance ghost, tales. The story follows the ghost of the beautiful Tomie as she torments the living all across Japan. Regardless of age or gender, Tomie is sure to bewitch and cause her victims to suffer as only she can.
Tomie was once a normal high school student until her boyfriend accidentally kills her in full view of classmates. The classmates, determined to cover up her death, dismember her into small pieces and scatter around town. But instead of silently rotting, from each piece of dismembered flesh a new Tomie is born. Unable to be killed, Tomie just continues to regenerate and multiply, ever-widening her sphere of torment and torture. Junji Ito’s drawing style is known as being one of the most beautiful and elegant out of all the notable horror mangaka. Although he has often stated in interviews that he finds his style to be a little too clean for horror, it’s truly marvelous how he can transform blood and guts into something so desirable and beautiful.. Junji Ito has an expansive list of published works, both longer stories, and collections of short stories as well, so I recommend to start with Tomie and then just keep going.Junji Ito’s stories will never disappoint.
Certainly the most unconventional out of the group, Kyoko Okazaki’s Helter Skelter is a harrowing story following the beautiful model Ririko’s descent into madness. It could be debatable whether or not this manga truly counts as a horror manga, but, Helter Skelter fits perfectly into the genre of psychological horror, and there’s nothing more horrific than the human condition, now is there? Okazaki’s drawing style adds perfectly to the grotesqueness of her main character Ririko, a cruel, constructed fashion model hell-bent on staying on top. Okazaki takes the usual signifiers of innocence and beauty in shōjo manga, big eyes, tall legs, etc., and exaggerates them into almost monstrous proportions. In Helter Skelter there is no doubt, the only monsters in this world are human and man-made, so if you’d like a psychological horror looking at an individual’s mad spiral into insanity in our beauty obsessed world, you can’t get much better than Kyoko Okazaki’s Helter Skelter.
The King of Horror as some might say, Kazuo Umezo’s classic horror style has cemented him as one of the founding mangaka who established the horror genre in Japanese comics. Umezo’s Cat-Eyed Boy mixes traditional Japanese monster tales with the moralistic twist often found in fairy tales. Following the travels of the titular Cat-Eyed Boy, the son of a Nekomata, or Cat Demon, who looks a little too human to be accepted by his fellow demons, and too strange to be recognized by humans. Cat-Eyed Boy often gets stuck in between human and demon conflicts throughout his travels, sometimes in it just as a spectator or to cause some mischief, the Cat-Eyed Boy also tends to give a helping hand where it is due. Highly recommended for fans of traditional Japanese yokai, consider Cat-Eyed Boy a new type of Grimm Fairy Tale, perfect for reading before bed.
Whether you prefer classic ghosts and goblins or would like to delve into the madness that is the human psyche instead, these mangaka offer a little something for everyone to keep you cool this summer. But, a word of caution, don’t try reading these with the lights off, or else you might regret it.