Words an’ Pictures: Creeping Death Stench from the Depths of Humanity

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Greetings bores and ghouls! For this week’s installment, I’ve decided to continue in the same vein as my previous post and take a look at another one of Junji Ito’s fantastic yowl yarns, Gyo.

In Gyo, Junji Ito creates a landscape of terror that is much more rooted in recent history than the surreal nightmare portrayed in Uzumaki, making it a more traditional narrative, but also meaning it hits closer to home. I say traditional in a comparative sense, because although the main structure of Gyo’s plot is more conventional than that of Uzumaki, it is still very original.

Essentially, Gyo follows a young couple, Tadashi and Kaori, in a story that is similar to apocalyptic zombie tales, except that rather than simply using the living dead, Ito portrays rotting fish equipped with mechanical legs overrunning Japan. As bizarre as that may seem, it only gets stranger, as it is explained that what is actually going on beneath the surface is a viral plague in which the germs take control of host bodies, generate an odor close to that of rotting flesh, and then use the bodies as batteries to fuel their mechanical leg structures and further spread the plague (it goes even deeper, but I’ll leave that for you to find out).

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Words an’ Pictures: A Veil and a Symbol – Cosmic Terror from the Heart of the Spiral

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“Such forces cannot be named, cannot be spoken, cannot be imagined except under a veil and a symbol, a symbol to the most of us appearing a quaint, poetic fancy, to some a foolish tale. But you and I, at all events, have known something of the terror that may dwell in the secret place of life, manifested under human flesh; that which is without form taking to itself a form.”

— Arthur Machen, “The Great God Pan”

Junji Ito, writer and artist for noted horror comics Uzumaki, Gyo, and Tomieamong others, is certainly no stranger to the idea of terror dwelling in the secret place of life, veiled behind a symbol. With Uzumaki in particular, Ito channels cosmic fear in a way that firmly places him alongside the likes of Arthur Machen and H.P Lovecraft.  Uzumaki is centered around teenager Kirie Goshima, her boyfriend Shuichi Saito, and the spiral. It is this last element that ultimately makes Uzumaki so terrifying, because unlike most horror narratives, there is no tangible villain to put a face on, let alone battle, but a terror that is so ultimate that it must remain veiled behind a simple symbol.

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