*Warning: This may contain minor spoilers*
Synopsis: This ten chapter, single horror volume created by Kago Shintarou is split up between ten different stories. The first one takes up about half of the volume and deals with a survival story where a group of people are invited to participate in a sort of ‘test of courage’ for a large sum of money. The second half of the volume then focuses on the nine other, very short stories.
Story/Plot: This is hands-down the weirdest manga I have ever read up to date, and I’ve read some weird stuff. That’s what you risk when you start to tread into the world of horror manga.
Yet, this one, in particular, had me feeling all types of emotions.
After each story, I felt like it would’ve been appropriate to bleach my eyes and start afresh. Part of me was thinking, “As soon as I finish reading all of these, I’m just gonna pretend this manga doesn’t even exist.” It’s like a horrible car accident: you just can’t look away. Each side story just kept getting stranger the more I read, but I just couldn’t stop. By the time I noticed, I was already done. It almost feels like you’re on drugs the entire time because as you’re reading, it all makes sense. But then once I was done and was preparing to write this review I thought, “What the f*** were all those stories even about? They make no sense!”
I don’t know where the author was headed with the horror aspect… Maybe like a biological type, the way Ito Junji has been known to do and pull off rather well? I’m new to this mangaka, so that might actually be his style; I can’t tell you all just yet. Whatever it was, I was more nervous laughing the entire time rather than actually being frightened.
So, was I scared at all? No.
What about scarred? Yeah, probably. I’ll keep you all updated on what my therapist says later.
Before I continue, I do advise that you’re careful where you read this. It almost felt like I was reading a hentai manga at times, so be warned that this is not safe to read at work. I accidentally did and I was covering up my screen while reading chapters 1-10… Yes… That’s all of the chapters. Well actually, I was adjusting the brightness to make it less inconspicuous, ha-ha. Not all of them are inappropriate in the same way, though: some are full of blood and gore, others have not-so-subtle nudity, and others will just have straight-up sex scenes. So, be warned.
So, let me split this up into separate parts so that my review/thoughts could be a bit more precise and comprehensible.
Chapter 1 – Anamorphosis Party & Puppet: This had the potential to be turned into quite the interesting survival horror story (which I’m honestly not the biggest fan of in the first place). It had a good set-up with a pretty creative plot, but it all fell flat on its face. It took so long to explain different scenarios and ‘background’ information in the beginning, that when it came to the actual story, nothing was done. People died and apparently some ‘ingenious’ plan was revealed at the end that honestly had me yawning. Not only was it terribly rushed, but the motives and identities of certain characters were just… not good. It was almost amateurish and kind of put me off whatever I actually was enjoying of the story.
Chapters 2-6 – Bishoujo Tantei Tengai Sagiri, Rainy Girl, Small Present, Hikikomori, Behind: These were good weird. What do I mean? These were the stories that I was thinking, “What the f*** is going on? What am I reading?!” But I was thoroughly enjoying the creativity that Shintaro brought to the whole ‘body deformation horror’ genre. I was absolutely disgusted and repulsed, and I wanted more.
Chapters 7-8 – Previous Life, Salesman: These two were bad weird. Again, his stories were abnormal and completely out of left field, but these just left a bad taste in my mouth. I just didn’t enjoy them at all. I found myself praying that the last two chapters wouldn’t be more of this.
Chapter 9 – Changes: Oh man, this one was pure comedy gold. It’s probably the most bizarre of the bunch, but I found myself wishing I had a friend nearby so that I could show him/her this masterpiece and watch their reaction as they read. I think this is probably the point where I realized I had probably dug my own grave and there was no coming back.
Chapter 10 – Weightlessness: This one was pretty funny, too, and was actually the most normal out of all of the stories. To my surprise, I found it incredibly charming and clever, for whatever reason.
Okay, wait, wait… Let me just give you a taste of how screwed up some of the stories are. Here’s a sentence directly from Chapter 9: “But this isn’t a rare condition. For example, when a mother is nursing, the baby’s mouth and the mother’s nipple often swap.” Mhm, make of this what you will. How does someone even come up with a story-line like this? But, this is actually what made me want to keep reading. Our society has become so fragile in this day and age that it’s almost refreshing to come across something this… unearthly.
Characters: I guess I can split this up into separate categories again, but only two this time around.
The characters from the first story were drawn quite realistically but were all very forgettable. I literally just finished this manga about an hour ago and I can’t for the life of me remember even a single one of their names. None of them were likable, interesting, or even very well-developed, to say the least.
The characters for the rest of the stories? Yeah, they were all weird. I can’t even bother to find a different word to replace that. They just were. Their logic was oh, so flawed, but entertaining nonetheless (which is a lot to say for a short ‘horror’ manga). I really didn’t have enough time to digest any of them (not literally).
Favorite Character: And even though I just finished saying that, I promised myself I’d pick a favorite character out of every anime and manga that I review. So, let’s see, if I had to choose one, then I’d go with the black-haired girl in the last story. I don’t remember if she even had a name and am too lazy to look it up right now. She looks like those types of characters that I love to hate. She made me laugh, too, so that was certainly a plus. Besides, no other character had really stood out to me at any given point prior to her.
Overall Score: The entire time I was reading I kept repeating, “This is wrong… this is wrong” over and over. I kept trying to figure out what I would be rating it. And honestly, if it weren’t for the disappointment that was the first chapter, and even including the two chapters I didn’t like, I would’ve given it a slightly higher score. But alas, that first story is part of the volume, so I think I’ll rate this a 6/10, for how unconventional, yet oddly amusing most of the stories were.
Do I Recommend This?: To anyone who likes bizarre and unnatural things/topics: Oh my God, yes. You know it’s going to be a crazy ride when you think partly through: “Should something like this even be legal to print?”
Which brings me to my final point: I now have a new mangaka to research. Let’s see what other of his works will make me want to rip my eyes out of my head.