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Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in small ways: seashells, ferns, whirlpools in water, whirlwinds in air. And in large ways: the spiral marks on people's bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi's father, the voice from the cochlea in your inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurôzu-cho are pulled ever deeper, as if into a whirlpool from which there is no return...
うずまき 漩涡 Spirála Spirale (French) The Spiral Vortex Whirlpool
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Masterpiece of terror
With Uzumaki, Junji Ito proves that he knows what I'm afraid of. In the bizarre events and gruesome images of these volumes I have seen things I now wish I could forget. These things have been preying on my mind for a few days already, and I expect they will for weeks to come.
The stories are loaded with innovative ideas you aren't likely to see repeated in any other work of horror. If Freddy, Jason, and Michael epitomize slasher films, Uzumaki is the antithesis of them. There are very few cliches to be found here.
The plot of Uzumaki is somewhat loose as the stories are mostly event driven. The end is almost disappointing, and perhaps flawed. Without spoiling I can only say that the end seemed inevitable.
The characters of Uzumaki are somewhat deeper than in Ito-sensei's previous works, but still quite simple. Even more, they grew on me, and I slowly began to care about them. This is a vast improvement over the characters of Tomie, for example.
The art of Uzumaki is very good, and at times breathtaking. The environment is filled with intricate patterns and detailed scenery. I was astounded by the vast difference in quality between Uzumaki and Ito-sensei's earlier works.
Uzumaki should be considered required reading for all serious horror fans. General audiences should be forewarned that readers will be confronted with viscerally repulsive imagery. Uzumaki is not for everyone, but if you think your constitution is strong enough then give it a read.
... Last updated on July 18th, 2008, 10:59am
Clever horror, but disappoints in the end
I thought this series was generally quite clever. The idea of basing the series on the notion that the spiral, a beautiful design which occurs naturally in many places, could become a "force" which steadily draws in everything and devours it, was interesting. Also, the people are drawn well, and the environment and its spirals have a lot of detail. It has a carefully crafted pervasive atmosphere that even the reader can feel, just like the spiral's pervasive presence in the world. I didn't like the gruesome stuff (it's not unbearable, but certainly not for kids), but it is a horror after all. I also thought the lead-in to ending was well done. (When this lead-in starts, the manga sort of shifts from being various short horror stories around one theme to more of an adventure story style, where the events in the chapters connect. I liked this later part better since it was more like an adventure, but those who like more of a pure horror story might like the beginning more.) But the ending was so half-hearted and incredibly unsatisfying--the mangaka didn't even bother to explain the basis of the spiral curse, why it plagued this particular town, or anything. Explaining more will involve spoilers, so read in the box if you're interested:
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
The part leading up to the ending was the best, in my opinion. Making the whole town naturally be built into a huge spiral unwittingly by its inhabitants was really clever, especially since we were made to wonder about why the old houses weren't destroyed and at the design on the old map. And then it turned out there was a path leading underground in the old lake--with a spiral staircase of course. It was exciting to finally find out what was hiding in the lake. And then it turned out there was a whole "spiral kingdom" down there, the source of the spiral curse! I think this was designed well by the mangaka, engaging the reader with the promise of finding out what was causing everything, gradually revealing ever more grand and more mysterious spiral "secrets" which were behind the events: from small individual occurrences with spirals, to the swirling lake, to the whole town's structure, to a near-endless spiral staircase leading down, to an enormous cave full of a giant spiral castle, around a a giant spiral "eye." But then it just ends: "and then Kirie and Shuichi turned into spirals too, and they stayed that way together forever. The end." What a let-down.
It was lacking both in respect to the characters and in respect to the spiral premise of the story. After coming to like Kirie and Shuichi through all the events, I was left thinking, "That's it? Come on, you're telling me after miraculously surviving all the other stuff, they just went poot? They got all the way to the cause of the spiral curse and then just died?? What was the point of them surviving as normal humans to reach the spiral eye then? And the mangaka didn't give any explanation about the spiral curse, even though that's what the manga was about.
Of course, what I wanted was for Kirie and Shuichi to somehow overcome the spiral curse (They did make it all the way to the source, after all!) and escape the town, but I think this manga still could have had a satisfying ending if, after they "died" (became spiral people who just stare at the "eye"), the mangaka had explained the crux of the spiral curse through narration. The "extra story" chapter at the end is the perfect place for that narration, too! (But instead, it's only a oneshot about a spiral event, like in the beginning of the manga.) Without bothering to tell us why the curse was there, why in that particular location, how the spiral underground eye was created, why it would "turn off" and then back "on" over time, why the spiral curse wasn't able to spread and affect other surrounding areas, etc., it just feels like the foundation of the story is missing. Especially after what I thought was a great lead-in to the ending, it's a real let-down. I can deal with the ending not being happy (well, typical "happy," anyway), but an ending lacking the most important part of the manga (an explanation of the spiral curse), really diminished the experience of reading this for me.
... Last updated on January 23rd, 2014, 12:24am
At first I was like .-., then I was like o_O, then I was like O_O, and then I went =\
The title sums up my opinion. Started off odd, then slightly more odd, then just plain weird, and then lame and nonsensical. Good if you have 2 hours to kill though.
From the description and the majority of the feedback, this looked like a real horror with a lasting effect... so I held it off. I finally felt like wanting to know more about the spirals, so I read it in one sitting at night.
Turned out to be less than what I thought it would be. The beginning is was pretty good, but then the spirals just began to escalate into ridiculousness that you could even laugh at.
Sure you may look at spirals in a different way afterwards, but don't expect too much.
Having heard a lot about Uzumaki i thought about taking a chance and end the speculation. I'm a big fan of horror so i just couldn't pass this manga up. And what can i say? It was amazing, after reading the first two chapters i was mesmerized and a bit disgusted. So i decided to read it as many chapters as i could in one night, the horror concept was twisted and played around as much as possible to still be scary: and at some points it was, it was brutal. The first two volumes were very, very good, but the third volume was kind of a let down. It was obvious that the semi episodic nature of the manga had to end, there had to be evidence of a greater evil so to speak, which put the characters in a flawed thriller. I have to give kudos because it is a very original concept, but had the final volume been better and still scary it would have gotten a 9. Another thing that i have to mention is that although the art isn't mindblowing it really works for the story, having also read Gyo i became familiar with it and it was really enjoyable.
Overall it is a magical little trip towards an insane ridden, obscure, twisted world that horror fans should take, if only just to see something different.
i have to agree with some previous comments. the beginning was fantastic - solid premise with a lot of promise. i really enjoyed the little 'adventures' and the spiral observations in nature. the art was superb and clean, and the story-telling was very well-timed, but by the third volume, things got a little too absurd. and i didn't like the ending. it felt like ...a cop-out? it was unsatisfactory. regardless, i enjoyed reading it.
Rating: 9 / 10.0
I started reading this at 11pm (what was I thinking eh). Well finished the whole thing in one go, at some point you get the feeling that the story just keep repeating over and over again however you don't stop and I think that's the addictive thing about Itou sensei's works. Although nothing is resolved at the end, but I really enjoy how sensei portrays his characters, very normal, very real, greedy, delusional, coward, etc. Especially the main heroine when she decides not to get in further danger to satisfy her curiosity (normally in horror movies and manga, the main character foolishly get into trouble that the stupidest person could have figure out that it's not okay to be curious) and the villager who refuse to help others just to safe themselves. Intentional or not, lessons of Karma is spread all over the pages. I am haunted by the Snail people chapters, people turning into snails, people eating snails, the spirals that grew on their back, their expressions, the first two snail boys mate, their eggs, >,< send chills down my spine. Art is great, classic manga style, no sailor moon eyes and Tsubasa legs, which i love, plus the haunting detailed scenery deserves praise. Although things are explained at the end but nothing gets resolved, still a Good read.
At first I thought it was just bizarre but as it progressed parts of the story really did scare me. The events building up to the main plot were really unique and the twist(no pun intended) were great. The many disturbing scenes and the concept of the manga in general really hook you.
The horror aspect really shined. I have to admit, after the whole snail face chewing scene I've never looked at them in the same way...
The ending wasn't what I had hoped nor did it do justice to the rest of the manga but still it seemed some what fitting for the story...
... Last updated on September 9th, 2011, 2:29am
It got me
There's just something wonderful about this story, the fact that the object of everyone's obsession is something that's so organic, something that you wouldn't have noticed because it's so common... There's so much to this manga, not just what you see, but the underlying meaning is very moving: nature is such an omniscient force, and you can never ecsape it. The part that scared me the most was when the babies were being put back in the wombs, I will never be able to look at a baby the same way again. The ending was beautiful in my opinion, it might have been a bit open-ended but that was the point, otherwise it wouldn't be much of a horror manga. Some people made a comment about how the story was "almost funny", that's the genius of Junji Ito, he has a way of making something scary seem borderline absurd, he plays it off like that sort of thing happens all the time. This was an excellent story, so a 10/10 from me.
That was one of the scariest stories I have ever read. Some parts really freaked me out. The mangaka is a master at telling a good horror story without throwing away the human elements. The concept of the spiral was also cleverly incorporated throughout the story. The only minor gripe I have with the manga is the open ending. I wanted to know what happened
Spoiler (highlight to view)
to the town after the spiral curse was lifted. Was it inhabited by humans again? Did the spiral curse attack the new inhabitants? Did the cycle repeat? Did Kirie and Shuichi die? Presumably they did but I wanted more confirmation. It was also abrupt at how the Kirie's family members were dealt off one by one - like her brother suddently turning into a snail and her parents turning into stone - but it did catch me by surprise.