Hello again everybody! It’s Joe Pascullo here, back with another guest writing spot on my pal Tabrizia’s blog. Halloween is just around the corner. And though we may not be able to celebrate it with trick or treating and costume parades as we once were, it’s not all bad! Horror manga has shown no signs of slowing down, and there is still an abundance of it for readers to consume during our favorite autumn season. So don’t be too down about the lack of candy this year. Here are some horror manga recommendations for you to check out!
Venus In The Blind Spot by Junji Ito
Well look, you can’t say the words horror manga and not give Junji Ito a mention. That’s something you just don’t do! And what can be said about Ito that hasn’t already been said. He has 30+ years in the industry, and all of them feature his macabre and eerie style that he’s become famous for. I urge all of you to Google him to view his complete list of works, but today let’s hone in on his latest release, Venus In The Blind Spot. This is his latest short story collection, it’s sincerely cool. Lots of pages in full color, and a diverse set of stories. Not only are there original Ito tales (one features a woman who possesses this long and infected tongue that kills others, another focuses on a Japanese town where folks are dying in groups and are found sewn to one another), but there’s more. Ito adapts some stories from other authors in there, and also an autobiographical selection where he talks about his biggest influence, the legendary Kazuo Umezz (The Drifting Classroom).
Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba
A classic right here. Tsugumi Ohba’s Death Note legacy cannot be understated. What started out as a manga back in 2003, has exploded in popularity, with an anime series, games, live action movies and more spawning from the original source work. And what’s it about? Well we start off with a high school student named Light, who is equal parts brilliant and twisted. He accidentally stumbles upon a notebook known as the Death Note. Its function? You write down the name of somebody in that notebook, and they then die in some manner. Totally bored with his life, Light has visions of creating a utopian world, and starts taking the lives of criminals via the Death Note. When Light however is visited by a shinigami named Ryuk, who tells Light he himself is connected to that Death Note, Light realizes his life will be anything but cut-and-dry and boring!
Another by Yukito Ayatsuji
What started off as a Japanese novel published in 2009, quickly made its way into the anime/manga landscape. Another is an absolutely thrilling title that will make you quite glad you aren’t living in that particular narrative! Taking place in the late 1990s, a male student named Koichi transfers into a new school. There he observes a girl named Mei, whose presence isn’t acknowledged by the teacher or any of the other members of the class. It’s like she isn’t even there to them, though she clearly is to Koichi. Puzzled, Koichi tries to make small talk with Mei, though she warns him it would be in his best interest to act like the rest of the class does. As the story unfolds, Koichi learns that the new class he’s transferred into has a curse upon it, where each year someone either in or connected to this class dies. How exactly are Mei and her presence tied to this curse? You’ll have to read to find out!
Happiness by Shūzō Oshimi
Shuzo Oshimi is really, really, good at creating manga that is simply unsettling! His popular title The Flowers of Evil, showed us how one classmate blackmailing the other after she witnesses him stealing the gym clothes of a classmate he has a crush on can go entirely too far. And then there’s his most recent title Blood on the Tracks, where we saw the depths of insanity that an overprotective parent will travel down for their child. Well, in Happiness, we see another character placed into a situation no one would want to be a part of. A young boy named Makoto is frequently bullied by his classmates. But with no truly good friends of his own, he just takes the punishment and trucks on. But one night while walking alone, Makoto is attacked by a female vampire. She gives him the ultimatum; she can either end his life here and now, and escape the cycle of torment he’s stuck in. Or the alternative, she can make him a vampire himself. Makoto chooses the latter, and thus now has the ability to dish out revenge to his bullies, should he want to do so…
Super-Dimensional Love Gun by Shintarō Kago
Like Junji Ito’s Venus In The Blind Spot, this one is another anthology of short stories. But be forewarned, this one is targeted for adult readers, and adult readers only. Lots of potentially triggering situations, and lots of panels filled with gross artwork and sexual situations. But if bizarre, experimental, indie comics are up your alley, you will love this! A combination of dark humor and sick horror, Shintaro Kago’s style has been described as “fashionable paranoia”, and each short story in this collection is kind of trying to one-up the other in the “wth factor” department. Maybe that’s your cup of tea. Maybe it isn’t. But I do think the book is absolutely sardonic and crazy enough to warrant a look through!
Berserk by Kentaro Miura
And we’ll end this list with another title that is not for the faint of heart, but is also one the best of all time, Berserk. Berserk has been around a long time now, starting off its manga run all the way back in 1989! And even to this day it still remains relevant with deluxe edition rereleases, and a not-too-long-ago anime adaptation during the summer 2016 and spring 2017 anime seasons. And what is it about? It’s about a warrior who nobody can defeat named Guts. Guts has been facing an uphill battle ever since he was born (found below his hanging mother’s body). He is then adopted by a mercenary and his wife, and is raised to be a mercenary himself. From here there are too many twists and turns that happen in Guts’ life to list in this short blog post entry, but when he joins up with an actual group of mercenaries known as the Band of the Hawk, it’s here that it becomes clear Guts’ life will never be the same again!