Every October, as the wind turns chilly and whistles around the corners of buildings like some creep, I re-read The Enigma of Amigara Fault by Junji Ito. Just to get myself into the Halloween mood — I love things where I can’t stand reading any more, but I can’t stop, either. Amigara never fails to fill me with uncanny dread, even though it’s only 32 pages long and has nary a monster in sight.
The premise is that an earthquake in Japan has opened up a mysterious fault line in a mountain, revealing a series of human-sized holes. Some people who have seen the images of the holes on television are mysteriously compelled to go look at them in person. And some think that there is a hole in the mountainside that is shaped just like them. Made for them. And they start to think that they should go into the mountain.
I won’t say any more, so as not to ruin it for you, but I will give you some more ideas of horror manga that you can check out from the library. You’ll find more atmospheric stories featuring inexplicable compulsions that lead to grotesque consequences, as well as different kinds of spirits and demons than in Western culture’s horror stories. And best (or worst) of all, it’s illustrated. So the horrific images can be burned into your psyche.
Uzumaki Vol. 1-3 / Junji Ito
Strange things begin to happen in a small Japanese village. Its residents are being consumed in different ways by the form of the spiral – from contorting their own bodies to being strangely infected by giant snails. Inhabitants try to leave but are unable. (Also available in animated form!)
There’s a horror manga prize named after Umezu (Junji Ito has won it) so you know he must be good! I have read the excellent Cat-Eyed Boy, which is now sadly gone from the library system (*sniff*), but we still have this volume to check out and enjoy.
So, I wouldn’t technically call this horror manga, but it does have to do with unseen things that affect humans in weird ways, and I really enjoyed reading it. Ginko is a traveling supernatural doctor. He diagnoses diseases caused by the Mushi – normally invisible creatures that are tapped into the life force and cause strange side effects when they infect humans.
Rohan is a mangaka who falls for a girl who is haunted by the story of a painting made with the blackest ink known on earth. He gets obsessed with the painting in turn and goes to the Louvre to see it for himself. Things get weird from there.
Have a favorite horror manga? Let me know in the comments – I’m always looking for new ones to read.
– Tessa, CLP – East Liberty