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Goin’ Japanesque!

4 Select Horror Manga You Want to Read in Summer

Some Japanese horror stories have been remade abroad and became popular, like “Ring” or “Ju-On”. Rather than stirring up viewers’ anxiety or fear with bloody scenes or other shocking imageries, Japanese horror stories mainly resort to psychological tricks. There are many horror stories in Japanese manga as well. This time, I will introduce scary works that are somewhat less well known.

 

1. “Koropokkuru no Makura (Ancient Demon’s Pillow)”

コロポックルの枕 by Shigeru Mizuki

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An obelisk-like mysterious structure was discovered in an ancient ruin. The main character found an object resembling a pillow in the structure, and he relives horrible memories stored in the object. It was memories of aliens that had once obliterated the homo sapience during the prehistoric period.

Speaking of the manga artist Shigeru Mizuki, “GeGeGe no Kitaro” is his most popular masterpiece, but he has churned out many other mysterious stories as well. Mizuki himself remade this story several times, and judging from this, this story must have a special meaning to him.

As written in the overview, the story drily depicts the earthlings being mercilessly annihilated by the aliens. This work by Shigeru Mizuki is often comical, however sometime it involves scenes drawn with fine details, resulting in a mysterious realism, possibly coming from the creator’s own personal experience during WWII.

 

2. “Shinin no Koe wo Kiku ga Yoi (You Will Hear the Voice of the Dead)”

死人の声を聞くがよい by Sachiko Hiyodori

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Since Jun Kishida has lost his childhood friend, Ryoko Hayakawa, he noticed somehow her ghost is behind him. Whether her words are inaudible or she cannot speak, she does nothing but follow him around. But sometimes she points out some locations or people, and there is without fail an entrance that leads him into a strange, mysterious world.

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This story was published most recently among the stories introduced in this article. Most of the stories have a feeling of urban legends. Thus the story resembles our real world and reminds us of scary rumors or frightening experience we shared in our childhood.

The configuration is gloomy and a large portion of frames is colored in black, rather than using screen tones. This amplifies readers’ anxiety even more and draws them deeply into the story.

 

3. “Hyakki Yako Sho (Tales of a Hundred Ghosts)”

百鬼夜行妙 by Ichiko Ima

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The main character, Ritsu Iijima, has inherited “Aoarashi”, a demon that dwelt in an artifact left by his late grandfather, who was a writer. The late grandfather has apparently contacted a parallel world where demons and ghosts live, as a research for his stories. Now that Ritsu has found out this fact, strange phenomena start to happen around him.

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This work has a unique atmosphere like a daydream.

The story misleads the readers, exploiting “misunderstanding” caused by difference in time or perspective, and these tricks create a unique impression of this work, setting it apart from other stories. In many cases, the story does not show the physical appearance of the mysterious beings that attack people. By not offering visually identifiable representation, the story stirs the readers’  “fear of the unknown” ever more strongly.

 

4. “Uzumaki (Vortex)”

うずまき by Junji Itoh

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Kirie Goshima has been concerned about her lover, Shuichi Saito, who appears to be terrified and worried about something. He told Kirie that he hates their town “Kurouzu-machi” and finds it very unpleasant. Meanwhile, Shuichi’s father started behaving bizarre, showing a strong obsession with uzumaki objects, anything with a vortex/spiral pattern. His obsession deepens gradually, increasing eccentricity bordering abnormality.

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This story was also made into a live-action movie. Connecting multiple short pieces, the story draws the readers spinning into its depth, just like its motif of “uzumaki”. Consisting of short parts, this story tucks in comical element and digression while the horror elements scare the readers; it freely changes the gear fast or slow, never letting the readers to be bored.

However, when you keep reading into the story, you realize you are sucked into a world that is far divorced from the real world we know.

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Japan is supposed to be a nation of atheists. However, grotesque, mysterious characters and stories are being born even today and passed from people to people. It is this kind of culture that influences both manga and movies alike, to produce a unique world of horror.

Related:
Three Japanese Urban Legends That Gives Shivers Down Your Spine

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Berial the Demon

About the author

It has been over 40 years of reading manga in the deep world of manga. Japan’s manga has an endlessly wide variety of genres. I will be recommending special manga for you to read from such infinite amount of works.

View all articles by Berial the Demon
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