Uzumaki - My First Serious Interaction with Comics

I have always enjoyed a good book. If devoid of images the deeper my imagination reigns free. An inauguration of a store saw me purchase my first ever comic-format book. And this was not a decade and a half ago but just a measly month ago. 

It is safe to assume that I always shunned books infested with coloured imagery, monochrome imagery, and the like, let alone a publication that conveys its message wholly through drawings save for the dialogue and some sounds, like the wooo of the howling wind.

Enter Junji Ito. I am a person who enjoys anime and Japanese storytelling. My generation and certainly the previous one have been exposed to such media in a mainstream fashion on television except for the darker content. Those have always been available in obscure message boards on the Internet. Thanks to streaming and online services, today the only barriers are content geo-blocking and funds for subscriptions.

Alas, this Junji Ito became a familiarity when a normal Google search of "classic anime comics" did not filter the more macabre material. In my youth I was flabbergasted that someone could draw and finally produce stories of such artistic cruelty, as a comic to ensure that pure evil was witnessed as intended by the cartoonist, the comic artist, the mastermind.

The book I purchased had a comic format. So why not call it a comic, I hear you ask. Well, this was the deluxe edition of a series of comics that weaved a complete tale. Comics traversing the same story serialised into one big comic enclosed in a hardback, so a book in comic format. 

Spirals... the end cover reads, which mind you, for us Europeans, the written hand has evolved us to consume a book from left to right unlike Japanese who do the same but inversely. Now I am not saying that I did that, but I might have spoiled myself the ending... sigh...

This town is contaminated with SPIRALS... 

Admittedly, I did not enjoy the first few chapters. I was hating that I ploughed thorough the first hundred pages in under half an hour. I knew something was wrong, certainly not the publication because in its niche circles it is revered. It was me. At that particular point in time I was simply reading the dialogues and moving on with little to no regard to the imagery. You know where I am going with this. I realised that most of the fun is fleshing out the dialogue by ingraining them in the imagery provided and let my imagination animate the sequence being displayed. As soon as I mastered this method of consuming such kind of literature, I no longer vanquished a chapter in two minutes.

I delved into the story. And it was there that I succumbed to the niche that Junji Ito was so revered for. His drawings are very intense. The sweetness of the characters is visibly as plain as day but the moment he deems necessary to drown us in the horror of his spirals, without a transition of drawings, day darkens to night and the horrors emerge to the point that I was dreading looking at the next drawing, but anticipation does not let you stop, so I simply look, then stare and gasp in disbelief that I just saw the sweetest lady now become twisted and broken and with her my delusion that I could take his imagery like a champ.

If the previous two paragraphs were confusing and possibly ridden with grammatical and syntax mistakes and made little sense, that effect was intentional. Of all the paragraphs in this writing, those are the only two I did not revise because while I was writing them I was reliving those sensations. That is the power of the spiral, the power of Junji Ito.

Spiral into horror...