We interrupt your regularly scheduled, letter-by-letter installment of The Favorites Alphabet in honor of the horror-tinged Manga Moveable Feast! This week, the Manga Bookshelf Battle Robot retreated to the dank catacombs of our secret base to conjure the spirits of our favorite spooky manga! Read on… if you dare!
“The Enigma of Amigara Fault” | By Junji Ito | VIZ Media – I haven’t read much horror manga. In fact, aside from the delightfully bizarre Tokyo Zombie and one volume (so far) of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, my experience is limited to the works of Junji Ito. While Gyo and Uzumaki certainly deliver weird and disturbing tales, it’s “The Enigma of Amigara Fault,” a short story that appeared in Gyo’s second volume, that I find most memorable. In it, an earthquake has revealed a rock formation riddled with human-shaped holes that go farther back into the rock than researchers are able to measure. People flock to the site, drawn to holes that seem to be custom-made for them. Those who enter the holes are committed to moving forward with some profoundly jibbly-inducing results. Just thinking about it is kind of giving me a wiggins. Look for images from this one in this weekend’s Let’s Get Visual column! – Michelle Smith
The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service | By Eiji Ōtsuka and Housui Yamazaki | Dark Horse – Despite my ongoing reviews of Higurashi: When They Cry, I’m not really a big reader of horror manga, tending to find it too scary. Which says more about me than about the genre. However, I picked up Volume 1 of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service for its unusual cover, as well as the fact that it was translated and edited by Carl Horn. Imagine my surprise when I got one of the funniest, most satiric, and, yes, scariest manga coming out here. For our heroes, dealing with corpses isn’t like searching for mysteries a la Scooby Doo – it’s a job, and they are usually trying desperately to get paid. It just so happens that their various skills go really well with solving problems involving dead bodies. Nestled in among the sarcastic dialogue and long pointed looks at Japanese politics and society is some really creepy imagery – watch out for the chapter with the birds, or the one with the ears. – Sean Gaffney
Parasyte | By Hitoshi Iwaaki | Del Rey – There are just so many reasons this eight-volume series is awesome, not least of which is Iwaaki’s facility with really gruesome and surprising bits of violence. It’s an invasive-species nightmare scenario featuring bizarre space spores taking over indigenous creatures (mostly human) and turning them into ravenous, shape-shifting, and dangerously intelligent predators. Fortunately, one of the parasites doesn’t quite make it to its host’s brain, turning average teen Shinichi Izumi into humanity’s best protector, and his right hand into a formidable defensive weapon, not to mention an adorable and insightful pet! Iwaaki jumbles a lot of elements together – coming-of-age drama, violent suspense, evolutionary theory, family tragedy, and boy-and-his-dog sentiment. The beauty part is that Iwaaki jumbles it all well, making for one of the most beginning-to-end satisfying tales you’re likely to find on the manga shelves. Originally published by Tokyopop, Del Rey picked up this out-of-print gem and did a bang-up job repackaging it. – David Welsh
School Zone | By Kanako Inuki | Dark Horse – In this odd, hallucinatory, and sometimes very funny series, a group of students summon the ghosts of people who died on school grounds, unleashing the spirits’ wrath on their unsuspecting classmates. School Zone is as much a meditation on childhood fears of being ridiculed or ostracized as it is a traditional ghost story; time and again, the students’ own response to the ghosts is often more horrific than the ghosts’ behavior. Inuki’s artwork isn’t as gory or imaginative as some of her peers’, though she demonstrates a genuine flair for comically gruesome thrills: one girl is dragged into a toilet, for example, while another is attacked by a scaly, long-armed creature that lives in the infirmary. Where Inuki really shines, however, is in her ability to capture the primal terror that a dark, empty building can inspire in the most rational person. Even when the story takes one its many silly detours — and yes, there are many WTF?! moments in School Zone — Inuki makes us feel her characters’ vulnerability as they explore the school grounds after hours. – Katherine Dacey
Tokyo Babylon | By CLAMP | TOKYOPOP – When David suggested that we all pick favorite horror manga for this week, at first I thought I didn’t have any. Though horror movies were a favorite genre once upon a time, that preference never really transferred to print for me, or at least I didn’t think it had. Then I realized that some of my most beloved occult-themed comics fall closer to the horror mark than I thought. My favorite of these (and indeed, one of my favorite comics of all time) is CLAMP’s 20-year-old series, Tokyo Babylon. Complete in just seven volumes, it’s a decidedly immature work, featuring uneven storytelling, outrageous outfits, and one of the strangest, most over-the-top examples of BL-leaning shôjo I’ve seen to date. On the other hand, not only does it finally rip our hearts out with the precision of a serial killer, but it scares the bejeezus out of us all along the way. This is a dark, cruel little series, that takes real joy in its emotional shock value, and its occult setting provides ample opportunity for that quality. Not that I’m complaining. When I look at the images I chose for my review of the series , I can see that I picked out several of those that had creeped me out the most. For genuine scares and emotional brutality all wrapped up in one delicious “classic” shôjo package, you can’t beat Tokyo Babylon. – Melinda Beasi
What are your favorite horror stories?