Uzumaki (volume 2) by Junji Ito
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The second volume of Ito’s spiral-obsessed work is wilder, less controlled than the first. It’s not as tightly wound or slow-burning as the first collection, relying instead on gross-outs and increasingly frenetic artwork to communicate the smalltown weirdness within.
There’s an overall story – that Kurôzu-cho is in the thrall of a spiral-natured curse – but it’s really only loosely addressed in this collection of relatively unrelated tales. We see what’s going on mostly from the viewpoint of the already-seen-some-shit Kirie, and the stories seem to be monster-of-the-moment deals for the most part – they don’t really add to the lore of the town, and could occur anywhere. Only two – one involving a creepily reactivated lighthouse, and another describing a rather persistent storm – directly involve the town.
There’s a lot more gross horror in this volume: snails, spine-springs and reverse-pregnancy succubi feature, and they’re pretty foul. The artwork in these sections tends towards messy, with a flurry of brushstrokes accentuating the abhorrent forms within. Special attention is paid to the eyes, with this particular level of creepiness providing effective reader shudders.
The story which most clearly adds to the mystique of the world as a whole is the tale about a possessed lighthouse. It’s got a distinct Silent Hill or Forbidden Siren vibe to it, but it suffers from the shortcoming common to most of the stories here – they just sort of end without much resolution, other than the feeling the author is pointing to what used to be a human and going SEE! SEE?
A neat inclusion (as ever) is the volume afterword, where the author breaks the fourth wall and appears in person. It’s nice to know that he’s as apparently mystified by his spiral obsession as everyone else.
From here, the series could go either way: greatness or lameness. I hope it’s the former.