Review: Uzumaki, Vol. 2

Uzumaki, Vol. 2
Uzumaki, Vol. 2 by Junji Ito
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Volume 2 of Uzumaki continues the tale of Kurouzu-cho and the town’s spiral into decline through…uh…spirals.

You would think after the first book that Kirie gets a clue that there’s something seriously wrong with her hometown, but other than sporting a shorter haircut (which mysteriously doesn’t returned to its super curly mode–go figure), most of the chapters usually go:

Kyrie: Hey, there’s [person/place/thing] that I [know/friends with/spoon with/gives me the creeps]. but lately they’ve been acting a little odd. Wonder why?
Shuichi: That’s because they’re cursed with the SPIIIIIIIRAL. And you think I have enough of all this ever since both my parents succumbed to the SPIIIIIIIIIIIRAL. But no, I’ll just slink around looking emo and whine to you whenever you call about how much I hate this stupid town, but apparently not enough to leave it. Now, if you excuse me, I’m going to go sit in my empty house with my knees up to my chest. ::broodbroodbroodbrood::
Kyrie: I have no idea what you’re talking about. You’re weird. Lalalalaaaa…
[Weird shit happens that involves red-veined eyeballs, the occasional buttcheek, and SPIIIIIIIIIRALS]
Kyrie: OMG, that [person/place/thing] became all spirally and dead and/or disappeared to be never seen again! Maybe…maybe there is…a curse?
Shuichi: So that means you’ll elope with me out of this town?
Kyrie: Elope?! No way! I’m in school! You’re so weird. I’m just going to turn a blind eye and pretend everything is back to normal. Going back to school now!
Shuichi: Whatever. ::broodbroodbroodbrood::

In this volume, the first two chapters are centered two characters that were in the movie: the boy who shows his crush for Lorie by jumping out of odd places to surprise her (because that’s how you tell someone you love them–by stalking and scaring them out of their wits.), and the slow-moving boy who turns into a snail. While the two manga character share the same demises as in the movie, the manga kicks it up a notch and expands on what happens after their deaths. I don’t know how the movie would’ve done it, but it did make their stories creepier.

In fact, as the manga progresses, it gets harder and harder for Kyrie to remain in Denial mode. The creepiest story, and probably my favorite one in the series, where Kyrie is in the hospital at the same time as her pregnant cousin, who had been infected from mosquitos who fly in spirals (yeah, it is a stretch) and turns into a pregnant vampire. Then things get extremely weird. (I am grateful, in fact, that this did not make it into the movie. If you are squeamish about birth and/or mushrooms, don’t read this book). Kyrie escapes, saying “I have no idea what happened after that. I wasn’t about to go back and find out.”

Another time, the town gets haunted by a lighthouse, which of course, Kyrie’s brother goes into and Kyrie has to bring him out. After SPIRAL SHENANIGANS, they escape. Kyrie’s words at the end: “They say they’ll demolish it someday…”

Not going to do anything about it…demolish it someday…You know what? I’m beginning to suspect this whole spiral thing …is a…a…METAPHOR.

That’s the theme of Uzumaki. Not death from spirals…but death from passivity. The townspeople are too set in their ways to notice anything strange about the town, and when strange things do happen, they don’t do anything about it until it’s too late. Kirie herself falls prey to it several times: her hair turns into long curls that try to strangle her. Her cousin attempts to drill holes in her so her baby could drink blood. She gets swallowed by a damn cyclone…and each time, she escapes, recovers and goes back to normal with the vague sense that something’s wrong, but dangit, she don’t know what…

How does this obliviousness affect her and the town? That’s answered in the last book, which I’ll review separately. But I thought out of the whole series, this one was the creepiest so I’m giving it four spirals out of five.

View all my reviews

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