Review: Uzumaki, Vol. 3

Uzumaki, Vol. 3
Uzumaki, Vol. 3 by Junji Ito
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The last volume of Uzumaki, where everything winds down to a close. Ha-HA. WINDING.

Let’s see. It opens with the town destroyed by a rash of cyclones. The slightest air movement, be it a handwave or someone shouting, causes twisters. Those remaining townspeople who didn’t leave at the first sign of weirdness are crammed together in old row houses, which strangely remain upright under the air pressure. Whatever isn’t destroyed by cyclones is trashed by young hooligans who have learned to ride whirlwinds like horses, Starvation is rampant, as well as the number of people who are turning into snails. Hmmm…no food, but plenty of snails. You can guess where that line of thinking goes…

In the midst of the growing insanity is Kirie. Well, there’s also Shuichi, but he’s rendered useless, okay…MORE useless..but Kirie’s still her chipper, albeit oblivious self. She doesn’t wonder why the ancient row houses don’t crumble. She has no desire to figure out the reason why Dragonfly Pond has turned into a whirlpool. And even though the town has become a deathtrap, she doesn’t question why people still keep coming from the outside. When the people in the row houses finally kick her and her family out, even though technically it’s their house, she does nothing to fight back. She is passivity personified, until her breaking point comes when her mother and father get blown away to whereever, and her brother starts showing symptoms of becoming a snail. When she sees the shell forming on his back, suddenly, it hits her that hey, maybe the town is dangerous after all. And after so many chapters, she realizes “we have to get out of here.”

The problem with having a passive protagonist is that through one, you don’t learn anything. The character accepts what’s before her eyes and shows no curiosity or interest to change her situation, much to the frustration of the audience. Now, granted, this is a horror story, so the protagonist can get away with being stupid, in which case, we can take great delight in her demise. But the entire problem I have with the series is that there is no rhyme or reason for why these things are happening, and since Kirie isn’t willing to find out, I’m left…spinning my wheels, so to speak. She loses her parents. She loses her brother. The townspeople go insane. Ito pulls out all the stops to kill everyone through…spirals. Labyrinths upon spirals upon circles until we get to an underground city that’s full of spirals…and then it ends with Kirie and Shuichi giving up and lying down and turning into spirals. Just like that.

I guess it’s supposed to mean something. Some sort of metaphor. But if Ito wasn’t willing to give us a hint to why all this was happening, then why should I care? At least the movie did a better job in trying to get in some explanation of why the town was so obsessed on spirals–not that we got any answers, but hell, it *tried* (and may I say that the truth in the movie got buried in a gruesome, but hilarious manner). But in the manga, we never know the answer. Spirals happen and then you’re dead. Or not. Whatever. I find I do not have the energy to care.

I’m rating this two spirals out of five. The second volume was the scariest of the lot. This one was just weird. But it did have some interesting ideas–and it did have the female reporter from the movie; her plotline was probably the most interesting part of the whole hot mess.

(A quick note…after the end, there was one more chapter where Kirie had long hair again and the town was back to normal and I was like OH SNAP DON’T YOU DARE TELL ME IT WAS ALL A DREAM! But no, it turns out that this as a lost chapter. Apparently, Ito wrote it but didn’t know where to put it in the narrative, so he stuck it at the very end of the third volume. Don’t know why he did it, and frankly, I was so sick of Death By Spiral, I didn’t even read it.)

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