Cover of Uzumaki, vol 1
|Written by||Junji Ito|
|Magazine||Big Comic Spirits|
|Original run||1998 – 1999|
|Uzumaki: Denshi Kaiki Hen|
|Released||February 3, 2000|
|Uzumaki: Noroi Simulation|
|Released||March 4, 2000|
Uzumaki (Japanese: うずまき?, Spiral) is a horror seinen (targeted towards men) manga series written and illustrated by Junji Ito. Appearing as a serial in the weekly manga magazine Big Comic Spirits from 1998 to 1999, the chapters were compiled into three bound volumes by Shogakukan and published from August 1998 to September 1999. In March 2000, Shogakukan released an omnibus edition and released another version in August 2010. The series revolves around the citizens of Kurôzu-cho and the supernatural events involving spirals. The story for Uzumaki originated when Ito was attempting to write a story about people living in a very long row house, he came to the conclusion of using a spiral shape inspired by a mosquito coil. The positive representation of spirals in Japanese media further inspired Ito to use it in a work of horror by drawing it differently. The manga was adapted into two video games for the WonderSwan and a live-action film directed by Higunchinsky.
In North America, Viz Media serialized an English-language translation of the series in its monthly magazine Pulp from the February 2001 issue to the August 2002 issue. It published the series from October 2001 to October 2002, re-released it from October 2007 to February 2008, and published a hardcover omnibus edition in October 2013. The manga has received generally positive reviews from English-language critics. It was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2003, and placed in the Young Adult Library Services Association's list of the "Top 10 Graphic Novels for Teens" in 2009.
Uzumaki revolves around a high-school teenager Kirie Goshima (切り絵五島?), her boyfriend Shuichi Sato (修一佐藤?), and the citizens of the small, fictional Japanese town of Kurôzu-cho (黒渦町 Black Vortex Town?) cursed by supernatural events surrounding spirals. As the story progresses, Kirie and Shuichi witness how the spiral curse affects the people around them, causing the citizens to become obsessed or paranoid about spirals. Eventually Kirie is affected by the curse as well, when her hair begins to curl into an unnatural spiral pattern, draining her life energy to hypnotize the citizens, and chokes her whenever she attempts to cut it off. Shuichi is able to cut her hair and save her. The curse continues to plague the town, until a storm conjured by the curse destroys most of the town. The only remaining buildings are the abandoned row houses that protect the citizens from whirlwinds and becoming snails as a result of the curse. The citizens then begin expanding the row houses in an effort to protect themselves from it.
Kirie and Shuichi devise a plan to escape Kurôzu-cho, but when they attempt to escape, their efforts are unsuccessful. After returning to the town, they discover that several years have passed since they left and that the citizens have expanded the row houses: now, the row houses connect and form a giant spiral pattern. Kirie and Shuichi have no choice but to go to the center of the town in an effort to find her parents. Once they reach the center, they fall into a pit of corpses, where they discover an ancient city made entirely of spirals and the corpses of Kirie's parents. Shuichi urges Kirie to move forward, but she replies that she does not have the strength and wishes to stay with him. The two embrace each other as their bodies twist and wrap together as a result of the curse. As they lie together, Kirie notes that the curse ended at the same time it began and that the events that have happened will occur again when the next Kurôzu-cho is built where the previous one once laid, concluding that the curse is eternal.
Uzumaki was written and illustrated by Junji Ito. The concept of spirals was originally based on Junji Ito's wanting to create a story about strange changes that occur to people living in a very long, traditional Japanese row house, based on Ito's personal experience. During the process of finding a way to draw such a long building, Ito was inspired by the shape of a mosquito coil and decided he could make the building long by giving it the shape of a spiral. During the creation of the manga, Ito noted that the spiral is a mysterious pattern and tried to find an answer to the secrets of the spiral. He noted the positive representation of spirals in media and how it inspired him to turn it into horror stating, "Usually spiral patterns mark character’s cheeks in Japanese comedy cartoons, representing an effect of warmth. However, I thought it could be used in horror if I drew it a different way." Ito used various methods such as staring at spirals, reading reference materials about spirals, creating spiral patterns by draining water from bath tubs, eating foods with spiral patterns, and raising snails. Ito also noted that horror writer H.P. Lovecraft was one of his inspirations when creating Uzumaki stating, "His expressionism with regard to atmosphere greatly inspires my creative impulse."
The manga appeared as a serial in the weekly manga magazine Big Comic Spirits from 1998 to 1999. Shogakukan compiled the chapters into three bound volumes and published them from August 1998 to September 1999. To celebrate the release of the live-action film, the manga series was released in an omnibus volume in March 2000, with an additional "lost" chapter. Shogakukan released another omnibus edition on August 30, 2010, with the same content and additional commentary from Masaru Sato.
In North America, Viz Media serialized an English-language translation of the series in its monthly magazine Pulp from the February 2001 issue to the August 2002 issue. It published volumes of the series from October 2001 to October 2002. Viz Media re-released the series with new covers from October 2007 to February 2008, and published the omnibus volume in hardcover with twelve color pages on October 13, 2013. The series has also been translated into other languages, such as Spanish, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, Swedish, Mandarin, Korean, and Serbian.
|No.||Japanese release date||Japanese ISBN||English release date||English ISBN|
|1||August 29, 1998||ISBN 4-09-185721-3||October 6, 2001 (1st ed.)
October 16, 2007 (2nd ed.)
|ISBN 1-56931-714-3 (1st ed.)
ISBN 1-4215-1389-7 (2nd ed.)
|2||February 26, 1999||ISBN 4-09-185722-1||July 6, 2002 (1st ed.)
December 18, 2007 (2nd ed.)
|ISBN 1-59116-033-2 (1st ed.)
ISBN 1-4215-1390-0 (2nd ed.)
|3||September 30, 1999||ISBN 4-09-185723-X||October 6, 2002 (1st ed.)
February 19, 2008 (2nd ed.)
|ISBN 1-59116-048-0 (1st ed.)
ISBN 1-4215-1391-9 (2nd ed.)
- The chapter was not originally included in the original Japanese release but in the following omnibus editions. In North America it was included in the third volume.
Two video games were developed and published by Omega Micott for the Bandai WonderSwan. The first, Uzumaki: Denshi Kaiki Hen (うずまき 〜電視怪奇篇〜 Spiral -Power Vision Strange Edition-?), was released on February 3, 2000 and is a visual novel retelling the events of the manga. Kirie Goshima's actor, Erika Hatsune makes a special appearance. The second game, titled Uzumaki: Noroi Simulation (うずまき 〜呪いシミュレーション〜 Spiral -Curse Simulation-?), was released on March 4, 2000 and is a simulation game. Players are tasked by the Uzumaki Sennin (うずまき仙人?, Spiral Master) to spread the spiral curse. The objective is to spread the curse across the town and find hidden objects to gain more "Spiral Power" and progress the story. The game also includes a mini-game involving a snail-human hybrid.
In 2000, a live-action adaptation of Uzumaki was released in Japan. Directed by Higunchinsky, it featured Eriko Hatsune as Kirie Goshima, Shin Eun-kyung as Chie Maruyama, Fhi Fan as Shuichi Saito, Keiko Takahashi as Yukie Saito, Ren Osugi as Toshio Saito, and Hinako Saeki as Kyoko Sekino. Consisting of four parts ("A Premonition", "Erosion", "Visitation", and "Transmigration"), the film uses a different ending than the manga, as a result of the film's being produced before the manga's conclusion. The film received a 54 percent approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with the general consensus that "Uzumaki uses its creepy, David Lynch-inspired atmospherics to effectively build a sense of dread, but ultimately fails to do anything with it."
Uzumaki was nominated for an Eisner Award in the category of "Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material" in 2003. The Young Adult Library Services Association chose the first volume for its list of the "Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens" in 2009. The manga was also included on its list of the 53 "Great Graphic Novels for Teens". Viz Media's Deluxe edition ranked #172 in Diamond's Top 300 Graphic Novels on October 2013 with a total of 784 copies sold. IGN placed Uzumaki at #2 under their "Top 10 Horror/Thriller Manga" list. About.com's Deb Aoki placed Uzumaki in her list of horror manga, describing it as a classic of the genre. Uzumaki appeared in 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die (2011), and the reviewer found it reminiscent of the works of H.P. Lovecraft. MyM magazine praised the manga, calling it "one of the scariest manga series around."
In Manga: The Complete Guide (2007), Jason Thompson gave Uzumaki three and a half stars, and wrote that, taken as a whole, the manga succeeds as "an elegant and sometimes blackly humorous story of dreamlike logic and nihilism." Thompson featured the manga again in his House of 1000 Manga blog, praising it for its originality, in that it revolved around a "a certain nightmarish, fatalistic way of looking at the world". Comics Alliance author and comic artist, Sara Horrocks, praised the mechanics that Junji Ito used for the manga stating, "What makes Uzumaki such a strong work is how precise it is in it’s mechanics. It is meticulous in the way that a curse might be."
For the first volume, Theron Martin from Anime News Network gave it a B, praising the art style and character designs, including Viz Media's new cover design. According to him, "some of the attempts at horror get too preposterous for their own good." Greg Hackmann of Mania it an A stating, "Ito makes an interesting artistic choice by loosely tying these episodes together with an overarching story arc; this small touch really helps to hold this collection together as a coherent entity. Ito's well-honed artistic chops also play a significant part in why this volume works" Barb Lien-Cooper of Sequential Tart gave it a 7 out of 10 stating, "The art is clean and simple. It works to help maintain the paranoia. The tone and pacing of this story are also just right. Altogether, one of the better horror stories I've read this year." Ken Haley of PopCultureShock it A rating of shock value praising the artwork for its details and able to convey horror stating, "The level of detail in the artwork adds further weight to the body-deforming acts that occur as the story progresses. [sic] Ito’s artwork ensures that each is depicted in appropriately creepy and unnerving matter."
For the second volume, Lien-Cooper gave it 8 out of 10 stating, "What astounds me about Junji Ito’s work is its deceptive simplicity and its flawless execution." Sheena McNeil also from Sequential Tart, instead gave it a 9 out of 10 stating, "The stories of the various possessions are not only unique but unusual; they are things one would not normally think of which will keep you coming back for more." Hackmann however gave it a B with a less favorable review due to the shift in story stating, "Unfortunately, this shift in story format is largely a failed experiment: with the overarching escape storyline put on hiatus, a good number of these disconnected episodes degenerate into simple, "lookit, weird stuff happening" horrorfests that lack much of the creative spark exhibited throughout the first Uzumaki collection."
When reviewing the third volume, Haley also gave it an A praising Junji Ito for providing answers to questions previously asked but not answered in a heavy or mundane form. However, for the third volume, Lien-Cooper gave it a 6 out of 10 criticizing the ending stating, "The ending didn't make a lot of sense, although by that time, I didn't care. And, the back up story, which seems to try to explain what set this all in motion (I think), really didn't interest me."
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