May 29, 2007
I know before I wasn’t really getting into these, but that doesn’t mean I wanted them to disappear. This series has recently been terminated along with Museum of Terror and Octopus Girl, which makes Dark Horse suck a lot more than I thought they did. I really got into this last volume, which I saved for a special occasion since I know there weren’t any more. This is also the case with Museum of Terror. Let me tell you, that’s the biggest loss you’re going to hear about manga-wise this year because Junji Ito is truly the king.
Anyway, Scary Book. I actually like Kazuo Umezu a lot more now that I’ve visited his site ( go to Same Hat for the guide to the Japanese version, which is a necessary experience). The Where’s Waldo shirt as usual dress would have been enough for me, but he’s an eccentric 80-year-old man who draws horror comics and loves being weird in public, which puts him a notch above Hirohiko Araki on my personal rank meter.
What was I talking about? Faces? Okay. There are two stories in this volume, and the second one is probably one of the most awesome manga short stories ever. A girl who is mad at her teacher (named Miss Style) writes an obnoxious letter directed at Miss Style to make herself feel better, then mails it to an address she makes up. This made-up address turns out to be real, and the girl who receives it (whose name was made up as well) happens to be afflicted with everything in the letter. The girl who wrote the letter goes slowly insane as the ordeal she made up is covered by the media and everything she wrote comes true. Aside from that being one of the best short story premises ever, the ending is also pretty good.
The other story, which is the longer one and comes first in the volume, is good because it’s got a great twist ending. A girl who is tired of being in her sister’s shadow has to treat her sister kindly after a fall disfigures her sister horribly. The sister does a complete turnaround personality-wise and becomes a psychotic recluse. A lot of weird things happen involving both the main character and the sister’s boyfriend, but really, the ending is what makes that story.
This was by far my favorite of the Scary Books, and it made me that much more sad that we won’t ever see anymore. Pick up all three volumes if you’re even vaguely interested, because they’re definitely worth it… especially this one.
August 16, 2006
This one contained only one story, about a girl who was afraid of butterflies and began seeing a black one flying around those who misfortune was about to befall.
I liked this volume a lot better than the first. Butterflies are a really good phobia to pick, and the way the girl rants and raves about them through the entire volume winds up being really funny. She gets busted for it later on, and she does sound like she’s certifiably crazy when she spouts out things about butterflies when she has other, more legitimate things to complain about.
There were two excellent twists in this story. The first came when a new fiancee is introduced. The second comes at the very end, and is definitely well-orchestrated and something I didn’t see coming. I felt genuinely bad for the main character all the way through, and the the way the story unraveled really made it so that I didn’t see what was coming next at all.
Overall this was a really solid volume, and I liked it a lot better than the first. I still don’t like Umezu as much as Ito or Hino, but I still think he’s the best at psychological horror.
February 13, 2006
I didn’t read the last shorter story, but I did read the main one. I don’t know what to think, actually. I honestly prefer my horror physical rather than mental, which is the genre Umezu seems to deal with based on this and Orochi.
It was pretty good all the same. Having your reflection come out of the mirror and take over your life while ostracizing you is certainly terrifying, and I’m glad it went on the way it did. I thought it would end with the reflection coming out of the mirror and successfully taking over, but that was not the case, and it was very interesting. Also interesting is the fact that she figured out a way to beat the reflection, which I didn’t think was a possibility.
I wonder if the handwriting thing was more effective in Japan? Writing in English looks like backwards writing, but I wonder if Kanjii look like sloppy Kanjii when written backwards. I noticed the backward writing when the teacher was upset about it at first, and I thought it was kind of weird she didn’t comment on it being backwards or there wasn’t any comment on it… very weird. I suspect that was a subtle hint in the Japanese version if backwards Kanjii isn’t read as such, but backwards English with no comment is just sort of weird. I thought maybe she was the only one that saw it was backwards even though her teacher said it was messy.