Mantis Woman

October 27, 2007

Surprisingly, Amazon sent me a rather useful e-mail recommendation that introduced me to the Spanish language series “Manga Terror.” Since I’d be able to read them, I was pretty excited until I realized that all but one of the volumes had been released in English as Hino Horror. The first volume was a Senno Knife manga called “Mantis Woman.” I actually had this in my cart and was checking out until I realized that I was being stupid and could just buy the English language version. I haven’t laid hands on an Ironcat book in, like, five years.

I thought it might be an erotic horror title since I know Senno Knife also does H manga, but it was actually pretty tame. Like, PG tame. It was also kind of a really bland cross between Hino Horror and Junji Ito. Really weird stories, but they took themselves pretty seriously. It lacked gore though, which I’m a big fan of.

It’s a compilation of short stories, all of which lean to the urban legend side. The best one by far is about a girl who gets a stuffed Koala left at her house as a mysterious gift, and then finds that she has a stalker. It goes through a few of the motions of the typical stalker tale (jealous, creepy phone calls and her friends/teachers getting horribly injured in what appear to be fits of jealousy), until you realize that the stalker is the stuffed Koala.  He wanted the girl to take the card he came with that said “love me lots and lots” very seriously. There’s even a stalker/victim showdown at the end that just killed me.

Other urban legend fodder is more typical, including a ghost that haunts the school pool, a… I forget the real word for this, but a story about a legendary vending machine which vends a little monster in a “careful what you wish for” kinda tale, the new teacher who actually kills kids, and a really twisted story about new next door neighbors who dress up as Oni and pretend to be Enma when releasing “criminals” into an awesome, Indiana Jones-like obstacle course/torture chamber.

There was definitely stuff to like in this manga, but it’s just kind of average when compared with some of the other horror manga available in English. It was great for me, because I’ve never read anything by Senno Knife, but if you haven’t read Red Snake by Hideshi Hino, you’re much better off with that, since it’s the best horror manga available in English.