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Iria: Zeiram the Animation


I swear, Ieiji Matsumoto women are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

Yohji Yamamoto F/W 2007 Menswear
While Junji Ito’s Uzumaki might turn towards the non-Euclidean nightmarescapes of the Weird as it goes on, the comic begins in what is effectively a high school setting. Characters are ciphers for adolescent angsts, even as the town’s curse progresses in unsettling ways. In his non-fiction book Danse Macabre, Stephen King isolates a trend within horror driven by the relative accessibility of medical care and food beginning in the twentieth century. Acne, he argues, becomes the most common physical disfigurement that horror engages with, being ‘the primary physical deformity [sic] with which you were seen on the street or in the halls of your school.’ Alongside this one might place the pubescent monster; that overabundance of hair or sex that burdens a teenager with outsider status. It’s these two facets of the mundane are the lodestones of the horror in the first volume or so of Uzumaki.The page above, from the chapter ‘Medusa,’ is the best example of the pubescent monster in the comic. In it, both out protagonist Kirie and her friend Sekino’s hair forms spirals that hypnotise people and draw attention. Used to being the narrator, Kirie is reduced to a battery for the hair as she and Sekino are forced into a peacocking duel between their spiral hair. The two most visible girls in their high school, their duel is watched by the entire student body as their overabundance of sexual energy mesmerises the students (and don’t forget that Mesmer’s technique was essentially to hypnotise through bringing women to orgasm). Kirie finally escapes when her boyfriend cuts her hair, destroying the overabundance and preventing others from being mesmerised by her. Sekino dies when her body is sucked dry of energy; her hair, however, continues to hypnotise crowds for hours after her passing, the reality of the dead girl unable to shift people’s interest away from the sexual draw of her hair.On the other side of overabundance, Ito introduces the mundane body horror of the sweaty kid in a later chapter, ‘The Snail.’ An easily recognisable form of horror, it’s high school angst writ large as an unpopular, bullied kid becomes a transmission vector for a gross infection that turns people into snails. It’s not a regular smell or unhealthy-seeming sweat, but a confirmation of the worst assumptions about the unsanitised body, that there is something inhuman about uncleanliness. Both of these stories seem to point to what King identifies as the essentially conservative nature of horror, but they also address personal anxieties about puberty. The reader is as likely to be the subject of such a story as they are an observer, and the crowds are as much under a spell as the sufferer.
Nijigahara Holograph

The End of Evangelion (1997)
Serial Experiments Lain: The Nightmare of Fabrication

Bolaji Badejo. Photo: Eve Arnold

Reading Uzumaki. Having only seen Sono’s film before, it’s weird how closely he adherred to Ito’s very formal, spooky style. This scan is horrible though, Ito’s ink is much smokier.