Gyo volume 2
by Junji Ito
English Adaptation by Yuji Oniki
BW, 204 pgs
$9.99 US / Higher in Canada
I can’t say I’ve ever been scared reading a comic. There are horror comics out there, but they’re not likely to make you jump in your chair like some horror films. That’s actually fine by me because that jumpiness is the most basic form of horror there is. It’s a one trick pony. The momentary fright isn’t going to linger. You’ll probably even laugh immediately after jumping.
The purest form of horror is an underlying sense of unease. This occurs when moments of tension are never released. There’s no cliched scare tactics. There’s no delivery. It’s a relentless, seemingly unending build. You’re left stuck in anticipation. This unease is caused by the visuals you see and the sounds you hear. These thing make you think, put you in the moment, make you experience the horror on a more personal level. A good horror comic can do that with its images and story. It can get under your skin, make you uneasy and leave you that way even after the last page is turned. That is exactly what Gyo does to you.
All the slimy, icky, unsettling creepiness of the first volume continues in the second and final volume. Tadashi wakes in a hospital. A month has passed. The fish are no longer emerging from the ocean, scuttling forward on their unnatural legs. The city, Japan and the world are littered with them, scrambling and clicking mindlessly through city streets, emitting their noxious death stench.
Tadashi leaves the sanctity of the hospital. He’s desperate to find Kaori, who was infected by the gas. These fumes bloated her body, and soon the same retched gas was being expelled from her own mouth and ass. Tadashi and she became separated in the madness that followed the marine creatures’ exodus from the sea.
The city streets are clouded in the death stench gas. Through the abandoned streets scuttle the creatures of the sea. They are sometimes followed by patrols of soldiers sent out to destroy the already dead fish. They have to stop the legs. Soon, Tadashi comes across humans similarly affected by the gas as Kaori. Bloated, scared and helpless they huddle in the murky ruins of the city, expelling gas, lost to salvation. Tadashi discovers something else too. The fish are rotting. The gas has destroyed the dead flesh. Littering the streets are fishless legs. Without an organic container to the hold the gas, the legs finally come to rest. But, they are waiting, lying patiently for the next organic canisters to literally fall into their clutches.
I thought manga-ka Junji Ito’s illustrations of fish, sharks and whales on these legs were foul. They are nothing compared to his images of human beings hunched over, balled up on these legs like a pig ready to roast, fleshy looking corded tubes stuffed down their throats and up their asses, skin puckered with sores, eyes wide with unfathomable pain and terror. By the end of this issue I was both happy and sad there was no more. I wanted it to be over just as much as I wanted it to continue. I could not look away. Ito had me by the throat.
To bring you down from the horror of the main attraction, Viz Communications has included in this volume two short horror stories from Junji Ito. The first “The Sad Tale of the Principal Post”, is a silly little tale with no horror, but a touch of weirdness. What it does best is put you off guard for the next story, “The Enigma of Amigara Fault”.
An earthquake uncovers a bizarre face of rock in the mountains. The rock is bizarre because it has human-shaped holes burrowed into the surface. People, having seen these holes on TV, hike into the mountains and recognize the shapes in the cliff match their own silhouettes. One by one, they strip off their clothes and voluntarily enter. This is an excellent short story that channels a feeling of existential helplessness. It also awakens within you a terrible sense of claustrophobia. If “The Sad Tale of the Principal Post” helps lessen the unease of Gyo, “The Enigma of Amigara Fault” will sink something new and terrible into your bones. (Chad Boudreau)