Monday, July 03, 2006

umezu's scary book (volume 1): reflections

Known as the “Stephen King of Japan,” Umezo Kazuo is the master of horror manga. Several of his stories have already been adapted to film, and fans of Japanese horror movies like “The Ring” and “The Grudge” will recognize the style that Umezo employs in his stories. This first volume of his Scary Book horror anthology contains two of his novellas, “The Mirror,” and “Vengeance Demon.” Umezo doesn’t need to rely on violence or gore to scare his readers; the horror is more primal, more psychological. In “The Mirror,” a pretty girl who has spent too much time in front of her mirror learns just how tenuous a power beauty is when her reflection escapes from the mirror and takes over her life. In “Vengeance Demon,” a warlord seeking revenge for his son’s injuries finds himself the object of revenge. The artwork is black and white; the illustrations are simple yet powerful. What sets this manga apart from others is the starkness of the drawings and the simplicity of the dialogue. No word is wasted. There are no extra words. Like Hemingway, Umezo understands that less is better. Readers looking to understand the influence of Japanese horror will enjoy this collection.


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