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I'm Reading Comeeks

I dedicate this blog to comics in all forms, manga, autobio, superhero, art books, etc.  And of course, since I need a challenge, I've decided that I'll read and write (short) reviews for 365 comics during 2015.

The Death Stench Creeps - Not for the Faint of Heart!

Gyo, Vol. 1 (2nd Edition): The Death-Stench Creeps (Gyo (2nd Edition)) - Annette Roman, Junji Ito

Yes, that's the title.  This is a new release, deluxe edition, of Gyo, the fishy-gross out horror manga series by Junji Ito.  I haven't read any Ito since college, so I didn't quite remember just how disgusting and horrifying the imagery can get in his manga.  In fact I still blame him to this day for my fear of snails.  And ears.  And Tomie.


I remember going to the Barnes and Noble (or Borders when there was Borders) and grabbing all the Uzumaki and Battle Royale comics with their lovely "Explicit Content" warnings on the outside.  Some of them were even sealed in plastic to prevent pre-reading of their horrible contents.  I would just devour those things.  Maybe in my aged state I have grown less accommodating of Ito's (and other's) horrifying worlds?


I really slogged through this deluxe edition, especially as we get to the end where humanity is being destroyed by strange contraptions and there are pages and pages of images of bloated bodies, covered in boils and strapped into machines, looking much like a pig with an apple in it's mouth served on a platter.  Only much much worse of course.


The story follows a young couple as they vacation in Okinawa.  The opening scene is of Tadashi being attacked by sharks as he explores a shipwreck.  Pulled aboard by his girlfriend Kaori he explains that he saw something strange down there, some bizarre darting shadow.  Kaori doesn't care, all she wants is to get away from the stench of the sea, which she hates.  (Why they went to Okinawa when she hates the smell of the sea - I don't know).  


The two retreat to their hotel where Kaori attempts to shower away the disgusting smell.  The two fight when Kaori complains that Tadashi's breath also smells bad and she won't kiss him until he brushes his teeth.  This fight basically continues for the rest of the comic.  When they discover a strange, and very smelly, fish thing in their hotel the two flee back to mainland Japan.  Kaori goes increasingly insane as the stench of rotting fish seems to follow her everywhere and Tadashi becomes increasingly frustrated with her "neuroses." 


Until, of course, they realize that she was right the whole time.  A strange invention created to use as a new poison gas weapon is now invading the shores of mainland Japan and creating quite the stench.  Using the methane produced by the decomposing bodies to power themselves the things are infecting everything around them and then reproducing.


There is also Tadashi's mad scientist uncle and his uncle's hot assistant causing other problems for the couple.  Will Tadashi and Kaori survive the odious onslaught?


I really hated how Kaori (and other women) were shown in the graphic novel, it was published back in 2001 or 2002, so it just shows how far women's rights still have to go in Japan, where women are still often only assigned 'tea making' duties at corporations, even though they are as qualified as their male peers.  What made Tadashi such a catch that even after death Kaori still had to fight for him?  Why was Tadashi immune, but not Kaori?  The final scene shows a group of survivors, why are none of them women?  Ugh.


Following the end of Gyo the deluxe edition also includes two shorts, one about a man who somehow (though we never find out exactly how) got himself trapped under the principle support holding up his house.  He's still there now.


The other is about an earthquake that revealed a wall of human shaped crevices, which drive one young woman to madness (of course it's a woman), while a reasoning young man tries to save her (but ultimately fails).


If all this sounds like bloody fun, try out these horror manga classics:




Uzumaki (never look at your fingerprints the same)

Battle Royale (and you thought your high school sucked)

Strange Tale of Panorama Island (hoo boy is it strange)