Junji Ito's Gyo Part 1 Manga Review
I have covered two of Junji Ito's books: Black Paradox and Dissolving Classroom. Both books might not blow my mind regarding their scare factor, but I give points to their uniqueness in art and story structure.
This time we will go with Gyo, a 19-chapter horror classic from the master of horror manga. This is the first part covering the first ten chapters of the manga series, and the second will cover the rest.
Just like other Junji Ito works, everything begins with an unusual phenomenon. The first ten chapters of Gyo follow the story of a young couple, Tadashi and Kaori. They had an ordinary vacation on the southern island of Japan, Okinawa. The two explored the island, had a good swim, and they stay in a lovely cottage. After the two went on a scuba diving trip outside the shores of Okinawa, they discovered weird fish that swim very fast.
Kaori, with her keen sense of smell, notices that the sea smells of a rotten fish. One night, when the foul smell reeks across their cottage, they see a small dying fish with mechanical legs attached to it running across their room. Soon Okinawa island is engulfed with walking rotten fish creatures ranging from small mackerel to sharks that chase people as their prey. The couple decided to go to Tokyo after the creatures invaded the island. However, just when they thought they were safe, the walking fish creatures followed them, and soon the city was invaded. Tadashi seeks the help of his inventor uncle Dr. Koyanagi to help them get rid of the animals. However, he seems more interested in experimenting with them than trying to eradicate them.
So we follow a bunch of characters throughout the first ten chapters of the story.
Tadashi - is the main hero of this story. He started trying to calm his girlfriend, Kaori, about the smell, but he knew his limitations very well. He tries to fight off the creatures, but just like an ordinary person, he can only do little things. I don't think he is a witty person, but he tries his best to avoid the troubles he faces.
Kaori - Tadashi's girlfriend. She seems to be very keen on cleanliness. She always scolds Tadashi for not taking a shower even though they just went out for a swim. Ironically, she became the target of the walking fish creatures. Soon, in the middle of the story, she becomes infected by the gas that emits them. What happened to her character is literally stuff out of a nightmare book. She may be pretty annoying, but you can't help but feel sorry for her.
Doctor Koyanagi - Tadashi's uncle. He is an inventor. He tries to sort out how the mechanical things attached to fish move. His curiosity drives him, and his experiments take out his arm. He is a semi-villain from my perspective. He maybe has the key to solving everything if he only gets his wits right.
Ms. Yoshiyama - Koyanagi's loyal assistant. She helps the doctor in his experiments, but somehow she develops a will of her own. She has a minor role in the first half of the series.
The manga is different than the anime adaptation. Kaori takes on the lead role in the anime, and Tadashi does not exist.
One thing that stands out in the story of Gyo is its portrayal of a unique horror story. I have never heard or watched anything about something that starts with a foul smell. I have seen horror films or series that begin with a demon or a ghost but never about a rotting smell. I am not an expert on that genre, so I find it quite amusing.
Even though it is just the first half of the manga series, I feel many mysteries need to be unraveled. Although I do not expect it to be revealed plainly like in other works of the author, I still want some explanation.
Unlike Black Paradox or Dissolving Classroom, Gyo features a lot of squeamish moments. So if you are planning to read this, you might want to finish your meal first.
The Scare Factor
I must say, Junji Ito's incredibly over-realistic art style drives the scare factor of his works. It's somewhat dreamy yet natural at the same time. He draws very well and shows the practical side of horror.
I will leave the final scare factor in part two of this post.