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Gyo by Itou Junji

Recently, I've been digging quite considerably a bunch of interesting manga that covers a rather wide range of genres. Thankfully, the eye candies have no adverse effect on my well-being. While some of them can be sinfully cute beyond average understanding, others serve to unlatch different parts of the mind for thoughts and such. Some also require time to allow digestion, although that doesn't really prevent the new stuff from coming in. As it is possible for several elements to overlap one another, I feel that reading manga is naturally an adventure of sorts which differs with every read and every time. Of course, there would be a hurdle or two along the way. I mean, some series are just way too long. Even a marathon has an end in sight.

Anyway, pardon the digression. Today's article is about the mind-blowing work of mangaka Itou Junji, who specialises in the horror genre. Out of curiosity (thanks to the frequent browsing trips at Kinokuniya) I've decided to explore Itou-sensei's work, and to my surprise I realised that I had stumbled upon one of his comics some time back. The cover art had caught my attention mainly due to its grotesque nature. I was a little disturbed yet rather impressed at the same time. The manga is titled 'Gyo' or 'Fish' in English. An original video animation based on the manga was released in February 2012. After a lengthy procrastination, I proceeded to sample the manga.

I was hooked. The manga had a subtle, persistent charm underneath its unapologetic, perverse horror skin. The creativity and imagination mesmerised me; the refined yet brutal horror got me several times. Inevitably, a love-hate relationship had developed. The concept behind 'Gyo' relates to popular horror science fiction culture - something fishy (pun absolutely intended) is brewing from the deep waters and it gradually escalates into a nationwide mayhem. A holidaying couple, Tadashi and Kaori, had their vacation disrupted by unwanted guests - marine lives were suddenly up and walking, and leaving an unbearable stench in the air which took a toll on Kaori's well-being (she had an extremely sensitive nose). It had also caused heavy tension between the couple.

Initially, it was just one fish. The final straw was triggered by this enormous shark which had somehow managed to sniff out the mansion where Tadashi and Kaori were staying in. A massive battle against the monster ensued within the claustrophobic spaces. A heavily traumatised Kaori was at the brim of another breaking point and demanded to return home. Back in Tokyo, Tadashi found out from the news broadcast that the surroundings beside Okinawa (where the couple had been holidaying in) were increasingly invaded by the walking monsters. Meanwhile, Kaori became more and more paranoid of every little thing. Naturally, a much bigger, unfathomable nightmare was waiting.

It would be challenging to keep going without blurting out all the gripping bits of the story. 'Gyo' had me on the edge of my seat many times. That said, the artwork might not be everybody's cup of tea (though the story is really interesting). Many of Itou-sensei's creations are of a grotesque nature, and a lot of them aren't necessarily always associated with conventional horror. As mentioned, there is a certain charm in Itou-sensei's work. You might or might not get it. However, the average horror enthusiast would still be able to enjoy 'Gyo'. While it isn't a comfortable ride to sit through, the gist would leave quite a distinctive aftertaste which might warrant a repeat read-through. There is always the OVA if anybody isn't too confident of their threshold. The anime adaptation is watered down and a lot different from the manga in terms of plot and character development.

Stay tuned for my next tribute to Itou-sensei's work!

Eccentrically Yours.

Written by J.Fluffysheep ♪

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