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Welcome back to Manga Monday, Talking Comics’ column that introduces new manga readers to different manga series.  We’re taking a look at a short horror series – GYO by Junji Ito.

GYO was published in early 2000s with a brand-new edition that hit shelves from VIZ this past month.  My previous experience with Ito’s work was Uzumaki, a horror story about how spirals inflict a town.  Like that piece, GYO relies on body horror and disfiguration as well as a loss of control over the environment.

Tadashi and Kaori are couple visiting a beach for a vacation.  While out at sea doing some diving, Kaori complains of a smell.  The smell is overpowering, to the point that Kaori becomes ill.  The two have a shaky relationship, one that is immediately apparent once they start to interact in isolation.  The stress of the relationship is nothing compared to what comes next – a fish with legs comes out of nowhere and attacks Kaori.  When Tadashi hunts down the animal, he finds something incredibly horrifying.

Gyo fish

The creature is an abomination.  For someone who is terrified of bugs/spiders/crabs/octopi/anything with more than four legs, this is a nightmare.  A bug-fish that stinks crawling out of the sea and stabbing people.

What ensues next is an accelerated series of events that threatens the livelihood of all of Japan.  After fish rise from the sea, larger marine soon follow.  Soon, land-dwellers acquire these unique legs.

The strange legs are not the only thing to plague the animals.  An illness begins to infect people, one that has strange effects and a gruesome outcome.

It’s pretty…disturbing.

Without giving too much away of the series, I do want to comment on a few things in this story, namely Ito’s artwork.  Each panel is intensely detailed, giving an effect of crowding.  It is as if the edges of the panel are caving in on the characters.  There is a sense of suffocation, an inability to escape what is happening within the story.  It’s sickening and fascinating at the same time.

VIZ Media published a new collection of GYO, one that is well-done and looks great on the shelf.  The slightly bigger size is a great way to appreciate Ito’s artwork, and the collection has a few short horror stories in the back.  If you’ve been turned off by some manga that is light-hearted and humorous, you’ll want to check out GYO.

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