In 1972 a middle school student named Misaki died. Misaki's classmates were so broken up by this tragedy that they refused to accept it and continued...moreIn 1972 a middle school student named Misaki died. Misaki's classmates were so broken up by this tragedy that they refused to accept it and continued through the rest of the year as though Misaki were still alive, holding conversations with the deceased student, placing handouts on Misaki's desk, even forcing the teacher to call Misaki's name during rollcall. At the end of the year they even left an empty place for Misaki in the class portrait. But when the picture was developed -- Misaki was standing there with the entire class! Dun-dun-dun!
The following year the curse began.
Twenty-six years later, Sakakibara Kouichi moves in with his grandparents while his father is out of the country for work. When he starts class, he meets a mysterious eye-patched girl named Misaki. None of his classmates acknowledge her existence and when he asks them why, they tell him there's no such person in their class.
This is the first of three adaptations of Ayatsuji Yukito's novel Another, followed by a winter 2012 anime and a summer '12 feature film. The story differs greatly from the anime -- the only other version of the story available in English -- particularly towards the end when the anime derails Final Destination-style with increasingly preposterous deaths (seriously, who the hell buys an umbrella like that?) while the manga remains about as grounded in reality as a supernatural horror tale can. The only quibble I have is that the twist at the end is something that works in prose but not in a visual medium -- and even in prose, it's bordering on Roger Akroyd territory.(less)
Koji Suzuki's Ring has spawned an absurd number of adaptations -- eleven if we include the upcoming Sadako 3D, which gave birth to this monstrosity:
Mo...moreKoji Suzuki's Ring has spawned an absurd number of adaptations -- eleven if we include the upcoming Sadako 3D, which gave birth to this monstrosity:
Most have been about as faithful as Bill Clinton in a Tijuana whore house with a box of stogies. The skeleton of the story remains the same -- cursed videotape, stringy-haired ghost girl, etc. -- and reading the book you'll recognize whole scenes from the films, but the context changes drastically. The protagonist is a dude with a wife and daughter, his helper is an old friend from high school, Samara is much less creepy and also (view spoiler)[a dude with testicular feminization (hide spoiler)] and the supernatural elements are explained in a pseudo-scientific manner. As horror, the film adaptations are vastly superior.
As stories, however, the book wins out due to character development. Naomi Watts did a great job with what she was given in the American films, but let's face it, she was playing the same archetypal character Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigorney Weaver created twenty years earlier. The protagonists in the novel are more complex and flawed -- Ryuji (the Martin Henderson character in the American film) in particular has a backstory worthy of a book in its own right. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Ah, so here's Koji Suzuki's official sequel to Ring. Not the crappy Hollywood sequel, nor the crappy Japanese film sequel, but the official continuati...moreAh, so here's Koji Suzuki's official sequel to Ring. Not the crappy Hollywood sequel, nor the crappy Japanese film sequel, but the official continuation from the author of the original novel. All right! This is going to be awe--wait, it's a medical thriller?
The curse is a result of the smallpox virus hijacking Sadako's DNA and using her psychic powers to imprint images on a videotape which in turn causes the viewer's DNA to mutate and produce more of the --
There are a number of scenes in this book that are scarier than the novel Ring, but their craft isn't enough to overcome the ludicrous contrivances of both science and plot that are necessary for the story to function. There are so many coincidences in here it's ridiculous, and though Suzuki seems to've heard of DNA, his understanding of it is on a par with Brannon Braga.
I'm not normally a fan of the Agatha Christie school of detective fiction; I cannot stand mysteries that blithely disregard Knox's Decalogue through n...moreI'm not normally a fan of the Agatha Christie school of detective fiction; I cannot stand mysteries that blithely disregard Knox's Decalogue through narrative cheats. I'm an adherent to the Chandler and Hammett school that says the author must play fair with the audience.
And yet I have to admit that Otsuichi's Goth is a brilliant mystery novel, despite cheats all over the place. This is more than just an unreliable narrator -- the story is written in first person, but the point-of-view will shift without clearly establishing who's perspective you're reading -- not the character's name, nor their gender, nor even their species. But the difference between this book and, say, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is that Otsuichi doesn't make you think you're working with the detective to solve the mystery. Instead he establishes early on that you the reader are on your own to figure things out. The clues are all present for you if only you can recognize them.
Plus, I have a soft spot for any story in which the heroine is explicitly described as looking like Winona Ryder's character from Beetlejuice. (less)
I dunno, when I pick up a book called, "Bugs, Eyeballs and a Teddy Bear," I have certain expectations about the sort of disturbing imagery I'm going t...moreI dunno, when I pick up a book called, "Bugs, Eyeballs and a Teddy Bear," I have certain expectations about the sort of disturbing imagery I'm going to find inside. Those expectations do not include a surrealistic romantic comedy in the Bruce Campbell mode.
Our hero is Sakaki Guryuu, Sooper Genius. At age 19 he's already a Nobel-winning scientist, Olympic athlete, best-selling author, and a bunch of other stuff that would strain credibility even it wasn't coupled with everything else. Basically, he's Buckaroo Banzai's overachieving son. But one day he saves a teenage girl from drowning, falls in love and, in order to be near her until she reaches adulthood and he can properly woo her, he buys her high school and becomes her teacher.
This is not supposed to be creepy.
On his way home after school Sakaki encounters a fortune teller who warns him that the girl, Usagawa Rinne, is about to be murdered by a demon. He rushes to Rinne's apartment, but not in time to save her from a spoon-wielding girl. Yes, you read that right.
The demon murders Rinne with a spoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon!
With a spoon.
But Rinne's not dead because PLOT.
And the demon isn't really a demon, but PLOT.
And the fortune teller isn't a fortune teler but rather, PLOT.
And the PLOT never quite decides whether it's a crazy comic book adventure or serious horror, so even though there are some neat ideas in the story, it's always derailed by the demon girl threatening people with her spoons.
This would work so much better with Patrick Warburton.
Though I'd prefer the final volume of HakoMari, finding a new (to English) book by Eiji Mikage on Baka Tsuki is certainly a cause for celebration. The...moreThough I'd prefer the final volume of HakoMari, finding a new (to English) book by Eiji Mikage on Baka Tsuki is certainly a cause for celebration. The HakoMari series has always been a bit out there compared to other light novels (perhaps why it's never received an anime adaptation), so it shouldn't be a surprise that this is only classed as an LN by dint of being published by Dengeki Bunko (sort of the inverse of Biblia). The book doesn't even come with illustrations, not even for the cover. It'd be most apt to classify it as J-horror, in the style of Koji Suzuki, Yukito Ayatsuji and especially Otsuichi.
The book actually consists of four linked short stories, each told from the perspective of a disturbed individual, and each in a distinct mode of genre. The first, "Fumi Saito" is classic shoujo manga with an unjustly bullied heroine, while the third is obviously inspired by Kiyoshi Kurosawa's film Kairo (released in the US as Pulse, but not to be confused with the awful American remake of that name). Each protagonist in turn encounters a mysterious figure known as "Kamisu Reina" who ... well, not to give too much away, but knowing her tends to be hazardous to your health.
Exactly what Kamisu Reina is is left vague. The final story seems to give some answer, but the degree to which this answer is true is up for debate. There is a sequel which presumably provides more closure to the mysteries raised in this volume, but it is as yet untranslated.(less)
Amazon had the first volume on sale for $2.99, so I figured now would be a good time to finally give this series a try. Little did I realize it's like...moreAmazon had the first volume on sale for $2.99, so I figured now would be a good time to finally give this series a try. Little did I realize it's like twenty volumes long, so now that I know how awesome the story is, I'm committed to dropping close to two hundred bucks on the rest of the books.