Happy October! This manga review is part of a series about horror that I’m hoping to continue for the month. Please enjoy~
Please note, this review is for the manga! It is suggested you have a look at the Shock Value vs Atmospheric Horror article I wrote before this for maximum enjoyment.
The curse isn’t explained well at first, but that’s not because you’re getting fed small and vague hints here and there. The characters discuss it quite often, which causes unnecessary buildup for an ultimately underwhelming payoff. It can turn into more than just a slight annoyance, however, because the frequent discussion of the curse prepares the reader to experience it and minimizes the shock value of the victims’ deaths. To make it worse, the shock value is all this manga really has when it comes to horror. Any long-term atmospheric elements are virtually non-existent because the writing removes any sort of subtlety that the piece has (unlike something like Higurashi). After a while, it becomes clear that the main characters have plot armor since after the first death, the curse victims primarily end up as side characters. The reader has had no time to become emotionally attached to them, and unfortunately, this makes the deaths seem more insignificant as bodies begin to pile up. Creepy background elements like dolls are a common motif, but they really feel like props that don’t have more significance to the plot itself.
The most detail in Kiyohara’s art is concentrated on characters’ faces and expressions, quite useful for scenes pertaining to the murders, when emotions run high. Violent scenes are drawn so that the “moment of impact” is obscured, but the aftermath is clear to see, including large helpings of blood. In the American omnibus edition, there are three sections of color pages that utilize neutral browns, blacks, whites to make the red stand out and emphasize the most haunting aspects of the series.
As a fan of atmospheric and psychological horror, I really was underwhelmed by this manga. The scares were superficial in the long run, and the curse itself was confusing. However, if you like shock value-centric horror, you might like this series.