It’s that time of year again when ghosts and goblins come out to play. Do you want to get into the Halloween spirit, but just don’t know what to get? Well, here’s a list of manga that I’ve either read, or know something about enough to recommend (or warn you away from).
I first posted this on my Tokyopop blog, but I’m bringing here with a few updates. Well, I thought it was going to be just a few, but every time I start to think I’m done, I come up with another book! I tried to keep the books in this list to more appropriate to a Halloween theme, than just ghosts, vampires and monsters, etc. It would take forever to list ALL manga with those in it!
The King of Horror Manga right now belongs to Dark Horse. They really seem to cater to that horror/gore market.
Hellsing: Vampires fighting Vampire Nazis and the Catholic Church. The blood runs so thick that the pages are nearly all black from it. But the art is great and the characters are fun (despite all the death). A read I definitely recommend.
The Ring Trilogy, One Missed Call 1 & 2 and Rasen: These are all manga based on the J-Horror movies of the same name. I’ve heard that the manga doesn’t stack up as well to the movies, but you can be the judge yourself. The first Ring movie was good as was the first One Missed Call. Rasen…that one was just waaaaayyyyyy out there.
Mail: Ken Haley has a great review of this one at the Manga Recon. It sounds to be mainly ghost stories, with some gore. Go read his review to find out more.
Reiko the Zombie Shop and Octopus Girl: If you comedy mixed with your gore, check these out. But you’d better do it soon, as they’ve been dropped by Dark Horse for not selling well. Only those with strong stomachs should apply.
Museum of Terror/Tomie: Written by the foremost creator of horror manga Jinji Ito, Museum of Terror features Tomie, a girl who is so beautiful that she attracts men to the point that they want to mutilate and kill her, but she just keeps reincarnating! This is another series that people with weak constitutions should avoid, and has also been dropped by Dark Horse. Check out Charles Tan’s reviews of Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3.
Kwaidan: Want a traditional Japanese Horror story? Try this title. It’s a story of jealousy and revenge as only the Japanese can tell. And the art is reportedly fantastic.
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service: By the same creator as Mail, this title features a group of Buddhist college students who pool their unique talents together to solve mysterious deaths/crimes. This title has gotten a lot of good press from reviewers, but it hasn’t translated as well in sales. It hasn’t been dropped yet, so check it out while you still can.
Viz Media has a few titles that will send the chills up your spine.
Drifting Classroom: This is a survivor horror tale about an elementary school that suddenly disappears and reappears in a desolate land inhabited by monsters. The adults can’t handle the new situation so the kidshave to fend for themselves.
Portus, Uzumaki & Gyo: These titles from Viz have garnished a lot of attention from manga reviewers. Charles Tan of Manga Village, as well as Ken Haley from Manga Recon have given these titles attention. Portus seems like J-horror, Uzumaki is freaky with it’s spirals, and the fish in Gyo gives me nightmares. Check out the reviews for more info. Charles Tan’s Portus, Uzumaki 1, 2, 3, and Gyo 1, 2. Ken Haley’s Portus, Uzumaki and Gyo.
Cat-Eyed Boy: This two-volume, oversized manga holds the complete collection of Umezu’s series. It’s a classic horror series over 40 years old, but still has plenty to offer in the genre. Cat-Eyed Boy, both protagonist and narrator shows the interactions between the Yokai and human worlds with both horrifying and campy results. Check out what both Charles Tan and John Thomas had to say about this series at Manga Village. Volume 2 of this series also received the bronze Manga of the Month title for September.
Count Cain Saga, Fairy Cube: When shojo fans think of horror, one name to come to the top of theIr list is Kaori Yuki. These two titles of hers fit this haunted holiday very well. The Count Cain Saga is divided up into two titles; The Cain Saga and Godchild, though they are meant to be read as one long series. In this series, fairy tales are used as the basis of gruesome murders that Cain must solve. Fairy Cube, a shorter series that just started this year, is about the fairy world coming to ours, but these fairies are no Tinkerbell. It also features grusome deaths and mystery. Check out my review of Fairy Cube volume 1, Manga Manic Cafe’s take here, and Kuri-ousity’s here.
Yume Kenbun Nightmare Inspector: The atmosphere of this title is meant to be spooky. The main character is a supernatural creature known as a Baku. He eats people’s nightmares. Many of the nightmares in its volumes seem to try to take advantage of the “twist” ending, with variable results. Check out reviews of volume 1 from Tangognat, Manga Maniac Cafe, volume 2 from Manga Village, Volume 3 from Kuri-ousity, and Volume 4 from Manga Village.
Tokyopop also has some gruesome titles.
Dragon Head: A survivor horror title with two kids trying to survive first a train wreck that traps them in a tunnel and leaves them in a post-apocalyptic world. The Japanese really seem to like to traumatize their kids.
Petshop of Horrors: Not exactly a horror tale as many of the others mentioned so far. It’s more like animals and the natural world taking advantage of man’s weakness/stupidity and getting some revenge. Some of the deaths are gory, but the mix of comedy and drama make this a must read any time of the year!
Redrum 327: This series sounds like a slasher flick, with a bunch of friends trapped in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, and they start getting killed off. Don’t know much about it, but it seemed to have a really creepy atmosphere.
The Dark Goodbye: This is a graphic novel that combines 40’s detective noir with the Cthulu mythos. And you can’t get more horrific than Cthulu.
Petshop of Horror: Tokyo: This is a sequel to the original Petshop of Horrors mentioned above. It takes place in Japan now, in the district of Shinjuku. He’s still selling his pets, with the same warnings to potential owners. This time, he’s annoying the owner of the building where his shop is located, a Chinese business man who thinks he’s running a brothel. It’s more of the same, but Petshop of Horrors is such a good series, that this isn’t a bad thing! Check out what Manga Maniac Cafe’s Julie has to say about it as well as Lissa at Kuri-ousity.
Dark Metro: This title is a Global manga, and tells stories of horror in the Tokyo subways. Each story is named after a subway stop in Tokyo, and the only recurring character is Seiya, a sort of go-between with the human world and the underworld. Ordinary people get trapped or pulled into the underworld and face ghosts and zombies. It’s Seiya’s job to try to save them from a disastrous fate, if it is not their time. I was very underwhelmed with the first two volumes of this title, though it did have it’s moments. Check out my reviews here and here.
Del Rey has two titles that fits into the Halloween theme.
Ghost Hunt: I really like this title. I also watched the anime and really enjoyed it. A 16-year-old boy (very serious and cold) runs a psychic research company and through an investigation of a school, gets a girl assistant (the heroine/protagonist), a Buddhist monk, and Shinto priestess and a catholic priest. They then start investigating hauntings together. I love ghosts and stories around them. It’s really a fun title to read.
Hell Girl: There is a website that can be only reached at midnight, Hell Correspondence. Put the name of the person you want to get revenge on in it, and maybe Jigoku Shojo, Hell Girl, will take your revenge for you. But there is a price… This title is based on an anime of the same name, but differs in a few different ways. This title was written for tween-teenage girls, so the characters look cute, and there are tons of melodrama, but it’s right up the alley of a teen girl who like horror without the gore.
Yen Press has included a few horror titles with their manga magazine, Yen Plus.
Higurashi no Koro naka ni: This is a title that the anime by the same name is based on. In the previous incarnation of this post, I recommended the anime, but only for the very strong-stomached or deranged. I couldn’t watch half this series, because of the gore and disturbing images. And this is the title that came from! It’s a slow build, with a lot of tension building, but once it explodes, it explodes BIG! The first volume of this comes out next month, but you can read chapters in the Yen Plus magazine.
Jack Frost: This is a Korean title included in the Yen Plus magazine. It looks and feels a lot like a cheap knockoff of Hellsing, but if you’re going to copy a horror title, copy the best! The fan service is more blatant in this title, but it’s got a lot of the humor and horror of Hellsing. If you like Hellsing, you will probably like this one too. It’s only available in the magazine, with the first volume not scheduled until May 2009. It’s a long wait, but might be worth it.
Zombie Loan: This was one of Yen Press’ launch titles, and is done by Peach-Pitt, a well-known manga team. In this title, humans who have died can make a deal with the Zombie Loan, and get another lease on life, but also have a debt to pay back, which they must do by kill illegal zombies. Two boys have made this deal, and they find that one of their classmates has the rare power of Shinigami Eyes. She can the black ring that marks someone for death and/or as a zombie. The premise of this title had a lot of potential, but the execution was supremely lacking in the first few volumes. Here’s my review of volume 1.
Aurora has one title in it’s slowly growing shojo line that fits the Halloween theme.
Nightmares for Sale: This title has a real Twilight Zone vibe to it, with the main character of Shadow giving a sort of introduction and ending to the stories. The stories themselves aren’t really about twists, or comeuppance, but more about the dark side of human nature, much like the TZ horror episodes. It’s worth a look if you’re a TZ fan, or like that kind of horror. Check out reviews of Volume 1 and 2 at Manga Village.
CMX has just one that I really think fits in this genre.
Presents: This is another comeuppance theater title that mixes humor with its horror. A girl who never got presents when she was growing up, never got to grow old, and now gives out presents with dark fate to those deserving it. It’s a short series, only 3 volumes long. The art has an old style look to it, but don’t let that hold you back. Check out review of volume 1 at Manga Recon, Manga Maniac Cafe, and the Sporadic Sequential.
DMP doesn’t do a lot of non-Yaoi manga, but when it does, it does it right.
Vampire Hunter D: This is a new manga series that DMP commissioned based on the novels by Hideyuki Kikuchi (which are available from Dark Horse). Vampire Hunter D combines drama, horror and great characters to create a compelling world. This title is a definite must for any self-respecting horror genre fans. Check out my review of Volume 1 here, and my husband’s here.