Tag Archives: horror

Attack on Titan: Before the Fall Volume 1

Cut alive from his mother’s womb after she had been eaten by a rampaging Titan, Kuklo has spent his life in chains as a freakish curiosity and a feared abomination. Eventually the boy they call the “Titan’s son” finds himself sold to wealthy merchant Dario Inocencio as a plaything for his cruel and ambitious son Xavi. Kuklo knows nothing but abuse and neglect, but help may come from the most unexpected place…

AoT Before the Fall 1Written by Ryo Suzukaze; Art by Satoshi Shiki
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Horror
Price: $10.99US
Rating: ★★★★☆
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Even though it was easy to get into the original Attack on Titan fairly late in the series, it’s even better when you can start at the beginning. Attack on Titan: Before the Fall is prequel to the original series, taking place 70 years in the past. While it didn’t take much to get me onto the original Attack on Titan bandwagon, I was jumping even faster to ride with Before the Fall.

The story follows Kuklo, who has been persecuted and abused his entire 13 years for doing nothing but surviving. He burst from his mother’s womb after she had been eaten by a Titan, and people’s fear and misunderstanding made him the freak and outcast we see at the beginning. He can barely speak and has very few thoughts beyond surviving. He doesn’t understand why he’s beaten and ridiculed, and can barely speak, but he does have the presence of mind to know when he wants it to end.

Enter Sharle, the daughter of Dario Inocencio. She fears the Titans and their “son.” She decides to do something about him one night, and discovers Kuklo is no Titan, but just as human as she is. She is a kind and caring person. She helps Kuklo, first by feeding him, then by understanding him. A friendship grows between them as he learns about Titans and the human world, and he plots his escape.

I enjoyed this volume. Kuklo’s and Sharle’s relationship really pulled me in. I understand why Kuklo’s origin and dark history had to be shown, but it didn’t compel me as much as Kuklo’s realization and growing determination to learn about both humans and Titans. His driving need to know if he really was a “Titan’s son” made the continued abuse tolerable. Sharle was just as interesting. The daughter of an aristocrat wouldn’t be expected to pick up a dagger and try to kill a Titan. She showed strength along with her tenderness, and a mercy Kuklo had never known. I was really glad the volume ended the way it did. Kuklo shouldn’t be the only one escaping a cage, and Sharle is stronger than she thinks.

The volume did feel kind of short, with only three chapters. The original “trailer” for Before the Fall was included to help fill up the space. It does look like a movie trailer, with narration, lots of Titan action and one shocker to reel you in. If you look at it that way instead of as a chapter, it makes a lot more sense.

The art is very different from the original manga. In a lot of ways it’s better. The style reminded me a lot of The Guin Saga Manga published by Vertical, Inc and illustrated by Kazuaki Yanagisawa. Shiki did a good job of expressing the characters’ emotions, especially Kuklo’s. His expressions are the only way to tell what he’s feeling for much of the volume.

You don’t have to have read Attack on Titan in order to enjoy Before the Fall. The story stands on it’s own with two great lead characters that I am looking forward to following in the coming volumes. In no way is their journey going to be easy, but it is sure to be filled excitement.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Jack Frost Volume 7-9

Seeing her father killed before her eyes, Noh-A flies into a rage, with most of it directed at Jack. As the two square off, the story of the previous Mirror Image unfolds, explaining who Noh-A’s parents are, how they met, and why Noh-A had to be the next Mirror Image. It ends with the plans laid by Solomon and Camille in that past finally coming to fruition.

JackFrost_Vol7_TP By JinHo Ko
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Horror
Price: $13.00
Rating: ★★★½☆

Jack Frost has been a series I don’t go out my way to read, but if it’s available I’ll give a perusal. I read it when I had a Yen Plus subscription, but it was a story that never seemed to have a specific direction. It was all a lot of fighting with Jack taking on opponents from the different factions within Amityville. Finally, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, as events from the past are shown and connected with current events, and the story seems to have a direction.

JackFrost_Vol8Jack and Noh-A face off against each other as Noh-A confronts Jack about the death of her father. This begins a long
flashback that shows how Noh-A’s father, revealed to be Jack the Ripper and her mother, the previous mirror image, met and became a couple. I shouldn’t be surprised that I found this interesting. I love getting the back-story of characters, a place or time. This is mostly Jack R’s story. He drives the action, protecting Noh-A’s mother and in the process falls for her. Noh-A’s mother, who is unnamed for most of the story, is mostly dead weight. She is practically emotionless, letting Jack R take her wherever and just being the damsel in distress. I didn’t care for her, and found Jack R’s growth much more interesting.

What really made these volumes for me was all the back-story about the North District and the connection between Helmina, the Tailor and Solomon. What happened in the faculty lounge was shown, and it’s revealed that Helmina’s title of “Witch of the North” is more than just a nickname. She has a connection to Solomon, and more of who he was and why he was sealed away is revealed. But, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of him in the next volume. The Tailor’s motives continue to be vague in the past as it is in the future. He is key to Noh-A’s birth and her inevitable return to Amityville. I find his possible agenda intriguing.

JackFrost_Vol9As the main character, Jack Frost himself doesn’t get as much development as the other characters. He is still the one to beat around Amityville, and he still takes great pleasure in the killing. He and Jack R are sort of rivals, as Jack R was the previous wearer of the Devil’s Thread, and even though he loses, Jack R gladly gives Jack F his showdown when they are face to face in the real world. This last scene for Jack R also explains the seeming contradiction of Jack F killing him, and yet telling Noh-A to look to Jack F for protection.

I still haven’t been won over with these volumes of Jack Frost. But they do introduce enough new elements that I wouldn’t mind reading the next volume. With Yen Plus is no longer being printed and the title no longer serialized, there shouldn’t be as long a delay between volumes. But with Yen Press being one volume away from being caught up, it’s gonna be a while until the next one anyway. At least with not a lot going on, there won’t be much to forget.


Attack on Titan Volume 8-10

Facing a royal summons, Eren and his friends make one final attempt to capture the female Titan. While they are successful, a new crisis faces them as it appears Titans have breached Wall Rose and are pouring into the interior. The 104th scramble to evacuate the villages in their path and find the breach. A night at Utgard Castle is meant to be a refuge, but instead becomes a battle for their lives as the Titans attack at night.

AoT 8By Hajime Isayama
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Horror
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

I didn’t think Attack on Titan was going to be a series I would enjoy. It’s categorized as a horror title, a genre I’m very picking about. Reviews about the series were mixed with people either liking or hating it. I did read the first chapter in Kodansha’s Unreal sampler, and wasn’t impressed. But with the series rising steadily up the New York Times Best Seller list and Nielson Bookscan, there had to be something good that people were seeing about it. I received these volumes for review, and decided it was time for me to see for myself.

AoT 9I was a little unsure, jumping into this series so far in. A comment on Twitter said that the series got better after volume 4, so I was encouraged slightly, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to figure out what was going on or get any of the relationships. It was actually surprising how easy it was to pick up on the relationships between the characters. I really liked the relationship between Eren, Mikasa and Armin. The bond between the three of them was obvious right from the start. The scene where they were preparing to fight the female Titan really sold it without trying. They complement each other well. Armin is the brains, as his deductive reasoning figured out who the female Titan was. Mikasa is the quiet, brawn of the three. She is an awesome fighter, and looked cool as she took down the female Titan, flying up the wall and cutting off her fingers to prevent her escape. Eren is the conflicted hero that Armin and Mikasa support. His battle with the female Titan was actually pretty exciting. What really makes this trio work for me though, is the complete lack of romantic tension. These three are pretty solidly friends, and with all the action already, any romantic conflicts would detract from the already tense story.

These volumes also included a bit of character development for other members of the 104th. They are sent out to warn the outlying villages of the Titan breach. Sasha, a member of the 104th and Military Police Brigade, gets some nice exposition as she faces down a Titan alone. I enjoyed her back story. Ymir and Krista, two more members of the Military Police Brigade, have their story shown, which makes that seemingly harsh Ymir more sympathetic. This also leads to some shocking reveals by the end.

AoT 10But then, that’s what this series is good at; making shocking reveals, and then instead of explaining anything, just teases with possible answers that only lead to more questions. That’s what really hooked me in. First it was the mystery of the Wall Rose, then it was the animistic Titan, and then revelation from Reiner and Bertolt. As one mystery is pursued, these other pop up that keep me intrigued and wanting to get that next volume just to see if there will be some answers.

There were a lot good battles in these volumes. Eren and the female Titan’s battle was exciting, as was the battle at Utgard Castle. Not all of the battles were big, such as Sasha’s small fight. but when they were, like at Utgard Castle, they were devastating. Everyone had to pitch in to protect the castle, but it was Ymir who really showed her mettle, proving herself to be smart as well as self-sacrificing.

If there is any problem I have with these three volumes, it’s the art. It is very uneven, as there are times when the faces don’t look like they are on straight, to very fluid moments in battle such as Mikasa’s strike on the female Titan. But the story really overrides the art, and makes the not-so-great moments bearable. It fortunately also makes the gory moments not so gory. The Titan on Titan violence has such a surreal look to it, as eye balls pop, and Titan’s grin with childish glee as they attack each other just as much as the humans. I thought the gore would be worse, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared.

Attack on Titan is a weird combination of action, mystery and horror that it actually makes it a compelling read. I don’t know how the beginning of the series is, but these later volumes show why every new volume hits the NYT top 10 and stays there for weeks on end. It’s a series you don’t want to put down. At least I didn’t.

Review copies provided by Publisher.


Manga Dome Podcast Episode 29: Higurashi When They Cry Atonement Arc v1-4

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This week I talk about my weekly wish list, Kodansha’s new digital titles, some new titles debuting in Japan, new titles at Vizmanga.com, and I do a review of Higurashi When They Cry: Atonement Arc volumes 1-4.

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Manga Dome Podcast Episode 27: Umineko When They Cry Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch Part 2

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This week I look at some manga news, news from Vizmanga.com, the Nielson Bookscan for September, and review the Yen Press title Umineko When They Cry Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch Part 2.

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Manga Dome Podcast Episode 26: High School of the Dead

Manga Dome headerThis week I make my weekly wish list, look at a new license announcement from Vertical, the Vizmanga.com update, and review High school of the Dead vol 4-7.

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Ju-On: Video Side

This chilling tale of murder, secrets, and revenge centers on a home and the ugly events that transpired there. The place now has new owners, but there is a vile presence that permeates the building and pollutes every surface. What wickedness set off this unstoppable angry spirit? Why has its bloody grudge infected the home and its inhabitants? In the spirit of The Ring, Ju-On –Video Side– delivers a dark warning of a cursed spirit and the corrupting influence it has on the living.

Story by Takashi Shimizu; Adaptation by Miki Rinno
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Horror
Price: $9.95
Rating: ★★★★☆

While I don’t care for most horror movies in general, I do like the J-Horror movies that came out in the early 2000s. I have been on a quest to read as many of the manga adaptations that have come out as I can. So far I have read The Ring 0-3, Dark Water and One Missed Call. The manga adaptations have been hit or miss for me, so when I finally got my hands on Ju-On: Video Side, I wasn’t sure which way it would go. It’s actually a pretty good adaptation, just not of the movie as released here in the US.

Ju-On: Video Side tells the story of the Murakami family, the family to live in the house after the Saekis, who were the originators of the curse. Their story was originally told in the 2000 direct-to -video film Ju-On, or Ju-On: The Curse, and is a prequel to the theatrical movie. The story follows Tsuyoshi Murakami and his friend Mizuho, the daughter of Tatsuya Tamura, a friend of Tsyuoshi’s father, and the realtor who sold the Murakami’s their new house. Starting with Tatsuya’s mysterious dismemberment, one person after another is killed at the hands of Kayoko and Toshio’s hands. Some for doing nothing more than walking into the house.

I liked this adaptation. It didn’t follow the theatrical movies, so the story was fresher. It also told the story straightforwardly and in chronological order, so there was no trying to get your head around what was going one. I also liked a lot of the little differences that happen in the manga. Tsuyoshi’s sister Kanna isn’t killed feeding rabbits, but stray cats, which makes some sense since Toshio’s spirit is merged with a cat. The scene is very disturbing though. It’s gives a good shock too, as two police officers investigating the attack stare at something off-screen, taking about what it could be, which is inter-cut with scenes of Kanna dragging herself home. The build up is paid off in the reveal.

I also like what happened between Tsuyoshi and Mizuho. The story builds them up as not just the protagonists, but with a budding romance as well. This makes what Tsuyoshi does disturbing yet touching, even if he was under Kayoko’s influence at the time. The volume ends not on an uplifting note, but with a feeling that there could be hope. Kayoko and Toshio are shown to be just as much victims of the curse as the people who move into the house, and that adds to the overall emotion. Ju-on isn’t a personal vendetta, or mindless serial killer killing for the pleasure. It’s like a force of nature, and sweeps up anyone and everyone in its path.

If you’re interested in picking up the manga of a J-Horror, Ju-On: Video Side is a good choice. It hits different notes than the videos and movies, and hits them well. There is some blood and gore, but nowhere near as much as many western horror movies, and you can turn the page fast if it really bothers you. Just don’t read this in the dark, when you’re alone, and where there are cats. You might not get any sleep for a while.



Dark Water

Inspired by the Japanese thriller, these pages hold the macabre tales of a mother’s psychological torment in a rundown apartment complex, another man’s terror upon the open sea, and a message from a watery grave. A haunting will begin, and these people will learn that no one is safe from the mysteries that lie within the murky depths of Dark Water.

Written by Koji Suzuki; Art by Meimu
Publisher: Dark Horse
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Horror
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★½☆☆

I picked up Dark Water, expecting another single story adaptation of a novel by Koji Suzuki. This impression is really emphasized by the cover text that claims it’s the book that inspired the “major motion picture.” So I was really surprised when I discovered it was only the first story of four that “inspired” the movie. A movie that was decent, and didn’t need a Hollywood adaptation that couldn’t improve on it any.

I was actually kind of disappointed when I discovered that Dark Water was just a short story, and not a full novel like The Ring. I really enjoyed the manga adaptation of that novel, and was hoping for another experience like that. While “Dark Water” was a tighter read, it wasn’t as interesting or scary as the longer movie. It really needed more disturbing moments to make what happened hit home. It’s not a bad story, but a few more scenes could have made it better.

Of the remaining three stories, the only one with a good “creepy” factor was “Island Cruise”. It did a good job of balancing the supernatural with the non-believer, who must hold on to his non-belief at all costs, or be literally dragged down into the water. “Adrift” was the shortest and left me scratching my head about what happens in it. I’ve read it several times now, and while I think I get the idea Suzuki was trying to get across, it was lost in the manga adaptation. “Forest Beneath the Waves” really doesn’t have anything dark or scary about it. It’s a story about a son connecting to a father he never knew through the place where the father died. This story really doesn’t seem to fit in a volume that is otherwise filled with menaces coming from the water.

Dark Water isn’t a title that will keep you up at night or make you wary of taking a bath. It’s isn’t dark so much as it is murky. It wants to drag you to the bottom, but instead ends up losing its way. I really can’t recommend this book to anyone but Koji Suzuki fans.

The Ring Volumes 0-3

Somewhere in Japan there’s a cabin in which you might watch a program that will change your life…in fact, it will take your life. She will take your life. She calls out from the afterlife, from the dark bottom of a forgotten well. And if she calls you, one week is all you have left to find the answer to her curse.

The Ring Volume 0-3
Written by Koji Suzuki, Hiroshi Takahashi; Sakura Mizuki
Art by Meimu, Misao Inagaki; Sakura Mizuki
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Horror
Price: $12.95
Rating: ★★★½☆

In the late 90s to early 2000s, Japanese horror, also known as J-horror was really popular in the US, and the title to start it all was The Ring. Based on a novel, the original movie was so popular, it was remade with American actors for wide release. Of course, publishers were ready to cash in on the action with releases of manga adaptations of the novels and/or movies.

The Ring series starts off with a great creepy premise, but seems to lose steam with each volume. The first volume is a nice and thick and stays true to the novel. This first story was more compelling and didn’t make Dr. Ikuma into the villain the movies did. It has a good pace and makes the feeling of time running out seem real. The first volume was a great read, and I would recommend it even if you’ve seen the movie.

The Ring 2 follows the plot of the movie instead of the book, and isn’t nearly as compelling as first story. It recaps the first movie before replacing the lead with Takayama’s assistant Takano as she tries to stop Sadako from taking over Yoichi, Takayama and Asakawa’s son. The story doesn’t have the same creepy feeling and the art just looks bad at times. Birthday is a prequel that continues to follow the movie’s plot line and shows Sadako’s life just before she died. It’s sad but not really creepy. Spiral is an adaptation of the novel sequel of The Ring, and takes Sadako’s story in a more scientific direction. The idea behind the replication is interesting, but the overall story wasn’t.

The big problem all three of these volumes had was the constant re-telling, and re-writing of the original Ring story. The first third of The Ring 2 is a compacted retelling of the movie version of the story. Spiral completely ignores most the original characters of The Ring to tell it’s own version of Sadako’s story, and The Ring 0 goes with another modified version of the movie. All these different versions of the same story got confusing and really monotonous after the second version.

The Ring is a good, suspenseful manga, but keep your reading to the original. The rest really don’t add much to the overall story, and will leave you scratching your head more than worrying about that static-filled TV.

Horror MMF: Zombie Apocalypse

Zombies, once creatures of voodoo, have evolved into something more sinister and scary ever since George Romero got a hold of them and created Night of the Living Dead. Ever since the introduction of the slow-moving, decaying, brain-eating monsters, they have grown in popularity, until the turn of the 21st century when they started popping up in hordes everywhere; movies, books, comics, and manga!

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Horror Manga Movable Feast: Day 7 Links

It’s the night before Halloween, with parents heads filled with all the little monsters that will be coming to their doors and children dreaming of the haul of candy that also fills the dreams of dentists. But here at the Manga Movable Feast, Horror is still at the forefront.

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