The Call: 2Spooky4Me, but Perfect for Halloween

Happy Halloween, y’all! I hope everyone has fantastically spooky plans for this exciting Monday night, or if not, that you at least got your spoop in this weekend.

In the spirit of All Hallows Read, I figured I’d use this post to recommend a scary book. I unfortunately ended up taking this duty too seriously, and ended up reading a book that was just a little beyond my spook limits. It’s cool, though. I’ll sleep again eventually.

The Call by Peadar O’Guilin piqued my interest despite my inability to handle horror because it wasn’t generic horror—it was fairy-based horror. I’ll read pretty much anything that puts a dark twist on fairy lore, so I dove in headfirst.

Vague spoilers and a trigger warning for extreme body horror after the jump.

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Manga Mondays: The Enigma of Amigara Fault

Wow, so, this is about a million miles off from my usual Manga Mondays fare, and before I begin to explain the story, let me get this out of the way:

TW: Claustrophobia, Body Horror

1The Enigma of Amigara Fault is a one-shot story of about thirty pages by Junji Ito, and, when it showed up on my Tumblr dash a week or two ago, just reading the author’s name should have clued me in that this was, perhaps, 2spooky4me. Tsunderin has reviewed Ito’s manga here before, and I should have remembered from just reading her review that Ito goes in for the psychological creepiness and body horror without pulling any punches. Regret, I has it.

The story of Amigara Fault runs something like this: following an earthquake in one of Japan’s prefectures, a giant faultline appears in the side of Amigara Mountain. Upon examining the huge crack in the earth, it’s soon discovered that it’s full of hundreds of naturally-occurring human-shaped holes, which go deeper into the mountain’s surface than any simple probes or measuring devices are able to detect. People from all over come to investigate and rubberneck at the sight, and soon certain visitors get the unavoidable impression that certain holes are meant for them in particular, and are struck with an irrational desire to fit themselves into the crevices. What happens when they snap and climb in? Well, I’ll leave that to you to find out—it is only thirty pages, after all.

human-shaped holes amigara fault

Euuughhh, it makes my skin crawl.

Every time I encounter a scary story or movie, I think to myself, “This time I’ll be okay; this time I won’t let it get to me.” In actuality, I have a particularly low tolerance, although eight seasons of Supernatural have increased my vulnerability to jump-scares. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful yet again in not being disturbed by a scary thing; thanks a lot, Ito-sensei. However, if you’re into horror manga or just scary stories in general, this is a great example of how to tell a terrifying original story in a small space (whoops, accidental pun) with only a little buildup, backstory, or exposition.

If you’re up for spending the rest of your day feeling totally unsettled, you can read the full story here.

Manga Mondays: Mail

Halloween is only a few days away and especially with this storm coming in on the East Coast, the notorious feeling of spooks and haunts is finally settling in. As such, it’s only appropriate that I review a proper horror manga full of its own demons and horrors. This week, let’s look at Housui Yamazaki’s Mail.

Somewhat similar to Junji Ito’s Museum of Terror, rather than focusing on one large overarching story Mail instead looks at several cases from different people (or undead, as the case may be at times) only threaded together by the persistent, mysterious detective/exorcist, Reiji Akiba. Even then, you couldn’t really say that the manga has a plot besides dispatching the “monster of the week”. There are snippets of story—such as Akiba’s background—thrown throughout the chapters, but as it seems that there are only three volumes of this manga there’s really not enough room for anything substantial. However, I would say that the characters themselves are not vital to this story—this probably about the only time you’ll hear me say this.

Even when we delve into how Akiba used to be blind and how his childhood friend was murdered (and he found her severed head, that’s fun), the reader can infer how the events affected his character, but it’s a low-key way. That is to say, Akiba doesn’t really have much of a personality because Mail isn’t about Akiba, it’s about the ghosts. And damned if it doesn’t give them the glory they deserve.

My spooky meter is a little adjusted to the higher end, but some of these stories I still find unsettling. For example, there’s a story about a woman who stays in a hotel to seemingly draw the mysterious ghost haunting the room she reserves. It takes a twist (I use the term loosely because it basically gives it away on the first page) when it’s discovered that the ghost is a toddler and the woman is his mother who killed him in an attempted suicide-murder. There are, of course, the essential ghosts that follow unsuspecting people home and the ghosts that stalk their prey through cell phones, but to Yamazaki’s credit there are a wonderful variety of stories and he was able to end the series before it had a chance to get hokey or repetitive.

Personally, I find the art style very striking as well as it edges towards the more realistic. Along with this though, the art sometimes reaches the NSFW level, so I would tread lightly if you’re offended by boobs.

So, make sure to enjoy your tricks and treats while keeping tabs on the storm and don’t forget to read a good ghost story or two (or three, or four…)!