In this month’s Bibibi post, Ranko talks about Kazuo Umezu’s Scary Book Series!
Violet’s note: this post comes later than usual because I was reading horror manga, and I wanted to include some buy links for the featured books. Kazuo Umezu is the grandmaster of the horror manga genre, and his works influenced the universally-acclaimed Junji Ito. Not all of his works have been localized in English, but those that are include the Drifting Classroom and only 3 volumes of the Scary Book Series. Amazon US only has the first volume of Drifting Classroom and the 2 books of Cat Eyed Boy in ebook format.
I’m Ranko, the BUTAOTOME vocalist.
This is a series of articles where I introduce my favorite manga and anime in whatever way I like, and sometimes I write a production diary.
Now, this time’s theme is “Kazuo Umezu”‘s “Scary Book Series”. Speaking of Kazuo Umezu, do you have the general image of that “Gwashi!” pose where you fold your middle and little fingers together?
To tell you the truth, I have never read “Makoto-chan”, where Gwashi originally came from.
The manga by Kazuo Umezu that were in my parents’ house were “The Drifting Classroom” and “Scary Book Series”. But somehow, the latter disappeared (my father said, “I don’t want to keep it because it’s scary. It’s not mine.”) (But my mother also said, “It’s not mine.”) (Who the hell did it belong to……) and I forgot its existence. I had The Drifting Classroom, so I would occasionally reread it or watch the drama.
A friend gave me these clothes and I thought, “This is a good opportunity, let’s read it again”.
Cute~. Red and white stripes are really cute, aren’t they? They look good on you, Umezu-sensei.
The “Scary Book Series” was also republished as an e-book. It looks like the re-edited version really came out just recently.
Umezu-sensei uses various motifs that are generally considered scary, such as snakes, butterflies, masks, and mirrors, to depict the scary parts of human beings. People who were beautiful become uglier and uglier, and the reason they were beautiful in the first place was because of those horrible things.
I remembered a lot of it when I read it, and it still frightens me, even though it was written between 1960 and 1980. That was before I was born.
I think this is because Umezu-sensei is drawing the root of fear.
I also think it’s amazing that he can draw in so many different styles. Apparently, he used to draw different styles depending on the magazine in which his stories were published. It’s amazing how scary they all are. I know I’m saying amazing so many times, but it really is…
I remembered very well “Flesh Face” from “Book 3: Frenzy” and “Kazuo Umezu’s Curse Episode 1 / What did you see on the video camera?” from “Book 6: Monsters”. Simply, the impact of the pictures was super strong. I think I said out loud that they were scary!!
“Laughing Mask” from “Book 2: Deformities” has an indescribable sadness to it. “Monster Gyut” from “Book 8: Deformities 2” is also sad. Humans are stupid… By the way, the difference between “deformities” and “monsters” is whether they have a heart or not, according to Umezu-sensei. I love deformities, but I guess I like the idea that something that doesn’t have a human shape has a human heart.
Also, “Dali’s Man” from “Book 4: Spellbound” is an amazing story. I’m sorry I don’t have words to explain it, but… I don’t wanna spoil it for you. I was horrified when I saw the last page. I love horror stories like this.
There’s no end to what I could write about it, but as I read it, I thought that the things in me like “horror is something that can make you laugh” or “there is laughter in horror” were cultivated thanks to Umezu-sensei. In his commentaries, Umezu-sensei also said that “if you put laughter, it makes the scary part stand out more”… However, I enjoy being scared myself, so I end up laughing. (If I were to tell that to someone who is scared, they’d probably get angry)
So, following GeGeGe no Kitaro, I talked about the “Scary Book Series” by Kazuo Umezu, which is the core of my horror.
Please try to read this manga! Because it’s scary!
Kazuo Umezu’s Great Art Exhibition is going on at Roppongi Hills until March 25th, so please go there too!
See you next time. Ranko signing off!