Tadashi loves scuba diving, and during a trip with his girlfriend Kaori, he comes across an impossibly fast sea creature, unlike anything he’s seen before. He sets out to investigate the animal but is forced back to the surface by a group of sharks. When he arrives back on land he finds that the strange creature has followed him, and it’s brought along all of its friends.
Unfortunately for Tadashi, this sets in motion a series of events which results in the invasion of the Japanese mainland by walking fish, sharks and even whales. Yes, you read that correctly — walking fish.
Augmented by mechanical legs, these sea creatures roam the cities of Japan, chasing residents, devouring them, and then…well…that’s when the manga kicks the strangeness up another fifty notches of sickening body horror.
If you’ve read any Junji Ito before (aside from his cat books, which are strange in
Gyo Ugomeku Bukimi (“Fish: Ghastly Squirming”) is a seinen horror manga which follows Tadashi and his girlfriend Kaori as they try to survive the walking fish invasion and try to uncover the cause of the attack.
Junji Ito’s characters are usually run of the mill, level headed young people who find themselves dropped into extreme circumstances. Tadashi, the protagonist, is cut from this traditional cloth, but it’s his relationship with his girlfriend Kaori which makes this couple interesting.
Kaori is a horrid person. She’s a spoilt brat of a girlfriend who hates the smell of the sea, insists on Tadashi doting on her continually, and is insanely jealous of her boyfriend even talking to another woman. Through the first half of the story she is completely insufferable; but, fortunately for the reader, she gets her comeuppance in possibly the most horrific scene I’ve read in any of Ito’s works. It’s great.
Without wanting to spoil it too much, the fish are infected with an experimental World War Two disease which causes poisonous gas to be immediate from any affected creature — you can see where this is going. This gas is then used to power the mechanical augmentations of the fish, and later worse.
It’s bizzarre Japanese nonsense, which makes for a fantastic story.
The plot makes no sense, and openly contradicts itself at many points
It’s the way these books were originally episodically released which is the failing here. Released over several years, the plot is inevitably going to drift in different directions. It’s for that reason I much prefer Ito’s short story collections — but we’re not here for the plot, are we?
The images are graphic and have some of Ito’s best depictions of horror. Compare this to Ito’s earlier work, such as Tomie, and you can see the huge improvement in detail that can be found in Gyo. I’m not going post many images to save spoiling the story, but suffice to say, the
Gyo isn’t my favourite Junji Ito manga, but it is a well-paced terrifying ride with enough body horror to keep fans entertained. If you’re looking for plot, try Tomie instead, but if you’re an Ito fan, you’ll love Gyo.