Uzumaki follows Kirie Goshima and her boyfriend, Shuichi Saito, as they attempt to survive the increasingly disturbing spiral related events which defile the inhabitants of the Japanese town of Kurōzu-cho.


The citizens of the town, including Kirie’s father, begin to be affected by a series of gruesome supernatural events; and the only thing that ties them together is a spiral pattern. As the spiral slowly infest the town, its inhabitants become obsessed with the shape, even going so far as to mutilate themselves to get rid of their own fingerprints. The townsfolk become increasingly paranoid about spirals, resulting in a series of horrific deaths.

The curse spreads until the town becomes cut off from the rest of the world. Finally a news crew is sent in to find what has happened to the inhabitants and discover why Kurōzu-cho can no longer be contacted.

Usumaki is Junji Ito at his best

Uzumaki is, in my opinion, Junji Ito’s best long-form horror manga. The book still suffers the same inconsistencies between chapters as his previous work — a result of the episodic nature of the comicbook format — but it’s nowhere near as bad as in Gyo. The art is also some of Junji Ito’s best work, on par with Gyo, and a massive step above the earlier Tomie.


Uzumaki’s characters are brilliantly drawn and unique enough, despite everyone wearing the same school uniform, to easily differentiate them. In Tomie, in particular, I often struggled to follow characters from one panel to the next as the drawing was so plain and inconsistent, but that’s not a problem here.

The spirals!

As is often the case with Japanese horror manga, the central theme of the story — the spiral — is mystical in nature, which gives Ito the freedom to go off on wild and bizarre tangents — usually for the best — but it also means that are not tethered to any rules which can make some of the events seem out of place even for a tale as bizarre a this — snail people?

Uzumaki contains some of Ito’s most shocking body horror images, it’s his bread and butter, and this is by far his best work. If you’re going to pick up a copy, make sure you get the hardcover version, it’s a great collector’s piece.

Uzumaki Spiral
Previous ArticleNext Article
I read a lot and write occasionally.

What are you thinking?