It's been a month since the fish grew legs and lifted themselves out of the sea and descended on the Japanese mainland. The death stench plague that they've brought has spread to humans, converting them into monstrous gastro-organic machines; dead husks being propelled by an unknown science. Tadashi, a young man seemingly immune to the plague, walks adrift among the chaos, trying to avoid the cold reality of his situation: his girlfriend has been infected by the plague. She's one of them now.
A death stench zombie spewing disease into a decaying world.
Junji Ito, the modern Japanese horror storytelling mastermind behind Uzumaki and Tomie, concludes his two-part exploration of fish -- or more appropriately, the smell of fish -- with his most physically terrifying work to date. While volume one had the distinct mark of 1950's pseudo-science horror flics by way of classic Kazuo Umezu or Hideshi Hino manga, the second volume clearly has its feet in the sheer intangible horror of Lovecraft, but with an eighties Clive Barker turn. The hulking mass of mutated zombies merging into monstrous flesh creatures as contained in the pages of this book is harrowing, disturbing and guaranteed to stay with you long after you've put it down.
The comics horror canon has seen such a recent glut of recycled, tired, and remarkably unscary works of late that GYO marks a welcome and refreshing addition to its ranks, proving once again why Junji Ito stands in a league of his own -- and keeps me up at night.
Peter Aaron Rose is a writer, producer and technologist who lives and works in San Francisco, CA. Under the pseudonym "Peter Siegel", he recently authored Killing Demons, a graphic novel available from Engine Press and Platinum Studios.