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Creepy horror manga? The Enigma of Amigara Fault is the answer

fault.jpgHalloween is fast approaching and it’s time to indulge in some frightful Japanese horror. Sadly, it’s not a genre that translates well to anime and manga, but having recently discovered the abnormal works of manga-ka Junji Ito, there may well be hope for us yet. This time I’m talking about the claustrophobic “Enigma of Amigara Fault”; a remarkable 30-page short that has abducted my thoughts since falling victim to its spell last night.

The ambiguous story begins as an earthquake scythes open the titular Amigara Fault; a gigantic rock riddled with human shaped caves. Nervous people from all over Japan are inexplicably drawn to the landmark, haunted by nightmares and convinced they have recognized individual caverns that perfectly match their own unique body shapes.

Amidst the anxious crowds are curious scientists trying to explain away this baffling enigma, as one by one, and despite their obvious panic, the attracted people can’t help but enter their caves and eventually, completely disappear into the darkness. All rescue attempts fail after 5 metres and given the perfect shape of each hole, it’s completely impossible to turn around, so despite being overcome with a palpable sense of anxiety, confinement and enclosure, the organic victims can only hobble forwards, onwards into the twisting Amigara Fault, as its shaped caverns ever-so gradually distort, shrink and stretch into deformed positions.

As if you couldn’t tell by reading the above summary, “The Enigma of Amigara Fault” is a striking and bizarre short story, regularly playing on our aversion to and fascination with the unknown. Ito immediately establishes an air-tight sense of claustrophobia, allowing the readers imagination to conjure an unexplained and obscure power that’s sadistically pulling these depressed people towards their inescapable and lonely fate. It’s impossible not to be fascinated by the mystery of the fault as we’re lured into a disturbing finale that you won’t forget for a very long time.

Comments

Lupus Inu says:

I read this a while ago… it’s honestly one of the few mangas that made me want to keep on reading to know all about it, as I read it gave me goosebumps, and the very last few pages actually somewhat shocked me and give me a shiver up my spine, it was like… whoa… creepy.

Martin says:

Where do you find these things?! That sounds more imaginative and twisted than any Western horror I’ve seen – it is indeed a rarity to see a decent creepy tale in manga form, although I rarely get scared by books and films these days.

Funnily enough my favourite chillers come from far East cinema – apart from the classic Ring, A Tale of Two Sisters is really unnerving.

kauldron26 says:

if u want twisted check out chan wook park’s vengeance trilogy: oldboy, mr vengeance and lady vengeance.

p.s. holy shit kaiji is awesome

Protodude says:

Hmm, I thought you weren’t big into manga? I’m curious as to what else you’ve read.

I remember reading something else by Junji Ito, something about some dad having part of the house’s foundation stuck through him, and they couldn’t find out how the hell it happened. Also, there’s another work of his entitled Uzumaki that deals with spirals which is supposedly good.

Dan says:

I don’t really get it. Maybe I don’t have that fear of claustrophobia, but I finished the short story without any real tension at all. I also feel like those dream sequences that the boy had kind of ruined the anticipation of the moment of truth. And I agree with kauldron, oldboy was pretty messed up, haven’t seen the others yet…

bateszi says:

@Lupus Inu: Yeah, creepy is the word! The premise is so weird and ambiguous, I wish an entire volume had been devoted to fleshing it out a little more. You’re right to say the last few pages are especially disturbing, the unnatural shapes at the other end of the caves are just… *shudders*

@Martin: Ringu is definitely my favourite Eastern horror movie. Dumplings is another good one in terms of sheer disturbing material (women prolonging their beauty by eating aborted fetuses!)! I was fairly disappointed in “The Eye”, but still haven’t seen A Tale of Two Sisters. When done right, ghosts totally freak me out. Also, I found out about this short manga when casually browsing through an anime forum; simply the premise was enough to compel me to track it down!

@kauldron26: You’ll have to try harder than that ;) I own the majority of Park Chan-wook’s movies on DVD (including the short he worked on for “Three Extremes”) and actually saw both “Old Boy” and “Lady Vengence” on cinema screens! The only movie of his that I’m yet to see is “I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK”, but now you’ve reminded me to put that right!

@Protodude: I’m an on-off manga reader and I don’t follow any regular releases (with the exception of trying to keep up with Berserk). My favourite is Tsutomu Nihei’s “Blame!”; the sci-fi concepts, bio-mechanical Silicon Life and the sprawling industrial landscapes utterly captivate me. I also enjoyed reading Gantz, but have lost interest in that for now. Same with Beck. Also, I’m trying to find the energy to read “Pluto” since the manga-ka is a genius and the story sounds extremely interesting (I love the idea of subverting something like Astroboy and turning it into this hard-boiled, noir crime story ala Blade Runner).

@Dan: Horror is definitely one of those subjective genres that relies on touching a nerve with the reader. I read it because even the very concept of the story profoundly bothered me. Let me guess, you didn’t like the “Blair Witch Project” either? The first time I saw that film I was on edge with fear and it’s all a matter of what you can imagine is out there, lurking in the darkness, whether or not you fear the unknown or view everything in scientific terms.

CitizenGeek says:

I’ve been picking up Viz’s awesome 2nd edition releases of Junji Ito’s work and I have enjoyed them immensely. Uzumaki is fantastic, Ito is truly twisted!

ik says:

I love Junji Ito’s work. This short story is IMO his best, it creeped me out ;_;

kauldron26 says:

“I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK” was very good, it was like his own eternal sunshine of the spotless mind.

kauldron26 says:

have u seen Oh edo rocket or baccano yet?? both are dripping with amazing writing, animation, music and best of all originality. did i mention that that new anime Kaiji is awesome?

World of Anime » Creepy horror manga? The Enigma of Amigara Fault is the answer says:

[…] The ambiguous story begins as an earthquake scythes open the titular Amigara Fault; a gigantic rock riddled with human shaped caves. Nervous people from all over Japan are inexplicably drawn to the landmark, haunted by nightmares and convinced they have recognized individual caverns that perfectly match their own unique body shapes. (more…) […]

Protodude says:

“Also, I’m trying to find the energy to read “Pluto” since the manga-ka is a genius”

Have you read Monster? I haven’t finished it, but so far I’d say it’s my favorite manga of all time, which is kind of odd considering how….un-japanese it is.

Martin says:

@Bateszi: point taken on Dumplings…that joins Audition at the top of my to-buy list of creepy shocker-type stuff (where am I going to find the time to watch/read all this?).

@Protodude: Naoki Urasawa? Damn right – Monster is fantastic (coincidentally it was Bateszi who recommended that to me in the first place). I’ll look into the likes of Pluto, Master Keaton and 20th Century Boys after that as well because, like you, I think that Urasawa’s grasp on realism and tension, not to mention his skill as a storyteller, is a rare and wonderful gift. I finished the Monster anime but I’m collecting the manga as well since the animated version is unlikely to be licenced (especially since it’s an epic seventy-something episodes in length!).

Gabest says:

I just found out about pet shop of horrors recently. There are only four animated stories, but a lot more in the manga. Reading one or two before sleep is a good entertainment :)

Jingo says:

I just went ahead and read this. I think I will be sleeping with the light on tonight.

Jeanne says:

For those looking for the book this is published in, it’s in the back of the second volume of Gyo by Junji Ito, published as one of two bonus stories. You can get them from BarnesandNoble.com and probably Amazon.com. If you like really freaky horror, Junji Ito is GREAT for it! lol Gyo made me so nauseous, but I still couldn’t put it down or turn away from getting the second book. Uzumaki is less sickening, but equally freaky and terror filled and even has a movie out that can be found on Blockbuster.com at the very least. The live action movie I found didn’t cover enough after I read the manga, but it’s still a fun dark treat.

[…] Given I’m still reeling in claustrophobia thanks to his deliciously weird short-story “The Enigma of Amigara Fault“, the idea of slipping into his most acclaimed work to date was an ambition I’ve held […]

Hotarubi says:

Maaan, this is an amazing one-shot. It is so creepy. I read it while in airport waiting for my flight. Now I do not know if I wanna go onboard now. I had chills running down my spine….I am not claustrophobic, or anything like that, but a thought of something like that existing just freaked me out…It is crazy. A hole carved for you, of a perfect shape. OMG, it is so creepy.
But thanks for introducing me to this manga. I did not even read this post in full, but if not you, I would never find out about it.
It’s excellent. And I am absolutely in love with Ito’s works.

Pistol says:

Try reading ‘Spirals’, his latest work. Gave me nightmares. What an imagination.

[…] my eyes into the many dark crevasses of the internet, hoping in vain to uncover another crawling Enigma of Japanese terror. Forget about all this torture porn nonsense, forget about reality, for me, […]

Viv says:

Dude. Duuuuuude. This manga is sick. It seriously gave me the chills. The first time I read it was at least 3 years ago at this bookstore. I still remember it though, so I looked it up and found it online. It is so creepy I had to read it leaning away from the screen. Wow… those holes…. just wow. If I saw one like that in real life then I’d be so frightened that I’d enter…… “It’s just gaping at me! ‘Come in, come into me,’ that’s what it’s saying!!”

Gawsh, I won’t be sleeping tonight!

MaZtRHaXoR says:

Woah i just read it but i didn’t give me much chills

(maybe because i have read his other mangas previously)

it was amazing for a short story

i hope it has a sequel or sumthin – i mean more volumes to explain the mystery

hahaha

hellhase says:

How nice! One of the essential twisted stories or morbid jokes related to speleology as manga comic! Even by the outstanding Japanese mangakas! Master Junji Ito cursed me again as is charming me for 20+ years :-) Since I am speleologist I love holes (caves in fact :-)The situation of feeling rock all around is something very usual (and exciting) for me. Perhaps there came a day and I will find the certain hole made for me :-)
Btw. Name Amigara refers to what? A nutshell? My great grandmother skilled in Japanese a bit used to call me amigara (instead od dumbhead) if i did something wrong… The thing flashed in my mind when I first time spot “amigara fault” I did a lot of them as a child :-)))

G dizzle says:

can anyone else tell me if they know any other one shot mangas like this, cause i’ve been reading junji ito’s gyo and uzumaki but what i really have a taste for atm is things like this, one shot tales from the crypt style mangas

[…] Creepy horror manga? The Enigma of Amigara Fault is the answer […]

Hate9 says:

I really wish I hadn’t read this… Probably the most twisted (and that’s a pun, if you’ve read it) stories I’ve ever read.

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