All Treats, No Tricks: 6 Creepy New Horror Manga

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Horror manga sounds like a straightforward concept, but the stories vary widely: in Junji Ito’s Gyo, Uzumaki, and Shiver, bits of everyday life suddenly go haywire in horrific ways; things with teeth haunt the vampire saga Happiness; tension sustains the zombie-survival epic I Am a Hero; and a streak of humor runs through the assistants-to-the-dead series Kurosagi Delivery Service.

This year’s new horror manga range from classics to comedy, with a side of history. If you’re looking for something new, check out these recent releases.

Frankenstein: Junji Ito Story Collection, by Junji Ito
Junji Ito turns his considerable talents to the most iconic monster story of all time, depicting the tale of Dr. Frankenstein in gory detail—literally. Ito’s style has an old-fashioned quality that works well with the subject matter, as he shifts back and forth from staid scenes of 19th-century life to dark, dramatic images of the monster and the horror of his creation. This volume also includes six short stories about a high school student who lives in an old house that’s also a portal to another world.

Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe, adapted by Stacy King and various artists
This volume collects manga-style adaptations of four classic Poe stories—”The Telltale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and “The Masque of the Red Death”—and the poem “The Raven.” Each is adapted by a different artist but all five stay close to the full text of the originals, so they retain the power of Poe’s words and add the emotional impact of the visuals. It’s a great way to revisit some of the scariest stories of all time.

Versailles of the Dead, by Kumiko Suekane
Zombies come to the court of Louis XVI in this crazy historical mashup. Marie Antoinette is on her way to Versailles when her entourage is attacked by zombies; her twin brother, Albert, is the sole survivor. He takes his sister’s clothes and her place at the court, all the better to battle the undead who are descending on them from all sides. History class was never like this!

Dementia 21, by Shintaro Kago
Kago is a master of both body horror and the sort of surrealistic stories in which something unremarkable suddenly goes haywire in a terrifying way. In each of the short stories in this collection, a bright-eyed health aide goes to the home of a patient with dementia only to watch the situation slide from normal to mildly unusual to downright bizarre: sentient false teeth try to take over the world, dead people ride in cars on a special highway, and a house fills to bursting with abandoned senior citizens dumped by uncaring relatives. Each of these stories is a small but very weird masterpiece.

Terrified Teacher at Ghoul School, by Mai Tanaka
The plot is right there in the title: Haruhaku Abe, who is timid to the point of being a quivering jellyfish of a man, unwittingly takes a job at a school for yokai. Ironically, it turns out that Abe is one of the few humans with the power to tame yokai, although he can’t really control it. Also, his obsession with sailor uniforms gets in his way from time to time. With a wide cast of miscellaneous yokai students and teachers, this manga is good seinen slapstick fun with a side of dark magic.

Zo Zo Zombie, by Yasunari Nagatoshi
Let’s wind up this roundup with one for the youngsters: Zombie Boy is a friendly zombie who can live on tomato juice instead of blood and eats people’s clothing rather than their brains. He also dies in weird ways (such as flying apart while doing exercises to the radio) and then comes back in equally weird ways (when dance music comes on, the body parts dance back into place). Fifth-grader Isamu’s adventures with Zombie Boy are like a stream-of-consciousness shaggy-dog story, with Isamu as the straight guy and Zombie Boy foiling him at every turn by detaching body parts or changing shape. This is an all-ages manga with the sort of humor that appeals to fans of Captain Underpants—zany with a side of fart jokes.

What horror manga do you recommend?

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