"Worth finishing up but don't expect anything much"
This being my first Junji Itou manga, his artwork drew me in because it was either more Western or it had a more conservative action POV panel style than most mangas I'm used to.
It's also the first horror comic I really tried following through and finishing but most of that is due to the blessings of the internet making these types of works easier to find and finish.
This newness is probably what convinced me to rate the art this good and yet be more critical of the manga's story even if it was already touted as a set
of short stories.
The art first off doesn't appeal to me. It's not scary and it makes these stories feel more like a children's folktale and it doesn't feel like the artist is interested so much in the horror as much as telling a cautionary fictional urban legend.
It's worth mentioning this bit because the plot highly relies on this art style and it's not a case where I'm saying this so that readers might know how the art looked to me as much as it is a warning to people planning to read this to avoid digging on if the artwork doesn't work for them because the rest of the quality of this manga highly relies on the artwork keeping you anticipated for the next page.
This is why even if the artwork didn't work for me I rate it a 9 over the story's 6 because this is the type of manga where the art elevates the interest of the story to the point that the story only works because the art is there and while an art change in my opinion could help boost the quality of this manga, I cannot deny that this specific style gives the manga a special essence that makes it memorable by virtue of being rarely done this way as an overall package.
How the essence stacks up though I have no other similar horror mangas to compare to but this is the core of why I finished this manga. The art is just eye catching enough that even if it doesn't appeal to me, it makes me want to see the whole thing through.
On the flip side though, I can almost guarantee that this is among the more mediocre horror mangas out there even without viewing anything else. The reason I say this is because the theme of the stories attempt to evoke mystery at the end but unfortunately it not only does an abrupt job of doing this but it has a bad habit of mixing the climax with the conclusion.
To expand on this flaw, the plots are so rushed that if you were more engaged with the story unlike me, you'd probably be surprised that at certain points in a story, it was extended when it could have ended and then vice versa, you'd have stories where you're surprised it ended at the point it ended.
This normally would be an issue of lowering the story's rating if not for the fact that the stories are actually interesting. Right off the bat if your experience of Asian horror stories involve more mainstream things like The Ring for movies or Fatal Frame for videogames, you'd at least recognized that all of the short stories here are far far more original, morally superior in terms of a folk tale warning and finally much much more satisfying to consume as far as general storytelling is concerned.
This doesn't mean much though when it's still not scary just like those two examples and yet it's genre and design is supposed to be horror. Compound that with the rushed conclusions then it's really more of an ambitious but poorly done set of short horror stories with good intentions.
But...again this is where the artwork and the plot hugs each other so well that despite these shortcomings, it's worth picking up and had I found this and read it from a tankobon or comic book instead of on my PC, I'd have rated it higher.
It's just the type of guilty pleasure comic that works well alongside a set of weekly American superhero comics that I couldn't afford/be interested in investing in but when judged relative to the type of quantity and information available on the internet (even if one were to assume there was no piracy/online uploading and it's just relative to other mangas being sold online) it just doesn't retain it's quality very well because of the lack of the portable feel mixed with the fact that you could have been better off checking something other than this instead and all the uniqueness of the plot and the art melding together...all it did was just crash you down to a disappointing and unanswered fictional mystery that neither horrified nor made a mark on your soul because of the lack of a certain quality of conclusion, climax or completion to the tales contained inside.