[Graphic Novel Review] Uzumaki (Junji Ito, 2010) ★★★★★

girl with spiral hole in head in Uzumaki by Junji Ito 2010

Uzumaki spirals horror and terror out of control in surreal dread.

Uzumaki is a supernatural fantasy mystery horror with surreal elements. It’s a Seinen Manga in which a little town and a girl fall under the spell of a strange pattern, the Spiral. Drawn in black and white the horrifying and weird events pop off the pages which are to be read from right to left as is the whole book. It might be getting used to at first, but due to the absolute strange and mesmerizing story, you’ll get the habit of it very quickly.


In the little village Kurouzucho lives Kirie Goshima with her father, mother and little brother. She has a boyfriend Shuichi. When Shuichi’s father shows very strange behavior and seems to be obsessed with everything that has a spiral pattern, he is getting worried. 

Kirie also starts to notice that something is not right in their town and it has to do with spirals. While they try to figure out what’s happening, things spiral out of control very quickly and all these strange single events seem to be connected to something much bigger.

Why you should read it

It’s a very intriguing and weird story in which all kinds of strange things happen that all have something to do with spirals. It’s very creative and original and also very disturbing. Just like a twirling spiral it has a mesmerizing effect and the mystery is well-crafted and builds towards a terrifying ending. 

It’s a huge book that consists of 20 chapters that will give lots of reading pleasure. The horror is gruesome and with lots of body horror but also madness. It’s bloody and gross and the imagined creatures are absolutely terrifying. It’s a mystery and an adventure that gets worse and worse destroying everything, turning everyone in horrible monsters and insane madmen. The horror is unique and spirals are involved in the most creative and gruesome ways that form the structure of the story. 

Although the spirals and the strange behavior of the villagers and how these spirals effect them are cause for great horror, there’s also room for romance and humor. The two main characters are very likable. Kirie is a resolute and bold character determined to find out what’s happening, while Shuichi soon becomes depressed, which isn’t strange at all. Kirie supports him wherever she can and although she’s not a heroine who takes action, she manages to survive and helps Shuichi. Meanwhile her classmates, her niece, her father and others around her are being effected by the spirals. She’s watching horrified while she can’t do anything about it to stop it, while we stand by her side. 

There’s no way out, as we and Kirie watch the events play out ultimately spiraling into a devastating climax. There’s also no explicit explanation what the spirals are or where they come from. They are just a terrifying deadly force. It’s as elusive and a never-ending cycle as a spiral itself. 

It’s beautifully drawn in black and white with focus on action and the strangeness of the spirals. It has a realistic style when it comes to the characters, but a very surreal style when it involves the spirals and their effects. The drawings are kept simple and clear giving a good picture of what is happening, making it all the more terrifying. 

Dynamic pictures are varied with static imagines and stylish scenes. Close-ups are alternated with images of a big scene. It’s drawn for the reader to absorb it all. The pictures depict a fast pace, making your eyes glide over the pages and it draws you into the story. But take your time to really look at the pictures and see how wonderfully they are drawn and how gruesome it really is. 

After the devastating ending, we luckily get treated to a fun epilogue. Here Junji Ito researches spirals himself before he starts writing and gets obsessed with them. It’s a very fun nod and adds to the overall humor. 

My favorite part

The girl with the spiral hole in her head is maybe the most iconic image of the story. But there are lots more to discover. Like the dead boy who attaches a spring to his lower body half, like a mad jack-in-the-box. Or the girl with her hair curled up like spirals that take over control. The snail boy. The lighthouse adventure or the horrifying events at the baby hospital ward are full of horrid things. The best part of this horror book is that it never ends. It’s just one little horror story after another but woven into an enthralling and intriguing bigger story, that evolves in a descent into madness. 


Rating: ★★★★★

Surreal factor: ★★★★★

Gruesome factor: ★★★★★

Originality factor: ★★★★★


Uzumaki is written and drawn by Junji Ito and published by Shogakukan in 2010. It consists of 653 pages. 

cover book Uzumaki by Junji Ito 2010

Support BHG: