Reviewby Theron Martin,
Octopus Girl and friend Eel Girl foray through another series of horror-themed adventures. An encounter with an alien is followed by a dream of becoming a ballerina coming close to reality thanks to some special slippers, only to go horribly awry. Granny Vamp returns in an effort to seek her revenge on the duo by drawing them into a haunted house, but they spend more time dealing with ghosts and practicing to be delinquents. Eel Girl must decide what to do about a shoplifter in one story, then has issues with her weight loss attempt in another. As a pair of notorious burglars they struggle to steal from the ethically challenged, while in another alternate-identity tale they tell the story of a woman imprisoned for 20 years who is offered an unusual chance for freedom. In the final story, which also uses alternate identities, they act out the tale of a woman who's had to live since childhood with an ugly disfigurement.
Primarily a mix of horror vignettes and classic gross-out humor, Octopus Girl is one of those titles that will linger in your mind long after you're done reading it, even if you really, really don't want it to. It is absolutely not appropriate for general audiences, as mixed in with the normal gore and ugly physical distortions is some very intense scatological content, the kind of thing that will make you want to go and watch something light and fluffy afterwards just to clear out your mind. The “Parental Advisory” label it carries is well-earned.
It isn't all just nastiness, though. Amongst the eleven Episodes, which range in length from 4 to 30 pages, are bits involving aliens, variations on classic Japanese ghost stories, and a piece involving ballet that is best not contemplated, but also mixed in are a few more serious stories as well, ones whose quality and poignancy may stun you given the disgusting content which surrounds them. One concerns a pair of Robin Hood-type cat burglars, another a boy seen shoplifting. A third, which takes some surprising twists, is about the woman with the disfigurement, but unquestionably the best (and most touching) is the one about the woman in jail who is nearing parole. The common theme throughout all the tales are the two recurring leads, Eel Girl and Octopus Girl, who appear in one incarnation or another in every Episode, albeit sometimes under different names and at different ages.
Whatever else might be said about the content, nothing is wrong with the way it's drawn. The character designs look fine when shown normally, regardless of age and gender; male, female, young, old, even alien are all drawn well. Manga-ka Toru Yamazaki has a penchant for showing his characters with grossly distorted features and in thoroughly disgusting situations, such as with ridiculous overbites, coated in gore, possessing an obscenely hairy mole, or with grievous physical deformities, and that's not counting the occasional times the two leads are shown in “invertebrate body with human head” form. Even in these cases, though, the characters are expertly drawn and shaded. Backgrounds and other props are also well-done, with special attention paid to gore and feces. It may (literally) look like crap at times, but it's high-quality crap. Shading is on the heavy side, as befitting a horror title, and what little action is actually present is effectively and clearly portrayed by using just enough motion lines to indicate what's happening.
Dark Horse, which is better-known in the states as one of the bigger indie comic book publishers, releases this title under their Dark Horse Manga label in traditional Japanese format. A rainbow sherbet-colored background for the front cover frames character art which suggests that coloring his art is Yamazaki's one weak artistic skill. The translation seems solid, with well-done lettering and smaller English versions of sound effects accompanying the original Japanese versions in the few places where they are used. Physical qualities are fine, but this volume includes no extras.
If gross-out humor and horror is your cup of tea then Octopus Girl is definitely a title for you. Regretfully the extreme content will deter many from appreciating some really good artwork and surprisingly good storytelling, but anyone who decides to take a chance on the series should be forewarned that it is quite disgusting when not being quite compelling.
Story : B+
Art : A-
+ High-quality artwork, sometimes very good storytelling.
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