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The Spring 2024 Manga Guide
The Town of Pigs

What's It About? 


One night, under a blood-red moon, glimmering with demonic beauty, a group of devilish creatures armed with axes and spears came riding into a quiet city on horseback. One by one, they loaded the villagers up into cages and carried them off without any explanation... I barely managed to escape alive.

The Town of Pigs has a story and art by Hideshi Hino, with English translation by Meredith Singer. This volume was retouched and lettered by Nicole Roderick and Kaitlyn Wiley. Published by Star Fruit Books (March 12, 2024).

This print release is a new edition that includes French flaps, a new cover, and new paper stock.

Is It Worth Reading?



Reading The Town of Pigs felt like I was being edged. Do you ever read a story that fires on all cylinders right at the start and then doesn't really end? Well, the book ends obviously, but there isn't an ending in the traditional sense. It feels like the story kept going until it eventually slammed into a wall, and now I'm left here with a headache, trying to figure out what on earth I just read. That's what it was like reading The Town of Pigs.

The setup is interesting. A young boy is the sole survivor in a town that gets pillaged by demons. His family and fellow townmates are captured and forced to either be mysteriously turned into pigs or brutally tortured. Compared to the other stories by Hideshi Hino in this guide, Town of Pigs is definitely less brutal. Only one section leans into his more iconic body horror, but most of the story is just seeing this boy try to deal with this terrible situation. He wants to save his family, he wants to figure out what on earth is going on with the town, and in general, he's just trying to wrap his head around the situation he finds himself in. He's a very relatable character in many ways, and I was on his side for most of the book as he tried to make heads or tails of what was happening. The setup was silly, but it was still enthralling, and you could feel the growing tension like a guitar string slowly winding up, waiting to snap.

The problem is that it just doesn't really end. There's no resolution, explanation, or payoff to anything happening here. There is a twist that catches you off guard, but it happens with very little rhyme or reason. I feel the book is referencing a very specific story or idea that might not be easily graspable. But even if that was the case, the execution did not make for a very satisfying experience. Overall, this feels like a book that wasted my time. I'm not mad; I'm just disappointed.


Lauren Orsini

If you want a far more detailed review of Town of Pigs, please check out Lynzee Loveridge's essay from 2022. This Starfruit Press horror imprint entered the manga guide as a reprint, and its most notable improvement is a new, fancy cover. Per the publisher, "It will have French flaps and a new cover and paper stock." The material within is the same. The translation is the same. So, if you already bought this in 2022, you'll probably not want to repurchase it.

Town of Pigs is a threadbare narrative conveyed in stark black and white. Its simplistic, cartoonish character designs would be right at home in a story for children, which this is absolutely not. Graphic depictions of violence (including people being beheaded, crucified, and gutted) fill its pages. Physical horror eventually gives way to psychological horror with a shocking twist that prompts the narrator to say, "At last, I understood it all!" But I didn't get it until I looked up its creator, horror artist Hideshi Hino. Hino drew inspiration from his father, a pig farmer, and wartime experiences in his formative years. Hino said that his family had to escape their home in Japan-occupied China, and they were nearly killed by neighbors on the way out. When seen through the lens of Hino's experiences, this crude story of townspeople becoming enslaved by demons makes much more sense.

Like Lynzee wrote, I wish I hadn't had to look that up on my own. This short story (which took me about 20 minutes to read) could have benefitted strongly from an afterward or even an interview with the still-living author. This is what makes Her Frankenstein, another vintage horror manga elsewhere in the Spring manga guide, more impactful than it would be by itself. On its own, there's absolute terror in this story of a powerless child narrator who can only watch as his family and neighbors are turned into literal pigs. But when put into the context of Hino's extraordinary real-life experiences, it takes on a new dimension of meaning.

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