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10 Spooky Manga for October 2018

by Lynzee Loveridge,

October is finally here. The crisp wind permeates with pumpkin spice and TNT is plugging away at its 744 hour marathon of Supernatural. It is, by and far, my favorite time of year and the perfect time to delve into whatever horror movies, books, and games I have on my "to-do" list. I love the whole breadth of the horror genre from Cabin in the Woods' unique riffs on the tropes to ridiculous popcorn-munching gore like Killer Klowns from Outer Space to genuinely unsettling creep shows like Hereditary. Horror has something for everyone so long as you're not too squeamish. For the next few weeks, I'm going to pick out some of the most entertaining screamfests 2018 has to offer starting with manga. Check out next week for this year's anime releases followed by video games and visual novels. Maybe you'll find something new to add your Halloween traditions!

Devilman: The Classic Collection Gō Nagai's classic series is in print in English for the first time with all its wondrous hyper-violence. Devilman is a historic trip into what was considered daring and dark in 1970s comics and contains relics of the kind of exaggerated entertainment that maybe would not fly in Shōnen Magazine today. Its sensibilities are from another place and time, but rollicking through the past can be its own kind of fun. There's the underlying terror of female sexual power, homoerotic overtones, and time travel demon slaughter. Devilman is a defining work for not just horror manga, but the medium as a whole and definitely worth a read if only to see how it inspired future works.

Shibuya Goldfish The next evolution of Junji Ito's Gyo is Hiroumi Aoi's Shibuya Goldfish, a completely insane take on the zombie genre. Anyone could become a potential victim to the giant, bloodthirsty fish that now roam the streets of Shibuya. They'll eat anything and anyone that crosses their path and are just as prone to swarming as the Night of the Living Dead flesh-eaters. The manga's initial premise seems too hokey at first, but it doesn't take long for Aoi to turn the typical docile pet into full-fledged monsters. Oh, and they talk too, in a repetitious, mumbling kind of way that adds another unsettling layer.

High-Rise Invasion Here's a comic for readers looking to get their slasher fix. A teen girl finds she's one of many hapless victims trapped in a world of skyscrapers. All escape routes to lower levels are blocked off and the roofs are connected by swaying rope bridges. Finding a safe way down is tricky enough, but the buildings are also roaming with masked ax murderers and machete wielders. The set-up leads to a high-stakes thriller where any potential ally could turnout to be a killer and the only assured way to escape might be to take a flying leap. High-Rise Invasion fully embraces its teen horror roots and keeps the intensity up page after page.

The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún This may be a controversial manga to include on a horror list, but in my mind Girl from the Other Side definitely qualifies for its surreal creep factor. Nagabe's art is very stark and intricately detailed. Shiva is the reader's little spot of a light in an abandoned European village, home only to her Teacher, a pitch-black humanoid with spiral horns, an ox tail, and a face that resembles the skull of a bird. She bids his monstrous appearance no mind, and the two gather berries, bake, and do other household chores. But there's a curse lurking about the woods and voices beckon the Teacher to return Shiva to the "mother" in the lake. The status of mankind is in question and each new, strange incident threatens to corrupt Shiva's pure understanding of those around her.

Soul Liquid Chambers Humans tried to play God and instead unleashed zombies upon the world. Soul Liquid Chambers takes place a few hundred years into the future where scientists have located the human soul and devised a way to use this technology to grant immortality. It just had the unfortunate side effect of unleashing Hell on Earth and wiping out most of humanity. The survivors of the zombie apocalypse conglomerate in Devil's Playground and Emil is just the man to guide people there for the right price. See, even when society is destroyed, classism prevails and safety is reliant on the ability to pay. The rich continue to live mostly undisturbed with advanced technological vehicles and safety precautions to keep the hungry undead from tearing them limb from limb. Emil takes on a client, a debutante with more than a few screws loose, only to discover that the undead might not be the hungriest thing left on the God-forsaken planet.

Dementia 21 Horror isn't limited to one specific purpose. It can both thrill its audience by pushing adrenaline to the forefront while also commentating on real life issues. Get Out, Dawn of the Dead, and The People Under the Stairs were successful in their abilities to intertwine both. Shintaro Kago's Dementia 21 makes a noble attempt to frame the anxieties of aging and society's mistreatment of its vulnerable citizens in episodic stories told from the perspective of a home health nurse. Yukie is responsible for multiple clients ranging from terrifying to humorous, and she's driven by an overwhelming desire to get a "high score" rating for the quality of her care. Yukie is easily representative of any nation's achievement-focused working age people. She values efficiency over empathy despite being a career where caring would be tantamount to quality. In one chapter, she attempts to care for three elderly sisters but each day she returns to their home to discover there are more patients. Word got out around the neighborhood that she'd care for them for free, and families began abandoning their "burdensome" elders at the house in droves. Other chapters tackle mind-altering dentures, an elderly tokusatsu hero, and a serial killer.

The Promised Neverland A dystopian horror starring a ragtag group of genius kids fighting to escape from the orphanage where they were raised as cattle for some kind of demonic, child-eating overlords. Adding more salt to the wound, the woman the children looked to as a surrogate mother is in on the whole charade. The kids begin devising their escape and will need to outwit their caretaker just to enter a potentially more dangerous world. Artist Posuka Demizu does amazing work contrasting the initially idyllic orphanage with a bloodthirsty outside world in this Shonen Jump series. Once the story reveals the machinations behind this dystopia, the characters (and readers) remain tightly wound with each page turn.

PTSD Radio I love PTSD Radio. It's incredibly weird and relies on the small anxieties of everyday life to build a whole supernatural mythology. The first volume appears to be a collection of unrelated, short horror stories. A man walks to the store in the dark, unaware of of a malevolent being following close behind him. A woman sees her reflection in the subway car window and it smiles eerily back at her. A girlfriend swears that something tried to drown her as she relaxed in the bathtub. Masaaki Nakayama eventually weaves these series of unsettling events together by hopping through time to introduce a minor deity closely tied to rituals involving human hair. The series also gets uncomfortably meta; the latest volume is even shorter than the rest as Nakayama recounts the development of a personal illness and how it may be related to a supernatural experience in his former studio.

Dragon Head This long out of print series is finally available again this year to terrify anyone with claustrophobia or a fear of a devastating earthquake. Minetarō Mochizuki's manga focuses on three survivors of a disaster that caused the subway train they were riding in to crash and became enclosed in an underground tunnel. Teru looks for survivors, only to find an unconscious girl and the highly anxious Nobuo. The plan seems simple at first: find a way to light up the tunnel, figure out why it's unbearably hot, and sit tight until help arrives. Days pass and Nobuo becomes increasingly agitated and insists that something is lurking in the dark. Tensions rise between the two boys as Nobuo continues to fixate on his delusions (if they are delusions at all). Dragon Head's horror is based in a closed room scenario where mankind's worst impulses threaten to be his undoing.

Starving Anonymous If I had to categorize Starving Anonymous as anything, it'd be the Grindhouse genre. It's a blend of uniquely designed monsters, showcasing depravity for shock value. That is to say, Starving Anonymous has some pretty good bones in its set-up but also has a big helping of gay panic on top that isn't going to sit well with a lot of readers. Blending over-the-top sex with gruesome gore isn't a new concept (someday I'll ask my parents why they let me rent Bordello of Blood as a kid) and Starving Anonymous really hones in on that with its drug-fueled government breeding facility and inexplicably sex-obsessed gay deuteragonist. Starving Anonymous' plot is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It has something to say about consumerism, real environmental peril, and some amazing monster design. It just also wants to pair that with uncouth lasciviousness, too.

The new poll: Which vampire would you invite inside your home?

The old poll: What anime doctor would you never trust to perform your surgery?

  1. Shou Tucker (Fullmetal Alchemist)
  2. Mayuri Kurotsuchi (Bleach)
  3. Professor Stein (Soul Eater)
  4. Barazo Mankanshoku (Kill la Kill)
  5. Bondrewd, #1 Dad (Made in Abyss)
  6. Kabuto (Naruto)
  7. Dr. Asaki Fueguchi (Tokyo Ghoul)
  8. Miyo Takano (Higurashi: When They Cry)
  9. Dr Stylish (Akame ga KILL!)
  10. Dr. Tomoe (Sailor Moon)
  11. Dr. Muraki (Descendants of Darkness)
  12. Shingen Kishitani (Durarara!!)
  13. Fran Madaraki (Franken Fran)
  14. Dr. Danny Dickens (Angels of Death)
  15. Shinra Kishitani (Durarara!!)
  16. Minoru "Doctor" Kamiya (Yū Yū Hakusho)
  17. Black Jack (Black Jack)
  18. Tony Tony Chopper (One Piece)
  19. Dr. Tenma (Monster)
  20. Doctor Onishi (Akira)

When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

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