By which I mean “comics I read over Christmas”, not “comics related to or in the spirit of Christmas”, because these are the opposite of that.
Basically, I downloaded every interesting-sounding fan-translated horror manga they had at bakabt.me, and read a bunch of them on my fancy-schmancy new iPad. (My comics app of choice is Comic Zeal.) And now I’m gonna do some little mini-reviews of them.
n.b.: I am not including any of the Junji Ito comics I read, because all Junji Ito comics are terrific and reviews are unnecessary. Go read some Junji Ito comics, that’s my review. Any of them. Also, some of these manga may be available in actual English-published editions, and you should buy those whenever possible. I ain’t gonna preach at you, just, it’s the right thing to do. Plus sometimes you get a fan-translation that was apparently made by a team that either has no native english speakers, or has no one who gives enough of a shit to convert a raw translation into sentences an english-speaker would actually say. I’m looking at you, “Kawaii Corner”.
I am listing these in order of worst to best.
Delusional Female Teacher
— Garbage. Don’t even.
Corpse Party Musume
— Did not get very far, because the panty-shots are constant and egregious. Not what I look for in horror. If it’s what you look for in horror, well, christ, I hope I don’t know you. No, don’t tell me.
— A “murder game” story like Zero Escape or Danganronpa, except amateurishly-plotted and uninteresting.
— Baffling. There’s some murders and maybe the nerd protag is doing them without knowing? And there’s some girls with absurd things that I guess are meant to be swords either trying to kill or save him? Real dumb, didn’t finish it.
— A weird little story about a kid whose parents are clockmakers and strange things happen. Art sort of reminds me of early Peter Kuper except with way looser (rounder, scribblier) linework. I’d call it a bizarre fever dream of a comic, but that would make it sound more interesting than it is.
— Incomprehensible. Sort of a WWII story with elements of Tetsuo: The Iron Man… I guess? If you don’t mind some crazy gore, it’s worth checking out just to puzzle over.
— A quick little thing, sort of a home-invasion horror version of Groundhog Day. Would wear out its welcome if it were longer, but at only 56 pages, it’s okay.
— A manga version of Ringu, as you might’ve guessed, though I don’t know if it’s retelling the novel or movie version. Or indeed if there’s much difference between the two. I haven’t actually read or watched either one, though I have been meaning to read the novel. Anyway, it’s a pretty good story, and is fine in manga format, though the art style is oddly soft, which is weird at first and takes some getting used to. (I had a similar problem with the manga version of Battle Royale, which is totally worth it if you can get past that.)
— This one is sci-fi. A bit like Aliens, if the Weyland-Yutani guy were the commander of the marines and also a cyborg lady and there were more than one kind of alien and the protag becomes half-alien. Fun, but nothing really to write home about.
— This is the one I know for sure has an english edition, because I own it. It’s another “murder game” like Revenge Game, except good. The game is based on Mafia/Werewolf, though it doesn’t really play out according to any rules; that’s just an excuse to get some kids locked in a warehouse really. Some nice twists. Good atmosphere. Recommended.
— This is the <death person> one, and you may find it hard to read, but it’s quite a neat ghost story despite the obfuscation. Although I thought the final twist was a total cheat. Worth reading if you’re willing to struggle a little to figure out the exposition, or buy the english omnibus which I just discovered is a thing. (Note that the paperback is the manga, and the hardcover is the novel it was based on.)
Koroshiya Ichi a.k.a. Ichi the Killer
— You may have seen or heard of the movie that was based on this manga. I haven’t watched it yet, but I can’t imagine it’s as crazy as the manga is. The plot concerns a group of small-time crooks and their pet mentally-challenged superassassin going after a major yakuza gang led by a hardcore masochist bodymod enthusiast. Here’s a trigger warning for the list of trigger warnings I’m about to write: holy shit. And here’s a list of trigger warnings for the book: gore, rape, torture, torture, torture, penis mutilation, three severed nipples, a dude slicing his hand open with a box cutter to use the blood as jerkoff lube.
If you read to the end of that sentence and are still here, check it out. It’s a helluva thrill ride.