Written and illustrated by Shouzou Oshimi (Jap: 押見 修造) the manga is roughly translated as “Trails of Blood” (Jap: 血の轍). Although the cover may seem pretty, the manga is actually a horror story. Once you start turning the pages, you find very subtle faces, but almost no dialogues or any fast paced actions moving through the panels. Still, the pages manage to make the reader extremely uncomfortable and jittery. This is the thing I liked about Oshimi’s work; his storytelling creeps inside your mind, awakening the instinctive fears you have through a single facial expression and the feeling of suspense.
Fear is an essential instinct, dating from millions of years, protecting us from predators. “Horror” as a genre is a commodification of that instinct. Today the genre carries a bad reputation due to most of the horror movies seeming mundane or stereotypical. Oshimi’s work scares the viewer somewhat differently; visual horror, which has been used for centuries (think about Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son”), giving you the chills the more you look at it and focus on the story behind, the build up until that one eerie moment in the image.
The horror of this manga is coming from the vulnerability of human emotion. Humans express emotions and their characters through facial expressions, thus we can empathize even with a cartoon character. Oshimi illustrates the characters very subtly but he has this magic touch to it that triggers a strange aspect from an almost emotionless face. Not only you read the emotion, but you also can’t help but interact with it.
In addition to that, time passes very slowly in the panels. The reader can even go through pages without reading a single speech bubble. As you flip through the pages, you cannot help but think “something is very, very wrong”. The suspense builds up until you reach one panel where you finally come across an extremely genuine, chilling, terrifying facial expression.
The mother character is one of the most disturbing characters I have seen and that is mostly due to the way she is presented. She is a mother but there is also a horrible secret about her. She’s unpredictable, unrecognizable. We literally see her from the victim’s perspective so it’s much more intimate but also threatening.
Due to translation delays (and the lack of graphic novels in my country!), I was able to read only a few chapters. The story revolves around a family going through abusive relationships, lies, madness and horrible occurrences. If you are like me, weirdly a fan of horror genre, I recommend you to check out the artist and the manga. I am not going to say anything more not to give any spoilers, but I would like to give a trigger warning for it carries elements of mental abuse and murder.
I hope that this brief review was interesting! Although you mostly see me draw muttwits, I also enjoy such interesting horror storytelling and graphic novels. Write your thoughts ideas or questions in the comments!