Written by Jonathan Wojcik

DECEMBER 17: Fuan no Tane!

   Another horror Manga I can't recommend enough, Fuan no Tane is just about the most efficient horror ever to be packaged in graphic novel format, packing several dozen incredibly short, yet incredibly eerie stories into only a few chapters. How short? Let's read a favorite of mine in its entirety, right now!

   That's right, two pages. A student is always the last one to leave his school's gym, but his reflection on his way out is wrong. Terribly, terribly, terribly wrong. He doesn't know why, and presumably nobody else is ever around to see it. He does his best to just ignore it, and that's it. That's our story. It's as straight to the point as a book of jokes, if jokes were meant to fuel your nightmares. Here, let's read another one, in one page:

   Jebus. Nobody even notices what we're seeing here. Only us, the readers, get to see the mouthless, hateful glares of the Traffic Safety mascots as some hapless pedestrian is presumably hit by a car. Do they just watch, or do they even make accidents happen? We don't know. We don't know what the hell we're seeing here, only that it's not normal.

   "Fuan no Tane," you see, translates basically to "Seeds of Anxiety." Like a bag of evil potato chips, they're small but delicious tastes of the bizarre that leave you wanting more, even if you have no idea what's going on. The best part? Nakayama Masaaki didn't invent all of them. The series includes stories collected from all over Japan, including alleged first-hand brushes with the paranormal. Who's to say at least one doesn't have some nugget of truth to it?

   When I slept alone as a child - which was embarrassingly rare for as long as I could get away with it - I did so in a thick cocoon of sheets and blankets, terrified of exposing a single inch of my body to the unknown. I knew a blanket couldn't protect me from harm, but it wasn't necessarily "harm" I was afraid of. No, I was afraid of simply seeing anything that couldn't be explained. Something that would shatter my entire perception of reality by simply being when it shouldn't, and Fuan no Tane captures that feeling as perfectly as ink drawings ever possibly can. Hell, this particular weirdo, the fish-eyed peeping Tom, is virtually identical to something my rogue imagination often conjured fifteen years before I ever read this Manga. It's why I kept my window locked in a second story bedroom.

   I knew it was stupid, I knew it was impossible, but some quiet little voice in my brain was nonetheless convinced that some pale, googly-eyed freak could conceivably appear one night to basically look at me and then I guess go home. That bastard.

   I realize this is an awfully short review, but hey, they're awfully short stories! It's not as easy to count down favorites or review individual entities with this one; you guys just need to read it. You can check out fan translations of the entire first run HERE, and the second series HERE.