Always on the prowl for new horror manga to check out, you sometimes have to browse off the beaten path. Randomly looking into titles lead me to Man Eater by Yosuke Takahasi, a mangaka I had never heard of previously. Having had moderate success in the past on going with gut instinct on a title, I decided to give this one a proper shot in the hopes of finding a new artist to explore.
What Is It?
Collecting 11 short stories from Yosuke Takahashi, Man Eater is a horror manga series that is drawn together through themes of deadly obsession. From the more literal interpretation of a vampire on the hunt to the more abstract body horror of gorging ones face to transform into a monster to exact revenge, each story becomes unnerving through extreme violence or tragedy brought on by unrealistic expectations.
What Did I like About It?
While there are some stories I favored over others, each entry was solid in presenting some standout imagery and ghastly scenarios. In part, this comes from the work being tied together under a theme which is easiest to identify as ‘obsession’. However, it is a true test of a creator to be able to bring together a collection of stories that both compliment each other and not feel redundant. Essentially, each story offers a different variation on the theme allowing for each segment to stand on its own merit.
If I were to pick one tale to exemplify the work, it would have to be ‘Whatever You Like’. This morbid story follows a woman who loses her identity in another – the desire to match the ideal image of beauty that her boyfriend holds. Simple lifestyle changes morph into pure madness as the young woman begins to mutilate her body in an attempt to reach unrealistic and changing beauty standards. In addition, this entry highlights the dark comedic wit of Takahashi with a conclusion that hints at further deviancy to reach the unattainable goal.
As an unabashed fan of the Japanese Erotic Grotesque, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Takahasi’s aesthetic utilizes eroticism – alternating between titillating and stomach-churning imagery. Ultimately, Man Eater is never short on nudity and it really plays with it in peculiar ways that should appeal to fans of the ero-guro as well as horror. Disgusting in the best way possible, horror and ero-guro aficionados are certain to be drawn into the work on visuals alone.
What Did I Not Like About It?
Although this collection is near perfect, each segment is not as strong as the other, but this is something inherent in any collection. Even the great Junji Ito can hide a dud among a collection of some of the best horror tales you can find.
Beyond the inherent problem with collected works, the title remains flawless in execution. Arguably, Man Eater lacks the greater depth to make it a definitive title – more focus on entertainment than pushing a greater narrative. Consequently, it is apparent why the work remains rather unknown since it is difficult to point to any thing that Yosuke Takahashi excels at over more revered creators in the genre. Is that a bad thing or reason to avoid his work? Certainly not, and there is plenty reason to dig deeper into the creators works off the back of this title.
For fans of horror manga, this is one title I can’t recommend enough. Even in approaching this review, I made sure to avoid certain spoilers – the work deserves and is made better by going in blind to get all the chills and thrills. Ultimately, there are many segments here that I am going to carry with me in a positive light, with the aforementioned ‘Whatever You Like’ now being up there among my absolute favorite short stories in the genre.
Sadly, this is one of the creators whose work remains without a physical English release, so it is another case of spreading the good word and hopping the recent manga boom keeps bringing forth titles like this into a position to get proper releases.
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