Horror manga has seen a steady surge in popularity with the likes of Junji Ito, making it to international recognition and closing the gap of mainstream versus the underground. To those who choose to dig a bit deeper, names such as Hideshi Hinio, Suehiro Marou, Shintaro Kago have also come to gain some notoriety within the genre in the more dedicated fanbase. Unfortunately, even these horror mangaka have much of their work not translated or available, despite their mastery of the craft being revered amongst die-hard fans.
However, at the bottom of the ‘iceberg’ of horror manga, there are those that have seen none of their work translated, disappointing fans unable to read Kanji scans as they may only be appreciated for the undeciphered art. One example of a mangaka resting in obscurity, albeit presenting stunning visions of horror, is Noroi Michiru.
For fan translations, the only short story that currently exists (as far as I could discover) to read translated into English is a segment from Shoki Kessakusen, Volume 1: Luger-The Dwarf. It follows a young girl forming a pact with a dwarf in order to escape an abusive upbringing. The short is slightly surreal and also contains elements of the erotic grotesque with the major feature of the dwarf being an erection that towers over his head. At 16 pages there is not much to gleam from Michiru as a mangaka within this short other than a strong visual direction and a sense of humor.
According to Baka-Updates, Michiru is influenced by the likes of Hideshi Hino we have previously covered. One aspect of Hino’s work that often gets overlooked is the morbid sense of humor brought through a broken persona of himself as a storyteller that is interjected into a lot of his work. In this regard, the one short from Michiru does have the same kind of pacing and sense of self-awareness needed to express sharp dark wit to come across as playful instead of being a provocateur.
In terms of art, it is harder to pin down the influences of Michiru, although there exist homages to the works of Umezu, Hino, and Ito. It seems apparent his aesthetic – while feeling familiar – has been defined to his own unique style. Looking through his known releases, the mangaka also draws inspiration from both folklore and urban legends with titles dedicated to yokai or iconic creatures such as Kuchisake-onna, The Slit-Mouthed Woman (which has a surprisingly fun film adaptation we reviewed).
So, what can we learn from what little info there is available in English? Sadly, the answer is not much. However, as interest in manga continues to grow and the industry booms, the importance of buying manga geared towards the obscure is more important than ever for fans who want diversity within the genre. Yes, we all love Junji Ito, but the amount of talent out there that rests underexplored is unfortunate.
I am aware the lack of information makes this article more of a ‘hey check this out’, but my love of all things obscure and macabre hopefully leads to greater interest in self-exploration.
You can read Luger the Dwarf here, also big thanks to Dead Scantalations who support the manga community by making Japanese scans available while also promoting published work once it releases. You can shop for the original Japanese release of Michuri’s over at Mandrake. Finally, one may read the mangaka’s blog here.
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Greetings, My name is Adam and I am from Canada.
My love for all things bizarre came at a young age, as boredom in a small town lead me down a rabbit hole of obscure film, music, tv and literature. I have carried these fascinations with and turned it into a passion for writing, sharing and discussing the various arts.
My area of expertise, if there was one, would be geared towards Asian horror with a particular interest in film and manga. However, if it is odd, disturbing or trashy I probably heard of it or can at least pretend I have in conversation.
Thank you for taking the time to read my work, I always look to grow both as a writer and fan. I truly appreciate anyone willing to come along for the journey and share their passions in turn.