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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Portus by Abe Jun 
15th-Feb-2008 11:58 pm
Abe, Jun. Portus. Trans. Kenichiro Yagi and Kelly Sue DeConnick. San Francisco: VIZ Media, 2007.
          Summary: A vintage videogame with a secret curse has driven Asami's best friend Chiharu to suicide. Now, along with two of her teachers, she must travel to a remote, abandoned village in Nakano and put the spirit of the boy who haunts the game to rest by returning his kokeshi to its shrine.
          Comments: Fortunately, Portus didn't actually give me nightmares, but I had thoughtlessly chosen it as a late-night "Help me fall asleep!" manga read and was a bit *ahem* afraid that it would. Perhaps because you can take a story on a page at your own pace, horror novels and manga have never had much of an effect on me--not like film, which "forces" you into someone else's narrative momentum. Abe's tale, however, which combines the usual horror manga style (most notably the carefully drawn teeth in characters' open mouths) with the distinctive cinematic techniques and tropes (cursed technology, evil child) of Asian horror movies, is genuinely creepy. So what if, for all intents and purposes, this story has been done a million times before? So what if the resolution is decidedly disappointing and perfunctory? It was still a great ride, and I recommend it to all stiff-spined, manga-loving souls.
          Notes: paperback, 1st American edition; first published in Japan by Shougakukan in 2006
          Rating: 8/10 - An impressive addition to the otherwise sparse translated horror manga genre, not to mention a good representative of the state of horror in Japan generally.
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