is a horror
mangaby Junji Ito, serialized in Shogakukan's " Big Comic Spirits".
The story concerns the people of a small
Japanese town by the name of Kurôzu-cho, and how they become obsessed by the occurrences of natural and artificial spiralsaround them. The result of this obsession is a slow transformation into something other than human, leading to a gruesome, realistically-depicted death.
*"The Spiral Obsession Part 1" - High school student Kirie Goshima finds out that her friend Shuichi is worried about his father, who has begun a strange obsession about spirals. He collects anything featuring a spiral pattern, and eventually he stops going to work to stay at home and stare at his spiral collection. His obsession becomes so disturbing that he starts to use his own body to create spirals. Eventually, he becomes a spiral himself by contorting his body in a wash tub in the shape of a spiral, killing him.
*"The Spiral Obsession Part 2" - After he dies in a strange suicide, Shuichi's father's body is cremated, but during the funeral, the smoke from the cremation forms a spiral shape in the sky, consequently driving Shuichi's mother to insanity. She develops a phobia of spirals and starts to rid herself of everything in her body that looks like a spiral. Eventually, she tries to rid herself of her inner ear (
cochlea) with a pair of scissors. Subsequently, her sense of balance is ruined and she is in a constant state of vertigo until she dies. During her cremation, the smoke creates another spiral.
*"The Scar" - Kirie's class friend Azami asks Kirie if she can meet Shuichi. Although hesitant, Kirie agrees, but when they go to Shuichi's house something weird happens: Shuichi feels a sinister presence coming from Azami's forehead, and Azami reveals that she has a crescent-moon shaped scar which she believes has the power to make any boy fall in love with her. However, Shuichi suspects that the scar is causing terrible effects in Azami, and is proven right. The scar becomes a hollow spiral that sucks anything inside of it, including Azami.
*"The Firing Effect" - For some reason, the bowls, pots and vases that Kirie's father, a potter, creates in his workshop are turning into hideous failures featuring spiral patterns and the faces of people who have recently died in the city of Kurozu.
*"Twisted Souls" - Kirie meets a former classmate who has recently been having a problem with his girlfriend's family. It seems that both families of the couple are in a constant and aggressive feud, and do not agree to let their kids date. Kirie decides to help her friend and his girl to escape from their parents, but the story ends in a grotesque way.
*"Medusa" - Kirie's hair begins to grow unusually, and when Kirie goes to cut it, the hair comes to life and refuses to be cut. It starts to control Kirie, forcing her to seek the attention of everybody in the town. The problem worsens when Kirie's classmate, Sekino, becomes jealous and decides that her hair should have the same gift.
*"Jack-in-the-Box" - Kirie is being stalked by a boy named Mitsuru, who likes to jump out and surprise people, which gained him the nickname Jack-in-the-Box. When Kirie refuses to be his girlfriend, Mitsuru decides to prove his love by trying to stop a speeding car. However, Mitsuru is killed and he is buried because the town is now afraid to cremate bodies. Kirie still has no peace, as she receives a strange message that Mitsuru will come back from his grave. Kirie and Shuichi dig up Mitsuru's grave, only to have the corpse bound after them, the legs and abdomen falling off to reveal a gigantic spring on which he bounces along. They manage to stop him and reveal that the spring was actually from the car's suspension and had become lodged in Mitsuru's body.
*"Snail People" - Katayama, a slow-moving, slow-talking classmate of Kirie's starts to behave strangely, as he begins only attending school when it rains. After a bully strips him naked and tosses him out of the locker room, Kirie discovers a spiral-shaped birthmark on his back. Soon the spiral shape star begins to morph into a full-blown snail shell as Katayama turns into a giant human-sized snail. Imprisoned in a cage at school, soon Katayama's nemesis turns into a snail too and ultimately mates with Katayama. Escaping from their cell together, Kirie and her science teacher find their eggs, which the teacher quickly destroys after declaring the two students abominations. However, in doing so the teacher unwittingly sets the stage for him to become a freakish snail-person too.
*"Dark Lighthouse" - The abandoned lighthouse of Koruzu begins to switch on by itself mysteriously. Anyone who is caught by its light is blinded and caused to walk in circles. Some people of the town decide to go there to investigate, but when they don't come back Kirie, her brother Mitsuo, and his friends investigate. There they discover that the main light has transformed into a freakish spiral construct and are forced to escape before the spiral light activates and produces a heat blast that kills anyone inside the lighthouse.
*"Mosquitoes" - Part one of a two-part story. Kirie is admitted to the hospital due to the burnings made by the lighthouse's light and discovers a body drained of blood on hospital grounds. Later, Kirie's pregnant cousin Keiko moves into her room in the hospital after suffering an attack from a swarm of
mosquitoes. At first everything seems normal, but one night Kirie discovers that her cousin, as well other pregnant women bit by the insects, have developed a taste for human blood due to their bug bites.
*"Umbilical Cord" - The second part of the two-part story started in "Mosquitoes". The pregnant women finally give birth to adorable babies. To Kirie's relief they all look normal, but after a strange accident she discovers that not only can they talk, but plan on bartering their constantly regrowing, spiral-infused umbilical cords (which are highly addictive when eaten) to their doctor to make him sew them back up inside their mother's womb.
*"Typhoon 1" - When a typhoon passes by Koruzu, Kirie is caught by the typhoon's eye; somehow, the typhoon falls in love with her and begins to stalk her everywhere, causing horrible damage. Shuichi then appears to protect Kirie. They shelter under a bridge so the typhoon can't see them, but it uses a traffic mirror to look round and under, before capturing Kirie, who is later pulled out of the lake.
Volume 3 contains the final 6 chapters, plus an extra chapter that forms an epilogue with a story connecting to Volume 1.
*"Haunted Apartment" - After the typhoon destroyed much of the city, town officials move Kirie and her family into into an apartment inside a previously abandoned row house provided. Her neighbors are a peeping tom named Wakabayashi and a mysterious couple of a woman, who wears a hooded robe to cover up her body, and her sick son. As the woman's son dies, Kirie and her family began to contract spiral-shaped sores all over their bodies, and the sores quickly turn into spikes. Realizing that the house is causing their body-disfiguring disease, another hurricane hits the town just as Wakabayashi becomes a horribly disfigured monster with spikes all over his body and coming out of his eye sockets. As the family flees the house, Wakabayashi is killed by a piece of debris which impales him. The narration box explains that once they left the house, their spike sores vanished.
*"Butterfly" - Maruyama Chie, an anchor girl, comes to the town with her co-workers in a van, only to be chased by a typhoon. Only Chie survives the car crash and she travels into the town seeing ruins and dead bodies everywhere. Now the townpeople realize they can create twisters with nothing more than a sudden movement or a strong exhalation of air. It appears that the previously abandoned row house apartments around the town is the only sort of shelters not destroyed by twisters, so every apartment becomes crowded and tension amongst dwellers tightens. Maruyama befriends Kirie, who makes the horrific discovery that the snail people have returned.
*"Chaos Part 1" - The gangsters and some young men form a gang called 'Butterfly'. They destroy buildings for fun and rob food from rescue teams. Snail people begin to appear again after long unseen. The apartments become more and more crowded and people begin to quarrel with one another without proper causes. By helping Shuichi from a conflict with another man, Kirie's family is cast out from the apartment. As they wander to find a new place to shelter, they witness the Butterfly gang having snail people as a meal. They say the meat is delicious, and try to force Kirie to join their gang. Kirie refuses and the Butterfly gang unleash their hurricane power against her and her friends.
*"Chaos Part 2" - It soon becomes apparent that the horrific force behind the nightmare destroying the town are now keeping the townspeople from escaping, as the main tunnel leading out of town becomes a never-ending trip, while giant whirlpools sink all ships that try to evacuate the town. The apartments become overly occupied until they crash into pieces of wood, revealing that the townspeople have become worm-like spiral-shaped creatures. Though rescue workers still enter the city, the food being brought runs out and would-be rescuers soon find themselves becoming snail people. Forced to eat snail people's meat left over by the Butterfly gang, Kirie soon finds out that her mother and father are missing and her younger brother Mitsuo is in the process of turning into a snail. Desperate to save her brother from his fate, Kirie vows to leave the town.
*"Escape" - Kirie and her friends flee the town, in hopes that once they leave the area, that the spiral curse turning her brother into a snail will be reversed. As they flee, they run across a gangster and his posse, all of whom are obsessed with eating snail meat, ultimately targeting Mitsuo when they find out he is becoming a snail. Mitsuo finally transforms and Kirie forces him to flee down a cliff's side to escape the gangsters, one of whom becomes a spiral creature when he begins talking about how he wants to crawl into Mitsuo's shell and eat his flesh raw.
*"Labyrinth" - Kirie's group finally comes out of the woods, only to discover that they have returned to the town. They also discover that several years have passed while they were away, and the remaining townspeople have repaired and expanded all the old apartments, revealing that they connect together form a giant spiral-shaped labyrinth with the lake at its center. Shuichi theorizes that the strange events have happened again and again through the ages, always ending with the rebuilding of the spiral apartments. After all is over, the apartments are slowly ruined and all traces vanish, and a new town is built. The reason why no one knows of this is because all the people have vanished after the events.
*"Ruin" - Kirie, Shuichi and Chie follow the labyrinth to its center, but Chie is trapped by some of the now spiral-shaped people who live in the apartments, and Kirie and Shuichi must continue without her. When they reach the center, they discover that the lake has dried up and been replaced by a long spiral-shaped stairwell that goes deep into the earth. Without any other choice, they follow the stairs and discover a huge cave with a lot of gigantic, spiral-shaped towers and buildings, with a huge, glowing spiral-shaped stone in the center. They find all the corpses of the spiral-shaped inhabitants of the towns, who have begun to turn to stone, Kirie's parents included. All the corpses have a pleased look to them, and are all staring at the spiral stone. It appears they have become part of the city and the spiral itself. Shuichi is wounded after an earlier attack, and is unable to leave the cave, and asks Kirie to leave him. Kirie refuses and decides to stay with him. As they hug each other, their arms become spirals that bind them together. The stairwell begins to close, thus imprisoning Kirie and Shuichi and ending the spiral curse for now, only to return later, when a new town is built around the lake.
*"Lost chapter: Galaxies" - Strange-looking
radio galaxiesare discovered in the night sky, which begin to have strange effects on the residents of the town. Judging by the length of Kirie's hair, this story takes place some time before "Medusa". Shuichi isn't worried about spirals, so this story probably happened before the stories in Volume 1.
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