Title: Orochi: The Perfect Edition Vol. 1
Author: Kazuo Umezu
Release Date: March 15, 2022
Publisher: Viz Media
I’ll be honest: I had no idea what Orochi was when I volunteered to review it. I didn’t know about its legacy as a pillar of manga’s horror genre. After reading it, I can understand why it has this prestige associated with it. I mean, it can be a bit random and goofy at times, but this is a manga that started in 1969. It’s going to be a bit dated, and that’s understandable. Because even though it gets a tad goofy, the frightening and disturbing moments still hit 50+ years later.
Orochi follows the titular Orochi, a young woman with various supernatural powers. There are two stories in Volume 1, titled Sisters and Bones.
Sisters sees Orochi stay overnight in two sisters’ home to avoid a storm. It turns out they’re hiding some dark secrets, as they desperately fear turning 18 due to what seems to be a familial curse. It’s a solid concept that allows for some striking illustrations, but the resolution feels a bit sudden.
Sisters has some spooky moments, and a fun reveal at the end, but it has a lot of out-of-place and straight-up silly moments at times. There’s one scene where a character randomly pulls out a crossbow and threatens people with it that made me laugh, despite being in a very serious moment. I don’t know if this is because such absurd stuff is viewed more comedically nowadays, but it gave me a chuckle nonetheless. The eerie moments still land throughout Sisters; they’re just surrounded by some sillier parts that deflate a bit of the tension.
Bones was definitely the stronger of the two stories, as it had less silly or seemingly random moments. The basic premise is that a woman named Chie, who was abused throughout her life, finally finds solace with a loving husband, who is gravely injured in a hit and run and, after recovery, dies in what seems to be a tragic accident. Orochi offers to bring the husband back for Chie, but things don’t go exactly as expected.
Chie’s husband is alive but rotting away, while Chie has remarried and has a child. The return of her late husband could drive Chie mad, and Orochi isn’t sure about what to do. It’s a pretty chilling story that has some genuinely unsettling moments and an ending that surprised me with how dark and graphic it was. I can’t imagine how people took this when it was originally released, and I can see why such heavy horror is considered a landmark for the genre in manga.
The art of Orochi is definitely its strong suit, as the freaky imagery and expressions of horror are drawn with brilliant detail. The faces especially really sell the horror of what’s happening in the manga, even when the writing or content is a bit silly. Even today, the more graphic scenes stand out as particularly ghoulish.
Is Orochi still worth reading in 2022? I’d say yeah. The unsettling parts are still pretty freaky, and the funny parts are entertaining for their own reasons. I think this is a cool piece of history that fans of horror manga will probably want to check out; just keep in mind that the story structure is a little weird by today’s standards, and you’ll be fine.
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate Noisy Pixel earns from qualifying purchases.