I’ll be honest with you, I rarely find manga scary. What I find scary is something that surprises me, a person suddenly coming up from behind, a real physical shock to the system. Since I have a heart condition where my heart rate can affect my health greatly, it’s no surprise that I don’t let myself get too startled at pictures immobile on a page.
So I find, when it comes to horror manga, I’m more grossed out than anything else, if the mangaka is doing their job right. After all, part of the scariness of horror genre is upping the squick factor by featuring things you’d never want to see, let alone touch or have happen to you. In that sense, horror manga is spot on when it comes to grossing readers out, since the level of revulsion is only limited to how much detail a mangaka can fit on the page.
Even then, there’s only one manga I’ve been grossed out by a deep and tramuatizing level and that’s Imomushi (The Caterpiller) written by Edogawa Rampo and drawn by Suehiro Maruo and serialized in Comic Beam. Here’s a description of the story from Same Hat:
The Caterpillar is a haunting psychosexual tale of Lt. Sunaga, a disfigured and limbless veteran of WWI who returns home to his young and beautiful wife. Sunaga initially is given a hero’s welcome, but is quickly forgotten and shunned because of his injuries. Unable to speak or care for himself, he is completely at the mercy of his wife as she grows to loathe and toy with him.
Let me tell you, it’s worse than any tentacle rape/underage hentai you could think of and Maruo’s art takes it to the next level. It’s NSFW and chock full of disgusting details. I’m pretty sure the editors at TOKYOPOP first handed it to me when I was intern as a litmus test to see what I could handle in terms of obscene material. (A pretty common “work hazard” of the industry.) If it ever gets translated and published in English,you can be sure I will be staying far far away from it. Rampo is famous for works of a similar nature to Imomushi and Maruo is known for illustrating Rampo’s works (and others) in gross detail.
That being said, I am a little curious about The Strange Tale of Panorama Island coming out from Top Shelf soon because it seems to be a bit more mystery than a total gross out. But I may need to ensure that I don’t get nauseous from reading it before I buy… I guess that means both creators are doing their job right!
In the mean time, I’m going to read some sparkly shoujo manga to get my mind off Imomushi! Happy Halloween!