You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Friday, March 16, 2012


After the ten volumes of zany, vicious, fevered violence in Umezu's The Drifting Classroom, I found this collection of stories a bit tame. The Cat Eyed Boy joins the ranks of Japanese manga characters who hide out in people's homes. Hideshi Hino has Oninbo, the tiny fellow who builds his cocoon in people's attics while he waits for the bug from hell infecting one of the family member's to mature to a size worth devouring. He's a good guy. In Umezu's Orochi: Blood there is the little girl who lives behind the curtains and in the empty rooms of a mansion whose residents she watches over. Her only problem is that if she falls asleep, it could be for fifteen minutes or fifteen years.

The Cat Eyed Boy, rejected by society because of his scary appearance, wanders the city, looking for a place to hide out. The attics he finds invariably turn out to be in houses where strange things begin to occur. Events are strange but not very interesting, with the exception of The Tsunami Summoners. These are rocks washed up on the shore that turn into hairy, screeching monsters who bring disaster wherever they appear.

Monsters are the visual strong point in these stories. The Drifting Classroomwas an almost monster-free tale, with the visual excitement coming from scenes of elementary-age children going at one another with clubs and homemade spears, reverting to cannibalism, or dying in ways that ranged from bubonic plague to exposure. For The Cat Eyed Boy Umezu lets his monster-making talents run rampant. Creatures hop, scream, and travel in packs of one hundred. But the narratives remain bland, and the hero is not particularly engaging.

Scary One-legged Demon

Tsunami summoner about to go to work

Even the Cat Eyed Boy can have a bad day

1 comment:

  1. the illustrations of the monsters are great and stories with monsters in the hundreds sounds like a good time....