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

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

MANGA MANIA: Lullabies from Hell by Hideshi HIno

More icky fun from the most visceral of all manga artists.  

A child raised by demented parents goes from torturing animals and self mutilation to murdering his enemies by depicting their deaths in his drawings. (Hino's protagonists are often artists.) A woman gives birth to a lizard in a story that could all be a fantasy devised by her manga artist husband. This story has an environmental message that never quite rises to the sophistication of Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster. In the third story, three children visit the countryside alone. They travel by train and return to find their world has become a nightmare complete with abandoned amusement parks and homicidal parents.

The final story, "Zoruko's Strange Disease," has that combination of physical repulsiveness and eerie grace that makes HIno more than just a master of gross-out horror. A socially outcast child, loved only by his mother, develops a degenerative disease that reduces hims to a pustule-infected monstrosity. Abandoned in a house deep in the forest, he uses the blood and ichor of his boils to paint strangely beautiful pictures. When the villagers decide to kill him before the spring thaw causes his putrid odor to once again fill the village, they discover a mystery that is simultaneously melancholy and lovely.

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