DNDF: Psychic Japanese

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

DNDF: Psychic Japanese

Uzumaki (うずまき, lit. Spiral) is a horror manga written and Illustrated by Junji Ito, and serialized in Shogakukan's Big Comic Spirits.

The story concerns the inhabitants of the small Japanese town of Kurôzu-cho that seems to be cursed by supernatural events surrounding spirals.  Many people become obsessed or paranoid about spiral shapes, which starts resulting in several gruesome deaths.

The manga was published in English by Viz Communications in 2001 and rereleased with new covers in 2007.  It was adapted to a feature film of the same name in 2000.


Spiral (2000)

  • Original Title: Uzumaki
  • Genre: Comedy – Horror
  • Directed: Higuchinsky
  • Produced:
    • Sumiji Miyake 
    • Dai Miyazaki 
    • Mitsuru Kurosawa 
    • Toyoyuki Yokohama
  • Written:
    • Junji Ito (Manga “Uzumaki”)  
    • Takao Nitta (Screenplay)  
    • Chika Yasuo (Screenplay)   
    • Kengo Kaji (Screenplay)
  • Starring: Eriko Hatsune, Fhi Fan, Hinako Saeki, Shin Eun-kyung
  • Music:
    • Tetsuro Kashibuchi  
    • Keiichi Suzuki
  • Cinematography: Gen Kobayashi
  • Editing: Unknown
  • Studio:
    • Omega Micott Inc.  
    • Shogakukan  
    • Space Shower TV  
    • Star Max  
    • Tokyo FM Broadcasting Co.
  • Distributed:
    • Discotek Media  
    • Elite Entertainment  
    • Tidepoint Pictures  
    • Viz Films
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date:
    • 11 February 2000 (Japan)  
    • 3 May 2002 (USA)
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Country: Japan
  • Language: Japanese

The plot concerns a town infected with malevolent spirals.  This abstract concept manifests in grotesque ways, such as a teenager's long hair beginning to curl and take over her mind, or a corpse wound around itself.  Among many bizarre features of the film is a heavy treatment with green colour filters, aping the style of the colour plates in the manga, and the fact that the trailer for the film is a pastiche of Jean-Luc Godard's seminal trailer for À bout de souffle (1960).

The movie covers some of the notable stories from the manga, with varying degrees of faithfulness.  The movie and the manga have different endings because the movie was filmed before the manga had finished.  Its theme song was "Raven" by the band Do As Infinity, which was on their "Yesterday & Today" single.

High school student Kirie's first glimpse that something is awry in the small town of Kurouzu comes when the father of her boyfriend (Shuichi) begins to film the corkscrew patterns on a snail; he is also in the process of making a video scrap book filled with the images of anything that has a spiral or vortex shape to it.  His weird obsession threatens to go out of control.  He proclaims that a spiral is the highest form of art and frantically creates whirlpools in his miso soup when he runs out of spiral patterned Kamaboko.  He then becomes one with Uzumaki when he decides to crawl into a washing machine to get a 'point-of-view' shot for his film.

It is not long before the entire town is infected by the otherworldly whirls.  Tamura, a reporter, is intrigued by Shuichi's dad's suicide and becomes obsessed with the case.  Meanwhile, Kirie's high school is populated by a host of twitching teachers, preening pretty girls, and the slimy Katayama, who begins to walk at a snail's pace and only comes to school when it rains.  Making matters worse, the student body is starting to sprout shells, drink water in copious amounts, and crawl on the walls of the school. Sekino, Kirie's classmate, begins to grow her hair in medusa-like curls that eventually take over not only her mind but the minds of all the girls in the school (save for Kirie).  Meanwhile, in the hospital, Shuichi's mother, who was hospitalized after her husband's death, cuts off her hair and fingertips in order to get rid of anything spiral-shaped on her body, and grows so afraid of spirals that Shuichi is forced to tell the hospital to eliminate anything spiral-shaped so his mother may not encounter them (even going so far as to throwing away the cakes that Kirie had brought for her mother, since the frosting on the cakes were like whirls).  Eventually Shuichi's mother succumbs to her phobia and kills herself when a millipede tries to crawl into her ear to inhabit her cochlea and causes her to hallucinate about her husband, who tells her that "there's another vortex in the deepest part of your ear".  It is not long before even the sky itself is cursed, with whirl-like clouds and the eerily smoky, ghost-like faces of the victims who perished in the grip of Uzumaki appearing during funerals.

Soon everyone in Kurouzu has been caught in the curse of the vortex—Kirie's dad, who takes a drill to his eye after obsessively creating spiral shaped ceramics; the reporter who gives a special report on the horrors of the town and her crew, all of whom lose themselves in a tunnel only for their corpses to be found as snail-people; Sekino, whose body has been devoured by the snake-like curls; Kirie's stalker, who throws himself in front of Inspector Tamura's car and is twisted around the axle, the impact by Tamura's head leaving a spiral crack in the windshield; a police officer, who while he was admiring the spiral rifling in the barrel of his gun, shot himself in the eye, leaving a spiral hole in his head; and even Shuichi himself, whose body twists into a spiral and becomes possessed by it.  Only Kirie is left in the cursed town of Kurouzu, and in the end her final fate is whether or not she lives or dies.  However, it can also be argued that Kirie is trapped in the spiral curse and has to relive every moment of the movie.  This is supported by the evidence in the opening and the ending where Kirie explains what happens in the town and by the constant emphasis of the movie that the "Spiral" is everlasting.

Premonition (予言 Yogen) is a 2004 Japanese horror film directed by Tsuruta Norio.  Yogen is based on the manga Kyoufu Shinbun ("Newspaper of Terror") by Jiro Tsunoda, published in "Shonen Champion" in 1973.

There exists a horrific newspaper called the Fear Newspaper that foretells of people’s extreme misfortunes.  Kagata Mei, a male high-school student, has been cursed with this evil spirit and has to fight against it on a daily basis.  He is forced by the Fear Newspaper to stop the events on the paper from occurring or face the consequences of his life being shortened by 100 days for every article he is unable to prevent.  What makes this horrific situation even worse is that no one else but Mei can see the cursed newspaper and so he is left to undertake this task alone.


Premonition (2004)

  • Original Title: Yogen
  • Genre: Horror
  • Directed: Norio Tsuruta
  • Produced:
    • Satoshi Fukushima 
    • Kazuya Hamana 
    • Takashige Ichise 
    • Yukie Kito 
    • Yasushi Kotani
  • Written:
    • Jirô Tsunoda (Manga "Kyôfu shinbun") 
    • Noboru Takagi (Screenplay) 
    • Norio Tsuruta (Screenplay)
  • Starring: Hiroshi Mikami, Noriko Sakai, Maki Horikita, Mayumi Ono, Hana Inoue, Masao Mukai, Reiko Hiroshige, Takahiro Takano
  • Music: Kenji Kawai
  • Cinematography: Naoki Kayano
  • Editing: Hiroshi Sunaga
  • Studio:
    • Entertainment Farm  
    • Fellah Pictures  
    • Geneon Entertainment  
    • Nikkatsu  
    • Oz Company  
    • Toho Company  
    • Tokyo Broadcasting System
  • Distributed:
    • Toho Company  
    • Lions Gate Films Home Entertainment
  • Rated:
  • Release Date:
    • 2 October 2004 (Japan)  
    • 12 July 2005 (USA)
  • Running Time: 95 minutes
  • Country: Japan
  • Language: Japanese
  • On a country road, Hideki tells his wife Ayaka that he needs to use a payphone.  While his wife chats happily with their five-year-old daughter Nana in the car, he's fiddling with his laptop in the phone booth when a newspaper page flutters near him.  He notices a photo on the front page, which shows Nana.  Intrigued, he reads the article that says his daughter was killed at 8PM.  He glances at his wristwatch. It's almost 8PM.  He looks at his car.  His wife climbs out of the car, calling out that she couldn't unlock their daughter's seat belt.  As his wife takes another step towards him, a truck smashes into the car behind her, killing Nana.  While the emergency employees and police swarm around the accident site, Hideki looks around for the newspaper page as Ayaka tearfully tries to stop him.

    Three years later: Ayaka meets a psychic to learn more about "the Newspaper of Terror".  The psychic shows fear and hesitation before admitting a lawyer had contacted her about the newspaper, but disappeared shortly after. After the interview, Ayaka receives a phone call from the psychic, who warns her that Ayaka can no longer escape "it".

    She rushes to the psychic's house, and finds a library of journals and photos of the foreshadowing newspapers. Ayaka searches the house, and finds the psychic face-down, surrounded by more Polaroids with one gripped in her hand.  Ayaka tries to shake her to awake but realizes she's dead.  She pries the photo from the dead woman's hand and stares in shock.  She calls Hideki, whom she divorced a couple years before, to meet with him, but he refuses to meet with her as he frantically believes she'll call him insane again.

    As Hideki hangs up, a newspaper page slaps against his window.  The article reveals that one of his students will be the latest victim of a serial killing that has been plaguing the city.  Hideki rushes to save his student, but he's too late, finding the poor student.  Hideki meets Ayaka the next morning, and they agree to team up to investigate the Newspaper of Terror and find a way to stop the madness.

    As his premonitions become more frequent, Hideki wonders if he should warn the potential victims.  Ayaka begs him not to.  She admits the truth to why she researched the Newspaper of Terror.  They affirm their feelings for each other, reconcile their long lost love, and then finally agree to continue investigating.

    Hideki and Ayaka decide to move in together again.  While packing, she notices dark grey marks on Hideki's arm. While sleeping, Hideki is haunted by the ghosts of people killed in accidents as predicted by the Newspaper of Terror.  Soon he faces his worst nightmare he had 3 years ago: reliving the event that ends with his daughter Nana's death.  His desperate desire to save Nana has him trying to manipulate the accident repeatedly until he figures out a way.  He successfully unlocks Nana's seatbelt and pushes her out to Ayaka, and stays in Nana's place as a runaway truck hits the car.

    With Nana lying in daze nearby, Ayaka screams at the burning car with her husband stuck inside.  Nana glances up as a newspaper page floats through the air.  As it lands on the ground, we see a photo of Hideki on the front page.

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