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In a effort to expand into other new horror manga, not just Junji Ito, I spent the last couple of months reading almost anything I came across. Some honorable mentions include Happiness (Shuzo Oshimi), Kiriko Kills' (Shingo Honda), and Killing Morph (Masaya Hokazono), but nothing entertained me more than Pumpkin Night. This manga is currently on-going and this review contains some spoilers!
I wouldn't call Hokazono Masaya (Freak Island, Emerging, Insomnia) and Taniguchi Seima's Pumpkin Night a horror masterpiece, but I definitely enjoyed it. We can agree to disagree on the story line of this manga, but you have to admit that the art is freaking amazing. Of course you should never judge a book based on it’s cover, but for me one of the great appeals to horror is it’s graphics/imagery. Beyond the artwork, the other appeal to this series, for me, was how it borrow elements from some of the best American horror movies, and created a series that put new twists on the stories that seem a little bit too familiar, while still keeping us on the edge of our seats.
To summarize, Pumpkin Night is the story of "a girl [who] has escaped a mental hospital and is out for revenge. Wearing a pumpkin mask, she calls herself "Pumpkin Night" and brutally murders anyone who gets in her way. Her ultimate goal? To make her past enemies suffer for their actions." The motif of the pumpkin just screams John Carpenter's Halloween (1978). In order to love this series, I admit that you'll have to look past a couple of things. For example, the design of the mask isn't the best thing, but that pumpkin scraper at the end of her knife totally makes up for it (perfect for scooping out some eyeballs!) So it doesn't have the best character development, but neither does Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and it's a classic!
The strongest horror movie connection Pumpkin Night makes is with Stephen King's novel Carrie, and the 1976 movie adaptation. The OG story of a girl who is an outcast, goes to a party where a bad prank befalls on her, and she kills everyone. Although, if it was a competition on who had it worse: getting pig's blood poured over you, or having your face melt off with sulfuric acid; I think there is a definite winner. Bullied for dressing and talking weirdly, even after the horrific incident "Naoko" (Pumpkin Night) is still an awesome quirky/bad-ass character; despite her murdering tenancies.
One of the best and craziest parts in the manga is when some of the characters rush to save their friend from being cremated alive. Later on "Naoko" switches their bodies, and the best scene in Silence of the Lambs (1991) immediately comes to mind. Although nothing can compare to the moment when Hannibal Lecter reveals himself, the level of tension leading up to these moments were closely matched.
Japanese horror tends to focus on either psychological or the supernatural, Ju-On (2002), Ringu (1998), One Missed Call (2003), Audition (1999). With awful tropes, ridiculous teen drama, torture porn, and people making completely illogical choices/reactions, Pumpkin Night reminds me of a classic 80's slasher flick. If you share my appreciation and love for B-rated horror movies, I 100 percent recommend this manga too you.
Thank You For Reading!
I hope you enjoyed my first review. If you liked it or you decided to give Pumpkin Night a try, let me know by leaving a tip. I’ll really appreciate it and it will help me decide which type of content I should stick with in the future.