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Posts Tagged 13 Days of Halloween

13 Days of Halloween: Haunted House

Shannon, here – Halloween is my favourite holiday and to honour it I’m counting down 13 manga throughout the month that I think best capture the Halloween spirit. They aren’t all horror manga, as to me Halloween is about more than scares: it’s about a sense of fun and wonder. It’s about discovering that there may be more to this world than meets the eye. So with that in mind, there’s everything on this list from action-packed shounen to romantic-comedy to children’s manga to some lock-the-doors-and-leave-the-lights-on horror. (See all 13 Days of Halloween so far…)

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2. Haunted House

Another manga with no supernatural aspects to it on the list, the first being Kindaichi Case Files, Haunted House is a comedy by Mitsukazu Mihara. The main character is a high school guy named Sabato, a perfectly normal guy whose only goal in life is to get a girlfriend. Each chapter he meets a girl, falls for her, starts to think that maybe things could work out between the two of them…and then he takes her home to meet his family. Sabato may be as normal as can be, but his family is insane. His mother and sisters all dress to the nines in gothic Lolita type outfits, while his father has practically stolen Dracula’s look wholesale. That wouldn’t be so bad, except that on top of that they seem to purposely set out to embarrass Sabato, pulling crazy, morbid stunts every time one of Sabato’s ladyfriends come to visit.

Haunted House is a funny manga in that it takes something simple (the embarrassment most teens feel when it comes to their family) and put a crazy, wacky spin on it. There are so many gags on each page, and pretty much all of them work. It’s an especially fun manga to read if you’re a horror fan, as there are lots of jokes relating to classic horror stories and movies.

What’s really impressive is that the manga isn’t just an episodic comedy series. While each chapter stands alone to a certain extent, over the course of the book Sabato goes from being a frantic, shallow girl chaser to being a more thoughtful and accepting young man. It’s a nice bit of characterization that works without bringing the comedy down. By the end of the manga it’s also revealed that Sabato’s family, for all their harassment and teasing, really do love him and just want what’s best for him.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention Mitsukazu Mihara’s beautiful art. While she can draw some very pretty characters, she also has great comedic timing and knows when to go for a more cartoony style.

Haunted House may not be a horror manga, but it is probably one of the few manga that you can see being actually influenced by Halloween. If you love creepy things as much as Sabato’s family does, then you should check out this manga.


13 Days of Halloween: Cat Eyed Boy

Shannon, here – Halloween is my favourite holiday and to honour it I’m counting down 13 manga throughout the month that I think best capture the Halloween spirit. They aren’t all horror manga, as to me Halloween is about more than scares: it’s about a sense of fun and wonder. It’s about discovering that there may be more to this world than meets the eye. So with that in mind, there’s everything on this list from action-packed shounen to romantic-comedy to children’s manga to some lock-the-doors-and-leave-the-lights-on horror. (See all 13 Days of Halloween so far…)

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3. Cat Eyed Boy

Kazuo Umezu is the creator of classic horror manga such as A Drifting Classroom, a stark story of survival in a post-apocalyptic world. While Drifting Classroom is certainly scary enough to be a Halloween manga, that’s not the only criteria for this list. The manga also need a sense of fun, even campy, to really make it feel like it’s something best read in October and not June or January. With that in mind, number three on this list is Cat Eyed Boy, another horror manga from Umezu.

The titular cat eyed boy is actually a demon who wanders around Japan, living in people’s attics and watching their lives unfold below. Wherever Cat Eyed Boy goes, strange things are sure to happen. In one story Cat Eyed Boy meets a family haunted by a disgusting monster made of bulbous, decaying flesh. In another story, a boy’s love for collecting insects turns out to be his undoing when the insects rise up against him.

The stories vary in length, tone and quality, but overall Cat Eyed Boy is a pretty campy horror anthology. The series is grounded in Japanese mythology, with many of the stories being new tellings of ancient myths.

Umezu’s art has a certain old-fashioned stiffness to it (I’ve seen someone compare his characters to mannequins). But his character designs for the monsters are much more lively and eye-catching, and since there are more demons and monsters in the series than normal people it works out pretty well.

You can read my review of the second volume of Cat Eyed Boy.


13 Days of Halloween: Hollow Fields

Hollow Fields

Shannon, here – Halloween is my favourite holiday and to honour it I’m counting down 13 manga throughout the month that I think best capture the Halloween spirit. They aren’t all horror manga, as to me Halloween is about more than scares: it’s about a sense of fun and wonder. It’s about discovering that there may be more to this world than meets the eye. So with that in mind, there’s everything on this list from action-packed shounen to romantic-comedy to children’s manga to some lock-the-doors-and-leave-the-lights-on horror. (See all 13 Days of Halloween so far…)

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4. Hollow Fields

There are a ton of OEL manga that have Halloween trappings, such as My Dead Girlfriend or I Luv Halloween. Weirdly enough, it’s a work by an Australian creator that really manages to capture the spirit of this very North American holiday. Madeline Rosca’s Hollow Fields doesn’t take place on Halloween, but the creepy setting and child protagonists still makes it a good manga to read in October.

Lucy Snow is nervous about going away to boarding school, especially when she accidently ends up at a school for young mad scientists. Instead of gym, math and English, at Hollow Fields the kids practice corpse robbing and building giant robots. This is all new to Lucy, who lacks not only the know-how but also the ruthlessness her fellow students posses. But she had better learn fast, as the every week the student with the lowest grade is sent off to the windmill, a lonely place where the teachers conduct their experiments and no student has ever returned.

Madeline Rosca’s art is a nice mix of cuteness and steampunk. Her character designs are fun and manage to be cute while still unsettling. The best example of this is the school faculty – the teachers no longer have human bodies but reside in giant wind-up dolls. The story also walks a fine line between sweet and scary, especially as the series progresses and it becomes clearer what exactly is going on at the school.

In the name of transparency, I want to note that I do freelance work for Seven Seas, the publisher behind Hollow Fields. I also want to note that Blood Alone omnibus comes out in April 2011, and is also good Halloween time reading!


13 Days of Halloween: Kurosagi Delivery Service


Shannon, here – Halloween is my favourite holiday and to honour it I’m counting down 13 manga throughout the month that I think best capture the Halloween spirit. They aren’t all horror manga, as to me Halloween is about more than scares: it’s about a sense of fun and wonder. It’s about discovering that there may be more to this world than meets the eye. So with that in mind, there’s everything on this list from action-packed shounen to romantic-comedy to children’s manga to some lock-the-doors-and-leave-the-lights-on horror. (See all 13 Days of Halloween so far…)

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5. Kurosagi Delivery Service

Everyone has their own personal squick buttons. Kurosagi Delivery Service manages to push all of mine. If there’s one kind of horror that gets under my skin more than any other, it’s body horror. Body horror is known for being gross as much as it is for being scary. Bodily fluid and functions are often at the forefront of the scares, earning EWW!s as well as AHHH!s from the audience. But once you get past the disgusting surface, body horror is about something much deeper than humans’ gut reaction to grossness. Body horror forces us to confront the fact that, for all our dazzling intellect and capabilities to reason, we are still stuck in these hulking, often gross physical forms, which will eventually perish and rot away.

Aside from the works of David Cronenberg, Kurosagi Delivery Service is the best example of body horror out there. The series follows a group of students at a Buddhist university. All of them have different talents (embalming, dowsing, communicating with the dead, etc) but quickly realize it’s hard to find work using these skills. The most ambitious among them, a computer-savy woman named Sasaki, decides that what they need to do is start a company of their own. And so the Kurosagi Delivery Service is born.  The way it works is that the group finds a corpse and promises the dead spirit they will carry out its last wish in return for payment. While it sounds like a straight forward premise, practically every case becomes a lot more complicated very fast, becoming more and more twisted (in every sense of the word) with each horrifying revelation.

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is not only unnerving, it’s also very smart, with constant of commentary on society and its customs for both the living and the dead. Despite how dark and gory the stories can get, the cast manages to keep things light with their bickering and banter. Dark Horse is doing an amazing job with the series, including a ton of adaptation notes in the back which help highlight some of the manga’s themes and references.

Lissa has reviewed quite a few volumes of the manga right here.


13 Days of Halloween: Petshop of Horrors

Shannon, here – Halloween is my favourite holiday and to honour it I’m counting down 13 manga throughout the month that I think best capture the Halloween spirit. They aren’t all horror manga, as to me Halloween is about more than scares: it’s about a sense of fun and wonder. It’s about discovering that there may be more to this world than meets the eye. So with that in mind, there’s everything on this list from action-packed shounen to romantic-comedy to children’s manga to some lock-the-doors-and-leave-the-lights-on horror. (See all 13 Days of Halloween so far…)

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6. Petshop of Horrors
… + XXXHolic

I was torn about which manga to spotlight here. I knew I wanted to showcase some kind of horror story anthology, but up until the last minute I couldn’t decide between Pet Shop of Horrors or CLAMP’s xxxHolic. Even now as I type this I have to resist the urge to switch back yet again.

What makes it hard is that the two are both extremely similar and at the same time very different. Both share a basic central plot: a mysterious store owner (Count D in Pet Shop of Horrors, Yuko in xxxHolic) gives customers magical items/creatures, often with a cryptic ‘be careful what you wish for’ kind of warning. But do the customers listen? Is a mecha a mecha if it doesn’t have a human pilot controlling it from within? No, of course not.

The stories in both series are basically morality plays. While there are often monsters and ghosts in the stories, the danger to the characters isn’t from some outer force but from within: it’s their own bad habits that lead to their downfall. The characters who survive are the ones who manage to finally become self-aware and see the flaws in their character (though even that isn’t always enough if it comes to late). In xxxHolic especially a lot of customers never even make the connection between their own bad behaviour and all the things wrong in their life, and suffer all the more for it.

Both series have their strong points: I love the art in xxxHolic and think that it’s one of CLAMP’s most striking series style-wise, but Pet shop of Horrors’ old-fashioned shojo art style has its own charms. In the end I’m going with Pet Shop of Horrors, though like I said before xxxHolic could also easily fit into this slot.


13 Days of Halloween: Arkham Woods

Shannon, here – Halloween is my favourite holiday and to honour it I’m counting down 13 manga throughout the month that I think best capture the Halloween spirit. They aren’t all horror manga, as to me Halloween is about more than scares: it’s about a sense of fun and wonder. It’s about discovering that there may be more to this world than meets the eye. So with that in mind, there’s everything on this list from action-packed shounen to romantic-comedy to children’s manga to some lock-the-doors-and-leave-the-lights-on horror. (See all 13 Days of Halloween so far…)

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7. Arkham Woods

Seven Seas has a lot of titles that would fit on this list, but one that stands out is the lovecraftian OEL manga Arkham Woods. Kirsti’s mom recently found out that she is losing her sight. In order to pay for the operation, they need to sell Kirsti’s great-uncle’s creepy home. However, that may be hard to do since the house sits on a portal to an ancient and unspeakable evil, a feature likely to scare away potential buyers.

Arkham Woods is a nicely paced horror story. The tension and the weirdness just keep mounting until the climax, where the cast must stop Cthulu himself from taking over our world. The series plays pretty fast and lose with the Cthulu mythos, but it still manages to share its atmosphere of weird, otherworldly horror. If you’re not familiar with H.P. Lovecraft’s works, don’t worry, the manga tells you everything you need to know.

If you want to check out Arkham Woods yourself, Seven Seas has put the entire thing online here.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I want to note that I’ve worked for Seven Seas as a freelance editor. In the interest of self-promotion, I want to note that anyone who likes dark and twisted manga should buy Amnesia Labyrinth as soon as it comes out.)


13 Days of Halloween: Kindaichi Case Files

Shannon, here – Halloween is my favourite holiday and to honour it I’m counting down 13 manga throughout the month that I think best capture the Halloween spirit. They aren’t all horror manga, as to me Halloween is about more than scares: it’s about a sense of fun and wonder. It’s about discovering that there may be more to this world than meets the eye. So with that in mind, there’s everything on this list from action-packed shounen to romantic-comedy to children’s manga to some lock-the-doors-and-leave-the-lights-on horror. (See all 13 Days of Halloween so far…)

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8. Kindaichi Case Files

Kindaichi Case Files is one of two manga on this list that has no supernatural elements to it whatsoever. In fact, one of the major points of the manga is that there is a logical explanation for everything. Sure, it might seem like some supernatural creature (like a snow demon, or a ghost, or Michael Jackson) is running around causing trouble, but by the end of the volume the main character lays out the clues and explains how a human culprit was able to pull the whole thing off.

The manga is a mystery series that follows Hajime Kindaichi, a high school slacker who is actually a genius when it comes to solving crimes. It’s a good thing too, because the people around him tend to drop like fruit flies. Where ever Kindaichi goes, be it a fancy hotel, a secluded island, or an elite prep school, people die by the boatload. It’s amazing this kid gets invited anywhere.

Because it’s so firmly grounded in the real world, Kindaichi Case Files may not seem like an obvious Halloween manga. But the series is great at creating a creepy atmosphere and tense moments. Also, each case is basically the manga version of a slasher film, where victims are picked off one by one by a seemingly omnipotent killer. Slasher films have been a staple of Halloween since, well, ‘Halloween‘, so it seems fitting that the manga equivalent of the genre should make the list.

A good overview of the series can be found here at Manga Worth Reading.


13 Days of Halloween: Cowa

Shannon, here – Halloween is my favourite holiday and to honour it I’m counting down 13 manga throughout the month that I think best capture the Halloween spirit. They aren’t all horror manga, as to me Halloween is about more than scares: it’s about a sense of fun and wonder. It’s about discovering that there may be more to this world than meets the eye. So with that in mind, there’s everything on this list from action-packed shounen to romantic-comedy to children’s manga to some lock-the-doors-and-leave-the-lights-on horror. (See all 13 Days of Halloween so far…)

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9. Cowa!

Cowa! is simply adorable. Set in a town where monsters and humans coexist peacefully, it follows Paifu, a kid who’s half-vampire, half-werekoala (that’s right, werekoala). He spends his nights playing with Jose the ghost and fighting his rival, a demon named Arpon. When the monster population starts getting sick from monster flu, Paifu takes it upon himself to find a cure. Paifu and his friends enlist the help of a human named Maruyama, a scary dude who even frightens monsters, and set out into the big bad human world.

In my review from last year I called Cowa! Yotsuba&! with monsters. Both series are sweet and funny and share a childish sense of wonder. As I wrote in my review, “If Halloween is your favourite holiday (or at least in your top three) then this is worth checking out. Cowa! is a cute and funny all ages manga that is all treat, no trick.”

I don’t think I really need to spell out why Cowa! is a Halloween manga, but since that is kind of the point of this list I will do it anyway. Aside from the obvious point that most of the cast is made up of classic monsters, Cowa! really captures how it feels not only to be a kid, but to be a kid on Halloween. The monster kids set out into the world with a sense of excitement and apprehension that is similar to what every kid feels when they set out trick-or-treating for the first time.

To read my full review of Cowa!, go here.


13 Days of Halloween: Sugar Sugar Rune

Shannon, here – Halloween is my favourite holiday and to honour it I’m counting down 13 manga throughout the month that I think best capture the Halloween spirit. They aren’t all horror manga, as to me Halloween is about more than scares: it’s about a sense of fun and wonder. It’s about discovering that there may be more to this world than meets the eye. So with that in mind, there’s everything on this list from action-packed shounen to romantic-comedy to children’s manga to some lock-the-doors-and-leave-the-lights-on horror. (See all 13 Days of Halloween so far…)

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10. Sugar Sugar Rune

Sugar Sugar Rune is a children’s fantasy series from Moyoco Anno, a manga-ka more known for her explicit josei manga like Happy Mania and Flowers and Bees. It’s about two young witches, Chocolat Meilleure and Vanilla Mieux, who are sent to the human world to compete in a contest to collect human hearts. Whoever collects the most wins and becomes queen of the magical world. The heart collecting is more symbolic than literal, so if you were expecting a manga where two little girls hunt down humans and rip the still beating hearts from their victim’s chest, well, it’s probably out their but this isn’t it.

What Sugar Sugar Rune is is a cute fantasy series that manages to be smart as well. There are lots of shoujo manga featuring witches as the protagonists, but Anno has really put a lot of thought into the magical system and the way magic works. Just like in her adult series there are some very interesting observations about gender and how men and women (or, considering the ages of the characters in Sugar Sugar Rune, boys and girls) relate to each other.

But much like D.Gray-man, it’s the art that makes this series rise above other manga featuring similar themes. Anno abandons her usual sparse style to go in the opposite direction here. There’s a ton of occult imagery packed into practically every page of the manga, all of it rendered in a sparkly, screen-tone drenched shojo style. It’s a weird mash-up, but it works. If you want a sparkly shojo this Halloween season, then Sugar Sugar Rune is what you’re looking for.


13 Days of Halloween: D.Gray-Man


Shannon, here – Halloween is my favourite holiday and to honour it I’m counting down 13 manga throughout the month that I think best capture the Halloween spirit. They aren’t all horror manga, as to me Halloween is about more than scares: it’s about a sense of fun and wonder. It’s about discovering that there may be more to this world than meets the eye. So with that in mind, there’s everything on this list from action-packed shounen to romantic-comedy to children’s manga to some lock-the-doors-and-leave-the-lights-on horror. (See all 13 Days of Halloween so far…)

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11. D.Gray-Man

So many shounen series deal with monsters in one form or another, from Bleach’s hollows to the ghosts and demons in Yu Yu Hakusho. So what makes D.Gray-Man more  Halloween-y than any other shonen action series featuring the supernatural? In the end it comes down to aesthetics. D.Gray-Man is partly set in an alternate version of Victorian England, a setting already ripe for gothic horror which the manga then amps up to eleven. The buildings are all crumbling and the perspectives skewered. Even inanimate objects have a sinister, childish look, like they might come alive and attack at any moment.

As for the characters themselves, the akuma (the monsters the main characters must fight) are all uniformly creepy. However, there is one character in particular that stands out.

That would be the Millennium Earl.

Only Naoki Urasawa’s Johan has a creepier smile. Giving a sinister character like the Earl with such a fantastical, weird look only makes him scarier. The little flourishes like the hearts that litter his dialogue make him seem even more heinous as talks people into doing horrible things, like resurrecting their dead loved ones so they can be living weapons.

The series is basically a fairy tale set to a shounen action series formula, and everyone knows that not all fairy tales have happy endings. D.Gray-Man embraces the darker, bloodier aspect of classic fables and runs with it. It’s this aspect and the Tim Burton like art that makes D.Gray-Man a worthwhile Halloween manga.


Take me back to the top!