PRESENTS • Kanako Inuki • CMX • 18+
Three-volume collection of very short, approximately 10-to-15-page cartoon-horror stories with the theme of presents, loosely linked by the Cryptkeeper-esque presence of Kurumi, a mysterious girl who never got any birthday presents from her classmates and so stayed eternally young. (She’s actually semi-sympathetic, not quite as ghoulish as she looks on the covers.) Using gore and shocking images fairly sparingly, the stories have good range: a slimy story about kissing acts as a YA metaphor for the “present” of venereal disease; a greedy girl, one of several, finds herself in a dreamscape where she must choose between “presents” such as a car crash, a fire, or a deadly disease; multiple stories play on fears of deformity, ugliness and age; and of course Santa Claus makes an appearance. The one missed opportunity is that Kurumi’s story never goes anywhere, despite several hints that it might. Inuki’s stories are imaginative, not just gross; the 18+ age rating is unnecessary, and the stories are suitable for teens and preteens, as long as they’re able to get past the very old-school, doll-faced (but sometimes simple and effective) art which harkens back to 1960s shojo manga.
*** (three stars)
Today’s winner is Mara S. of Indiana… congrats, Mara! You’ll be receiving some “presents” of manga soon, but without the terrifying morality-tale results that you might be worried about from reading this manga review. So don’t worry! You won’t end up with manga-shaped nodules growing out of your throat, or eternally imprisoned inside the pages of a manga, or flattened to death beneath the tottering stacks of an enormous manga library. Your gift will be absolutely horror- and irony-free!
Pictured here behind his barricade of manga is <a href="Nathaniel H., one of the previous 365 Days winners. Nathaniel, I’m glad you liked your manga! I’ve just sent your second batch in the mail and you should be getting it soon. Also, for those who are interested, an archive of all the 365 Days of Manga posts is now available. Check it out and behold the biodiversity (bibliodiversity?) of manga in all its stunning glory!