Book Review

Ibitsu by Ryou Haruka

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Do you have a little sister?

No matter how you answer that question in this manga you will probably end up dead.

This is the manga that started my hunt for horror manga to read. A long time ago someone shared a link to this manga on a friend’s facebook page and I was bored enough to click on it and give it a read. It stuck with me but I never remembered the name. So when I decided to track down horror manga to review I had to hunt down this manga and read it all. After manga searches for “creepy Lolita manga” (don’t search that it can go horribly wrong, trust me) I finally found it. It is Ibsitsu.

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I don’t know how familiar you are with Japanese folklore or urban legends but the premise of this series is very similar to the Japanese urban legend of The Slit Mouth Woman. In the urban legend a woman wearing a surgical mask* stops you and asks if she is beautiful. You say yes, and she pulls off her mask to reveal that her mouth has been slashed open from ear to ear. She asks you the question again and your answer dictates your fate. If you say yes she will follow you home and murder you, and if you say no she will kill you on the spot. This manga is very similar to this story but instead of beauty  being the focus it is whether or not you have a little sister.

(*Wearing a surgical mask is common in Japan and other parts of Asia if you have a cold)

I wholeheartedly LOVED this manga. It is creepy in all the right ways. It can be a little tropey at times but it is horror at its most basic and sometimes that is all you need. It has disturbing moments without trying to be too shocking or weird, and it has a constant feeling of threat throughout it. I love horror that keeps your cautious even in the seemingly normal moments.

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My favourite element of the story is that it doesn’t involve the paranormal. It easily could and there are moments when you question if there is a supernatural element to the events of the series, but there isn’t and that is brilliant. It is just pure, twisted human based horror at its most over the top and frightening.

If I had to compare it something more familiar to western audiences I would say it is very similar to the film The Orphan. If you enjoyed that film you will probably like this. Saying that though, this is a manga, which mean all gore, violence and scary moments are fully illustrated, so if you are not a fan of graphic imagery maybe give this a miss.

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