June 22, 2009

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The Drifting Classroom Volume 1

Written by Kazuo Umezu
Illustrated by kazuo Umezo
Viz

I really wish my local library carried a bit less shojo and a bit more horror manga. Having to ILL it is rather annoying, especially since there is no lack of manga in the library's collection--they are definitely ahead of the curve in terms of ordering things. At any rate, this one came off a blog recommendation, and I am glad I took the time to request it.

Mr. Umezu is apparently a specialist in horror manga, from what I understand. This time out, he narrates the tale of a strange day in Japan, where an earthquake seemingly separates a school from the rest of reality. Our protagonist, Sho, is a typical pre-teen just starting down the road of rebellion. He has a really bad fight with his mother on this fateful day, and a lot of time is spent on this. We are not, at least not yet, talking the the horror of the seen--here we are in the horror of the mind. We are to imagine being 10 or 12, torn between obedience and independence, and our last act never gives us the chance to find the balance. Umezu does an amazing job of getting inside the head of Sho and making us relate to the horror he faces.

But that, of course, is not all--there's an entire school with little food and water and a whole horde of excitable children. Can the teachers keep things together, and for how long? Will the childish mob take over and destroy them all? It sure seems possible, although through lies and deception, there is an uneasy peace. I am quite sure, if I can get my hands on Volume 2, that it won't last for long.

Drawn straightforward but in a set of creepy angles and shadows, this is a fine addition to my reading of horror manga. I definitely recommend it--if you can find it!