Author: Haruto Ryo
Publisher: Yen Press
First Published: July 24, 2018
Genres: Horror, Seinen
Source: Read Online
There's an urban legend that says late at night, sometimes a young girl dressed in gothic lolita clothing will appear by garbage dumps to ask a question. Any who answer will, without fail, die a twisted death. And tonight, another young boy will find himself enveloped by this horror...
Ibitsu is a horror manga about an urban legend, where a girl in a lolita outfit asks an unexpecting victim whether or not they have a little sister. Their fate rests on the answer that they provide in response. The premise for the urban legend brings Kuchisake-onna to mind, another Japanese urban legend about a spirit that asks passerby if she is attractive. The idea of the twisted lolita is a creation of modern culture, both lolita fashion and the little sister trope are popular in Japan.
“I’ve found my brother.”
I appreciated the attempt at creating a modern urban legend, though at the start I found the whole premise and the way that the lolita acts to be a bit cheesy. It got better as time went on, and attempts to look at the spirit’s origins were interesting, but the way that the main character runs into the information is a little too convenient. It was also a little ridiculous that characters that are fully aware of the urban legend still confront the spirit like they would a person. Despite these criticisms, there is plenty of violence and gore that made me cringe, and the tension is kept high. There were also two additional one-shot stories, and The Corridor of Dolls stood out to me as a particularly great and chilling read. I ended up liking this short better than the main story.
The concept of having a spirit latch onto a victim, a “big brother” in a deliberate subversion of the often eroticized lolicon and little sister tropes. I actually really enjoyed this twisting of a popular and somewhat disturbing trend in anime and manga. The art style is unique and the twisted lolita is a memorable character. It is understandable why this manga is popularly recommended in horror manga circles. While this was not the most stellar horror read for me, I think that it is a good attempt at highlighting urban legends and their cultural impact.
Warnings: violence, gore, nudity, animal abuse