I’m greatly disturbed by what Shuzo Oshimi is able to bring to the manga realm. And yet, I’m also fascinated by his storytelling. The only person that I can compare his narrative style is the late Satoshi Kon, whose films and anime both dazzled and made your stomach turn. This is how I feel about Oshimi’s Blood on the Tracks, which finds a way to both wow you and make you cringe in its second volume.
Volume Two leaves off where the previous one did, with Seiichi’s mother just tossing her nephew off of a cliff. In the hospital, the police arrive, with Seiichi forced to make a choice as to what to tell them. Meanwhile, his decision leaves him to have a mental breakdown, as he’s pulled between loving his mother and realizing how much of a monster she she. The arrival of classmate Fukiishi complicates matters, with a letter to Seiichi sending both him and his mother over the edge.
Let me make this clear: this is not a manga for everyone. It dives deeply into the psyche of both the mother and Seiichi in ways that not even The Flowers of Evil was able to do. What makes it so grand is that Oshimi is able to convey these feelings merely with pictures. The look of sheer horror in the way Seiichi opens his mouth, as well as the look in the mother’s eyes, says far more than any word of dialogue ever could.
And that is what makes Blood on the Tracks so powerful! Oshimi takes a more cinematic route with his manga, something that he does do with The Flowers Of Evil in its final chapters. However, he goes full throttle with its montage-like presentation. The way you see Seiichi and his mother deal with Fukiishi’s love letter feels a lot like the “One of My Turns” scene in Alan Parker’s Pink Floyd The Wall. It starts off slow, only to transform into physical and mental chaos, ending with a moment that can only be described as being brilliantly disgusting!
I know I’m not saying a lot about the second volume of Blood on the Tracks, but that’s because revealing any plot device would ruin the surprises it delivers. This is one of the most uncomfortable manga I’ve ever read, but Oshimi’s skills as a storyteller find a way to keep pulling me in. What makes it even more messed up is that this is only the beginning of the madness, as the series is currently at nine volumes as of this review. All I can say here is that if is how Seiichi and his mother’s story is starting, then I’m already getting creeped out by how far Oshimi plans to take it. At the same time, I relish the opportunity to see how far Blood on the Tracks takes its characters!
Promotional consideration provided by Tomo Tran of Vertical Comics