MANGA REVIEW | "Blood on the Tracks" - Vols. 7 & 8
Reading Blood on the Tracks is a lot like riding a rollercoaster blind-folded. You know that big jumps and twists are going to happen; you just don’t know when. When it happens, it causes your stomach to drop like a ton of bricks. Volumes Seven and Eight of Shuzo Oshimi’s recent manga demonstrates his strengths as an author, while showcasing why Mommy is one of the most terrifying people in the medium today.
Shigeru has finally awaken, but his memories of Seiichi and Mommy are still foggy. This causes Mommy to be frustrated, as she hoped Shigeru would get her to finally leave. Going to school again, Seiichi faces Yuiko after she looks to give him his clothes back. He pushes her away, an act Seiichi hoped would make Mommy happy. But when Seiichi and Mommy visit Shigeru again, something happens that triggers a memory of that fateful day.
The memories worry Seiichi, as his love for Mommy reaches unnerving levels. For many volumes, Blood on the Tracks has shown that Mommy has seemingly warped her son for her own needs. However, in Volume Eight, things start to happen to Seiichi that ignite something rebellious. A fight in the school bathroom, a detour near the place with the dead cat, and even a one-on-one chat with his aunt causes something to spark in Seiichi’s mind.
While Volume Seven sets up for the truth to be revealed, Volume Eight is when all of the pieces finally start to fit into place. Not only do you see why Mommy is the way she is, you finally get to see what Seiichi is truly like. What happens when he’s pushed to the edge, what his thought process is like, and — worst of all — what he thinks of the world around him. It’s easy to find parallels between Blood on the Tracks and Flowers of Evil, as it had characters in both feeling exactly the same way about society as a whole.
When Seiichi starts to bond more with Mommy, that’s where Blood on the Tracks shows that he wasn’t brainwashed; crazy is genetic! As Seiichi lashes out at his friends and family, it becomes clear that this is the path that the boy was destined to have. Even without someone feeding him influence, Seiichi will be somebody that will be living outside of the norm, as the madness slowly swallows him up. And just like Mommy, he’ll gleeful cause any sort of chaos if it means having the chance to leave the common life.
Blood on the Tracks is never afraid to get psychotic. How it drags its readers into the room with Seiichi, Mommy, and every other twisted character here is both unsettling and brilliant all at once. Oshimi knows how to bring the feelings of trauma and insecurity both visually and narratively, in ways that make him stand out from the rest of the pack. It’s still not for everyone, but the latest volumes of Blood on the Tracks shows why Seiichi and Mommy’s story is psychological horror at its finest!
VOLS. 7 & 8 RATINGS:
Promotional consideration provided by Tomo Tran of Kodansha Manga