ギョ (Fish) or ギョ うごめく不気味 (Fish: The Eerie Wriggle) as it is titled in Japan, is a manga written and illustrated by 伊藤 潤二 (Junji Ito) and published by 小学館 (Shogakukan) and Viz Media, respectively. Its genres are mystery, drama, horror, sci-fi, psychological, and seinen.

Before going on, I’d like to thank Moro for gifting this book to me; I’m really grateful to her for giving me the opportunity to read this wonderful story in English. Also, this might come across as weird, since it’s me we’re talking about, but I haven’t yet watched the anime…yep, you’ve read that right. I will, though.

Plot

At the centre of this story is our rather lovely couple: 忠 (Tadashi) and 華織 (Kaori); I’m saying rather lovely because…erm, keep reading, will you?! Our story follows them as they try to escape some weird-looking marine creatures (some fish with legs but not just any kind of legs – they have to be metallic) which seem to bring about a stench.

Story, Themes, and Characters

While in Spiral I instantly got attached to our protagonists, here I hated them from the very beginning.

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Kaori is a wifie with a nose too sensitive for Tadashi’s patience; not to mention that she’s really whiny and has some sort of constant “do something!” attitude (it made me wish he’d stick some tampons up her nose so she’d stop complaining about the stench, which, by the way, everybody sensed sooner or later). Oh, all that and…she’s jealous whenever Tadashi is near other women.

Tadashi isn’t any better: he doesn’t give a damn that his girlfriend has a fever and takes her to the beach to chase after those creatures. And this is just the beginning. Kaori doesn’t change much; Tadashi…very little, but he does.

Tadashi’s uncle, 小柳教授 (Doctor Koyanagi) is an inventor – some sort of mad scientist (although I couldn’t exactly tell you at which point he became ‘mad’) if you will, who is a mean bastard. I know I hated Kaori, but he didn’t need to turn her into one of those creatures, she wasn’t as bad as to deserve that (I don’t think any character in the book actually deserved that).

Ms. Yoshiyama (芳山) was, perhaps, the only relatively normal human in this story. She seems to be sweet and caring, and if I got it right, she has a crush on Dr Koyanagi. If I were to pick a favourite, I think it’d have to be her.

There is character development in Gyo as well, but perhaps not quite as much as in Spiral, for example. However, this isn’t quite the focus of this story, so it’s actually OK this way. At the centre of the story, as far as I understood, is a rather fundamental question: Do humans need the Earth? Or does the Earth need us here? And as it can easily be seen from this manga, it’s rather the former that stands. If the Earth really wanted to get rid of us, it could easily do so. We only ever fool ourselves by thinking we’re recycling so we’re saving the Earth – oh yeah? Keep telling yourself that you’re saving the Earth. It is crucial that we take care of our planet, but for our own good, not its own – our Planet is doing fine with or without us, and if we’re destroying it (don’t even get me started on global warming), surely it can regenerate itself…I mean, come on, it’s been through so much worse than us, don’t you think?

[on this note, perhaps you’d like to have a quick lookie at this short clip from a wonderful stand-up comedian – do let me know in the comments if the link doesn’t work anymore]

Anyway, one of the things which kept swirling in my head while I was reading this story, was the following: Japanese must really be stuck at the oral and anal stages (if you’re the least bit familiar with Freud’s stages of development – which, I don’t quite agree with, by the way, so this should pass rather as a joke…or half a joke, if you will), and I’m sure Freud would agree; I mean, have a wee lookie at the following images:

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I mean, honestly, why couldn’t those tubes be stuck up their noses? Or they could have broken their eardrums and gone through there. Or perhaps go through their bellybuttons? See, there are alternatives. Obviously, these alternatives wouldn’t evoke the same chills, true. Kudos for this, Ito-san!

Also, I’ve always hated circuses with animals, but now I guess I’ll also be repulsed by them – way to creep me out! There was something that reminded me of Spiral, though:

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Doesn’t this remind you of the scene with the furnace?

On another note – possibly the last one – the KyoDai researchers had a very nice theory regarding Mother Nature’s building these weapons (they actually do say that there’s no way humans could have done that). But humans kind of deserved this, what with what we’re doing, right? I think this story – Gyo – offers a wonderfully and painfully realistic insight into how we can easily be wiped out; we’re no threat to our Planet – we’re way too small and insignificant. The Planet itself is and will keep going on. However, this is not to say we shouldn’t take care of our Planet. On the contrary. I, for one, strongly believe that we should be working with it, not against it…

The Short Stories

大黒柱悲話 (The Sad Story of the Principal Post)

This is a short story about a family which just finished building a new house but the Father – the head of the family – somehow managed to get stuck under the pillar which held the whole construction together. Everybody offered to help him get out, but he chose to die there rather than to squeeze out and thus destroy the house. Now, that’s what I call determination and love for what you’ve done…and maybe plain stupidity, but hey, I guess you can’t argue with the wisdom that comes with age, huh?

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阿弥殻断層の怪 (The Enigma of the Amigara Fault)

This is a short story depicting a fault that formed at the epicentre of an earthquake…and the effect it had on some people, or rather, on their minds? Basically, on the one side of the fault, certain people saw holes which perfectly matched the shapes of their bodies; they were somehow drawn into them, apparently, only to find that they could only move – or rather, were being moved – forward, until their bodies and limbs were completely distorted by the time they emerged on the other side of the fault, a few months later. Well, this was creepy…but I liked it! I really enjoyed reading it. As usual, Ito’s art is on another level, and the story, as short as it was, it had consistency, it was flavourful, it was just the perfect story to end a book like Gyo with.

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I really enjoyed this manga, all of it. It gives plenty of food for thought, so I’d strongly recommend it if you’re into Ito’s stories and art. Somehow, for me, it didn’t evoke the same feelings that Spiral did, but it’s still brilliant.

 

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 The pictures in this post are taken by me; the art, obviously, belongs to Junji Ito.

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