Story & Art by Shuzo Oshimi
Edited by Daniel Joseph
Translated by Daniel Komen
Production by Risa Cho & Evan Hayden
From The Flowers of Evil to Happiness, Shuzo Oshimi has managed to captivate readers with his mastery of suspense and surreal visuals. Now, Oshimi’s most recent work Blood on the Tracks has been released in English, and as you’d expect, it’s stunning from the outset.
Blood on the Tracks is about the life of a young boy named Seiichi and his overprotective mother Seiko. While nothing is particularly abnormal about Seiichi’s life, the story is framed with an underlying sense of tension. The mundane actions of their daily lives are given dramatic weight, almost as if things could go awry at any moment. This is especially true of Seiichi’s relationship with his mother. Despite her affection towards her son, Seiko’s presence feels abnormal and unsettling. She feels obligated to protect Seiichi from the smallest instances of danger, and dotes on him to an almost extreme degree. Seiichi appears like a normal youth at first glance, but he also has his share of quirks. In particular, his love for his mother seems obsessive. He listens to his mother’s every word and is easily upset when anyone insults her. In Seiichi’s eyes, his mother’s actions and beliefs are unquestionable, and he follows them wholeheartedly. The bizarre nature of this entire situation crafts a fascinating story. The series plays with the readers’ fear of the unknown and that makes it even harder to put down. When the volume finally reaches its boiling point, the results are chilling in all the right ways.
What allows Blood on the Tracks to excel in its storytelling is its artwork. Oshimi’s hyper-detailed art is particularly distinct and that alone is a draw for many readers. That said, his true strength lies in how he evokes horror from the natural world. Blood on the Tracks has many shots solely focused on people and their surrounding nature. Whether it’s the bugs in a field or a child’s smile, there is a sense of fear instilled from the intricacy of the figures. None of the imagery is frightening in concept, but Oshimi’s visual design warps their natural tone. Oshimi’s wants to convey the unsettling beauty of the world, a place capable of both adoration and torment.
Blood on the Tracks is in its early stages, but it effectively sells you on its story through its beautiful artwork and use of non-traditional suspense. Volume 1 ends at a critical point in the narrative, and the dynamic of the series is bound to change moving forward. Whatever may lie ahead in this unnerving journey, it’s sure to be exciting.