Story & Art by Shuzo Oshimi
Edited by Daniel Joseph
Translated by Daniel Komen
Production by Risa Cho & Evan Hayden
The first volume of Blood on the Tracks was built around its climatic twist, utilizing an array of horror and thriller elements that were chilling and fascinating. That said, this leaves the series’s subsequent volumes with a difficult challenge; how do you follow up the unexpected? Blood on the Tracks builds upon its reveal by delving into the minds of our traumatized protagonist and his ominous mother.
Blood on the Tracks volumes 2 and 3 focus on Seiichi’s trauma from Shige’s accident and his new perception of his mother Seiko. Seiichi had a deep love for his mother, but after seeing her almost kill Shige, his entire world was shattered. Shuzo Oshimi conveys Seiichi’s broken state through his acquired stutter following Shige’s accident. Every time Seiichi attempts to talk, it creates an unsettling tension that makes you anxious about what he really means. Seichi’s direct interactions with his mother show he can’t delineate his affection from his fear of her. Seiichi is aware that his mother is dangerous, but he still feels dependent on her love. When Seiichi argues against his mother at the end of Volume 3, he is forced to confront his mother’s dark nature, and question whether the mother he loved ever existed in the first place.
One of the scariest aspects about Seiko is her ambiguity. There have been strong hints that Seiko suffers from mental illness, causing her to form a dangerous and unhealthy mindset. For instance, Seiko’s affection for Seiichi borders on obsession, fixating on his every action Conversely, everything besides Seiichi seems inconsequential to her. She refuses to visit Shige and their relatives at the hospital, and her relationship with her husband has grown shaky as a result. Seiko has cut herself off from the world, with only her love of Seiichi grounding her in reality. That said, Seiko’s obsessive love is not only harming herself. Seiko expresses her love by monopolizing her son, preventing him from interacting with others or building meaningful relationships. When Seiichi’s classmate confesses to him, Saeko pressures Seiichi to turn down the confession and remain dependent on her. What makes Saeko’s actions so disturbing is that nothing she does is out of animosity. She genuinely believes she’s protecting the son she adores, even if it’s at the cost of his freedom.
Compared to the average manga, Blood on the Tracks doesn’t have that much dialogue per chapter. While the conversations are still important , Oshimi conveys more subtleties in his story through his artwork. The expressions of Seiko are particularly poignant, showcasing her sudden personality shifts when she’s emotionally unstable and her blank stares of affection. Seiichi’s emotions are also strongly tied to Oshimi’s artwork, as he grapples with his feelings for his mother and the trauma of her actions. Oshimi excels at creating stories that are as deep artistically as they are narratively, and Blood on the Tracks is no exception.
Blood on the Tracks continues to be a thrilling read that explores horror rooted in human nature. The unstable dynamic between Seichi and Seiko is both engaging and terrifying, and the exploration of their mental states is fascinating so far. So long as you don’t mind the blood, this series is on the right track!