Interrupted: Kazuo Umezu, The Drifting Classroom (1972)

Sometimes I wander among the manga shelves at the library, and I feel like a grandma trying to buy clothes in a hipster shop. Does it ever happen to you?

I simply lack references and so I have no clue how to choose something that I might like. Actually, I do have some references, but they are quite old and come from anime I watched in the 1980s or 1990s: Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Cat’s Eye and such. After all, I was raised with Candy Candy and lots of other Japanese anime, and I’m a big fan of Studio Ghibli. I’m not totally a virgin in the manga department, but it seems that genres have evolved so much that the popular mangas now have nothing to do with the older generation’s. So where should I turn now?

The other problem is more practical. At the library, every time I get attracted to a title, I discover that the volumes 1 and 2 are already borrowed. The only manga whose beginning was available at the time was The Drifting Classroom.

In retrospect, I should have known something was amiss when the person at the library desk raised her eyebrow at my choice. And perhaps it was no coincidence that nobody had taken these two first volumes.

It was soon confirmed. I read the first volume within a few hours and then I told myself: this is a pure nightmare, you should not go on: this is my first ever horror manga, and probably the last for a long, long, long time.

I have nothing against post-apocalyptic science fiction (uh, well, that’s not quite true, I have decided to avoid McCarthy’s The Road, I’m too much likely to get depressed by its theme), but nothing prepared me for that. Survival manga with lots of gory details. With main characters being elementary school children. Ugh.

I must be grateful I’ve read (skimmed, rather) Lord of the Flies as a novel a lifetime ago and that words are not as, well, visual, because perhaps it would have looked a bit like that. Except the violence is much worse. Add post-apocalyptic monsters. And don’t get attached to any of the characters, because they’re likely to die in horrible circumstances in the next few pages.

Well, I wanted to try something new, didn’t I? I promptly returned both books, it was a different person at the desk, but in retrospect, a pregnant mother with a 5 yo borrowing a horror manga? Perhaps a raised eyebrow was a bit of an understatement.

After all, it’s October, so if you’re looking for something seriously creepy, look no further. But don’t come back here complaining that you haven’t slept a wink or you’re shocked out of your wits.


4 thoughts on “Interrupted: Kazuo Umezu, The Drifting Classroom (1972)

  1. I will read graphic novels now and again but I have never ventured into manga. You definitely got something different from the sound of it! I think after your description should the urge to try manga come over me I will not choose this one!

  2. I have this problem not only with manga (didn’t grow up on it, so I’m really a grandma), which I’ve often thought about reading and never have, but with all graphic novels. A few years ago, I read one graphic horror novel (can’t remember the title) that was just awful, so now I tend to try to stick with memoirish type stuff.

  3. Pingback: The one about the one-man comics shop | Smithereens

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