Fuan No Tane is a collection of short horror manga stories by artist and writer Masaaki Nakayama. These stories attempt to delve directly into the part of the brain that works to unnerve us. And in most of the stories here, it manages to accomplish just that.
How short is short?
Up until now, when I have talked about short manga stories, they have been in the region of about 20 to 40 pages. This was my understanding of how short ‘short manga’ was. But it turns out that you can get just as effective in the story-telling with only two or three pages. That’s right – two or three pages for a complete, self-contained, horror story.
Masaaki Nakayama has managed to concentrate down all of the unease that comes from this genre of manga. He has then squeezed that unease, along with some added angst, into these bite-sized pieces of horror. These pieces seem to be inspired from ghostly encounters of people that the author knows. Not only that, but throughout the collection you will see photos of real-life places. These places have also formed the kernels of ideas for different stories throughout.
Fuan No Tame is divided into three volumes, with each of those volumes split into distinct sections. Each section focuses on a particular area of things that tend to unnerve the majority of people. These range from stories about unwanted visitors to hallucinations; From unnerving places in public to home invasion. There was the odd story that I simply didn’t understand. Perhaps they got lost in the translations? But the majority I did understand, and was suitable creeped out by them.
Sowing the seeds of fear
Fuan no Tane (Fuan’notane) translates to “Seeds of Anxiety” in English – and this really is what it accomplishes for the most part. Many of these stories feel like introductions to larger stories that never get told.
A perfect example of this is actually the very first story ‘The Playful Man’. This tells of a strange man who turns up outside a school’s doors at 6pm, greeting any who are leaving from after-school detention. Although initially only hearing rumours, the main girl discovers this man, and is trapped within the school as he screams at her from outside: “Let’s play! Let’s play!”.
Another I found particularly terrifying is during an innocent game of hide and seek. One child leads another into the trees claiming “I know a place where they’ll never find you”. When they arrive the real visage of the guide is revealed and we never see the child again.
This unique way of telling short stories was completely new to me when I started reading. I just love the whole concept that this manga pursues.
There are also some stories within this manga that feel completely self-contained – not needing any further resolution. These were often the most interesting for me and have described a couple below.
One story that sticks in my mind, also happens to be the first panel that I saw from this collection. ‘Look’ is the story of a road safety sign, designed for children, that seems to take on a vindictive life of its own. I realise how that sounds, but it really is one of the most original premises for a story ive seen in a while – as are many contained in these volumes.
Another, from the second volume, is a story called ‘Agreement’. In Agreement, a man waits anxiously with his camera for the sunrise on New Year’s Day 2000. However, a strange man arrives minutes before the sun’s appointment and makes the photographer question life in general. This story is not actually horror, but it formed a unique feeling in me. It had a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy about it. I can’t really describe it any further without ruining that ending for you though.
Although the stories in Fuan no Tane are very short, they more often than not hit their mark in conjuring up feelings of unease within me. I think that not knowing where these characters end up, for the most part, is a big component of that – leaving their stories open-ended and without conclusion most of the time.
Because of the fact that these volumes’ stories are so short, I found myself finishing one and thinking “Just one more wont hurt”. Before I knew it I had read through the entire first volume – somewhere in the region of 130 pages.
This horror manga is a perfect read whether you have a couple of minutes or an hour to spare. Proceed with caution, kids!