Can't find Your Book Review? Try Google Search.



Book Reviews

Story and art: Kazuo Umezu
Publisher: IDW Publishing; 320 pages
(ISBN: 978-1600100413)
For ages 16+

THE story begins innocently enough in a hospital where young Yumiko’s mother is recuperating from a head injury. And for some strange reason, Yumiko’s mother decides to scare her daughter with the tale of a “snake lady” that supposedly resides in a secret part of the hospital. After visiting her mother, Yumiko then decides to explore the hospital because she “won’t be coming to this hospital anymore”.

Truly, when one stumbles on a section of a hospital that appears eerie, abandoned, and whose walls have the words “Off Limits” scrawled on them, one should get a clue. But Yumiko presses on until she finds a cell with a beautiful woman in it. Yumiko wonders what an apparently healthy woman is doing in this part of the hospital, but she stops questioning why the woman is behind bars when the woman grabs her textbook and tears out a page with the picture of a frog.

She runs away, thinking that the mad woman is safely behind bars. Or is she?

The mangaka behind The Drifting Classroom (about a school transported to a nightmarish dimension) is also responsible for this ghoulish tale of a snake lady that terrorises, first, a hospital, and then a Japanese village.

The art is typical of the 1960s, and the monsters, unfortunately, appear more comical than scary. Still, the actual scare factor of Reptilia is how one ends up fearing the people you love; best friends, family members, mothers, and loyal servants end up betraying each other in Reptilia.

Like in many of Kazuo Umezu’s works, the manga’s characters are often panic-stricken and dissolve into hysterical fits – this could get on your nerves after a while, but my advice is to press on as Kazuo crafts the story in a surprising manner.

At first it appears as if Reptilia is made up of unrelated stories of a snake lady terrorising hapless young women. However, towards the middle of the manga, the stories begin to form a connection with each other. And when the manga ends, the story of the snake lady comes full circle ... and you really can’t help but feel sorry for the evil creature.

Although the art is dated, and the panicky heroines may be annoying, Reptilia has a few worthy scares up its sleeve. Another plus is that it ends on a very satisfying note.