The horror of the mundane creeps up on you with Shuuzou Oshimi’s latest work, A Trail of Blood.
Genre: Seinen, Psychological, Horror(?), Suspense, Drama
Author: Shuuzou Oshimi
Premise: The drama between a boy growing up and his relationship with his beautiful but overprotective mother.
How I Found It
Super Eyepatch Wolf is the one to thank for me finding out about this manga with his video, My Favourite Things Fall 2018 (Halloween Special) where this manga managed to snag one of the higher spots on his list of horror recommendations.
Why I Hate Loving It
A Trail of Blood is a very hard manga to describe. On the surface, the premise is simple and if I were to describe the situations in the manga, you’d probably think “That’s not creepy at all”.
The premise here being,the relationship of an overbearing mother with her growing son. I mean, it can’t be THAT bad, right?
Let’s test that theory.
Imagine a scenario where your Mom catches you going out late with friends. How does a Trail of Blood make it unsettling?
Let’s try that again. You run away from home because you had a fight with your mom and it’s raining out. Worried sick, she goes out to look for you,and eventually finds you.
How does this touching scene play out?
Instead of a touching reunion between mother and son, our intrepid author decides to change up the lighting and the framing to make our loving mother look like a horrible ghostly stalker.
A Trail of Blood is a master class in setting an unsettling tone and atmosphere through the use of lighting, framing and the expressiveness of character’s faces and body language. In fact, few words are spoken in most panels of the manga and a lot of the emotions come from just reading characters’ faces. I don’t wanna post too many of them here in fear of spoiling the story, but the art is one of the biggest factors for why I love reading this manga.
The story, to dive deeper without spoiling too much, is obviously not all that it seems. There’s a deeper, almost unhinged element to every single moment in the manga. Every chapter, you read with bated breath waiting for something to happen. It’s honestly the kind of manga that is exhausting to read in the good sense. Your mind is in a constant state of “what the f-” while reading, and it never really stops. You have this sense of uncalled for dread, when really, nothing too out of the ordinary is happening.
The characters are for the lack of a better term, complicated. It’s predominantly a drama about the relationship of the son with his mother and his fellow students.
One thing that every main character has in common in this manga is that they’re broken in some way. The manga explores how these broken people go on their daily lives, and what happens to their psyche when something upsets the routine they have set out for themselves.
It’s hard to say who’s good or bad, because these characters are human, humans with plenty of flaws and mistakes, but also good points to them too.
There’s only 42 chapters out as of the making of this review, and it is most definitely a manga that is meant to be binge-read once it’s over, but I still want people to give it a go right now because it’s a rare, great horror(?) manga and I want more people to give attention to these kinds of stories.
Shuuzou Oshimi is no stranger to psychological dramas like these, but most of them have had some quirky elements to them to make it a bit more palatable. With this manga, a Trail of Blood, he’s removed the quirks in favor of the cold reality of what it’s like being in a passively abusive relationship.
I cannot recommend it enough!