Phantom Stalker Woman, the review of the horror manga by Mochizuki Minetaro

Phantom Stalker Woman, the review of the horror manga by Mochizuki Minetaro
A very disturbing aspect of modern society is the ease of controlling anyone you want. Trivially, through social media, anyone can know when a person is connected and what he is doing by posting stories or photos live. This, in very dangerous cases, can turn into a real compulsive behavior that pushes some psychologically unstable subjects to initiate control even physically by following all the movements of their intended victim.

Phantom Stalker Woman : what if a stranger enters your life unwittingly?

With one word this behavior is called stalking and is in effect a crime punishable by law. But what if this was the concept of a horror? Yes, that's what is told in the highly disturbing horror manga Phantom Stalker Woman by Mochizuki Minetaro (the original title is Zashiki Onna). This horror manga does not show all the technology of the aforementioned social networks since the first and only volume was published in 1993 and is to be exact one of the first works of the mangaka that arrives in Italy in a new re-edition published by Edizioni Star Comics, the same which had brought the manga to Italy in 2002.

The most disturbing aspect of this manga is surely the fact that it was published before the stalking horror stories became as widespread as in our days. because now they ride the wave of problems. The story follows the character of Hiroshi Mori, a boy who represents the perfect prototype of a college student: he lives in a rented apartment in a cheap neighborhood, constantly studies and fantasizes about the girl he likes.

As you might expect from a comic of this genre, all is well until one night he hears a persistent knock on his neighbor's door. He decides to stick his head out to see what is happening and this decision will prove to be a bad move: he immediately notices a tall, scary-looking woman with long black hair, wearing a trench coat and carrying paper shopping bags. The neighbor is not at home and Mori, as if that were not enough, thinks of offering her the word politely inviting her to leave.

The next night he returns, but this time knocking on her door and with her attention completely shifted to of him. From this moment Mori will enter a vortex of hell. The story is based on one of the best known and most disturbing Japanese urban legends which tells of a woman scarred by her jealous husband who cut her mouth from ear to ear to punish her vanity and infidelity. Since then, the specter of this woman still roams Japan asking unsuspecting passers-by if they find her beautiful, only to kill them anyway.

Restlessness without bloodshed

The story of Phantom Stalker Woman, at present, has nothing new and original as there are far too many comics and books of this genre. However, in the year in which it came out it was almost an absolute novelty and despite this still today it manages to give a good level of restlessness and strangeness, binding everything to the despair of being constantly spied on, rather than to the shedding of blood as happens in usual.

The manga in question, in fact, is mainly psychological and this makes it slightly different from the remaining examples of the horror stalking genre such as the famous Tokyo Ghoul or the more recent Dead Tube, Ibitsu and The Murderers. The artistic style contributes greatly to this aspect with a very marked, dirty and realistic stroke at the same time. In all honesty it is not an organic and pleasant style, on the contrary it is strongly disturbing and certainly contributes to creating a scary atmosphere for the whole reading.

Unpleasant artistic style, but in line with the narration and characterization of the characters

Edizioni Star Comics has carried out a good job of restructuring the original work, but the main problem that has characterized the manga since its release remains: there are works and manga designed better, at least from the point of perspective view and in the characterization of the environments. In reality, however, precisely this inaccuracy that prevails in all the tables of Phantom Stalker Woman is probably what made it memorable in the landscape of horror manga. In short, the artistic style and the drawings complete and characterize the story very well, adapting perfectly to the context. In addition, the first pages in color allow, at least, to learn more about the background of the characters and the setting.

In the whole story there are not many characters that appear in the manga, apart from the protagonist Hiroshi Mori, a friend, the girl he fell in love with and the mysterious woman, the source of the unrest of the protagonist, of the people close to him and of us readers. In this case we notice a not indifferent problem: due to the short duration of the story and the way the story develops, there is not much of the development of either the protagonist nor of the secondary characters and the antagonist.

When a story is structured like in Phantom Stalker Woman, that is, around vagueness, the characters are essential. Unfortunately, however, the antagonist, the milestone of this work, is disturbing, but never really worries. Even in the scenes where her aggression is shown, she never really looks scary and life-threatening. To be honest, one feels lonely in constant suspense, but never really scared.

The main problem lies in her character design which reinforces her predictability. There has never been a single element that made her more than a human stalker with all the limitations of the case. Sure, she is shown to be an unnaturally tough person with very high athletic ability, but that made her more frustrating than scary. She never pushed the boundaries of expectations, which could make her scary in a realistic sense thinking of Mori as if we were us, but never during the story.

This disappointed us a little as even those few times in which something emerges about the history of the characters' past, such as the antagonist, it does not seem to extend to their personality, their way of approaching and the development of the story itself. In any case, this aspect does not hinder the enjoyment of the manga and also thanks to the simplicity and speed with which the story opens and closes, the latter is not particularly damaged by the lack of characterization of the characters. We would certainly have appreciated it, but the length of Phantom Stalker Woman is perfect for its simple, linear and raw story: neither too long, nor too short, a perfect balance that never bores the reader and perfectly closes all the few threads present. .


In conclusion, although the artistic aspect is visibly anachronistic and is not exactly the brightest example of elegance and pleasure for the eyes to such an extent that a reader may not tire never to watch it (as in the case of other titles of this genre, such as Hideout), there is no doubt that the reading experience is highly functional, intriguing and engaging without ever the risk of getting bored. A constant restlessness that leads the reader to wonder how far the woman wants to go and which leads him to devour Phantom Stalker Woman in no time. Ultimately it is a manga that is appreciated and although it is certainly not something truly memorable due to the same characters practically anonymous throughout the story, it is definitely worth reading if you are a lover of the genre.

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