Welcome to Spiral into Horror, a new series where I write about horror manga, an obsession of mine. This will involve every genre of horror that ranges from comically bad to brilliantly weird.
Title:Fuan no Tane
English Title:Seeds of Anxiety
Type of Manga:Anthology
Horror Genre(s):Psychological, Body
Fuan no Tane or Seeds of Anxiety by Nakayama Masaaki is a collection of very short stories about ghosts, creatures and other horror themes. The stories are not really stories so much as introductions to potential tales. They are usually less than 10 pages and average about five, but they do manage to be interesting, not despite their short length but because of it.
It’s an odd way to do an anthology, but I like it. There were moments where I was disappointed that there wasn’t a full story and there were ones I thought were stupid. As a whole, the collection is decent, but with any anthology you’re going to have some duds.
The format also makes the whole thing feel more unsettling since some stories go further than others, so occasionally there will be unexpected detail in a story or a more active monster than most of the stories up to that point.
Most of the stories focus on creatures or ghost-like beings, but vary slightly on the type of horror. Sometimes it’s unsettling weirdness, others it’s about being stalked by an unknown entity and occasionally violent monsters. Generally, however, the violence is only implied or is left to the imagination.
There are three volumes of Fuan no Tane fully translated into English and a few chapters from a fourth are also available. Each of the books are divided into chapters by the theme of the contained stories. One centers around schools, another focuses on protagonists being followed by something and another is about “invaders” into the homes or lives of the protagonists.
Given how many stories there are across all the volumes, some repetition is, unfortunately, inevitable. Fuan No Tane has a bad habit of reusing the idea of a monster that looks human except for something odd about the face, such as it missing, or not having a mouth, or having giant eyes, or just three holes in the middle of their face.. Some of these do still work, but if you marathon the series it’s a bit repetitive.
The artwork is good. The characters look "realistic" enough and the monsters are usually well drawn, but he relies a lot on very dark shadows like in the header image of this post. I don't really like how the gore looked the few times it was used though. See the bottom of the post for an example, but it didn't look real enough or grotesque enough. The monsters, however, look weird enough that they work well and it doesn't quite follow into the horror manga trap of "everyone is horribly ugly."
While Fuan no Tane is never very scary per se, it is very good at being unsettling. The fact that there is no real conclusion to anything works in many of the stories' cases and there are a few based around one character being the only one who can see the monster, which I'm a big fan of in horror. While some are very silly, the general unsettling feeling sticks with a lot of the stories and, in my opinion, makese decent horror. It's hardly terrifying or a masterpiece, but I'd say it's decent horror.
Overall, Fuan no Tane iis an interesting experiment for an anthology and one that is worth reading. There are some duds and some rather silly ones, but some are creepy and overall it's a fun book. It’s almost like reading the short kind of ghost stories you’d tell your friends as a kid. How you feel about the series comes down to what you think of the format. If the idea of a bunch of 2-8 page stories doesn’t appeal to you, you’re probably not going to enjoy it very much, but I personally found it to be entertaining and would recommend it. It’s not the best, but it’s an enjoyable and different take on horror manga.