Seeds of Anxiety Review

Seeds of anxiety (Faun no tane)

  • Story and art by Masaaki Nakayama
  • Yet to be published in english
  • Published in Japanese by Akita shoten in 2004 (3 volumes)

Synopsis:

Faun no Tane is a three volume horror series primarily comprised of short vignettes. These stories explore various urban legends and superstitions, and ultimately their effects on surrounding characters.    

After hearing about this piece, I was quite intrigued. Instead of creating a coherent story, Nakayama only utilises around ten pages to create multiple sub-plots throughout the manga, most of which are completely unrelated. I appreciated the concept; the author tried to make a short story that is just as engrossing as a longer series. If Nakayama was able to engross the reader in only a handful of pages, within minutes take these characters away, and repeat this process over and over again, the reader would experience intense emotional trauma. After reading thirty pages (equivalent to 3 stories), the reader would be emotionally drained from their experiences. A work like that would have explored the parameters of not only the medium, but of contemporary story telling. Unfortunately, this piece does not accomplish its goal.

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There is not much of a storyline in this manga, which is to be expected, as it is comprised of multiple short stories. However, what little storyline that could be discerned in each piece became a repetitive trope in each story. Though a weak story line on its own can be forgiven if other elements, such as suspense, are emphasised, there was no development of characters, and as such I had no reason to fear for any of their lives. It was also too quick for an atmosphere to be built, making some climaxes almost tedious, as opposed to shocking. It should be noted that some vignettes were designed to be like this; just random reflections that end in some ghoul popping out. However, due to its formulaic set up, not much can be said for its scare factor.

However, this piece did live up to its name. Each story did make me feel slightly anxious. Though it wan’t powerful enough to evoke panic attacks, each story made me feel uncomfortable enough that the feeling stuck with me throughout the entire manga.

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This manga’s saving grace is its art. Even when endings where predictable, genuinely disturbing art made up for it. Some stories I found hard to get through, but when I reached the end some piece of art or creature drawn gave me goosebumps. As I’m writing this, I’ve looked up art from the manga to refresh my memory, and without context they are all still genuinely disturbing. There were some very uniquely drawn monsters that tap into many of my fears. I was interested to research some of these creatures to see whether or not they were monsters created by the author or part of Japanese folklore. I think that if my knowledge of Japanese myths was more advanced, maybe some of these stories would have had more of an effect on me. 

I also appreciate that it employed the technique of  ‘show don’t tell’ . While a lot of the time it made me more confused, a few stories made me pause to think about what just happened, and how its motive could be applied to the outer world it was created in. 

Overall, Faun no Tane is a quick little read, with great art, scary creations and an ambitious story telling style, but no grasping features meant that I forgot it relatively quickly. Its eerie atmosphere, however, did leave me unsettled for a while after finishing it.

Art – 8

Story – 7

Writing – 6

Overal – 7/10

Image Sources: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Manga/FuanNoTane, http://www.bogleech.com/halloween/hall12-fuan.html, https://www.tumblr.com

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