Story and art by Masaaki Nakayama
Yet to be published in english
Original Publisher: Akita shoten (2003)
You cannot help but be intrigued when you find pieces that attempt to convey horror within a matter of seconds. Through this series, creator Masaaki Nakayama seems to say that he doesn’t need an overarching plot to keep his readers engrossed in his stories. If successful, capturing the reader in only a handful of pages, using the art of abruption to dismantle the reader’s expectations and consistently repeat the process, an emotionally draining experience would be created. A work like that would not only challenge the parameters of the medium, but of contemporary story telling in the horror genre. Unfortunately, this piece does not (consistently) accomplish this goal.
Seeds of Anxiety (Faun no Tane) is a three-volume horror series comprised of short vignettes. These stories explore various urban legends that pose a threat to our contemporary lifestyle. We are led to believe that, while these creatures may not always be present, their existence should never be forgotten.
While it’s to be expected that there is no overarching storyline, the tales explored within each vignette also lack depth. Without a substantial plot, the structure of each story is exposed, and recycled every second or third story. Though strong characters and suspense can compensate for a weak storyline, it’s the creatures Nakayama conceptualises that remain the focal point of each tale. There isn’t enough time for atmosphere to be built, or for characters to be developed, and so these “urban legends” provide the basis for our reading experience. And unfortunately, the writing isn’t effective in establishing them.
Each story is told in the form of character narration, though each human character is just a proxy for whatever supernatural entity they are exposed to. They are only useful insofar as they will elicit a reaction to something strange in their environment. It must be noted that their generic nature does allow the reader to place themselves into the situation more easily, which can validate their lack of development, but climaxes are still cheapened by predictable endings.
Yet, I couldn’t help but feel anxious. There were no moments powerful enough to evoke panic, but my anxiety progressively worsened as I continued to read. The predictability began to work in its favour, creating a feeling of helplessness within me, as I knew I couldn’t change the fate of these characters.
This piece‘s capacity to evoke emotions comes from its art. Even with lacklustre endings, genuinely disturbing illustrations are able to yank the reader away from tedium. Nakayama is able to tap into some pervading fears within society, and manifest the terror around us in disturbing ways. The employment of minimalist writing also mitigated the effects of this manga’s weakness, allowing the reader to appreciate the fearful nature of the artistry.
Faun no Tane is a quick read, and I’d recommend experiencing it for the art alone. Unfortunately, that might be all you’ll find, as no grasping features make each story easily forgettable. But I’d be lying if I said that some of these creatures, and the evils they represent, haven’t left me unsettled long after finishing it.
Art – 8
Story – 6
Writing – 5
Overal – 6.5/10