“A Knock At My Door” – Zashiki Onna (manga) – 8/10 Snowballs

 

Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways, it can change someone else’s life forever. ~Margaret Cho

Mangaka: Minetaro Mochizuki

Genre: Horror/Psychological/Seinen

Review Status: Complete (1 Volume/1 Volume)

Licensed: No, this manga is unlicensed in the US.

Art: This has the more realistic and slightly ugly look a lot of horror manga seem to take. This is appropriate for the stalker, since she seems to be some sort of otherworldly being. Everyone else looks just a little off, face-wise. Dramatic shading and lots of dark tones suit the story well.

Summary: One night, mild-mannered college student, Hiroshi Mori, bumps into a woman visiting his next-door neighbor. A large, creepy woman, she has long hair, wears a coat and carries shopping bags in both hands. He had never seen her before. But then, without warning, the woman starts stalking Hiroshi, shifting her attention from his next-door neighbor whom she had been visiting to Hiroshi himself. Who is she and what is she after? (MAL.net)

Review: The stalker story has been done many times, and with every redo can feel a little more old and tired. This is a throwback to a more recent past, when stalkers just weren’t taken very seriously (seen merely as overzealous admirers) and throws in a dash of paranoia and supernatural into the mix, creating a simple but effectively frightening story.

This is a story that runs on plot and the psychology of the main character. Hiroshi could be any well-meaning person, who sees someone who looks a little down on their luck and offers to help them out. No one expects their well-meaning to backfire on them, and the events that occur really would frighten anybody- the ways she discovers information on him that he wasn’t giving out hit particularly close to home for this reviewer after a similar event happened to her. He has every right to be paranoid with her insistences on being close and the threats she makes, and the worry that no one really is being bothered by her. He’s ultimately a very sympathetic character. Another thing that was nice was that his friend who ended up mildly involved didn’t dismiss him, and took the threat seriously, even if in the end there wasn’t anything he could do about it.

Zashiki Onna gets the plot rolling immediately and never lets up, throwing the reader into the story and meeting Sachiko from the get-go. Hiroshi’s encounters aren’t immediately dangerous, though there’s a tinge of desperation about the woman as she keeps coming, night after night, and the noises he hears from the apartment she’s trying to get into create an ominous atmosphere. The woman isn’t a normal one, and it’s made clear that it will take unusual measures to be rid of her. Like any good horror story, it gets worse and worse, and things never really get any better for our beleaguered main.

While the manga is showing its age a bit in how the incident is handled at the end, blending fact and fiction, turning real facts into a twisted urban legend, this Zashiki Onna still manages to give the right scares at the right time to make this a good read.

Overall, this is something that digs into the fear of strangers and manages to tell that tale well.

Recommended: 13+. There’s some fighting, involving punches and kicks thrown, but only a little blood is shown. Implied death.

Other titles you might enjoy:

Ibitsu (manga)

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