I really enjoyed the first volume of Junji Ito's horror title Gyo, so the second and final volume of the series had a lot to live up to. I actually read the first volume of Ito's more well-known horror title Uzumaki years ago and wasn't very impressed, so the first volume of Gyo came as a pleasant surprise. It's a very creepy story of a young couple in Japan who are terrorized as fish begin to walk out of the ocean. Unfortunately the final volume moves the book into The Drifting Classroom territory: a lot of screaming, over-the-top events, and horrifying monstrosities chasing down the protagonists. It's such a shift in tone that it feels like a completely different book altogether, and not in a good way. As the fish rot away, humans and animals take the place of the marine life on their walking machines, tubes unceremoniously placed in their mouths and butts to extract the gas given off by a germ they are infected with, to power the machines. And don't even get me started on the ridiculous antics of the Death-Stench Circus. It was a joke, a horrible choice by the creator to try to give some further explanation to what was going on, particularly to the threat of the silly gaseous phantoms released by the infected. This felt like a complete slap in the face after reading the first promising volume, where everything that been built so hauntingly takes a turn for the worse, opting for grossing out the reader rather than frightening them.
The highlight of this book is actually one of the two bonus stories at the back of the book. The first short story is The Sad Tale of the Principal Post, an unremarkable four-page account of a man who gets stuck under the principal post of his family's house and decides to heroically stay in his position to keep the house intact. Weird. The second tale is The Enigma of Amigara Fault, where an earthquake uncovers a fault line in the earth with human-shaped holes. It's really kind of creepy as people are drawn to the holes and insist that certain holes are perfect silhouettes of themselves that they're meant to walk into, despite the fact that nobody knows what awaits them inside. The little part of me that's claustrophobic cringed during this story. A good note to end what was overall a disappointing reading experience.