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The English language release of the international bestselling Gannibal manga series in limited edition hardcovers!

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Great Gannibal Vol 1 Review - Pre-order Still Open!
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Gannibal Vol 1: Slow Burn Horror That Cranks Up Existential Dread

Gannibal Vol.1 is the perfect introduction to more adult horror manga from Japan that's all about slow-burning existential dread.

Published Sun, 07 Apr 2024 11:02:09 -0500 by Adi Tantimedh

  • "Gannibal" offers a realistic, adult horror manga experience distinct from typical anime.
  • Police officer Daigo Agawa faces mounting horrors in a seemingly quiet village.
  • The series blends existential dread with themes of civilization versus savagery.
  • Masaki Minomiya's creation promises a slow burn story unfolding over 13 volumes.

Gannibal is the latest English translation for the under-represented genre of horror manga from Japan that's not about cute, big-eyed teenagers in high school. It's a realistically drawn and naturalistic horror story that has more in common with classic R-rated horror movies than anime or disposable jump-scare soft horror. Creator Masaki Minomiya has said that it was his intention to create an adult tale of creeping horror.

Gannibal: Ablaze Launches Cult Manga Horror Masterpiece in April 2024

He is initially warmly welcomed by the villagers, except for the, you know, pesky bits about his predecessor's disappearing that nobody wants to talk about. Then, an old woman is found horribly mauled to death in the woods. She's the grandma of the village's founding family, the Gotos, weathered hunters who believe it's a bear that must now be hunted and killed since it's gotten a taste of human flesh and will crave more. Officer Agawa joins the hunt for the bear in what becomes a terrifying ordeal that makes us wonder if the Gotos are trying to murder him in a friendly fire "accident" or if it's just a dangerous hazing ritual for the new cop in town. And that's before the first volume of Gannibal is even over!

Gannibal Begins With Disquiet, Then Escalates to Dread

In Gannibal, Daigo Agawa is a police officer from the city who has been recently assigned to the remote mountain village of Kuge to get away from the stress and a possible incident that has traumatized his young daughter into not talking, and he needs to save his marriage and keep his family from falling apart. Kuge would seem to be the quiet, idyllic place where nothing happens, and you can raise a family in peace… except, of course, it isn't. It wouldn't be a horror tale if it was a nice, happy, open, conflict-free place!

The Existential Dread at the Heart of Horror

The nature of the horror in Gannibal is not exactly a big secret – the pun-ridden title tells us exactly what it is before any of it is even revealed in the first volume of the 13-book story. The big question is the "why" and the "how" of it and just how horrific it really might be, and that's the slow burn of the series. There's also a theme of Civilisation versus the Countryside, of "rational order versus pagan savagery," but just how stable is rational order here? Officer Agawa is the perfect hero for this type of horror tale, a man blinded by his own sense of authority who's in denial that he could be in mortal danger from the malice of total chaos and sheer evil. Especially when he doesn't know or care to understand the nature of that evil, which might bring about his downfall; that is the true existential horror at the heart of Gannibal, and why it was a hit in Japan.

Gannibal: Interview with Horror Manga Creator Masaki Ninomiya
11 days ago – Thu, Apr 04, 2024 at 06:09:12 AM

Award-winning horror manga Gannibal is getting published in the US by ABLAZE, and we interview creator Masaki Minomiya about the series

Gannibal is a new horror manga series by Masaki Ninomiya, being published quarterly by ABLAZE. It tells the story of a policeman who moves his wife and young daughter from Tokyo to a remote mountain town, thinking he's gotten away from the violence and crime that threatened to ruin his mental health and destroy his marriage. It's not long before he starts to suspect the town isn't as peaceful or bucolic as he thought when he starts to suspect a prominent family might not only be covering up a crime but might be a cult of cannibals that has been operating for generations. The series has won awards in Japan and has been adapted into a live-action TV series. The first season of the TV series is streaming on Hulu, and a second season has been announced.

We interviewed creator Ninomiya-san about Gannibal as the first volume of the manga has been released, and the first season of the TV series is now complete on Hulu.

On Gannibal's Realistic Approach to Art and Storytelling

Ninomiya-san, congratulations on the English translation of Gannibal and the TV series getting another season. Let's start at the beginning. What was the inspiration behind Gannibal?

In order to make it easier to understand visually, the setting is a closed rural village, but let's try to depict the discomfort felt when an outsider enters a community that has been established not only in the countryside but also in the city. I thought I have had many experiences where I was made to drink because of my friends! As for the story, I was influenced by the movies The Shining and Straw Dogs, but I aimed for the unique grainy screen and gloominess of old Japanese movies.

The manga takes a more realistic approach to storytelling in both art and how the characters behave to establish a more adult type of story. What was behind the decision to tell a more real story as opposed to a more pulpy and cartoonishy style?

Of course, I like manga, but when I got into my 20s, I mainly watched movies, so I think it was inevitable that I started to look more like live-action pictures, and the manga also tended to have more realistic pictures. I think it happened because I liked reading it. I will continue to work hard to create screens that allow you to feel the roughness of body temperature and humidity!

The story contains the theme of the cultural conflict between people from the city who think they're more civilised and people in rural areas who have their own rules and traditions. Can you talk about that constant tension between policeman Daigo, who believes in the need for Law and Order, and the insular attitudes of the Goto Family?  

This time, the composition may have been culturally exclusive, but I think that not only the composition but also the story itself can be born out of conflict, and conflict is fun! It's easy to create expansions! But is it enough to just be in conflict? I think they're just at odds with each other based on their positions, the homes, and the places they were born, but they're not that different in terms of their essential human nature like Daigo, and Keisuke were, for example. This is a very difficult question. Is it okay to say something like this? 😂

On How Movies and TV Series Influenced Gannibal

The manga is a masterclass at slowly unfolding tension and horror. How did you determine the pace and reveals in the story? Did you work with your editor to determine the best way for the story to unfold? 

I wasn't the type of editor who told me to do this or do that, but I was told quite a lot about the pace of the story, such as, "It's too early to take this development forward," or  "On the other hand, there should be another development here." It's no exaggeration to say that the pacing of the beginning was largely created by the partial editors. After things got messy in the second half, not much was said about it! The mess is the best!!

It feels like the manga is more influenced by horror films than other manga. Or were you informed by some classic horror manga and their creators' works? 

As I wrote in the first question, I was influenced by The Shining and Straw Dogs, but I didn't really like horror movies to begin with, or rather, there were too many low-quality horror movies and manga that had a horror theme. If you take your work seriously and it is of high quality, it will be interesting, and you will definitely get noticed! I think that thought was the first impetus for me to draw this manga.

How do you feel about the TV adaptation of the manga and its changes? 

A drama adaptation would greatly increase sales and popularity, so of course, I was happy when it was decided. I am very happy because the quality of the results was high, and the response was very positive. There were almost no changes, but the structure of episode 3 of the drama was changed quite a bit, and it was so good that I felt a little disappointed. I was looking forward to seeing how they would change it, so I wish they would change it more. That's my final impression.

Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity!!

Gannibal Vol. 1 is published by ABLAZE Publishing on April 9th.

If you haven't preordered there's still time!

Another Great Review!
14 days ago – Mon, Apr 01, 2024 at 08:30:40 AM

Manga Review: Gannibal Vol. 1 (2024) by Masaaki Ninomiya

“After the mysterious disappearance of a countryside cop, the role is reassigned to Officer Daigo Agawa. He finds the remote village quaint, and he looks forward to an easygoing post among the warm and welcoming citizenry. Then… He gets a call. The body of a local grandmother has been found. The scene immediately sows doubt for the young policeman. A human bite mark has been left on the corpse, and any voiced suspicion of Agawa's is met with a strange, sudden, and intense hostility. The scene immediately sows doubt for the young policeman. A human bite mark has been left on the corpse, and any voiced suspicion of Agawa's is met with a strange, sudden, and intense hostility. Something dark is lurking under the idyllic facade of the charming mountain village. But can Officer Agawa spare himself and his family from it?” (Ablaze Publishing)

There's something sinister going on in Kuge Village. Yet, despite the whispers and his predecessor's mysterious disappearance, Officer Daigo Agawa chooses to accept the open position there anyway. It's the kind of arrogant decision that leads to dire consequences in Masaaki Ninomiya's supernatural horror thriller “Gannibal.” Easily one of the more unsettling horror mangas of the last few years; it's exciting to see a series with such a captivating story and great art getting an English release.

In an era where zombie and body horror have never been more popular, “Gannibal” stands out as a distinctive take on the genres. From the opening pages, Ninomiya begins to paint a vivid picture of the Kuge Village dynamics and the strange veil that appears to shade the residents to the antics of its most suspicious family, the Gotos. While it's clear to both the readers and Daigo that there's more to his new assignment than meets the eye, the mangaka makes sure to weave just the right amount of action, gore, and mystery throughout every scene to maximize the suspense and keep readers wondering just who, or what, the real villain is. It creates the type of ominous, foreboding tone that keeps you consistently turning the page for more without relying on overutilized scare tactics or unsatisfying reveals. Like most genuinely captivating horror stories, every moment, act, and outcome answers just enough questions to keep you invested without giving everything away at the same time. There are no wasted interactions or jump scares just for the novelty of it. 

One of the many things that makes “Gannibal” an enjoyable read is the ever-increasing tension and the notion that something terrible could happen at any time. However, just because there's fun in waiting for things to happen doesn't mean that nothing ever does. The manga contains plenty of stand-offs among characters and even animals that help to keep the plot pushing forward. In the beginning, before viewers begin to see the broader picture, some of the altercations can feel unrelated or disconnected from the plot, especially if you think you've already guessed what's truly going on. Luckily, Ninomiya seems especially skilled at subverting expectations and connecting seemingly random coincidences. It all comes together in the last few chapters. “Gannibal” is the kind of wild ride that fans who love guessing or theorizing will find intriguing. 

While action and plot are essential for any horror manga, the visuals are the most make-it-or-break-it aspects. They generally set the tone for the manga, and the ones in “Gannibal” are no different, adding to the fun but anxiety-inducing experience of reading it firsthand. The opening pages stand out immediately, as readers will notice they're shaded differently than the remainder of the volume. The broad, watercolor-like brushstrokes are a unique choice that pays off well, adding a smokey, unnerving feel to the introduction that is sure to intrigue readers enough to continue. 

Although the style changes slightly after the introduction, it remains compelling and fits the story well. The sketchy technique Ninomiya employs, combined with the attention to detail, is especially prevalent in the scenery designs, characters, and even corpses. The line work and shading are almost unsettling, as if intentionally half-finished to convey a certain level of unease, especially when a character is placed against an all-white backdrop. At times, some of the body-focused panels could benefit from some extra shading for the sake of creating a more discernable contrast against the background. Still, Ninomiya's art is perfect for the story, as it feels as though every line is strategically etched to create the most distress possible. 

While most seasoned horror fans will find even the more grotesque panels tolerable and mesmerizing in their own right, younger fans, those newer to the genre, or those looking for more spooks than gore, may find some of the especially detailed panels a bit gruesome. 

In a world where horror is often overlooked, Masaaki Ninomiya's “Gannibal” offers a unique addition to the genre that leaves a lasting impression and highlights how effective well-written scary stories can be. It delivers everything a potential reader would want and expect while going above and beyond in art and suspense. It's the kind of manga fans will want to read multiple times just to see if they missed any clues the first time around.

If you haven't preordered there's still time!