Junji Ito’s Gyo manga will make you wish you only had to deal with a shark! [Review]

No need to go into the ocean. The sea life has come for you! Pic credit: Junji Ito

Gyo is one of Junji Ito’s long-form mangas and will make you rethink your definition of safe. This article will focus on the manga, as I haven’t watched the OVA version.

Plotwise, you don’t need to worry if you’ve only seen the OVA, but certain characters don’t exist, and Tadashi and Kaori’s roles have been switched. The only characters in both versions are Tadashi, Koori, Tadashi’s uncle, and the circus people.

It’s not just the big fish you need to worry about! Pic credit: Junji Ito

What is Gyo?

Gyo means fish, and VIZ Media’s omnibus edition’s full title is The Death-Stench Creeps Gyo. In Japanese, the title is Gyo Ugomeku Bukimi or Fish: Ghastly Squirming.

But Junji Ito’s inspiration for the manga made me want to read it. He saw Jaws and wondered what would happen if the shark could get you on land!

Gyo is a body-horror/science-fiction nightmare that won’t leave you after you finish reading. Unfortunately, the plot is confusing, and some things aren’t fully explained.

But the ending does leave room for a sequel or spin-off, which I would love to see. The plot focuses on Tadashi and his girlfriend, Kaori.

Tadashi loves scuba diving and brought Kaori with him on a trip to his uncle’s summer house. But things quickly turn for the worse, as a strange fish creature with legs attacks them at the home.

It’s revealed that Kaori has a super-sensitive sense of smell, but she refuses to help Tadashi in any way. Even when a great white shark with legs breaks into the summer house, she expects Tadashi to kill it.

And even once they’ve managed to make it back to Tokyo, their problems are still not over because the fish-walkers aren’t content with terrorizing the coasts. Instead, they’re moving inland, and the entire world is soon at stake.

The problem with Kaori

Junji Ito has created plenty of strong female leads, but the manga version of Kaori is annoying. I didn’t care when she got hurt or turned into a monster, just like the fish walkers.

She constantly put herself in bad situations and refused to take responsibility. However, it turns out that Tadashi arranged the trip because she wanted to go to the ocean.

But she complained about the smell when we were introduced to her. So I wouldn’t recommend Gyo to someone who hasn’t read any of Junji Ito’s works.

Blaming things on germs and viruses will only drive the plot so far, and it doesn’t explain the images in the stench or why the other fish walkers attacked Kaori after her transformation. And there’s the fate of Miss Yoshiyama and Todashi’s uncle.

The manga does a great job of hinting at some plot points without revealing the truth near the end. But I still have questions, and sadly, the OVA doesn’t appear to answer them.

Give Gyo a chance if the idea of Jaws coming after you on land keeps you up at night.

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