Dark Gathering GN 1

Darkish Amassing GN 1

I anticipated reading a somewhat lighthearted novel with an edgy, dark aesthetic when I saw a cute little girl with skulls in her eyes on the cover of this volume. I read something that reminded me of a Junji Ito narrative mixed with a supernatural action series, so I could not have been more mistaken! Okay, so maybe that’s a bit extreme, but believe me when I say that I didn’t anticipate being so horrified and repulsed by Dark Gathering. Don’t be fooled, this surprise isn’t a drawback; in fact, the fact that this story managed to really unnerve me is perhaps the highest compliment I can offer it given that it seemed to be the plot’s purpose from the start.

That is mostly determined by the aesthetic and presentational elements of the book. Dark Gathering makes up for the fact that most of the character designs, with the exception of our mascot Yayoi, can come off as pretty generic by featuring some eerie and bizarre ghostly experiences. The artwork depicts some shockingly realistic acts of body horror, such as hands with exposed nerve endings and one of our leads almost drowning due to hair being stuck in his throat, and can get surprisingly detailed when it wants to. Because of the blood that was revealed and what was being done to some of the people, many incidents are depicted in such a visceral way that I actually winced after flipping some pages. Additionally, despite the fact that many of the character designs are somewhat simple, several of the characters’ facial expressions contributed to their lasting influence.

His visuals aided in conveying a brutal and guttural tone. This is a brutal narrative with characters almost dying from being strangled, blood being shown quite carelessly, and everyone presenting themselves with this surprisingly subtle feeling of twisted malice. Don’t be fooled by the cute girl with the skulls in her eyes. This is a book where characters can make fun of a young girl wooing an adult while punishing an evil spirit with severe pain in another scene using the same young girl. Even though each chapter closes with a sort of outtake gag, this can cause some emotional whiplash, but it’s not nearly as bad as I anticipated because the tone never feels too lighthearted. The main points of interest in this narrative are Yayoi’s determination to exact revenge on the spirit that abducted her mother and Keitarou’s unfavorable involvement in it.

Dark Gathering’s ability to strike a balance between making the characters likable and still having me genuinely terrified of what they are capable of is actually arguably its greatest strength. Whether it’s how far Yayoi will go to achieve her goals, how Keitarou truly feels about all the supernatural stuff he attracts, or how Eiko seemingly allows all of this violent stuff to happen around her, there is this air of mystery surrounding what everyone’s intentions are when it comes to the supernatural. The book does cheat a little bit with some of its narrative revelations by intentionally leaving some character names out of certain passages when there is really no other purpose for doing so than to set up a dramatic revelation later on. However, aside from that, I was pleasantly impressed by the story’s ability to engage me on a number of levels in a natural way.

Unexpectedly, Dark Gathering was enjoyable. Due to my own aversion to body horror, I don’t always gravitate toward works in the horror category, so I’m not sure how quickly I’ll start reading the second volume when it’s out. However, the fact that I found it difficult to put the book down once the tone became clear speaks much about how captivating the narrative was. The book’s sense of style and eerie atmosphere felt justified, even though I do believe that several narrative points should have been revealed a little more naturally. A book that had me on the edge of my seat in all the greatest ways was created when you combine this with characters whose motivations actually made me wonder.

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