Philosophical Themes in Uzumaki
Disclaimer: As I am attempting to make some philosophical connections to Uzumaki, there will inevitably some spoilers with regards to the plot. This content is directed toward individuals who are familar with the manga Uzumaki.
Uzumaki, written by Junji Ito, revolves around the citizens of a small Japanese town called Kurozu-Cho as they fall under the curse of the spiral and become obsessed with its form, that is, all things spiral-shaped. It makes its prominence increasingly pronounced until the entire city eventually is overtaken by spirals. By the conclusion of the manga, every aspect of the city, including its citizens, become indistinguishably joined together in the center of a huge spiral. Every being is intertwined together into one whole when the spiral is finally complete.
In a rather twisted way, I believe that this can be related to the idea of Taoism. The Tao refers to “the one” or “the way”, and its fundamentals lie in perceiving the universe as being whole. This story, seemingly filled with bizarre occurrences without any real purpose could hint at the journey of this town and its citizens to return back to their rooks in the “City of Spirals” where there are no existing individual parts and every aspect of the town is united. The influence of the spiral seems to induce a desire in its citizens, urging them to return to the spiral. The spiral is beyond the realm of reason and logic, and instead lies intrinsically within the intuition of people.
Taoism can be related to the idea that human instincts are passed on throughout the history of human civilization. It is human nature that individuals possess the desire to belong to a larger group, to feel a sense of belonging. These citizens, who are introduced as individuals, become something significantly larger than the mere sum of their parts when combined together and displaying a singular collective consciousness.
On a similar note, the curse of the spiral can be related to Laozi’s observation of nature being in a constant state of flux and change. Here is a glimpse into the last few lines of the manga:
And with the spiral complete, a strange thing happened… Just as time had sped up when we were on the outskirts, in the center of the spiral it stood still. So the curse was over the same moment that it began, the endless frozen moment that I spent in Shuichi’s arms. And it will be the same moment when it ends again… when the next Kurozu-Cho is built where the ruins of the old once lay; when the eternal spiral awakes once more.
Here we see that the spirals are an eternal being that continuously comes and goes with time, constantly changing only to return back to the starting point. With the spiral finally complete, there is a period for reconstruction of civilization until the spiral manifests itself once again.
No element is permanent or dominant in time, such as the yin-yang where there are two dynamically opposite forces that are both interdependent and complimentary. On one side exists the spiral in its mysterious and unfathomable form, taking on a destructive role, and on the other lies the side of human civilization as it follows the ambition of reconstruction and creation. Throughout the passage of time, there will be a deep pattern throughout the course of reality, with at one instant in time the spiral taking the foreground and devouring human civilization until this element reaches its full strength, then declining and allowing human civilization to flourish once more. Both sides give and receive and represent the endless cycle of change.
And there we have it. While Uzumaki is an enjoyable horror manga on its own, I hope this analysis presents with you some unique views on how some well-known philosophical ideas can permeate through to the entertainment world and make for this enjoyable albeit peculiar experience. Thanks!