Keeping It Ghastly: Presents Vol 2

“Keeping It Ghastly” is a bi weekly article on Japanese horror comics which have English print editions. Some are from famous authors, others are from unknowns and underground artist circles. Either way, it’s going to be to a terrifying/awesome ride to keep horror manga on our bookshelves!

Happy April Fools day! I have some good news! You don’t need worry bout being good or bad this year. This Christmas Santa Claus is taking on a new policy to just put you out of your misery. You’re welcome.


(Spoilers) Living, laughing, learning, loving was so much more of a hassle before the days when Santa Clause could touch the gift he was about to give you and see a vision of how that toy would be used.


Thank god for Santa. Vindicator of video game violence, slayer of socially stilted stalkers and philandering floozies.


Maybe this is a skill that he’s had all along and after years of painstakingly selecting individualized gifts with the sole purpose of keeping the death tole down. Santa just couldn’t take the grind anymore. Look at the poor man’s pain! New policy: One Toy, One Chance.


Sadly the entirety of Presents vol 2 is not dedicated to the snapping moment of a jolly old elf’s mental breakdown. Kanako Inuki’s anthology has a delightfully weird tone that will make you wonder why you’re laughing. Loosely based around the journey of a little girl named Kurumi on her immortal search for her “birthday present”, Presents vol 2 is a weird mixture of heartfelt and tweaked. While on one hand there’s a genuinely sad story of a latchkey kid at odds with his desire to be an adult versus his wish for his parents, on the other hand the next story is about a girl who wants to be the ideal princess so she puts herself through a comical body modification routine. Inuki’s just all over the place.

The artwork looks like someone took your grandmother’s Precious Moments figurines and threw then into the oven. They come out looking like Mason Verger from Hannibal, but with a nice garlic smell from all the Dominos garlic bread you’ve reheated in there. So you think, eh, maybe suffering their presence won’t be so bad. Inuki’s characters, with their bug eyes and slapstick facial expressions, provide most of the charm of this comic. They start out looking so innocuous and generically shojo that their transition into an advanced state of fear as each story goes on really seems to have provided the author a chance to go nuts.

The jerky motion of Presents vol 2 as it flies from revenge, to tragedy, to comedy is not for everyone. Thankfully Inuki brings it all back to what’s important. The second to last story of this volume is about a man who, too late to reconcile his broken relationship with his wife and children, finds meaning in life by giving out presents to random strangers. Since he robbed his own children of Christmas and Santa Claus, he finds solace in spreading the joy of gift giving.


Awww! Although with Kurumi and Santa just a few chapters earlier huddled together agreeing with each other over Santa’s draconian form of gift giving, all of a sudden calling someone the true Santa Claus sounds a lot less sweet and innocent.



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