I don’t get scared often, but there’s something about Masaaki Nakayama’s series PTSD Radio that gets under my skin. Maybe it’s how he captures horrible things in everyday moments or how hair seems to be a recurring element in the stories. Or maybe it’s because he’s so good at subtly calming you before a jump scare pops up on the next page. Either way, I continue to enjoy this series, the latest volume of which hit store shelves two weeks ago.
So what’s it about?
The official summary horrifically reads:
Hey……krrrICKek……hey……tchrt…sfff…haaah……plip…Ow!……snap……wooOOohhh……brrk…krak…mrrk……sksh sksh……rstl…DING♪DING♪……plip…plip………ght behi………will die……thud…thud…thud……THOOM…THOOM……Leave your message after the tone………This is AERN-BBC, PTSD Radio. No tuning…necessary.
Why does this matter?
This volume contains an autobiographical account of a terrible personal tragedy of Nakayama’s that nearly killed him. A third of the book is devoted to this real-life story and it adds a different type of element to the horror given that it’s (presumably) real.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The first 109 pages are devoted to 13 vignettes, all creepy in their own right but with a few reoccurring themes thrown in. Figures that characters think are shadows are one recurring story element, though the jump scare is always different. The stories capture fears from being in bed and thinking you see something, to being aware nobody is looking up from their phones to see a giant thing eating people. The tiny frog-like monsters who have come and gone in previous stories make an appearance in this volume, too.
The opening story resonates with me; it focuses on a child who loses an aunt only to have her come back demented and strange. I imagine kids may see parental figures differently under strange circumstances, so the story ends up having a double meaning. Maybe she really is crazy and whispering in his ear when he goes to bed. Or maybe she’s sick and has a disease. Or maybe he just remembers her differently. Or maybe she’s a monster wearing the aunt’s skin. Who’s to know!?
The last 50 or so pages are devoted to Nakayama’s true story that nearly cost him his life. Told over 3 chapters, this story does a good job teasing the reader with horrors Nakayama will not recount, while still slowly shedding light on what was going on the whole time. After losing assistants without a word and getting horribly sick, Nakayama comes to his own conclusions on what was going on and it’s creepy as hell. If you’ve ever been in a room or apartment and felt odd then you’ll relate to this story. There seems to be a lot of evidence as to some kind of apparition haunting Nakayama, though it’s possible it’s all psychosomatic too. The story ends in a way that keeps you wondering, which is a testament to Nakayama’s storytelling ability.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The first 109 pages are good, but there isn’t more than one or two stand-out stories. The god totem that has been appearing here and there in previous volumes gets one short chapter–as if to remind us it’s still going to be in the series–which doesn’t shed any new light and isn’t scary at all. I was actually wondering if this was the weakest volume yet, but once the autobiographical story kicked in I couldn’t tear myself away from this manga.
Is it good?
Another good chapter punctuated with an excellent autobiographical horror story that’ll send shivers down your spine. This is by all means the best ongoing horror manga series, dare I say, ever.