Jun Hayami's Beauty Labyrinth of Razors has been somewhat of an untouchable, Holy Grail publication for me. It is said that Creation Books released a version of it limited to 69 copies, but I've been unable to acquire it because I refuse to pay the current eBay asking price of $400. My primary objection to handing over four hundred bucks is a story that the work is partially censored for "highly objectionable content". Creation Books has been sheepish about all aspects of the book's release, so the truth of their edition remains elusive.
Fortunately, thanks to the amazing akatako.net, I've finally acquired the original, totally uncut Japanese edition of the book.
Expecting unbridled extremity, I was a little disappointed in the content, but now that I've perused it several times, looking for clues to its infamy, I can confidently say that it is one of the saddest, darkest, most wretched tomes of true horror I've seen in many a blue moon.
It is a collection of close to a dozen tales of heinous behavior directed mostly towards women. Men are depicted as lecherous, foul beasts, and Hayami's world view is bleak and anxiety-ridden. Although the women suffer terribly, the men often end up as crushed, gaping shells of viscera.
Some of the art is detailed and some of it is spare and simple. Various pieces feel like they've been hijacked from Panorama of Hell, Hideshi Hino's earth-shattering last word on grim.
If you've already exposed yourself -- God help you! -- to Japan's Guro genre, some of the content of Razors will not be unfamiliar. Although artists such as Waita Uziga, Horihone Saizou, Kaneyama Shim, and Shintaro Kago have produced equally graphic, incendiary content, few of their works have bled from the soul as furiously as this one (with the exception of the same artist's Maggot Hole, An Ugly Daughter Like Me, and Hentai Shounen.
Sometimes we don't understand why we take the journey, but we are mindful of the need to at least consider what represents a destination.
Not a manga or even Japanese, Joseph Scott Morgan's Blood Beneath My Feet is a fine companion piece to Razors.
Exploring mortality from a coroner's cold perspective, it finds literary salvation in steaming human fluids and splattered DNA.
Morgan writes with the direct poetry of Jim Thompson and the candor of Selby Jr. and Bukowski.