The content of these stories is both harrowing and gruesome. Yet its Otsuichi’s ability to navigate the thin line of disturbing and charming that brings the writing into its own.
All six stories in this collection are centred on two teenagers; Boku, a handsome high school student who has an unusual obsession with death, and Yoru Morino, an introverted individual who prefers to keep to herself.
When the two of them strike up an unusual friendship, if that’s even the word for what they have going on here, trouble never seems too far away.
Whether it’s investigating local serial killers, flashbacks to crazed science teachers, or being attacked by raging dogs, there’s always plenty going on.
Each story is tightly packed and often opens with immediate action, be it a stabbing or a kidnapping.
Setting the Tone
My favourite stories here are Twins and Grave.
I won’t talk too much about the former here because it would give too much away. It mostly tells of Yoru Morino’s childhood and why she’s the way she is now. It offers an extra dimension to her character and is much needed. It’s also the most emotional story in the collection.
Grave is my favourite in terms of sheer absurdity. It contains the gritty, outrageous nature that you’d expect to see in gothic horror.
A lonely man constantly digs holes in his back garden to curb his obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, as time progresses, he searches for a more significant fix. His first taste for more is when he befriends a local boy and then tricks him into being buried alive.
Using a bamboo cane between the box underground, and the world above, he can continue to talk to the boy to prolong the feeling of control. And suffering.
I found the characters to be both exciting and unique simply because of their inquisitive nature.
The relationship they have feels natural, given that they’re both loners on the cusp of usual high school social standards. They’re both relatable in their isolation from society, and how they strike up a friendship based on this premise.
I know when I was younger, I found making new friends difficult. I think this was due to my awkward nature and introvert habits. Often you end up bonding with those of a similar guise, meeting people who are equally as introverted.
However, these moments can lead the way to great friendships, as is the case with Boku and Morino.
Goth is a savage rendering of Japanese macabre and out-of-this-world brutality. Not for the faint of heart, this book pushes the limits of human’s capacity for suffering. However, Otsuichi’s beautiful writing keeps it well away from the usual ‘shock for shock’s sake‘ nonsense.
If you’re a fan of horror, especially Japanese macabre, then don’t hesitate to pick this collection up – it’s brilliant.