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The Drifting Classroom, Vol. 1 Paperback – August 8, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Horror-manga legend Umezu (Orochi: Blood, Baptism of Blood) can create a sense of dread with just the sheer volume of black ink he puts on the page—white space is at a premium, shading is aggressive, and the result is an ominous atmosphere that affects the reader before the story even begins. Classroom, originally published in 1972,tells the story of sixth-grader Sho, who has a bitter fight with his mother before leaving for school one morning; later that day, his entire school vanishes in a violent earthquake, transported to a mysterious desert. When a girl falls to her death, teachers and students begin to panic. Nerves continue to unravel when the school's inadequate food supply is discovered. Umezu makes powerful use of two-page spreads, devoting many of them to single, large shots—the school building against the desert backdrop, the massive sound effect that accompanies the earthquake, an extreme close-up of a teacher with a head wound—the result is extremely disturbing. This first volume solves few of the plot's puzzles, ending just as the kids are veering into Lord of the Flies territory. This is a great rediscovery of a classic title, echoes of which can be seen in modern horror manga like Dragon Head. (Aug.)
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About the Author

Kazuo Umezu was born September 3, 1936 in Wakayama, Japan. Umezu, who started drawing professionally in the 1950s, is considered the most influential horror manga artist ever. His many horror and sci-fi/horror works include Nekome Kozo ("The Cat-Eyed Kid", 1967-1968), Orochi, The Drifting Classroom (1972-1974), Ultraman (a manga adaptation of the TV series), Senrei ("Baptism"), My Name is Shingo, The Left Hand of God/Right Hand of the Devil, and Fourteen. His popular gag series Makoto-Chan (1976) and Again prove that Umezu is also an accomplished humor cartoonist. (He is also a musician.) Umezu's weird style, incredible ideas and sometimes terrifying imagery have made him a fixture of Japanese pop culture, and his work has been adapted into movies, anime and collectibles.


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Product Details

  • Series: The Drifting Classroom (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: VIZ Media LLC; 1st edition (August 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1421507226
  • ISBN-13: 978-1421507224
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By on November 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
In Japan, Kazuo Umezu is to the horror genre what Stephen King is to it in America. He's a highly respected mangaka and his work has spooked readers for generations. Getting lost in The Drifting Classroom shows why he's so popular.

The Drifting Classroom doesn't start out with horror. It lets the horror tale descend, slowly, gradually. There's no boom where the reader goes, "Oh, that's scary," but instead the creepiness builds up--along with the anticipation.

The main character, Sho, is a sixth grader, but that doesn't mean this series is intended for children. On the contrary, it's aimed at adults. Sho and his mother exchange nasty words when he doesn't get his way, and he runs off to school, threatening never to return.

He doesn't realize he may get his wish.

There's a terrible earthquake of some sort. When it's over, parents and locals rush to the elementary school only to find it is missing.

Meanwhile, the teachers and elementary school students peer out and discover that their school is in the middle of a wasteland. Venturing out, they discover a plaque dedicated to them in honor of their deaths at the school.

But they're not ghosts. A teacher commits suicide, proving they can still die. Another teacher seems to snap, killing other authority figures at the school and going after the children. A deranged deliveryman, desperate to have the food for himself, wields a knife against anyone who challenges him.

Sho is the one who figures out what has happened (or what seems to be the case so far, anyway). Somehow the school has been transported into the future, so far into the future that when they do find plants and animals, these things are unrecognizable to them.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By animate ~ on January 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
Kazuo Umezu is the godfather of horror manga; Junji Ito, Suehiro Maruo and even the great Osamu Tezuka have admitted to being influenced by him at some time. He's legendary in his neighborhood, and thought of as a good luck charm (as told in this books "epilogue"-type ending), and...he's nearly always smiling! After this reading, I'm wondering what it is that he is so in love with.

This is a simple story (so far) that is driven through a tense psychology and plenty of violence (which grows to more, or so I hear). If you're reading this, you're probably already interested and know the story, so I'll skip that. I would like to say that this manga, overall, is a great start, albeit with a few flaws, some of which are hard to overlook.

VIZ publishes well, no doubt. A right-to-left format, as the Japanese are accustomed to, and no noticible censoring (as we're told with the "warning" sticker telling us tha this is intended for mature readers (and it is!)). However, there are a few drawbacks, the most notable being the decision to translate the original sound effects (which are always in katakana) into english (such as ぎゃあ! becoming GYAAA!). Personally, I find it distracting and unauthentic. With most manga these days being presented in the most "Japanese" way possible, its a bit odd to see why VIZ choose to do this, yet try to keep things authentic with the right-to-left format.

Another small complaint is the shading. This publication is over thirty years old, and it shows. VIZ has done a pretty good job of restoring what they can, but the smaller panels here look very, very grainy, which mildly upsets me, because Kazz is a wonderful artist!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Liolania on February 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
I had been reading about Junji Ito, and had read he was inspired to start writing horror manga partially because of reading the works of Kazuo Umezu, when I looked up Umezu on Wikipedia, I found out he wrote "The Drifting Classroom", a manga which I had stumbled upon earlier in the day when I found a list of "must read" horror manga from [...] (a link which now, seems to have vanished), and I figured, well it must be destiny that I read it! I gave up reading manga and horror some time ago, but this was an older manga, from 1975, and I figured I would at least give it a shot.

I am actually surprised by the less then stellar reviews for this manga. I was hooked on this from the get-go, and I suppose this is because unlike many authors who write horror themed manga (especially in pulp horror) there is little to no character development. I am not talking about mangas where there is just a little horror, but ones where the horror is the integral to the storyline. I am guessing part of the lukewarm reception is due to its age, most of the people who seem to read manga have read primarily stuff from the late 80's and up, with the exception of those series which have maintained extreme popularity, such as "Astro Boy".

With that said, I would like to say that I was impressed with the first volume of "The Drifting Classroom", there is a pretty good amount of suspense and mystery surround where and how they are where they are. In the first volume, we do not really see the outside world, except for in the first chapter, so a lot of what has happened and people's reactions are kept hidden, which heightens the tension and suspense.

In a way, this is a lot like an extended episode of Twilight Zone with a good deal of graphic violence.
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