Manga / Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show

Midori, a little girl from a run-down family, sells paper flowers in the streets. She wishes that if she makes enough money, she can perhaps join her classmates in the school picnic. Late one night, she returns home to find her ailing mother dead — what's more, rats are gnawing at her private parts. With no one to turn to, she tries the address one customer gave her — and comes to a seedy freak show run by a money-hungry Mr. Arashi. Midori is degraded, brutalised, and forced to perform fetishistic acts on stage, until a midget illusionist comes along and takes Midori under his wings. Will Midori at last find true love and happiness? ... Well, what kind of story you think you're reading, my friend?

Shōjo Tsubaki (少女椿), also known as Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show, is Suehiro Maruo's most famous manga, and the work that has cemented his reputation in the west. A crude but very faithful animated adaptation has been made through the effort of one single person: Hiroshi Harada. 2016 saw to a live-action movie adaption of the story, combining real-life footage with the grotesque and surreal designs of the original manga and cartoon.

This work provides examples of:

  • Art Shift: Midori's fever dream is partly rendered in a rounded, simplistic style common in girl mangas. The shift is quite noticeably disturbing.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: The notorious chicken scene.
  • Break the Cutie
  • Circus of Fear: Especially when the midget illusionist is angry...
  • Downer Ending: Midori and the midget leave the freak show for good. But he is later stabbed to death by the hermaphrodite (who had walked away from the troupe while the other members were waving Midori goodbye) when he went looking for food. An anguished Midori searches for the midget, but when she cannot find him, she believes he abandoned her. She then has a vision of the members of the freak show and the midget laughing at her. This proves to be the last straw for her and she has a vision of herself killing them. She is then left completely alone and despairing, crying all alone. The End.
    • The lyrics of the credits song imply that Midori commits suicide afterwards.
  • Eye Scream: This is by Suehiro Maruo, after all.
  • Flower Motifs: The original Japanese title "Carmelia Girl" comes from a Japanese nursery rhyme, which Midori sings at the onset.
  • Gorn: It is actually quite tame by the standard of Suehiro Maruo.
  • Hermaphrodite: The boy-girl, one of the members of the troupe.
  • Hope Spot: There are two: the first is when a talent scout seeks out Midori; the second when she and the midget leave the freak show for good.
  • Innocent Flower Girl: Midori almost qualifies, if not for the thing she does to Mr. Arashi.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Snake Woman is cruel to Midori, but when other members want to lay hands on Midori, she stands out for her. Indeed, most people in the troupe are not irredeemably evil; their hearts are merely hardened by the harsh circumstances.
  • Kick the Dog: Literally: not only kicked, but stepped on and cooked.
  • Master of Illusion: Masamitsu the midget.
  • Parental Abandonment: Midori's father has walked out of the family long before the story starts.
  • Public-Domain Character: The story is actually just one of many variations of the stock character of "The Carmelia Girl", where the girl is sold into the circus by her parents and suffers all sorts of inconveniences there.
  • Rape as Drama
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: The reason for the Downer Ending.