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Manga / Dissolving Classroom

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Gonna need a mop for this one.

Dissolving Classroom is a horror manga by Junji Ito.

Yuuma Azawa and his little sister Chizumi are not normal. Yuuma spends his time apologizing to almost everyone around him and Chizumi creeps out everyone who encounters her. What no one knows, usually until it's too late, is that they harbor dark secrets that make them a deadly menace to everyone around them, and a string of horrifying incidents sets them on the move.

This manga provides examples of the following:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • In "Dissolving Classroom", Yuuma says that his parents were cruelly strict with him when he was young, and that he relieved the stress from this by killing small animals. Later on, Chizumi shows Keiko their severed heads and reveals that Yuuma killed them as a sacrifice to the devil.
    • In "Dissolving Apartment", Yuuma's parents (who seem to have come back to life somehow) are heard by the neighbors cursing and beating the kids. Eventually Chizumi reveals that Yuuma drags their parents' souls back from hell and reanimates their bodies, but they inevitably melt again.
  • Ambiguously Evil: The manga provides equal amounts of evidence to support both the idea that Yuuma is an Anti-Villain who is genuinely disgusted and terrified by the influence that the devil has over himself and his sister and the idea that he's a depraved and despicable devil worshiper who only feels true pleasure when he's channeling the devil's power through his apologies and simply puts on a Mask of Sanity to make doing that easier.
  • Ambiguous Innocence: Chizumi asserts that Yuuma is addicted to apologizing to other people due to it bringing him closer to the devil. Yuuma always immediately denies this whenever he's around to hear her... only to begin apologizing for his sister's strange behavior to whoever she was speaking with. Overall, it's unclear whether Yuuma is an unwilling victim of the devil's power, or a genuine sociopath who consciously goes out of his way to kill as many people as he can.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Keiko survives her first encounter with the siblings, but she sustains brain damage that leaves her unable to talk.
    • The fate of the melted victims, who seem to possess or inhabit their liquid remains...which Chizumi drinks.
  • Animated Actors: The brief epilogue chapter features Yuuma and Chizumi out-of character, apparently having been played by actors the whole time, to spell out the paranoia and allegory fueling the manga.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Chizumi is an extremely twisted example, as her "annoying" behavior towards her older brother consists of (very likely truthfully) telling others about how he made a pact with the devil and kills for fun.
  • Apologetic Attacker: In a way, although the attacks themselves are apologies. Yuuma apologizes constantly, which only does harm, but it appears there is genuine remorse behind them...but this is because he's speaking to the devil, whom he may deeply regret getting involved with.
  • Apologizes a Lot: Yuuma spends a great deal of time loudly and profusely apologizing to people, which causes his classmates to think he's strange and bully him, and just confuses everyone else. These apologies, however, are a conduit of Satanic power that melts the people who hear them. If Chizumi is to be believed, he's addicted to apologizing because it feeds his obsession with the devil and gives him pleasure.
  • Artifact Title: Only the first chapter takes place in a classroom, though there's still plenty of dissolving in the later ones.
  • Bait the Dog: Yuuma is a polite, handsome, well-behaved and earnest young man who apologizes to everyone he meets over the smallest things. He also has the power to melt peoples' bodies simply by talking to them and may or may not be a devil worshiper who gets off on doing it.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Yuuma is a well-mannered and polite guy who apologizes for even minor screw ups constantly... but his apologies are exactly what cause him to be able to make everyone he meets melt.
  • Body Horror:
    • The reader is slapped with it just by the cover and it never gets better, as people melting is a common theme throughout the manga.
    • In a different sense, the fates of the girls Yuuma compliments, as they become much uglier and also begin losing their humanoid form once it goes on long enough.
  • Brown Note: The dark energy produced by Yuuma's apologies causes people's brains to melt, and eventually dissolves their entire bodies into goop.
  • Butter Face: Both Nao, the protagonist of chapter 2, and her friend Maiko become extreme versions of these as a result of being complimented by Yuuma. While they retain the slim and attractive figures of beautiful young women, their faces melt and deform into truly terrifying shapes. It gets so bad that Nao's parents start to think that she has developed some kind of severe carcinoma.
  • Can't Stand Them, Can't Live Without Them: Yuuma is constantly exasperated by Chizumi's meddling, and, by the later chapters, openly calls her a monster. Despite this, he goes out of his way to take her with him whenever he's forced to go on the run, and seems to hold himself responsible for her deranged personality to a certain degree. Of course, if we're to believe both Chizumi's claims that Yuuma is a devil worshiper and Yuuma's claims that Chizumi is the devil's spawn, there might be more to it than simply brotherly attachment.
  • Coy, Girlish Flirt Pose: Chizumi dons this when around her crush Tomohito. Naturally, it's much scarier than it is cute.
  • Creepy Child: Chizumi, who accosts strangers and wants to eat their brains.
  • Deal with the Devil: According to Chizumi, Yuuma sacrificed their parents to the devil. Yuuma himself, however, continuously denies it as being true. What happened is never made exactly clear, but the devil definitely has some kind of power in them, as Keiko sees the devil through both Chizumi and the man who brings her to the press conference in the final chapter.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Yuuma doesn't exactly make a great case for himself when arguing against Chizumi's claims that he uses his brain-melting apologies for his own pleasure, as he always starts apologizing to whoever she was speaking to for her strange behavior. Naturally, this is generally when people start running from him.
  • Downer Ending: While Yuuma and Chizumi are implied to have been killed by the animated liquid remains of their victims, and thus their souls are now in hell, thousands (if not millions) of people are implied to have been killed by watching the news feed of the press conference and hearing Yuuma's apologies.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: No false advertising here. There are people in a classroom, and they dissolve.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Yuuma is a handsome, polite and well-behaved young man who (according to Chizumi) killed both of his parents as blood sacrifices to the devil and goes out of his way to melt the brains of everyone that he speaks to because it makes him feel closer to his dark master.
  • Facial Horror: The inevitable fate of girls who hear Yuuma praise their beauty long enough is to have their faces distort in monstrously ugly ways. As he's actually praising the beauty of the devil, it's likely a variant on the melting power of his apologies.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The devil, who never takes a direct hand in the manga's events but is Yuuma's apparent object of admiration and worship, appears to be allowing Yuuma to channel his power through Yuuma's apologies, and who possessed (or is at least inside) the reporter who brings Keiko to the press conference in the final chapter.
  • Hearing Voices: The final chapter reveals that Yuuma is often kept up at night by the voices of his victims reminding him of what he did to them.
  • He Knows Too Much: Tomohito survives his encounter with Yuuma and Chizumi unharmed, but when the media go after the siblings, he is found murdered before he can provide any information.
  • Homeless Hero: For a certain value of 'hero', anyway. By the final chapter, Yuuma and Chizumi are forced to live out of a tent in the woods due to having had to leave their previous address on short notice after getting tracked down by a reporter.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Chizumi's first appearance has her stating that she's going to eat Keiko's brains. Later on, it's revealed that she enjoys drinking the liquified bodies of Yuuma's victims.
  • I'm Melting!: With rather horrific detail to boot.
  • Kick the Dog: The Devil makes sure that Keiko is there to watch while Yuuma does a public apology on national television. He revels in her helplessness, giving a Slasher Smile.
  • Lethally Stupid: The journalist tracks down Yuuma and confronts him for his curse. He demands that Yuuma give his side of the story, or he will out the guy and his sister. The two have no choice but to comply. This leads to Yuuma taking responsibility for his actions... by apologizing on national television. You can guess what happens. Of course, it makes sense when you learn that said journalist was actually the Devil, wanting a public massacre.
  • Mask of Sanity: Yuuma is much more normal-looking, polite and seemingly kind than his sister is, but he may in fact be much, much worse than her. It's even suggested at a few points that Yuuma is the reason why Chizumi is as insane and corrupt as she is.
  • Mistaken for Disease: As time goes on, characters around Yuuma begin to suffer chronic runny noses and advancing disorientation, initially believed to be caused by a cold or flu infection. It's actually a side-effect of hearing Yuuma's obsessive apologies. For good measure, they're wrong about the symptoms as well: the victims' brains are beginning to melt and pour out of their nostrils.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Yuuma and Chizumi both give multiple explanations for their backgrounds and powers, which always conflict with the other one's story and occasionally conflict with their own previous accounts. In general, Yuuma's explanations play himself up as a victim of supernatural forces beyond his control while Chizumi's portray him as a despicable psychopath.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Yuuma genuinely seems to be remorseful for killing small animals as a child, blaming them for Chizumi's current appearance and behavior. He may also feel this way about his victims, although it's a lot more ambiguous and complicated in that case.
  • New Transfer Student: The manga kicks off with Yuuma transferring into Keiko's class. He immediately apologizes, setting in motion the eventual deaths of everyone there except for Keiko, who escapes with only brain damage.
  • Nightmare Face: Chizumi, with her bulging, starey eyes, Joker-like grin, and enormous tongue. Yuuma says that it's due to her being cursed as a side effect of his killing animals as a child.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: While everyone is relatively normal-looking (until they become disfigured by Yuuma, of course), Chizumi resembles a gremlin. Yuuma claims that she was not always like this, and that her current appearance is the result of being possessed by the spirits of the animals that he killed as a child.
  • Not Quite Dead: The people that get melted into soup don't actually seem to die as a result of it.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Chizumi always seems to appear out of thin air when her victims least expect it, often to frighten them.
  • Oh, Crap!: Keiko has one when she sees the Devil's presence in the reporter. Since she's been rendered mostly mute from brain damage, she can't do anything about it.
  • Paranoia Fuel: invoked Invoked and clearly spelled out by the "curtain-call" epilogue, which makes it clear that the apologetic type is to be seen as a source of fear. Mind that it also calls out insincere apologies, that they have to mean something.
  • Paper Tiger: In contrast to her brother, Chizumi is terrifying to look at and openly threatens to eat the brains of anyone that she talks to. Despite this, she has no supernatural powers of her own, and is more or less harmless so long as she isn't around Yuuma.
  • Pretty Boy: Yuuma is noticeably more attractive than the rest of the male cast, and his looks are one of the first things that women notice about him. This makes it much easier for them to let their guard down when around him.
  • Real After All: Yuuma and Chizumi each claim that the Devil was involved in the other becoming "evil". We don't know how much the Devil is involved but he does orchestrate the massacre at the end of the story.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Yuuma is meek, polite and Apologizes a Lot while Chizumi is rude, aggressive and openly hostile to everyone who speaks with her. Ironically, Yuuma is the one who has the horrifying supernatural powers.
  • The Reveal / The Unreveal: The final chapter manages to do both. On the one hand, it is revealed that the devil did in fact have some kind of presence within both Yuuma and Chizumi. On the other, it does not confirm whether or not Yuuma really was its loyal servant like Chizumi claimed him to be, leaving whether the two were victims of its power or its willing minions unclear.
  • The Sociopath: Yuuma killed small animals as a kid, which is a textbook sign of a sociopath. If we are to believe Chizumi, then all of his polite and meek behavior is merely an act to allow him to kill as many people as he possibly can, which firmly puts him here. Chizumi is also one, as she revels in Yuuma's killings, even if she herself doesn't do them.
  • The Speechless: While Keiko was able to escape the fate of her classmates, her brain is still partially melted and thus she loses the ability to talk. In the final chapter, she finally gets enough of her speech back to scream "STOP IT!" at Yuuma and then immediately liquefies.
  • Supernatural Floating Hair: When Chizumi approaches Keiko in the first chapter, her short hair appears to be run through with an unnatural breeze.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: While Chizumi is an Obviously Evil Creepy Child, Yuuma looks like an entirely Ordinary High-School Student. To make matters worse, since his brain-melting power comes from apologizing, it's impossible to tell whether he's a scared and helpless victim of a terrifying power or a genuine psychopath who lives solely to horrifically kill everyone he meets.
  • Uncanny Valley Makeup: In the fourth chapter, Chizumi wears entirely too much when Tomohito is kidnapped for her. Made even more apparent because she's just a child.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Chizumi insists that Yuuma is a devil-worshiper who is addicted to melting people because it brings him closer to his master. Yuuma insists that Chizumi isn't in the right mind, and seems genuinely remorseful when apologizing to others, making him come off as an unwilling victim of the devil rather than a devoted follower. It's ambiguous which one of the two is telling the truth and which one is lying.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Chizumi was apparently an innocent and well-behaved girl before her parents deaths. Yuuma believes that she was possessed by the vengeful spirits of the animals that he killed as a child, though she may have actually simply been driven insane by seeing her brother murder their parents as sacrifices to the devil. But then, he later also claims that she is the product of the devil sleeping with his mother and that she is inherently evil, which Chizumi herself claims is a lie.
  • Villainous Crush: Chizumi develops a crush on a young boy named Tomohito in one chapter, and Yuuma locks him up in their lodgings to indulge her. While having Chizumi as an admirer is as mentally-scarring as you'd expect, her feelings do appear to be genuine, to the point where she makes a point of stopping Yuuma from apologizing to him so that he won't die. The kid doesn't appreciate it, fleeing as soon as he gets the chance. He finds out that they murdered his parents, so as to cover up his kidnapping.
  • Villain Protagonist: Yuuma kills almost everyone that he speaks with and Chizumi eats their melted remains. Yuuma may or may not be an Anti-Villain depending on how much you believe his innocence.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: The one moment that solidifies neither Yuuma nor Chizumi as redeemable is when they kidnap a boy that Chizumi likes. Yuuma ties him up and allows Chizumi to fondle him. Their previous victims escape from their bottles since they were stored with the boy Tomohito, and order him to use the grease to slip his bonds. He does and runs for his life. The cops reveal that the duo already killed his parents and have long fled. Later, the boy shows up with his throat slit.