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Gyo is a Seinen horror manga by Junji Ito, also known for creating Uzumaki and The Enigma of Amigara Fault (which, incidentally, is an extra story in the back of the second volume).

During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army commissioned a secret experiment to create biological weapons. The end result - a deadly bacteria that infected corpses and released nauseous gases, and a walking mechanism fueled by these gases, for the purpose of spreading infection. This plan was averted when the ship carrying the bio-weapon was sunk by American bombers during the war - but the bio-weapon remains active, infecting the sea life and spreading back into Japan in the form of what appears to be undead walking fish.

It gets worse.

An animated OVA for the story was released on February 15, 2012 by Ufotable. There are some artistic liberties with the OVA story, such as Kaori becoming the protagonist, as well as new side characters to boot.

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Trailer for the OVA can be viewed here.


Gyo contains examples of:

  • An Arm and a Leg: Tadashi's uncle is forced to cut off his left arm when it gets caught by the walking machine he was studying. Tadashi also almost loses his foot when he steps on an open walking machine, which causes him to be more careful while walking around.
  • And I Must Scream: The victims of the walking machines may still be conscious. Kaori is conscious enough to recognize Tadashi, mistake him for being with Ms. Yoshiyama when she seems them holding each other, activate her machine so she can try to kill them, and reach out for Tadashi when she gets killed by the other walkers.
  • Ass Shove: One of the rare examples played entirely for horror, without a single hint of humor. The pipes in the walking machine shove themselves into the mouth and anus of their host, as the machine is powered by the gas emitted by the germs in the body. It happens when infected humans get wired into the walking machines.
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  • Body Horror: Those infected with the gas become bloated and covered in boils. A particularly gruesome moment as a result of the walkers comes when Yoshiyama tries to remove the tubes from Kaori's mouth. Her lips instead stretch when the tubes are pulled, and her mouth is visibly irritated once Yoshiyama gives up, making it clear that these machines integrate and become irremovable.
  • Body of Bodies: Something like this becomes a commonplace sight, with larger fishes' emptied walkers taking on many human bodies to continue powering them.
  • Brick Joke: The first walking fish is smashed and bagged, but its bacteria keeps producing enough gases to make it float to the mainland.
  • Cassandra Truth: The fact that Kaori goes into full-blown fits over a scent only she can smell doesn't help.
  • Circus of Fear: The setting of the penultimate chapter. Yes, there are clowns.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The circus master's interpretation of the gas is that it is coming from (or at least controlled by beings from) another world, which would definitely put the story in this genre. However, there are also other explanations offered up for the gas, of considerably more mundane origin, and it's never made clear who's right.
  • Creepy Uncle: Tadashi's uncle, also a Mad Scientist.
  • Depopulation Bomb: The death stench is theorized to have been developed as a weapon for war. It certainly succeeds in decimating the population, but it's under nobody's control.
  • Devoured by the Horde: Tadashi nearly becomes a victim of this when he lands on a huge group of undead tiny fish and goes unconscious. However, he is rescued offscreen.
  • Downer Ending: Apart from Tadashi meeting up with La Résistance, it's a total downer. Kaori is killed by the other walking machines and apparently incinerated (although Tadashi notes that this is a Mercy Kill), Tadashi's uncle is revealed to have attached himself to his own walking machine and forces Ms. Yoshiyama to join him and they fly off to destinations unknown, and the future is bleak besides Tadashi and the other immune survivors vowing to find a way to put an end to the catastrophe.
    • The OVA tries to make the ending even worse by showing scenes of the infection in different countries, a clear sign that unless an immunity is developed, most of humanity is pretty much screwed.
    • Unlike the manga, the OVA implies that there is an organized effort by the Japanese government (or its remnant) to evacuate the survivors from Japan, or at least from Tokyo. Similar evacuation efforts may very well be taking place in other countries. Also, the internet is shown to be still functional when Tsuyoshi uploads the plague data.
  • Dramatic Irony: When Tadashi and Ms. Yoshiyama discover Tadashi's uncle attached to a walking machine and he goes after them, they wonder if it's because he's still conscious and thinks they're romantically involved, they try to explain to him that they're not. When this fails (it's unclear if he couldn't hear them or if that wasn't the problem), Kaori sees Tadashi and Ms. Yoshiyama holding each other (in fear) and makes the assumption they made about Tadashi's uncle, leading to her reactivating her walker and attempting to kill them.
  • Editorial Synaesthesia: Stink lines. These later segue into visible gas, downplaying the device.
  • Everybody Dead Dave: Tadashi is the only named character we know for sure survives.
    • In the OVA, Kaori is this.
  • Evil Smells Bad: Basically what the story is about, with basically the scent itself being the evil.
  • Evil Uncle: More like callous and really crazy uncle.
  • Fanservice: Though it somewhat serves a purpose to the plot (washing the smell away), Kaori's shower scene in the first chapter is one of Junji Ito's very, very rare examples (possibly the only example) of nudity that seems partially meant to be eye-candy and not just horrifying. The shower scene is also used to implied that the zombie fish is around, though, but that isn't too scary, at least not more scary than other scenes. This unique case of fanservice is probably due to the quite light-hearted start of the manga. The OVA also has its share of the shower scene as well.
  • Fan Disservice: When the Death Stench starts to infect humans some chapters later, there is again a lot of nudity, also of Kaori, but this time, it certainly isn't played for fanservice, as the effects make all those affected bloated and covered in boils. The term Squick only scratches the surface...
  • Fate Worse than Death: Ignoring the physical Body Horror for a bit, the bacteria slowly paralyses the victims' muscular and nervous systems, keeping them vegetative but very much alive. Kaori is even conscious enough to reactivate her walker and try to Murder the Hypotenuse.
  • Fog of Doom: Due to the threat being a gas, it envelops the setting pretty quickly.
  • For Science!: The apparent motivation for Tadashi's uncle improving upon the design of the old, rusted mechanical legs and constructing the two prototype walkers. What exactly he planned on doing with them is a mystery for the ages.
  • Ghostapo: A variation; the gas is implied to be somehow related to the horrific biological warfare experiments conducted by Japan during World War II, and possibly controlled by the spirits of people killed by them. This, oddly enough, makes Gyo one of the few works of Japanese fiction to address Japan's wartime atrocities.
  • Hot Scientist: Ms. Yoshiyama. Enough that Kaori gets jealous and murderous, despite being taken over by the gas and put in a walker.
  • Just Before the End
  • La Résistance: In the form of a group of immune students from Kyoto University, who are studying the disease with the intention to create a vaccine.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When Tadashi discovers that the walkers are now using humans, he calls out a soldier who is firing at these human walkers because he's murdering them. The soldier tells him that he has to because they're monsters. Considering that Tadashi later discovers while trying to free Kaori that at the moment, it would be immensely difficult or even outright impossible to remove the machines without greatly harming the host (or harming the people helping them), the soldier has a point.
  • Karmic Death:
    • The soldier who shoots at the legged machines driven by human bodies, and then gets impaled by one.
    • In a sense, the karma goes even deeper than that, as the Imperial Japanese Army - the predecessor of the JSDF - was the organization that created the bio-weapon in the first place. By the end, Japan's population is in grave danger.
  • Mad Scientist: Tadashi's uncle.
  • Meaningful Name: "Kaori" comes from Japanese words referring to smell, and she has a very powerful sense of smell (causing her to pick up the Death Stench before anyone else).
  • Mercy Kill: Tadashi notes to Kaori's corpse that her death is this, as she no longer as to suffer being attached to the walker and doesn't have to put up with the smell of rotting corpses anymore.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: What compels the walkers' behavior. They straddle the line between being a sentient bio-weapon and being literally powered by ghosts. The story provides no definitive answer.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: The disease can apparently infect anything. It was originally developed to infect mammals, specifically the original plan was to release infected dogs and have them spread it to enemy soldiers, but in addition to this we also see such diverse things as elephants, cattle, pigs and whales, the eponymous fish and sharks and even squid. Then again it is supernatural bacteria.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Zombie fish. With robot legs. Actually, just robot legs using animals as batteries. Made by ghosts?
  • Raising the Steaks: Here, the gas infection starts with animals, then moves to humans. However, none of them are anything but a store for the gas, and aren't mentally controlled by it.
  • Reality Ensues / Square-Cube Law: At one point, a sperm whale on robot legs crawls out of the sea... but immediately crushes the legs under its weight.
  • Scenery Gorn: The final chapter plays this to the extreme, with giant walkers that used to contain fish now being powered by mountains of dead human bodies.
  • Screaming Woman: Kaori. In nearly every scene. In the anime, however, she is noticeably much calmer.
  • Spider Tank: All the walking fish are fused with these. The machines get bigger for bigger creatures emerging from the sea, and once they rot, the machines will accept humans to keep moving.
  • Surreal Horror: Bet you'd never have thought "fish on stilts" could be so terrifying, would you?
  • Take My Hand: At the end, when Kaori is surrounded by a mob of walkers, she and Tadashi try to reach out to each other, but Kaori is overwhelmed and killed.
  • Threatening Sharks: Walking ones, with spider legs. An early terror.
  • Time Skip: Invoked when the hero falls into a canal and goes into a Convenient Coma for a month.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The ending.

Tropes from the OVA:

  • Adaptation Deviation: In the OVA, it's Tadashi who gets infected instead of Kaori.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The OVA adds a few more characters to the roster, while downplaying Tadashi and his uncle and making Kaori the main character. Given that the original manga only had four main characters and was relatively short and straightforward, it's natural to assume that more characters would be added to give the OVA more meat to the story.
    • Kaori herself has parts of her personality removed, specifically her obsessive clinging to Tadashi and her overly sensitive nose, while maintaining the same devotion to Tadashi. Her more negative attributes are shifted to two new characters, Erika and Aki.
    • Tadashi retains his levelheaded personality even if his role is downplayed in Kaori's favor. Their roles are generally switched, as Tadashi is the one who becomes infected by the gas while Kaori is trying to find him. The two don't even spend any screen time in the same room up until Kaori finally finds him at his uncle's house.
      • Right before he is attacked by a shark, Tadashi warns Kaori over the phone not to come to Tokyo, as the walking fish plague has spread there. Not that staying in Okinawa would have been any better...
  • Alien Sky: A grey, swirling sky is shown off throughout the OVA. It's actually pretty by the end.
  • A Threesome is Manly: Erika and her two strangers.
  • Bland-Name Product: In the OVA, Tsuyoshi uses a BloodBerry.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The manga had very little blood; the OVA has gallons.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: At one point in the OVA, Kaori slips and falls in a large puddle of blood.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Aki to Erika once she's been infected.
  • Final Girl: In the anime, where Kaori is the only named survivor.
  • Giving Them the Strip: Kaori sheds her sneaker to escape when she steps on a vacant set of walking-legs.
  • Heavy Voice: This, combined with Voice of the Legion, is a side effect of Erika's infection.
  • Madness Mantra: Aki chants "Die, die, die, die" under her breath as she simmers over Kaori leaving and Erika engaging in a threesome.
  • Monumental Damage: The world's doom is sealed with a montage of swarms at the Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, Empire State Building, and Kremlin.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Kaori in the anime.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Erika and her gentleman friends are less than truthful in their television interviews.
  • Voice of the Legion: This, combined with Heavy Voice, is a side effect of Erika's infection.
  • Wolverine Publicity: There's quite a few of those landsharks crawling around in the OVA.

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