Killing Stalking Chapter 13 Review

Before I get into reviewing this I want to make it clear that none of the content being reviewed in this post is suitable for children and even for adults is probably going to be confronting. Anyone who has been following the copious posts about Killing Stalking on Twitter probably already know that, but just giving everyone else fair warning.

Review:

This chapter is kind of amazing.

It is substantially longer than the previous one but all that build up comes to a head here and yet we get to the end of the chapter without anybody dying but it isn’t a let down.

If you aren’t interested in plot spoilers please stop reading now. There’s a few big ones in this review.

The police officer uses the lame excuse of a noise complaint to Sangwoo to get inside the house. We know Sangwoo doesn’t buy this. Firstly because we know that he’s stood outside and shouted for help with Bum with no concern whatsoever for anyone hearing or complaining. And in case that wasn’t enough to make the officer’s story totally suspect and for the readers to figure out that Sangwoo knew this, we get this line from Sangwoo:

“Which is why I’m so surprised you received a complaint…”

The whole scene as Sangwoo allows the officer to check the house just smacks of Sangwoo’s usual games. It’s satisfying enough but nothing spectacular and then the officer notices the missing knife.

Killing13.JPGAt this point the reader inevitably draws the conclusion that his time is short. It’s going to be brutal and its going to happen soon. We keep cutting between Sangwoo and the officer to Yoon Bum who is cowering, hands over his mouth (which is interesting in and of itself given this is potential rescue material but clearly Yoon Bum isn’t interested – unless he’s also smart enough to have figured out there’s no chance of one guy overpowering Sangwoo and is waiting a better chance).

Then the officer does the second idiotic thing in this chapter. To delay leaving he pretends to receive a phone call. Of course he actually gets a real phone call. It all seems like death is looming.

And finally, Sangwoo leads him to the wardrobe. He’s going to open the door and then he’s going to stab the officer with the knife. But that isn’t what happens. I love being surprised by a story in an intelligent manner and not something totally random. So the officer opens the wardrobe and there is no Yoon Bum. The officer is confused. He was certain someone was in the house. He was sure the wardrobe was where they had to be. But there’s nothing. And so he leaves.

Then, and this is why I started this review with ‘this chapter is kind of amazing’, we get this expression from Sangwoo:

Killing13b

That was so incredibly satisfying. For 13 chapters we’ve not seen Sangwoo even vaguely rattled. Crazy certainly, furious occasionally, smug and self-assured almost constantly, but that look… I would almost say it is worth reading the 13 chapters to this point, even if this isn’t your style of story, just for the satisfaction that this look will bring you.

Following this Sangwoo literally tears around the house, almost mirroring the path of the police officer, frantically searching. Then he runs outside and has kind of a break down and we get a weird mix of sexual desire and murderous intent. There’s also some foul language but all of this can be neatly summed up by Sangwoo’s statement:

“He actually ran away.”

Sangwoo is being hit by mixtures of betrayal, heart-break, loss of control, rage, abandonment issues, and there’s definitely some sexual tension thrown into the mix. And it shakes him hard.

Meanwhile, as a reader I’m frantically trying to put the pieces together. I know Yoon Bum hasn’t run away because the whole time the search was on we saw Yoon Bum in the closet…

Wait, no we didn’t.

We saw Yoon Bum in a small space, cowering. I assumed, as the police officer did, that he was in the wardrobe because that’s where we saw the foot through the mail slot in the door. And suddenly I get it.

It’s a very weird reunion at the end of the chapter and what, from anyone else, would sound like a marriage proposal but all and all it just means that this creepy and highly dysfunctional relationship is going to continue and now I’m really not sure what the end game is unless eventually the plan is for Sangwoo to just snap. More importantly, the officer still knows something is off. Will he come back?


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Killing Stalking Chapter 12 Review

Before I get into reviewing this I want to make it clear that none of the content being reviewed in this post is suitable for children and even for adults is probably going to be confronting. Anyone who has been following the copious posts about Killing Stalking on Twitter probably already know that, but just giving everyone else fair warning.

Review:

It’s definitely wrong for me to get my hopes up that the police officer will prove useful. It’s definitely wrong. Even if he doesn’t turn out to be completely inept, I’m pretty sure Sangwoo is not going to take any interference lightly. Still…

Killing12.JPG

Not going to lie; seeing the police office actually see this in the footage and follow up kind of gave me hope that maybe there’s an out to this that doesn’t involve complete tragedy.

Of course, that just makes me think the writer is playing us the way Sangwoo keeps playing Bum. There’s the possibility, the che smallest of chances, that somehow things will be okay. Right, you believe that? Let’s snatch it away and watch you crumble.

Chapter 12 is pretty short and really we see the police officer get the footage and begin using his time to watch Sangwoo (I’m avoiding the term stalk only because well that mirrors Bum’s story too much but it might be accurate of what is happening here). Naturally because the officer in question has no friends at the station he’s working solo and the chapter ends with Sangwoo literally catching him on the doorstep.

I think there’s a great deal of credit needed for the writer here. Nothing in this chapter was unexpected and yet it still managed to keep me waiting and built tension beautifully throughout.

Seriously worried this is not going to end well for the officer.


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Killing Stalking Chapter 11

Before I get into reviewing this I want to make it clear that none of the content being reviewed in this post is suitable for children and even for adults is probably going to be confronting. Anyone who has been following the copious posts about Killing Stalking on Twitter probably already know that, but just giving everyone else fair warning.

Review:

Okay, I’m confused, but that’s probably because I don’t get the whole black box thing.

This chapter gets us out of Sangwoo’s house for the first time in awhile. We follow the pint of view of that police officer we met quite a number of chapters ago. Turns out he isn’t well liked by the other police (partly because of past success, and because he’s new in the area, and partly because his personality stinks). Anyway, while out on patrol he comes across a argument between two drivers who have had a minor collision. I’m assuming the younger one is Sangwoo (or maybe he’s Clark Kent, I’m not really sure on that one given despite there being a police officer on the scene neither motorist was asked to identify themselves).

Anyway, it gets to a point where the police guy asks the two drivers to hand over their black box footage and given the next drawing, I’m guessing that’s some sort of camera in the car, but I’m not entirely sure. Nor am I entirely sure why the younger driver at that point admits they were both at fault, though the police officer jumps onto the idea that maybe he has something to hide on the footage.

Which then got me thinking so the rest of this is random speculation. If the driver is Sangwoo (which is a logical deduction given I don’t think we know any other characters at this point that it could be) and if we assume the black box footage comes from a car camera that can operate when the car is not operational, then there’s been a recent incident involving Sangwoo’s car that might be of note. When Yoon Bum crawled into the street and was beaten down, Sangwoo threw him at one point onto the hood of a car. If the camera caught that then it would be on the footage.

Again, this is highly speculative and I have no idea if that is how the black box thing works or not, nor do I know for sure that it is Sangwoo or his car.

Still, that might be some way to move the story along if someone actually starts looking for Yoon Bum.


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Killing Stalking Chapter 10

Before I get into reviewing this I want to make it clear that none of the content being reviewed in this post is suitable for children and even for adults is probably going to be confronting. Anyone who has been following the copious posts about Killing Stalking on Twitter probably already know that, but just giving everyone else fair warning.

Review:

How is it? Your first killing.

I’m going to stop being surprised by how twisted Sangwoo is eventually.

There isn’t much too this chapter so this is going to be pretty short. Essentially, having lost the card game, Yoon Bum is now terrified of being killed but Sangwoo isn’t done playing just yet. He decides to have the other guy be the one to kill Yoon Bum.

Only, as much as the other guy wants out of there, homicide is apparently a step too far. So, Sangwoo, being the sweet guy he is helps him out. By blindfolding him and then taping the knife to his hands. Let me just assure you this doesn’t end well and leave the rest of the scenario for you to find out when you read it.

Taken by itself, this chapter really is nothing. As a follow up to the previous events, it is as horrifically perfect as can be expected. Although, given Sangwoo seems very seasoned at this sort of thing I have to wonder where he’s been hiding all the bodies.


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Killing Stalking Chapter 9

Before I get into reviewing this I want to make it clear that none of the content being reviewed in this post is suitable for children and even for adults is probably going to be confronting. Anyone who has been following the copious posts about Killing Stalking on Twitter probably already know that, but just giving everyone else fair warning.

Review:

How about it? You’re going to be the masters of your own fate! What a joke! But it’ll be exciting, like a roller coaster.

Sangwoo is really, really cruel. I can’t help but admire how incredibly expert he is at playing on human emotions, building up small glimmers of hope and then crushing them mercilessly under foot. He’s the brilliant manipulater and the game he sets up in this chapter brings that attribute to the foreground.

We pick up exactly where we left off in Chapter 8 with the new guy being thrown into the basement. Sangwoo, after forcing introductions, decides that the best way to break the ice will be a card game and of course it isn’t any fun if there isn’t something on the line. Why not bet their lives.

So begins a game that kind of reminded me of some of the episodes of Death Parade. The characters are doing something totally innocuous, but with the stakes as high as they are, emotions frazzle and things rapidly spiral out of control. In this case, Yoon Bum having won the first game before Sangwoo declared it a practice round, becomes desperate. In his desperation he clings to the only thing he has and that is Sangwoo.

Now, Sangwoo could have just let things run their course but that is not his style. Instead, after looking at Yoon Bum’s hand, he sits behind the other guy and begins indicating to Yoon Bum which card he should pick. Naturally, this gives Yoon Bum just that little bit of hope that Sangwoo doesn’t intend for him to lose.

Which makes Sangwoo directing Yoon Bum to the joker just that little bit more cruel. The fact that as readers we see this outcome coming from the moment Yoon Bum looked desperately at Sangwoo doesn’t take away the impact of that final draw.

Of course, knowing how many more chapter already exist after this one, I’m pretty convinced Sangwoo isn’t about to kill Yoon Bum so now I’m curious as to what the twist will be next chapter.

That’s really all there is to chapter nine. It is a delight to read and in terms of sex and violence is probably one of the safest chapters yet (except for the part where Yoon Bum is still pretty naked and covered in bandages from previous damage, and the bondage on the other guy), however there is definitely tension cutting through the entire chapter that leaves you just a little bit tired after reading because you’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop ever since the game started.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this chapter.


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Killing Stalking Chapter 7

Before I get into reviewing this I want to make it clear that none of the content being reviewed in this post is suitable for children and even for adults is probably going to be confronting. Anyone who has been following the copious posts about Killing Stalking on Twitter probably already know that, but just giving everyone else fair warning.

Review:

For a chapter where nothing happens in terms of plot, everything happens. Chapter 7 picks up with Yoon Bum left home alone and knowing he has until seven when Sangwoo is coming home. So, the question becomes does he wait quietly or does he attempt escape.

While the conclusion is more or less obvious, this chapter really manages to make watching his inner confusion and indecisiveness extremely compelling.

This chapter is filled with Yoon Bum haunting himself with visions of what Sangwoo has done to others and what might yet happen to him if he stays. Contrasted with this are moments where we see Sangwoo almost gentle as he talks to Yoon Bum about what is waiting for him outside. For the first time we get a clear look at the misery that has been Yoon Bum’s life. It’s a very solid effort at trying to make the audience emphasise with the impossibility of Yoon Bum’s situation.

I think where this works really well is we know from the previous chapter and from a number of clues this chapter that once again Sangwoo is setting Yoon Bum up. We know all of this agony to make a decision about whether to stay or leave is pointless and he’s really just wasting his time. It makes him seem incredibly tragic and more than a little pathetic.

This chapter was at its best when it was low key. The few gore filled moments (bodies falling out of the dryer, Yoon Bum’s throat being slit in the kitchen) didn’t shock because of their delivery and had less emotional punch than Yoon Bum’s delusion of Sangwoo whispering in his ear.

It’s a great read full of tension though clearly this episode of the escape (or non-escape as is definitely more likely) is not over so I’m looking forward to what Sangwoo intends to do next now that Yoon Bum has in fact tried to leave the house.

What did you think of this chapter?


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Killing Stalking Chapter 4

Before I get into reviewing this I want to make it clear that none of the content being reviewed in this post is suitable for children and even for adults is probably going to be confronting. Anyone who has been following the copious posts about Killing Stalking on Twitter probably already know that, but just giving everyone else fair warning.

Review:

This story is doing a superb job of looking at dysfunctional relationships and how people find themselves trapped in cycles of abuse even while it is making the reader’s skin crawl and has us cringing at the thought of what is about to come next. Early in this chapter very little happens but we gain some real insight from Yoon Bum about his current existence and how he sees Sangwoo.

It wasn’t that he wasn’t doing anything. He was waiting for me to make a mistake.

The fear this idea conjures as we see Yoon Bum watching Sangwoo watch him, the inevitable minor mistake and then the violence that follows is pretty confronting. Unlike the sensationalized murder and leg breaking from earlier in the story, these events clearly fall into the realm of stock standard domestic abuse tactics and the reality of the situation being portrayed (even if how we got here was not in an everyday manner) makes it all the more cutting.

Throughout this chapter Yoon Bum has three moments where we see him contemplating ways to free himself from the current situation.

Firstly, when Sangwoo leaves him on the chair and goes downstairs. Yoon Bum thinks about making a break for the door but finds himself trapped by the door frame. While he might get the chair over it, Sangwoo would most definitely hear which would leave him almost no time to get away. Ultimately Yoon Bum abandons this plan without any attempt but there’s a good drawn out moment of tension as you wonder whether he will or won’t try, and you just keep hoping he won’t because you just know this would be doomed to failure and would end in disaster.

Secondly, Yoon Bum gives in to a minor day dream about stabbing Sangwoo in the eye with the kitchen knife. This is as graphic as this chapter gets as we see the fantasy play out but even before we’re told it is fairly clear that he hasn’t actually acted. His trembling hands after this sequence speak volumes but the situation hasn’t changed.

Lastly, we have a situation that I can only assume Sangwoo has entirely orchestrated for his own amusement given Yoon Bum hasn’t taken any direct action and this kind of tells us more about Sangwoo’s skills as a brilliant manipulator.

Killing4.JPG

Unable to tempt Yoon Bum into direct action against him even though he continues to deliberately give him opportunities, Sangwoo tries a more underhanded approach of having Yoon Bum clean a cupboard where he conveniently finds rat poison. It’s interesting that Sangwoo realises that Yoon Bum is a coward and while he might want to escape he just can’t bring himself to violence. Poison however…

Still, this meal is going to be interesting and Yoon Bum’s desperate thought is just kind of floating there.

Ah, I guess I’m going to die soon…

All and all, this has been my favourite chapter so far because it isn’t resorting to violence or gore and almost all the plays are psychological. The events hit hard and definitely unnerve. Really wanting to know what happens with this meal they are about to eat but I guess I’ll find out when I get to the next chapter.


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Killing Stalking Chapter 3

Before I get into reviewing this I want to make it clear that none of the content being reviewed in this post is suitable for children and even for adults is probably going to be confronting. Anyone who has been following the copious posts about Killing Stalking on Twitter probably already know that, but just giving everyone else fair warning.

Review:

Part of me really wonders how either of these two characters function (or functioned) in the real world. Sangwoo clearly manages to maintain a facade of sanity given his highly dedicated stalker didn’t have a clue about his psychotic side. And while Yoon Bum didn’t really seem to have a great life it was clear he a least got by day to day to the point where no one noticed he was a creepy stalker. Though, in Yoon Bum’s defence it isn’t as if we are seeing him at his best as he trembles and cries his way through chapter 3.

And why wouldn’t he? His legs have been broken and very poorly treated, he’s been locked in a basement, when crying because of the quite naturally intense pain he would be feeling from this situation Sangwoo cuts him with a tin lid and then complains it isn’t any fun because Yoon Bum is all bone and doesn’t have enough flesh to cut into. Does the perpetrator actually get to complain in that situation?

Despite quite clearly being unhinged and dangerous, Sangwoo remains an intriguing character. He’s playing with Yoon Bum but at the same time Yoon Bum hasn’t responded the way Sangwoo has expected from his previous experiences (which at this stage its seeming like he isn’t exactly new to this whole imprisonment and torture thing). This is fascinating Sangwoo but its also pushing him to test the bounds of this relationship. While that might lead to him tripping himself up, at the moment he is very much in control and the only question is how much rope is he going to give Yoon Bum before he tightens the noose.

One thing I found interesting was how quickly Sangwoo seemed to go back on his own opinion. Yoon Bum begs not to be returned to the basement saying he would do anything and Sangwoo initially mocks him.

Of course it’s dark… It’s a basement.

However, soon after, Sangwoo seemingly decides to leave Yoon Bum on the main floor but restricts how close to the door he can get. These sudden changes in direction make Sangwoo seem even more unstable and dangerous. While this decision seems to be in Yoon Bum’s favour it doesn’t seem like it will be without consequences in the long term.

I’m not going to lie, I found chapter 3 the most confronting so far. We’re no longer setting up the scene or establishing these characters so the shock and gore tactics are no longer scene setting but becoming an integral part of the narrative and the lingering focus on the pain as a result of these actions is certainly making itself felt (though not consistently given within the space of a bath we’ve gone from whimpering pain on the floor to merely shocked gasps when hitting a bump and to be honest I’m thinking broken legs that haven’t been treated would probably be hurting a little bit more consistently).

All and all I’m thoroughly caught by this story now. I need to know where these characters are going. I’m not expecting this to be a pleasant journey but I am hoping these characters continue to intrigue and make me think about their actions and how we ended up here.


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Taboo Tattoo Episode 7

Review:

I’m definitely thinking that I need to do a comparison post of Taboo Tattoo with something else. This week it tries to bring the characters some pain, but unlike D Gray Man or Tokyo Ghoul where my heart genuinely moves for the characters and I await with my breath caught in my throat to see if they will come through that torture and still be themselves, I watched Seigi get pinned to a wall and skewered, Izzy have her arm crushed, and countless characters mercilessly slaughtered, and I felt nothing. Actually, I felt vaguely bored and found my thoughts constantly drifting to other things (like what else I could watch). Here’s the thing, Taboo Tattoo sounds great when you go through the story and the things the characters encounter, but the execution just leaves you wondering why they are even bothering.

Oh, and they definitely need to get a new writer for the sexual innuendo. Seriously. If you are going to include it at least make it vaguely clever or amusing. Most of the lines this episode just left me staring at the screen wondering if the translators had all just given up.

Taboo Tattoo is available on Crunchyroll (but I wouldn’t recommend it).