A graphic novel written and illustrated by the Japanese manga artist, Suehiro Maruo. It is a classic work of the more grotesque style of Japanese manga which Maruo is known for. A retelling of an old Japanese story, it was first published in Japanese but was translated into English in 1992 by Yoko Umezawa and Laura Lindgren and published by Blast Books.
The basic plot is that an orphan girl named Midori is taken in (read: enslaved) by a traveling freak show. The freak show includes such unsavory characters as a mummyman, a snake woman, and a drooling man with no limbs. The owner of the freak show, the eponymous Mr. Arashi, is a strict man who allows his freaks very little freedom or joy in life. He is especially cruel to Midori, our heroine. Midori works, not as a freak since she is normal, but as a sort of caretaker of the freaks.
The freaks are all, apparently, sexually involved with each other, and the implication is that Midori has been or will soon be raped by one or all of them. She is quite a young girl, 12 or so, and the mummy man in particular is attracted to the fact that she wears those lily white, virgin underwear.
Then, a new freak joins the economically struggling group. He is a midget magician named Masamitsu who takes a liking to Midori and begins to save her from the worst aspects of her life with the freaks. He protects her from rape, relieves some of her duties, and punishes the other freaks when they are especially cruel to her. He is her savior.
Such is the story (though I left out the surprise ending). The artwork is stunning. Maruo has been greatly influenced by traditional Japanese woodblock prints, such as the ukiyo-e and muzan-e styles. His lines are clean and elegant, and there is a retro feel to his artwork. This makes the blood and violence in this book seem all the more shocking, and it is a stomach-wrenchingly violent book. Even if you do not like violence, though, this book is well worth reading and looking at, both for the story and the artwork.