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Deciphering manga panel order via "Where the Sandman Lives"

(Incidental spoilers for Junji Ito's "Where the Sandman Lives" as presented in his collection Deserter. More on that story here.)

Reading Deserter has reminded me that I don't understand how panel ordering in a manga is supposed to work. (I don't get it for Western comics, either.) I've been reading right to left and top to bottom starting at the top right panel on each page, but there are quirks to suggest this isn't always a complete rule. Page 77, in "Where the Sandman Lives," has the following exchange:

(Top right panel) Yuji: "Mari... do you want to know why he's so obsessed with getting out?"


(Panel below top right) Yuji: "His objective is you."

(separate bubble) Yuji: "He wants you."


(Panel at top left) Yuji: "And I mean, so do I."

(separate bubble) Yuji: "That's why I've resisted so far..."

At first, I tried to read this (top right) -> (top left) -> (panel below top right), that is, reversing the last two groupings in this quote. That clearly didn't work. So, I switched to (top right) -> (panel below top right) -> (top left). That seems to make more sense.

If I were to try and derive a rule from this, it would be: When coming to a column of panels contained within a row, read the column from top to bottom as if it were a single panel, then proceed left as usual.

I think this rule works. On 71, it seems to work. On 65, it works. On 64, I think it works. And on 60. As for the crazy rat's nest of panels on page 79? I think the rule works there, too—then the dream-Yuji is using his arm to drag Yuji to the guitar, Mari is horrified, and dream-Yuji grabs the guitar and (accidentally?) tosses it by the neck at the curtained window. So maybe that's the rule.