It’s no secret that I love reading manga, and there are some amazing horror titles out there. Today I want to look at one of my favorite authors and one of his collections.
This is a collection of stories by Junji Ito, all guaranteed to get under your skin. I loved Tomie and was haunted by that thing for months, so I had to read this one. While it didn’t have quite the staying impact with me, it’s definitely great for curling up on a stormy day or getting ready for Halloween. There were three really striking stories for me. In the first, a girl becomes obsessed by a certain record with a macabre legend and is chased by those who are equally determined to have it for their own. In the second, a boy is trying to figure out the mystery of his neighbor’s illness, how it relates to his grandfather, and what part a strange object might play in the whole situation. There are actually two stories involving a strange fashion model, though I think the first story is a little more successful in building tension and dealing with the elephant in the room involved in that story.
Ito is amazing at not only his use of body horror, but his portrayal of emotions, specifically obsession. You know the characters are going toward nothing good, but their reactions don’t necessarily feel forced or unrealistic. It leads to some really uncomfortable scenes that you just can’t look away from, as well as some great payoffs within the stories.
There’s also a Tomie story in this one, but for me, the whole success with that character was when I read her in the giant collected volume. It’s like getting hit in the face with a brick with her whole twisted philosophy and tactic, and you know over and over that the characters aren’t going to be able to escape untouched or unscathed. While there’s some of that in this short story (which is also in the collected volume of Tomie stories), it loses a little of the relentlessness of the character. I also wonder how it would read to people who aren’t familiar with her and just how malevolent that character is. It’s still a great intro to her, though, and I would hope it would lead people to look for that other volume.
All in all, this was a quick read for me, and I enjoyed its creepiness. There are also insights by Ito regarding how he was inspired to write these different stories and his thoughts on. him – at times those were more interesting to me than some of the actual pieces. He doesn’t write a bad story, to be sure, but some of these definitely pop more than others.
They aren’t forgettable, though, on the whole, and you’ll find it hard to turn your eyes away.
Looking for a bunch of quick stories to take your minds off things? Get lost with us as we take you between genres and push limits from one world to the next in Lost in the Shadows