Comic Book Review – Venus in the Blind Spot by Junji Ito

Venus in the Blind Spot is the latest collection of horror stories by manga artist and writer Junji Ito to be published in English by VIZ media. Marketed as a “best of” collection of stories by the author, there is a common thread throughout each of them related to compulsions and/or utter fixation. Included is the fan-favourite story “The Enigma of Amigara Fault,” previously included in the deluxe hardcover of Gyo, with some bonus colour panels/pages featured in that story and others, unique to this collection. While the majority are Ito original stories, this collection is noteworthy for including a few stories by other authors, which Ito has adapted. Additionally included are a colour poster and gallery of art featuring the subjects of some of his other famous works not included in the collection, which can be removed and displayed if the reader so chooses.Read More »

Comic Book Review – No Longer Human by Junji Ito

No Longer Human

No Longer Human is the most recent book by manga creator Junji Ito to be translated and published in English. It adapts the famous novel of the same name originally authored by Osamu Dazai. The literal translation of the Japanese title is “Disqualified from Being Human.” Set in Pre-WWII Japan, the story follows the life of Yozo Oba, the son of a prominent family who deals with existential anxiety and a deep disconnection with what seems to make other people happy. He deals with this problem from a young age, playing the clown to keep his anxieties hidden from other people. Suffering abuses at home and worried that a classmate has discovered his charade, his life begins a gradual spiral out of control, succumbing to substance abuse, debauchery, and his own declining sanity as he gets older.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Smashed by Junji Ito

Smashed

Smashed is the newest English translation collection of short horror stories by manga artist Junji Ito, bringing together 13 chilling tales. Most of them are one-shot stories, with the exception of trio that focus around a strange haunted house attraction that pops up in abandoned buildings near the outskirts of towns, charging outrageous prices but promising to scare you out of your wits. I didn’t know much about the stories collected in this book going in. I saw there was a new collection coming out, and that’s pretty much all that was needed to get me to commit to picking it up.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Tomie by Junji Ito

Tomie

Tomie by Junji Ito is a deluxe hardcover edition collecting every chapter of the horror manga of the same name. These comics were originally published serially in the manga magazine Monthly Halloween from 1987 to 2000. High school student Tomie has met a tragic and brutal end at the hands of an unknown killer, with only pieces of her body having been recovered for cremation. Her classmates gather for her funeral, mourn her loss, and consider the dangers that might await them with a killer on the loose. That is, until Tomie walks into class the next day as if it were all nothing more than a bad dream. The entire school is shaken, authorities are baffled, and her classmates and teacher begin to feel a creeping dread, having been more involved with her death than anybody else realizes. This is the stage set in the first chapter of Tomie that ignites a saga of obsession, vanity, and brutality around one beautiful young woman who just can’t stay dead.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Frankenstein by Junji Ito

Frankenstein Junji Ito

Frankenstein is the latest English translation of collected stories by horror manga artist and writer Junji Ito. The featured story of this collection is unsurprisingly an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the classic tale of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who discovers the secret to creating life. Putting his discovery to the test he stitches together a humanoid being of giant proportions and imbues it with life. It is only when the grotesque giant stirs with life that he realizes he was so obsessed with whether or could that he didn’t stop to consider if he should. Following this tale is a collection of episodic stories about a 14-year-old boy named Oshikiri who lives alone in a large, disorienting house and is constantly beset upon by supernatural experiences and otherworldly intrusions.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu

Yon & Mu

Master of Japanese horror manga Junji Ito presents a series of hissterical tales chronicling his real-life trials and tribulations of becoming a cat owner. Junji Ito, as J-kun, has recently built a new house and has invited his financée, A-ko, to live with him. Little did he know … his blushing bride-to-be has some unexpected company in tow—Yon, a ghastly-looking family cat, and Mu, an adorable Norwegian forest cat. Despite being a dog person, J-kun finds himself purrsuaded by their odd cuteness and thus begins his comedic struggle to gain the affection of his new feline friends.

In the last year I’ve become quite familiar with Junji Ito’s body of work, as far as English releases go, but this is the first time I’ve read anything that he’s created outside of the horror genre. Cat Diary: Yon & Mu is a short and sweet read, each chapter a vignette chronicling the mishaps he faces becoming a cat owner. There really isn’t a plot to follow throughout the book, though J-kun (Ito) does have a sort of arc that he undergoes throughout. I’ve lauded him in the past for his ability as a horror writer, but this book taught me something new: Junji Ito can be really funny.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Gyo by Junji Ito

Gyo

Something is rotten in Okinawa… The floating smell of death hangs over the island. What is it? A strange, legged fish appears on the scene… So begins Tadashi and Kaori’s spiral into the horror and stench of the sea.

Gyo is a horror manga series by renowned writer and artist Junji Ito. It was originally published serially in the weekly manga magazine Big Comic Spirits from 2001 to 2002, before being collected into two volumes that were released the same year. The edition I’m reviewing is an English deluxe edition published in 2015, collecting the entire story into one hardcover along with two bonus short stories. It had been a while since I read any of the Ito books I’d picked up this year and it was nice to read one of his longer works again.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito

Summary

A new collection of delightfully macabre tales from a master of horror manga. An old wooden mansion that turns on its inhabitants. A dissection class with a most unusual subject. A funeral where the dead are definitely not laid to rest. Ranging from the terrifying to the comedic, from the erotic to the loathsome, these stories showcase Junji Ito’s long-awaited return to the world of horror.

FragmentsOfHorror

Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito is, according to the afterword, the author’s return to drawing and writing horror after an eight-year hiatus. Going in I had heard the author himself considered the collection a little below par for him, as he had gotten rusty after almost a decade away from the genre. Nevertheless, I’ve really enjoyed Ito’s work that I’ve read thus far, so I was cautiously optimistic going into this book that the stories within would still be of a certain quality that I could enjoy.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Shiver by Junji Ito

Summary

This volume includes nine of Junji Ito’s best short stories, as selected by the author himself and presented with accompanying notes and commentary. An arm peppered with tiny holes dangles from a sick girl’s window… After an idol hangs herself, balloons bearing faces appear in the sky, some even featuring your own face… An amateur film crew hires an extremely individualistic fashion model and faces a real bloody ending… An offering of nine fresh nightmares for the delight of horror fans.

Shiver

Shortly after I finished reading Uzumaki in October (my first experience with Junji Ito’s work) I was excited to learn that a new collection entitled Shiver would be releasing in North America in December. I’d heard a lot about his short stories being particularly good and was eager to get some firsthand experience with them. He’s been a manga artist/writer for a long time, yet as far as I have seen there is only one other book published in English that collects any of them that is also easy and/or inexpensive to get a copy of. Options are limited for now, but this was a great place to start regardless.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Uzumaki by Junji Ito

Summary

Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people’s bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi’s father and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurôzu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!

Uzumaki

Uzumaki is a horror manga (Japanese comic book) written and illustrated by Junji Ito. It was originally published serially in the weekly manga magazine Big Comic Spirits from 1998 to 1999. The book I am reviewing is a hardcover omnibus edition that was published in 2013. While I read comic books pretty regularly, lately I tend to avoid reviewing them. After completing Uzumaki, however, I knew I was going to make an exception. Most other comic books I read are beholden or connected to storylines that come before them, as well as others happening simultaneously. This book, however, is self-contained, telling a complete story.Read More »