5 out of 5
Another gorgeous, mid-sized hardcover collection of Junji Ito material from Viz, clocking in at around 400 pages and collecting nine shorts.
Art-wise, assuming these stories are from across a range of years, there’s a range of detailing on display, but Ito’s wide-eyed characterizations and ability to craft haunting imagery is intact throughout. And each of the stories, regardless of length, makes good on the artist’s ultimate skill: simply concepts exploited to a terrifying extent, pushed past a normal “creepy” quotient by furthering the exploration and commitment to that concept. For example: in Fashion Model, the central figure, a horrific magazine model, isn’t just the punchline jump scare, but rather her presence is milked for the way its attemptedly ‘normalized’ within the context of the story. This makes something ridiculous, like the oversized heads of Hanging Blimp, still scary, and it makes things that could be simply interesting concepts – such as the ‘eternal sleep’ of The Long Dream – into unnerving scenarios. Sometimes this still leads to a sort of inevitable ending where someone has to die miserably, but the lead up to these moments are wonderfully nightmarish, Fashion Model included. Tomie makes an appearance in ‘Painter,’ and the penultimate story (before a bonus Model extra), ‘Greased,’ has to be one of the most vile, hard-to-turn-the-pages experience ever committed in comics, but you can feel the sensations expressed in the story, panel by panel, making it so, so effective…
And where some of the stories might fail in landing the ending, we have both annotations from Ito, as well as translated notes, backing up each story.
Works as either an introduction to the creator or another addition to your growing library, as provided by Viz.