3 out of 5
With Viz having released amazing, hardcover collections of Junji Ito’s classic tales and short stories, as well as presenting newer material when it arrives, freshly released editions of older works are welcome, but to bring up the question as to whether or not we’re getting to lower-tier material. I mean, look: as a Junji Ito fan, having access to all of his work, translated, in a professional format is certainly great, but there’s also the “risk” for potential newer fans, that you’ll look up the latest release and it’s maybe not the best entry point. Remina sort of fits that bill: it features the author’s penchant for taking inspired ideas to haunting ends – not to mention his fine linework, and Lovecraftian creatures – but it’s also a fairly short-sighted story, and lacking in conclusion moreso than most of his longer works. (And that earlier, more obvious tendency toward misogyny is here as well.)
Remina is the name of a newly discovered planet, named after the daughter of the scientist who made the discovery. She becomes an overnight idol sensation due to this publicity, and gains an intense following of fans. But when Remina, the planet, suddenly starts throttling toward the Earth, that fandom immediately flipflops, blaming Remina and her father for the impending calamity of collision. And then the planet gets near, and halts in its path… and opens its eyes.
The first half of the story, while sorely lacking in any real science (there’s no real effect upon the Earth as our solar system is wrecked by this asteroid), has an intensity that’s up there with Ito greats, but in a different, sci-fi setting than he normally uses; it’s exciting, weird stuff. Unfortunately, once the planet “arrives” and reveals itself, things stall, and Ito goes in to “pick on the girl” mode, indulging in extended torture sequences which don’t have much point, and never developing her character – Remina just sobs and pines for her father. Still, there’s some haunting imagery mixed in here, and eventually the story gets its momentum going again, though erring more toward the ridiculous than the horrific.
As mentioned, there’s not really a conclusion to the tale; Ito doesn’t tend to write stunning endings, per se, but he normally offers up a line or two that allows us to frame his stories in some way, and Remina is lacking even that. The unique (for Ito) setting and momentary highlights are definitely worthwhile for fans of the creator, but it’s not representative of his best or better works.