3 out of 5
Some key tales make this a required addition to a Junji Ito library, but the rest of it comes across as something of an odds & sods collection, with an uneven tone and a couple of Why? reprints of previously collected – by this same published (VIZ) – tales.
The title story is fairly representative of the middling material: often, Junji has a central visual concept, crafts a story around it, and then just pursues it as far as it can go. This has led to an awful amount of genius stories, but it also occasionally leads to ideas for which “as far as it can go” isn’t all that far. “Venus” – and some other okey-dokey tales like ‘The Licking Woman’ – try to massage their concepts into thrills or chills, coming across as partial comedies in the process. There’s an amusing, but wandering, autobiographical story about one of Junji’s inspirations, and then the re-presentations of ‘The Enigma of Amigara Fault’ and ‘The Sad Tale of the Principal Post.’ The former is a classic, sure, but besides a couple of colored panels and some lettering cleanup, it’s exactly the same as before; ‘Post’ is a funny couple-pager, but the fact that it is so short makes the inclusion of these tales seem like something done just to achieve a page count.
However, the book-ending tales – ‘Billions Alone’ and ‘The Human Chair’ at the start, and ‘Keepsake’ at the end – are brilliant, and haunting, and all of the amazing things that Junji does so well, and generally so frequently. There are also some nicely colored pinups at the book’s start, and the full-color dustjacket looks nice on the shelf.