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Category: Books and Stories

a relevant (yet late) horror showcase 💀🎃

my more vivid memories as a child involved being scared. i don't mean for that to sound weird or anything, but the idea of being scared by something always fascinated me. i remember one babysitter used to pop out of nowhere randomly (and i would shout/giggle a storm 😂) and another who i would stumble on watching a scary movie every now and then. some of these would include Dawn of the Dead, Freddy vs Jason, and the Bride of Chucky. when i look back on it, it would be totally hilarious to go back in time and see little Me attempt to sit through Freddy vs Jason. then again, i’d also totally be questioning my parents’ choice in caretakers 😭.  

regardless of what i experienced growing up, i love horror: the blood, the gore, the feeling of terror you get when the unexpected shows up a scares you out of your pants. and with Halloween coming around the corner, i felt it necessary to cover some works from my favorite horror mangaka Junji Ito. within the past year i’ve collected a nice chunk of his hardcover collection (and a print that was given as a gift 🤙🏻) and am debating whether i should give it its own bookcase. the size of my horror collection will soon be expanding, so the idea of an Ito exclusive shelf may be changing. regardless of my interior design issues, i’ll be sharing with you my personal favorite Ito titles and providing some commentary on them (hope you brought some popcorn 🍿). 

let’s begin with the work that started it all: Tomie (pronounced toe-me-eh; you have no idea how many times i’ve heard toe-me and felt shivers 😭) this series began publication in the late 80’s in Monthly Halloween. Ito, having been a dental technician prior to taking manga more seriously, won honorable mention at the first annual Kazuo Umezu Award (unfortunately i couldn’t find who won that year 😔). it follows Tomie, the series’ immortal femme fatale, as she stumbles into the innocent lives of her victims and  causes havoc. this would cause them to lash out, even killing Tomie, in response to her wicked ways. yet she always comes back. 

what i love about Tomie is that its iconic and blood pumping panels. it provides constant feelings of true unease and terror that can be short-lived (yet equally impactful) in his story collections. i recall reading a chapter involving the manipulation of a certain character, and felt the need to stop and take a small break before continuing on. you see Tomie interact with so many different types of people (artists, students, the elderly, etc), and knowing what’s gonna happen to her and her victims makes it so devilishly interesting. 

i hate how this pic didn't white balance properly 😭

next on the list is Dissolving Classroom, a short yet hauntingly critical piece. this will soon have a hardcover Collector’s Edition set to come out at the end of October 2022 (scroll down for pics 👀). it follows two siblings, one older and surreptitiously vile while the other younger and openly wicked, and their lives tormenting unsuspecting citizens. this story has demonic tones that bundle well with Ito’s criticism on apology press conferences (something that is common in Japan; there’s even a mini comic at the end that i find amusing 😂). it’s worthy of a read for those who want a twisted take on the demonic/paranormal horror subgenre!

something that i found fascinating about Ito is his tenacity when creating critical and jaw-dropping stories. for those that don’t know, Ito’s works can sometime have themes that criticize Japanese culture or society in general. these can be evident in stories like My Dear Ancestors and Billions Alone, that cover the themes of familial pressures and agoraphobia respectively (i know there are better examples but they haven’t come to me at the time of writing this 😭). 

No Longer Human is one of my favorite books of all time, and adding Ito’s adaption to my collection was definitely a no-brainer (i’m waiting for Usamaru Furuya’s adaptation to come into my store. FML 😭). originally written by Osamu Dazai in 1948, No Longer Human follows the tragic life of Oba Yozo through a series of journal entries. Ito’s adaptation breathes life into this melancholic tale and provides a fresh take on what Dazai describes in his novel. some of my favorite parts are the artwork done by Oba in the story (including the cover art behind the dust jacket! 🙌🏻 most of my favorite hardcovers by Ito have amazing cover art hidden 👍🏻) and Oba’s dream/descent into madness (you’ll see what i mean 💀). despite being the most expensive of his works, Ito’s No Longer Human delivers a raw and thrilling vision of Japan’s most renown pseudo-biography. 

Fragments of Horror is probably my favorite out of Ito’s story collections (with Venus in the Blindspot following close behind; more on that later). what first caught my eye was the holographic details on the book’s dust jacket. The images that appear are from the story Futon, which follows the character Tomio and his infidelity. i’m so enamored by this one-of-a-kind dust jacket that i always make sure to point it out whenever providing customers horror recommendations. Ito does an awesome job establishing mood in his stories. it’s very prevalent throughout Fragments of Horror, with each story providing their own unique level of intensity and panel designs (especially in these upcoming titles 👀). the stories i like the most here are Dissection-Chan, Blackbird, and Red Turtleneck. Dissection-Chan in particular made my skin crawl. the thought of actually happening ran through my mind for days. it’s definitely worth the read for fans of horror, since it provides a variety of horror elements in each chapter. i always recommend this as an introductory read to anyone who hasn’t read Ito 💀

Venus in the Blindspot is another collection of horror stories that has similar features to Fragments of Horror. Both have unique dust jacket and cover art, with Venus in the Blind Spot having several color pages/panels sprinkled throughout and a poster (some of the color art includes subjects from No Longer Human 🙌🏻). included in this work are adaptations of Edogawa Ranpo’s Unearthly Love and The Human Chair, and Robert Hichens’ How Love Came to Professor Kirida. these stories, especially Unearthly Love and Keepsake, provided striking attention of Ito’s use of terror within a page turn (Keepsake has one of my favorite horror panels of all time! it’s very hard to choose between this and FoH as my favorite story collection because both offer amazing displays of artwork💀). 

Finally, Sensor is a hardcover that follows reporter Wataru Tsuchiyado and his journey to discovering the mystery of Kyoko Byakuya. in this sci-fi thriller, the boundaries of space and time are pushed as Wataru begins to discover Kyoko’s secrets, a dark and ominous cult, and the hidden world that lies at the foot of Mount Sengoku. i felt that Sensor gave a terrifying take on the search for enlightenment. i also saw a lot of Ito’s other works mixed in throughout the plot (examples include Gyo, which can be seen in chapter 4). Sensor provides artwork inside the dust jacket as well, with a mix of the story’s characters beautifully decorating it. this dust jacket in particular was the inspiration for me to seek out Junji Ito posters, because i wanted to frame it and hang it on my wall (but i couldn’t risk leaving the book bare 😭). if you want an interesting and cosmic tale, Sensor is the way to go 👍🏻

i find comfort in a variety of horror. again, it’s a weird thing to say but to know what out there scares me and how much i like/dislike it makes me feel great 👍🏻 whether it’s movies or manga, i always love to share what i feel deserves recognition (and there’s nothing quite like some fine reading 🤌🏻). let me start off with some recent purchases. PTSD Radio provided breath-taking horror through short and sweet chapters. though they appear to be scattered, each chapter is connected through a series of circumstances. the radio aesthetic spread throughout the book were super cool to me as a vintage buff 🙌🏻 Be Afraid of Kanako Tanuki was very appealing read to me, especially when it came to the doll-like character designs. my favorite one among them was Fulfilled Wishes for its bittersweet take on the life’s cruelty. it made me want to check out more of Inuki’s works, which i definitely recommend to 🫵🏻 as well!

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is a title that i’ve been waiting YEARS FOR. omnibus volumes 1-4 were out of stock for the longest time, and the Covid pandemic pushed the release date for volume 5 to August 2022. it follows five Buddhist university students, each with their own specialty, and their efforts to cashing in on the final requests of the dead. though being super bulky, i recommend checking the series out! Housui Yamazaki and Eiji Otsuka did a fantastic job creating a supernatural horror twist that provides readers a new lens on mortality and death. despite appearances, Mieruko-chan offers a similar take with its juxtaposing artwork and use of spiritualism. Miko, the series’ protagonist, has the unwanted ability to see grotesque visions of monsters and ghosts. like any sane person would do, she chooses to ignore them and pretend they don’t exist at all. the series has ecchi undertones towards the beginning of the series, but it tends to lean away from that once around volume 3ish. Izumi Tomoki does an awesome job working in unruly looking monsters in everyday situations, and i think its worthy of a read for it ✌🏻

Dissolving Classroom Collector's Edition by Junji Ito, Hardcover | Barnes &  Noble®

and finally, i wanna highlight Parasyte, Crueler Than Dead, and Lovecraft’s The Hound and Other Stories, for their dynamic artwork and quality storytelling. Crueler Than Dead is a two volume series that follows two humans who’ve returned to life from zombification. i personally haven’t seen zombies portrayed a lot in manga (besides I Am A Hero or Zom 100), so having this short series on my shelves is a nice edition to my horror collection 👍🏻. The Lovecraft adaptation was a different take for me. it had realistic artwork, but i found only the titular story to be my favorite (although The Temple was done in a way, for me, that felt like the reader experienced the characters’ descent deeper into the ocean and madness alongside them). Parasyte is a classic series that will be getting an entire hardcover and full color release starting in November 2022. if you haven’t had a chance to check out this series in print, i would definitely recommend picking up this collector’s edition for the series 🙌🏻 (speaking of collector’s editions being released soon, here’s the cover for Dissolving Classroom’s! i haven’t had a chance to purchase it yet but will adjust the blog when i get it 🤙🏻).

and that’s that! this video is looooong overdue on my part, and i’m sorry about that 🙇🏻. unfortunately life’s been throwing me some fun curveballs. i was recently promoted at work, and am now working full time at my local Barnes and Noble. i’ve been focusing my attention these past few weeks to training and adjusting to my new position. some of these being manga promotions like our horror table and preparing for the holiday rush 😬 The Drifting Classroom: Perfect Edition, Vol. 1 (1):  9781974709373: Umezz, Kazuo: Books Orochi: The Perfect Edition, Vol. 1 eBook : Umezz, Kazuo:  Kindle Store

for me it’s important to provide a great customer experience, and one of those have been trying to push more affordable titles at my store. for example, i’ve been discounting the more expensive/classic horror titles this month like The Drifting Classroom and Orochi by Kazuo Umezz and various horror/thriller works like Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka. exposing readers to these titles is honestly a pleasure of mine, especially when it comes to something completely new and unexpected. something i do wanna mention before signing off is that there are more Ito titles coming our way! if you haven't heard already, Black Paradox is set to release at the end of the month, and two more titles were announced for 2023 (one of the involving one of his famous characters Soichi 😱). feel free to message me for more info on any upcoming titles 

i hope you’ve enjoyed reading this horror manga showcase! i’ve been thinking about trying something new for my next blog project, and i wanna take my time formatting everything and making sure i have fun with it! with work taking up a nice chunk of my schedule and thoughts at times, i wanna make sure i’m not forcing myself into doing something i greatly enjoy. so if things turn out as planned, i hope to have another blog post coming out soon 👍🏻

since this is the last full week of October (aka Spooky Season) is upon us, i plan to end the month watching DVDs from my fairly new collection. i hope you find yourself cozied up under a warm blanket, watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (director’s cut preferred 🙌🏻) or A Nightmare on Elm Street (remake if you’re into that 🤷🏻), and eating that giant bag of variety candies that was sooo meant for the trick-or-treaters. if you’re going out to any Halloween parties, have a blast and stay safe 🙏🏻 

don’t be strangers and feel free to let me know what you think! until next time 🤙🏻🤙🏻

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