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July 27, 2015

Bento Bako Weekly: Fragments of Horror

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Written by: Kristin
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fragmentsofhorrorTitle: Fragments of Horror
Author: Junji Ito
Publisher: Viz Media
Volume: One-shot, $17.99 (HC)
Vintage: 2014 by Asahi Shimbun, June 2015 by Viz Media
Genre: Horror

Eight short stories comprise this collection of horror tales. Demons and ghosts, and old houses and lonely forests. The haunting and the haunted. Terrifying spirits with gruesome hobbies. The dead and the disturbed. You’ll find all of that and more in this collection. Summoned spirits keep a man from ever leaving his bed. A woman boards at an old, architecturally impressive house, but her stay brings bizarre changes to every plank, rafter, and shingle. A witch collects the heads of her lovers, but her recent find struggles to survive. A generational family carries down a strange funeral tradition. A girl with an interest in dissecting animals becomes a woman obsessed with finding someone to dissect her own body. An injured hiker survives for a month on a mysterious diet. A famous novelist finds inspiration from interesting people. And finally, a young, troubled girl is helped by a passionately dedicated woman.

This collection of horror short stories is great if you’re into the genre. It’s a bit over dramatic, which isn’t unusual for the supernatural horror genre of manga. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it scary at all. A little creepy at times, a little gross at others, but nothing gave me chills or haunts my mind. That said, the book is exceptionally drawn. Of note are the very expressive eyes on each character. “Dissection-Chan” and “Whispering Woman” in particular use the eyes to convey outward emotion and inward mental state perfectly. And there are some seriously weird things going on in these stories, even if they don’t all quite manage to be creepy. Like a bird demon that saves an injured hiker by feeding him pre-chewed meat, and a woman obsessed with having herself dissected while still alive and aware. There’s also a lot of female characters who are mentally unstable, weird, or just evil. Not to go on a feminist rant here, but why are all the creepy things always sexy (and occasionally naked) women? There are eight stories in here – two female witches, one female spirit, one dissection obsessed woman, one female-aligned bird demon, a dead woman, and two women who go insane. Most of the males in the stories are being haunted or otherwise affected by these women. There’s only one story where a male instigates and carries out the theme. Otherwise, I have no problems with this book, it’s just not the type of book I enjoy. I was impressed by the art, and uninterested in the rest. But if you are a fan of this genre and style of storytelling, by all means, check it out, because it’s probably right up your alley. I also want to point out the phenomenal cover design. Aside from the obvious reference to Edvard Munch’s The Scream, it’s embossed with the images of monsters that appear in the book. It has to be angled just so, and it’s a fantastic effect.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.



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