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January 20, 2018

Bento Bako Weekly: Shiver: Junji Ito Selected Stories

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Written by: Dr. Bustos
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Shiver: Junji Ito Selected Stories
Publisher: Asahi Shimbun/Viz Media
Story and Art: Junji Ito
Translations: Jocelyn Allen & Naomi Kokubo
Touch-Up Art & Lettering: James Dashiell & Eric Erbes
Cover & Graphic Design: Adam Grano
Editor: Masumi Washington

Junji Ito is one of the biggest names in horror when it comes to manga. His visuals and his artwork can leave your skin crawling for days after. He’s able to create some of the most unnerving visuals and go along with common theme of obsession. His most recent anthology is a best of, picked by the man himself. Warning for anyone who suffers from trypophobia the cover of this book and one of the stories gets into all those holes that can gross you out. Ito’s known for gross out horror so, in general, avoid if that isn’t for you. If you don’t mind it, you can dive right in.

The collection has stories from through out his career and what’s really nice is after every story, you get commentary and notes from him about what inspired him and what the process was to fine tune the stories to what they eventually became. Depending on what kind of Ito stories you may be a fan of, these ones feel like a good sampler platter of his works. Many of these stories are about obsession, either the kind that’s all too real or some sort of paranormal source involved. Others are just horrific ideas that their characters are forced to try and survive in.

In the first story, Used Record, the obsession for a rare song and the dark origins of it lead to murder and death everyone it goes. Shiver, the collection’s name sake is the one to avoid if you have trypophobia and is also about obsession and what it can lead you to. Fashion Model was my least favorite simply because it seemed the most banal and so nothing was really all that surprising. Hanging Blimp is a story that starts off with a bizarre mystery that then goes into even weirder and world-ending phenomenon. It also has the best random side person for one page who proves to be the most ready monster hunter in the world, bless them. Marionette Mansion had me in discomfort from the moment the reveal of the title’s meaning happened until the very end, not a fan of puppets or marionettes. Painter is one of the stories about Tomie, who is probably one of Ito’s most popular ongoing characters and things certainly escalate in this tale. The Long Dream is a story with an interesting premise that explores the good and bad of what it could mean to dream forever. Honored Ancestors is definitely Ito at his visual horror best mixed with psychological horror and has a horrible ending. Greased makes you feel the suffocation of the story and may make you want to shower after it since it’s got such a gross and dirty feeling in it. Fashion Model: Cursed Frame is a new story that hasn’t been published before, I’m mixed on it since it brings back one of my least favorite characters but I did find the lead’s fear an interesting fear to have.

Shiver is a collection for fans of Junji Ito who haven’t been able to get some of his stories in a print format before. If the stories seem new to you, then definitely pick it up, especially if you want the new story. Fans who don’t want to have just scanlations or a collection of different magazines and books to collect stories will enjoy having a nice hardcover on their shelves. If you aren’t a Junji Ito fan, this wont win you over, to be fair, your reasons may be that the visuals are too much and that’s completely understandable. If you are even a passing Junji Ito fan, definitely give it a chance, it’s a nice peek into his thought process getting to his stories.

Dr. Bustos



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