Junji Ito either needed more hugs as a child or he’s just good at this. I’m not sure which is more worrying.
CW: Death, spirals, graphic images, language
Junji Ito is the eminent horror mangaka. Uzumaki is genuinely the only manga or comic or book that made my skin crawl. If you haven’t picked that up, DO IT.
Everyone talks about Uzumaki when they bring up Junji Ito, but he is a prolific writer. He has tons of short stories and novels (all manga, of course) that have been translated. If you are into short horror stories but don’t have access to the manga, Funimation Now has the Junji Ito Collection for streaming. I just started watching it a few nights ago to get in the mood for this review and it is SPOOKY.
Remina is the most recent translation and, boy, does it deliver the spook factor. But in a more Lovecraftian, Cosmic Horror kind of way.
The year is 20XX. There are flying cars and space travel.
Professor Oguro is becoming a celebrity all around the world due to his discovery of a new planet, which he names Remina. The planet’s namesake, his daughter Remina, becomes an instant icon. Fan clubs, debuts, all sorts of stuff. Soon, though, one of the lead researchers discovers that the planet is moving towards Earth… and leaving nothing in its wake.
The people of Japan are terrified and restless, looking for someone to blame. The brunt of the anger is directed at Remina (the girl) and her father. The mob believes the only way to prevent the planet from being swallowed by Remina (the planet) is to kill the Oguros.
However, when Remina (the planet) is within Earth’s orbit, it stops. A crew is sent from the moon to investigate the planet. What the crew discovers on the planet is worse than what anyone could have imagined. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory and this book truly needs to be read to get the full experience.
Ito is just an incredible artist and writer. The way he shows how people descend (spiral) into madness and chaos is nothing short of masterful. In light of all of the things happening in the world, there are definitely parallels we can draw from Remina’s story to our current events. There is a pandemic ongoing that has claimed over 200,000 Americans, a presidential election next week that will most likely lead to unavoidable civil unrest, and we are all looking for someone to blame. Granted, I have a tiny bit more faith in our world than Ito does, I don’t think we will try to sacrifice at 16 year old girl… Hopefully.
As for the book itself, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love horror manga so I was surprised when I saw that this was a translation/reprint that I already hadn’t read it. What I love about this is that the horror doesn’t come from the Remina (the planet), although you do get some really unsettling imagery. It comes from how people react to Remina (the girl). Immediately, people fawn all over her, but turn on a dime when she is considered a witch. People who she considered allies were only in it for their selfish desires. Even at the end of the world, people have an angle. You can’t depend on people you thought were there for you. And that’s what’s scary.
I’m going to give this a 5/5, 9/10.
If you need a bit of a palette cleanser, I get it. Here’s a video of Junji Ito reacting to people’s cats. Enjoy.
This Digital ARC was provided by VIZ Media and NetGalley. Thanks so much for letting me terrify myself!