Junji Ito Pens Lovecraftian Horror Stories In New Book: Fragments Of Horror
Junji Ito’s work can be hit or miss. While I loved Tomie (Manga and Live action films), Uzumaki (manga and film) not so much. However, his latest Manga, Fragments of Horror is truly his best work. This is what I would call real horror. You can see the Lovcraftian element here present in this book. When I started to read this book I could not put it down, and managed to read it in one sitting. Fragments of Horror is an anthology of short stories written and drawn by Ito. The nine stories: Futon, Wooden Spirit, Tomio, Gentle Goodbye, Dissection Chan, Blackbird, Whispering woman, and Magami Nanakuse, all explore a particular area of horror whether it be dealing with the physical, psychological or spiritual.
Ito knows exactly what he’s doing here. I do feel he tends to write for the Japanese audience. What I mean by that is, a lot of his stories contain specific details that deal with things that are present in Japanese folklore. As an American, there were some concepts in this book I did not understand, and required more explanation. This is an element of the book I found fascinating. I bookmarked things I didn’t understand and researched them after every story I read. This left me with a strong impression that not only does Ito want to haunt your nightmares, but he wants you to learn as well.
With all my talk of these stories, here is a small synopsis of each one:
Futon: A man can’t seem to get off his futon due to evil wayward spirits
Wooden Spirit: A strange woman arrives at a historical cultural home and falls in love with the home
Tomio: A story About What happens when too much pride causes you to lose your head
Dissection Chan: A mysterious woman has a strange obsession with dissection
Blackbird: A time traveling Raven frightens solitary Mountain hikers
Magami Nanakuse: A author looks for inspiration in the strangest way possible for her next book
Whispering Woman: A young woman works herself into a bad situation taking care of a confused young girl
The Gentle Goodbye : A touching story that shows what happens when you just can’t let go of lost family members
As you can see each stories very different and addresses various subjects. Some stories resonated with me more than others. Tomio, Dissection Chan and Magami Nankuse, were the stand out stories for me. I do want to compliment Ito because the writing solid throughout the book. Ito uses very few words to get a reaction out of you. It is really his art that truly shines throughout as it adds to the suspend and terror of each story. It is not about gore here. It is the way he shapes the face, the facial expression, the action or the inaction, the use of light and the shadow, that adds to the mounting tension that is present from beginning to end. It is clear that HP Lovecraft inspires Ito and his writing and art.
Ito is not everyone’s cup of tea. This is not what young anime fans may be used to with Tokyo Ghoul and Corpse Party. but Fragments Of Horror is truly a refreshing and much needed approach to this genre. I highly recommend this book for young and old fans of Ito, and fans manga and horror who are looking for less gore and more thought provoking stories.