Warnings: Body Horror
I am so happy that this collection has been brought over to English, Smashed is another phenomenal collection by the talented Junji Ito. This volume combines two story collections, Yami no Koe and Shin Yami no Koe Kaiden. I had read the first of the two several years ago and enjoyed it, rating the book with four stars. I had always meant to read the second, and so I was pleased that this edition included both. I didn’t mind re-reading the stories that I had read previously, as Ito’s work is always a joy to re-read.
The first few stories I feel are the weakest of the collection, though I can still appreciate both for their imagination, they felt like episodes of The Twilight Zone. The stories that came after were better, I enjoyed each one. I was less impressed by the two Soichi stories, which are additional stories that try to develop the mysterious man that runs the haunted house in The Mystery of the Haunted House. I loved the first story, the gorgeous art, and the appearance of a favorite creepy character that has made appearances in other Ito stories. The side stories moved into black comedy territory, and I found that I just didn’t like Soichi’s character at all. Soichi’s Version certainly added a twist to the original haunted house story which made me chuckle at least, and Soichi’s Pet included a memorable monster cat that I liked.
Excluded from this edition was Grease, which was included in Shiver. While Grease was one of the best stories in the original Japanese collection, I was glad to not have the same story reprinted in two editions. Despite that, this book had a lot of standout stories, Earthbound and Deathrow Doorbell being my favorites. The theme of punishment and damnation for crimes and the need to let go are exhibited brilliantly in both stories, and they’re stories that have stayed in my mind for years.
I always have to highlight how beautiful Ito’s work is, with painstakingly detailed panels that are striking. His art style is so distinct and some of the best horror art I’ve seen, I will always be a lifelong fan of his work. Overall a great collection that I am glad to finally have on my shelves, the decision to combine the two collections was a wise choice and the collective body of work helps to hold up the weaker stories. This is one I strongly recommend for horror fans, and it isn’t a bad starting point either for folks that are new to his work.
“You wanted to see the haunted house this late at night? You got some guts there kid! I like that!”