Manga Review

Smashed

SmashedSmashed
Author: Junji Ito
Publisher: VIZ Media
First Published: April 16, 2019
Genres: Horror, Seinen
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

five-stars
Synopsis:

Thirteen chilling nightmares, presented by the master of horror.

Try not to be noticed when you eat the secret nectar, otherwise you’ll get smashed… What horrific events happened to create the earthbound—people tied to a certain place for the rest of their short lives? Then, a strange haunted house comes to town, but no one expects it to lead to a real hell… Welcome to Junji Ito’s world, a world with no escape from endless nightmares.

Also by this author: Dissolving Classroom, Remina, The Art of Junji Ito: Twisted Visions


My Thoughts

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 to me. The stories that came after to me 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.

“You wanted to see the haunted house this late at night? You got some guts there kid! I like that!”

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.

As always, 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.


Warnings: body horror


About Junji Ito

Junji Ito is a Japanese horror manga artist. He was inspired from a young age by his older sister’s drawing and Kazuo Umezu’s comics and thus took an interest in drawing horror comics himself. Nevertheless, upon graduation, he trained as a dental technician, and until the early 1990s, he juggled his dental career with his increasingly successful hobby — even after being selected as the winner of the prestigious Umezu prize for horror manga.

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