I am always overjoyed when I see another Junji Ito collection being brought over to English, Ito has such a large body of work and there are so many gems that there is always a wealth of great stories to read. Venus in the Blind Spot really is a “best of” collection and includes some of Ito’s strongest and most famous works as well as some one-shots that were published as standalone works in various magazines.
This collection includes some of Ito’s most incisive critiques of Japanese culture. The Sad Tale of the Principal Post is a short but clear portrait of the traditional family structure, and the weight carried by the patriarch. This is especially relevant given the high rate of suicide amongst middle-aged males in Japan, crushed by the pressures of society.
“Being by yourself’s boring… We’re all friends… All friends… Reach out from the heart… Billions alone… Billions alone…”
Fan favorites such as The Enigma of Amigara Fault and Billions Alone (also known as Army of One) are critical of the Japanese isolationist society, and the way that society entrances and warps people. My absolute favorite story, the titular Venus in the Blind Spot is a literal horror about the male gaze and the violence that is wrought on young women.
More than anything, I also really love when Ito writes autobiographical stories that give the reader a look into his personal life. His admiration for Kazuo Umezu and his first experiences with horror manga had me laughing out loud. Ito also adapted works by Robert Hichens and Edogawa Ranpo which helped to introduce me to great authors.
This volume also included a lot of color pages which I was surprised about. I had mixed feelings about them overall, colored images don’t have the same pop that black and white does for me, but they are still very beautiful and brought some panels to life. In all, this was another strong collection for Ito that I feel would be a great introduction to his work for any new reader. Every story was interesting and memorable and I had a lot of fun reading.
Warnings: body horror, gore, sexual assault, violence, death