Dissolving Classroom TP
Publisher: Vertical Comics
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Price: $12.95
Creator: Junji Ito
Format: 178 pgs., Black & White, Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-9429-9385-8
Age Rating: Mature
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

For manga fans, the recent months have been a treasure trove of Junji Ito books translated into English. Just last month, VIZ Media collected and published Ito's original debut manga, Tomie.  Now, Vertical Comics follows suit with one of his most recent contemporary social commentaries with Dissolving Classroom.

In fact, Dissolving Classroom shares a thematic core with Tomie.  Like its predecessor, Dissolving Classroom is divided into five chapters which focus entirely on the grotesque siblings Yuuma Azawa and his demented sister Chizumi, and their recycled gimmick of dissolving and at times, consuming people.  Unlike Tomie, however, each of these chapters is related as certain characters reappear as people begin to investigate the horrors left behind by the brother and sister team.  And, moving beyond Tomie, Dissolving Classroom utilizes each of these brutal and disturbing encounters as a social critique by Ito on obsessions with beauty, romantic relationships, and insincerity that plagues modern life.

Dissolving Classroom also contains two shorter vignettes "The Return" and "Children of the Earth," both haunting examples of Ito's brilliance with concise, one-shot manga tales.  Ito enters the story at the very end with a single page afterword strip narrated by Azawa as a postscript on the themes of each chapter.

Whereas Tomie's appeal rests with hardcore Ito fans, Dissolving Classroom is an entirely different animal--no familiarity with Ito is required to enjoy and to appreciate his detailed line work and mastery of the horror genre.  More in the vein of Uzumaki, Dissolving Classroom is a short, beautiful glimpse into the mind of Junji Ito and a prime example of his influence on the horror industry in Japanese manga and film.  Retailers wanting an inexpensive, single volume introduction to Ito for their customers should not ignore Vertical's latest offering.

--Nathan Wilson