ICv2 Stars: 4 (out of 5)
Posted by Nick Smith on December 15, 2020 @ 4:49 pm CT
Publisher: VIZ Signature
Release Date: December 2020
Creator: Junji Ito
Format: 256 pgs., Black & White, 6" x 8.5", Hardcover
Age Rating: Older teen, per publisher
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
As is often the case with the works of Junji Ito, the story deals with concepts that are not entirely new, but are dealt with here in such a strange fashion that it is uniquely a Junji Ito story. In this case, the story blends science fiction tropes with the world of Japanese pop idols and an almost Lovecraftian sense of otherworldly horror. The science fiction parts tend to ignore the realities of astronomy and physics, but that adds to the dreamlike horror of the story. Even the "realistic" parts tend to run at breakneck speed toward horrible things.
In this story, as astrophysicist has just found evidence of a previously-theoretical wormhole that he had predicted. An exo-planet has popped out of it, and if his theory is correct, it may have come here from a parallel universe. The mistake he makes is that, when asked to name it, he gives it his daughter’s name. That instantly puts her into the spotlight in ways that she almost finds comfortable, but not quite. Of course, since it’s a Junji Ito story, things go wrong in drastic ways. As the cover artwork suggests, the story drifts toward the When Worlds Collide scenario, and then toward the darker sides of humanity, even before things get as weird and creepy as this creator will take them.
The story includes moderately gruesome violence and an attempted sexual assault, but both are handled well and should be okay for older teens.
Readers who want comfortable endings and happily-ever-afters should probably not read Junji Ito’s work, but he has a touch for really weird horror. It won’t be for everyone, though, both because of the nature of the story and the nature of the artwork, which often tends toward stylized manga facial expressions. More loving care is given to the artwork of whatever horrors there are than to the normal human beings. Anyone okay with those things will find a strange and interesting work, but it’s easy to see why it took years before an American publisher would take the effort to translate this. It’s not for everyone.
--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.