Book Review – Shiver by Junji Ito

“What will happen to me when I have an eternal dream? The morning after I have a dream that never ends, what will I have become?”

After the year of extreme tension waiting for the publishers to finally churn this out – though I suppose the combination of congealed shark’s blood, cursed dream crystals and alien rib-bone they have to bind Ito books in is pretty difficult to piece together – it’s not disappointing.

This particular combination of stories really resonates with me for some reason. I’d read some of them separately before but together they create a strangely… familiar sort of atmosphere. In their own quirky, nightmarish way they’re relateable – Ito’s unique interpretation of real-life issues and the anxiety that follows in their shadows.
Bad skin, insomnia, family tradition and preoccupation with looks take a demented turn for the worst – a Lovecraftian ordeal out of something seemingly ordinary.

Perhaps it’s not the showcase I would’ve chosen to represent the artist’s massive gallery of stories, but I like how it’s handled. I was mildly offended that “Army of One” is absent. You know, the quintessential Ito short? But, if we’re lucky, the popularity of this one will inspire the publishers to reprint more of his work. *crosses fingers*

Overview and Score

Used Record – A label-less record causes anyone who hears it to become obsessed with the weird song it plays. I don’t find this one as powerful as the author did, judging by the commentary, but I agree that it has a wonderful concept. 3.5/5

The Long Dream – Personal favourite out of these. A man begins to have dreams which in his mind last many days, eventually stretching out to years, then centuries. Surprisingly sad and thought-provoking. 5/5

Shiver – A cursed gem causes whoever holds it to suffer bizarre skin and psyche afflictions. Pretty unusual, not that scary but the art is especially cool in this one. 4/5

Fashion Model – A disturbing-looking model seems to stalk an amateur filmmaker after he sees her face in a magazine. Intense, if kind of obvious. 4/5

Hanging Balloons – A celebrity’s suicide causes a swarm of unknown objects to arrive, that seem to be a cross between balloons and ghosts. A very weird and eldritch take on mass suicide and the aftermath of a famous person’s death. 4.5/5

Marionette Mansion / House of Puppets – A puppetmaster’s son falls into his father’s footsteps, only to the extreme. Deranged and intriguing. 4/5

Painter – This is a short from the Tomie series about a painter who grows obsessed, like most do, with the destructive Tomie. Gotta love that liquid nightmare of a painting he makes towards the end. 4.5/5

Glyceride / Greased Oil – A family lives in a greasy, non-ventilated apartment above a restaurant, which mysteriously seems to become more and more saturated with oil. Gross and disarming. This one became infamous for awhile due to being the most nausea-inducing thing ever inked on paper. While I don’t recommend ingesting food within ten feet of this story, it definitely leaves an impression. A permanent, slimy impression unfortunately. 5/5

Honored Ancestors – A woman suffers amnesia brought on by the trauma of witnessing a very bizarre tradition her boyfriend’s family keeps. One of the more surreal shorts, particularly the caterpillar made of brains (which is also featured on the cover, if you were wondering). 4.5/5

Fashion Model: Cursed Frame – A short bonus sequel to “Fashion Model”. 3/5

General Score – 5/5

 

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