Junji Ito returns to the horror genre for the first time in nearly a decade with a new collection of eerie and bizarre tales. He is one of the most famous horror manga writers in the nation; his stories range from beautiful to weird and disturbing. Although Fragments of Horror has a lot of promise and has a couple of fantastic horror tales, some of the storytelling seems too familiar and lacking for it to be enjoyable.
“The Futon” is the opening story for Fragments of Horror. While it contains some disturbing images, it was too short for the story itself to be memorable. More could have been done with it to make it special. Other stories that seemed to be quite lacking included “Magami Nanakuse”. In “Magami Nanakuse”, a young woman is obsessed with a quirky author. She contacts this author and then she is later invited to her home in the middle of nowhere. While this seems like a dream to her, she soon finds out that things are not what they seem in the author’s home. The story quickly becomes a tale about obsessive body tics. I loved the artwork and the way the tics were drawn. Junji Ito shows in this story that he is still the king of body horror in manga. However, the story itself did not make much sense. It had a basic understandable plot with some loose ends that were never really explained.
“A Gentle Goodbye” is a story in Fragments of Horror that had a better storyline. It uses various supernatural elements in order to talk about the process of mourning. In “A Gentle Goodbye”, a family has the power to create images of lost loved ones that last for twenty years. This can help the family members deal with their grieving process without missing their loved ones badly.
Other tales feature a strange hallucinogenic mold, women being dissected for the fun of it, and a man who is cursed after cheating on his girlfriend. Taboo relationships seem to be a recurring theme in Fragments of Horror. Most of the stories feature a man who is cheating on his significant other with another woman. Other stories involve relationships with women that others disapprove of. “Magami Nanakuse” even contains a man who dresses as a woman.
The best thing about Fragments of Horror would be the visuals. Even when the story does not exactly come together, everything is visually disturbing. Because of this, every horror fan should own a copy. A lot of the images are haunting and otherworldly; there is no doubt that they can cause nightmares for those who are not used to reading horror manga. Even though Junji Ito needs to practice his horror storytelling more, there is no doubt that he has not lost his ability to create terrifying images to accompany his stories. “The Futon”, “Tomio”, “Dissection-Chan”, “Magami Nanakuse”, and “The Whispering Woman” are all tales that featured highly disturbing images that I absolutely loved.