Junji Ito is a true master of horror. With works that dates back as early as the late 1980s, Junji Ito has created many horrifying tales in the manga format. Recently, Ito’s work has developed a larger cult following. This development has led to an upcoming Netflix series set to release in January of 2023. This series will feature several adaptions of the creator’s short stories. The library of Ito’s work boasts many unsettling and memorable tales. However, one collection stands out as a masterpiece of pure horror. Shiver is a nine-story collection. Each story ups the ante in terror and uncomfortable moments. This is an examination of five standout stories from Junji Ito’s Shiver.
The first of the five stories from Junji Ito’s Shiver. Greased is not a tale for those with weak stomachs. Yuri’s father runs a barbecue in their family home. Poor ventilation and housekeeping leave the walls covered in grease and oil. Yuri dreams of running away from it all. Yuri’s brother Goro loves to bully his sister. Goro develops horrible acne and a bizarre taste for the oil. One day Goro attacks Yuri. Their father intervenes, killing his son. The story amps up its stomach-churning premise from there. The striking artwork and unsettling ideas may turn you off barbecue.
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The Hanging Balloons
The Hanging Balloons is an insane, apocalyptic tale of terror. Kazuko is our main character. She is trapped inside her house and running low on food. If she leaves, immediate death will follow. She is taunted by the voices of friends and family. But, these former loved ones have become monsters. Calling back to the work of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. The Hanging Balloons tells the story of a strange phenomenon in which various characters are turned into giant head balloons. The story weaves an intriguing arc involving a vengeful ghost, obsessive mania, a rash of suicides, and eventually an end-of-the-world scenario.
Hopeful scriptwriter Iwasaki cannot shake the feeling that something awful will happen to him. While browsing through a fashion magazine, he comes across the image of a peculiar model. The model, Fuchi, is not the usual example of stunning beauty. Instead, she is quite the opposite. Iwasaki and his friends decide to hire the unconventional model for a role in their film. The group meets up to shoot a scene in the woods. Awkward conversations ensue as the group begins to suspect something is way off with Fuchi. Iwasaki’s earlier belief in a terrible fate becomes justified. The story devolves into a blood-drenched massacre, as the model embraces her monstrous side.
The titular story of the collection. Shiver is the tale of Yuuji, a character who is fascinated by his reclusive neighbor Rina. She is unable to leave her home due to a bizarre medical condition. Yuuji hears her constant screams that bugs are crawling on her skin. A mysterious Doctor visits the house, building the suspense. The story picks up steam when Yuuji discovers Rina’s condition leaves her riddled with various black holes on her body. Junji Ito’s art is unforgettable here. The imagery of those afflicted by the holes will leave any reader shivering.
The Long Dream
Mami is a patient awaiting brain surgery. Mami becomes hysterical as she claims that death has visited her. Dr. Kuroda chalks this up to delusional behavior. But, Mami did receive a visitor. Another patient named Tetsuro Mukoda. Mukoda suffers from horrific nightmares. However, Mukoda claims he is able to spend years in a single dream. Eventually, Mukoda says that Mami is his wife and they have been together for thousands of years. With each night of dreaming Mukoda awakens showing physical changes. The Long Dream evolves into a body horror nightmare reminiscent of early Cronenberg. With a conclusion, no reader will ever forget.
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