I have been on a Junji Ito kick recently. Ever since first reading Tomie this past Halloween, I have made it a goal to read all of his work. I even did a review on Remina a while back. You could say I’ve become a fan of his over the past few months. That streak continues with the newest addition to the Junji Ito Story Collection, Lovesickness.
I knew the story depicted on the front cover because it was an episode of the Junji Ito Collection anime. This story takes up more than half of the book, followed by a few shorter stories. In Lovesickness, a young man named Ryusuke returns to the town he used to live in as a child. The town has a tradition where people stand on street crossroads and ask the first passerby they see to tell their fortunes. On foggy nights, many young women encounter a mysterious young man with pierced ears and black clothes. Unfortunately, encountering this young man turns out to become a bad omen since his fortunes often lead to women committing suicide, afraid that they will never find true love. Ryusuke has a dark secret he has hidden since his childhood that connects him with these disturbing new events, but I certainly won’t spoil that here.
In true Junji Ito fashion, Lovesickness has a bleak narrative with disturbing artwork. In the titular story, fog enhances the gloomy atmosphere and is often followed by the appearance of the ghostly young man and the gruesome suicide of a woman he says will never find love. While an interesting concept, it does seem to get pretty repetitive as it continues to happen over the course of the story. One of the tropes I have noticed throughout many of his stories involve a young, attractive person who drives others into madness, and Lovesickness is no different. Still, the unfolding of the mystery and the discovery of Ryusuke’s connection to these misfortunes makes for a gripping read.
As for the other stories in the collection, the characters that stuck out most to me were the siblings from “The Strange Hikizuri Siblings.” Many of them had grotesque faces that reminded me of the Twilight Zone episode “The Masks.” Go ahead, look it up! In addition to their ugly appearances, the siblings all have intense, psychotic personalities that make them one of the most dysfunctional families I have ever seen in fiction. “The Mansion of Phantom Pain” is another interesting tale about a boy who experiences pain from his own house, similar to amputees who feel pain in a phantom limb. The last story is called “Memories of Real Poop,” and as you can tell by the title, it was a strange one. It’s about a boy at a festival who wants to buy fake, rubber poop. At only 4 pages long, I didn’t understand why it was included in this collection since it had no horror elements and didn’t make any sense.
By far my favorite story in Lovesickness was “The Rib Woman.” It involves a surgeon who offers surgery to remove womens’ ribs to give them a slimmer figure. As you can imagine, there is very graphic content, but the story itself is reminiscent of campfire ghost stories. Women that receive the cosmetic surgery begin hearing a distressing sound whose origin is the stuff of nightmares.
In general, Lovesickness isn’t among my favorite Junji Ito works, but the stories in this book provide the kind of intriguing plots and disturbing imagery you would hope and expect to come from this master of horror manga; all except for “Memories of Real Poop.” What were you thinking there, Mr. Ito?
Spring has sprung and love fills the air in this Junji Ito story! As idyllic as it sounds, this manga is anything but the happy romances you are used to seeing. Just in case you didn’t know, Junji Ito is a horror mangaka known for his gruesome stories and highly detailed artwork. Lovesickness is no exception. The main story involves a high school boy named Ryusuke and a strange mist that enveloped an intersection in his town. Around the intersection, there is a mysterious man in black who tells fortunes to whoever gathers at the intersection. However, anyone there can tell someone’s fortune which is what Ryusuke starts to do. Ladies start to become obsessed with the mysterious man in black who tells fortunes at the intersection and then the horror starts.
Along with the main story, there is a story about poop. There is a story about rib-removal to get a curvier figure which was very well illustrated and scary. There is a story about a family of six parentless kids who all act horrible to each other. In this story Junji Ito displays his unique talent of creepy character design. The main story is very good, you get attached to the characters, see them devolve into hysteria, and at the end of the story there is still a lot of mystery. Much like Remina, you will have questions at the end which adds to the suspense! The art is highly detailed in Junji Ito’s classic style and there is truly some nightmare material in this one!
Some of Junji Ito’s works follow the same formula. In comparison to my previous review of Remina, both Lovesickness and Remina deal with a mysterious inhuman figure that is causing trouble. People start to fall madly in love with this figure and go to great lengths to fulfill their desires. Hysterics ensue and then comes the gore. This formula can also be applied to Tomie. Of course there are Junji Ito stories that do not follow this formula such as The Enigma of Amigara Fault, which is at the end of Gyo.
If you are a fan ofTomie, Remina, or Junji Ito in general, Lovesickness is a must buy. If you are new to Junji Ito or haven't read any of his previous works, this is a good place to start out, especially if you are into twisted horror romances like School Days. Even if you aren't into the twisted romance theme, the other short stories offer a good variety of themes and plots.
Lovesickness: Junji Ito Story Collection Manga features story and art by Junji Ito.
Ryusuke returns to the town he once lived in because rumors are swirling about girls killing themselves after encountering a bewitchingly handsome young man. Harboring his own secret from time spent in this town, Ryusuke attempts to capture the beautiful boy and close the case, but…
Starting with the strikingly bloody “Lovesickness,” this volume collects ten stories showcasing horror master Junji Ito in peak form, including “The Strange Hikizuri Siblings” and “The Rib Woman.”Add to CartLearn More