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The Liminal Zone Manga Review!

The Liminal Zone Manga Review!

-Written by: Chris S | October 2022

With my favorite holiday, Halloween, right around the corner, now seems to be the perfect time for another Junji Ito review! Having reviewed other works from the master mangaka of horror, such as Sensor and Lovesickness, and collecting all of his books we have on our site, you can tell I'm a fan. One of his newest releases is The Liminal Zone, a collection of 4 stories Junji Ito wrote while being in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of 2021, as he explains in the Afterword.

The first story, "Weeping Woman Way," isn't necessarily scary, but its concept is definitely unsettling. Imagine not being able to stop crying with tears constantly running down your face. This is a condition our female protagonist, Mako, is afflicted with after visiting a town with her fiance, where women weep at funerals to help those who have died pass on. However, this immense sadness continues to disrupt Mako's entire life in a way that reminds me of how our own lives were disrupted by the pandemic. Even though there are a few creepy images within the story, the true horror comes from the psychological fear of never being happy again. In this way, "Weeping Woman Way" makes for a very gripping read.

The award for most grotesque images in this book goes to the second story, "Madonna." Seeing a statue of the Virgin Mary crying blood already makes for a very powerful start to a scary story, but the religious cult led by a witch who continuously grows uglier and people being turned into pillars of salt like Lot's wife in the Bible is what really drives the horror in this story. Just like in the classic horror movies The Exorcist and Carrie, sometimes the scariest stories revolve around religious themes and symbols.

Unfortunately, the other two stories in The Liminal Zone aren't nearly as engaging as the first two, in my opinion. The setup for "The Spirit Flow of Aokigahara" seemed promising since it takes place in a real forest in Japan known for being used frequently for suicides. Surely this story was going to have some very unnerving content with such a dark topic, right? Well, the couple in the story who intend to commit suicide together instead find a supernatural cave where spirits flow out of the mouth every night, which didn't seem nearly as scary to me as I would have hoped, and the eagerness of the male protagonist to bathe in this "spirit flow" didn't really interest me.

Meanwhile, "Slumber" had a very compelling plot of a man who dreams of murdering and wakes up to find that the murders actually happened during the night. Something about this story felt both too similar to other horror stories and entirely too predictable. In the afterward, Junji Ito admits that he may be out of good ideas, and these last two stories may unfortunately be what he was talking about. Not only were they not unique or memorable, but they even felt like copies of other, better stories that Junji Ito has written, such as "The Enigma of Amigara Fault" and parts of Lovesickness.

Overall, if you are a collector of Junji Ito's works, The Liminal Zone will look great next to his other books on your shelf, and there are some quality scenes that give you the kind of content you expect from Ito. But as a whole, these stories do not rank among my favorites of his works. Read it and find out for yourself!

The Liminal Zone Manga (Hardcover)

The Liminal Zone Manga features story and art by Junji Ito.

What destiny awaits them after the screaming?

After abruptly departing from a train in a small town, a couple encounters a "weeping woman"—a professional mourner—sobbing inconsolably at a funeral. Mako changes afterward—she can't stop crying! In another tale, having decided to die together, a couple enters Aokigahara, the infamous suicide forest. What is the shocking otherworldly torrent that they discover there?

One of horror's greatest talents, Junji Ito beckons readers to join him in an experience of ultimate terror with four transcendently terrifying tales.

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