This is one of the more weird story collections I’ve read of Junji Ito’s works. Known as the master of horror manga, Junji Ito has delivered some true spine-chilling page-turners. When it comes to Lovesickness, I felt that it was somewhat lacking. Perhaps I put his works on too high a pedestal as I did read Smashed! And Remina, before I did these creepy tales. Regardless, if you’re looking to read something unsettling or something more ingrained in folklore style settings, you can’t go wrong with this collection.
I stop short of deeming Lovesickness horror though, depending on what country and language you are reading it in, you might have a different experience than I did. All of the stories in this collection felt like I was reading through urban legends from small-town Japan. If you’re an American reader, the pacing and often goofiness reminded me of the Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark series I read so often in elementary school. That isn’t a jab at Lovesickness- though… at least not entirely. I am reminded of the eeriness of reading those books in the dark. Simultaneously, short stories like “The Strange Hikizuri Siblings” came off more as goofy than anything I could actually be scared of. The way this family is drawn is absolutely terrifying, and to their credit, they do kill someone with zero remorse. Is my apathy for something like cold-blooded murder something Ito was aiming for? Or am I just not scared because of their cartoonish personalities? Maybe there’s genius in there.
After being a little underwhelmed for 2 stories and 334 pages, we get to the short stories Phantom Pain and The Rib Woman. These two are by far my favorite of the entire anthology, and they are among the shortest stories- each being barely 30 pages each. The former story excels at torturing the main character physically and psychologically. In the end, no one really wins in a Junji Ito story but what makes this short story leagues better than its 2 predecessors is its ability to truly close the walls around both the tale’s main character and the reader. The Phantom Pain is about a house that slowly takes the ability to feel pain and illness from someone and have another individual absorb it. It’s a cycle of suffering that never ends- no happy ending. It’s Classic. Rib Woman delivers the same sense of impending danger. It is a truly punishing story of falling for the evils of societal beauty standards. Even at its ends, we are left to always wonder, along with the characters, if they will ever be safe again.
Despite some of the shortcomings I felt came from this collection, without a doubt, Ito’s style of art remains the perfect aesthetic for his own twisted sense of horror. For this reason alone, is this anthology of stories worth adding to your collection. The “monsters” are gruesome and detailed. I found myself staring at an entire panel or page, just
admiring the chaotic beauty dedicated to each wrinkle of clothing or the look in someone’s eyes. Perhaps the greatest terror of all is how he can transform everyday “people” into true monsters. Lovesickness and its proceeding stories remind us that the true devils are among us, out of the shadows and perhaps someone you know and care for dearly.
I’ve made it clear enough, I think, in saying that this wasn’t my favorite collection to read through, but it was still visual candy to horror manga fans out there. Whether you agree with me or not, I encourage anyone to pick up this series of horror stories. Just be sure not to judge a few stories on the whole collection. I mean, it could be worse. You could have the last story in the collection be titled “Memories of Real Poop.” Now that would be true horror.
Lovesickness: Junji Ito Story Collection – Review
Lovesickness: Junji Ito Story Collection
An anthology of stories by the master of horror manga, Junji Ito. Prepare to be immersed in some truly bone chilling tales.