I am honored to welcome you all to the first entry in Anime Horrors! Each month I’ll be sharing a mix editorials, reviews, and interviews regarding all that’s anime and manga horror. There are so many great titles out there that deserve recognition, and it’s my goal to celebrate the art form with fans (and hopefully introduce a few titles to you all along the way).
For our first installment of Anime Horrors, we review Junji Ito’s Frankenstein.
For years Junji Ito has proven himself to be a master in contemporary horror. From his short story collections to the epic Uzumaki, Ito’s work taps into the existential, provoking anxieties and chills. In his latest work, he adapts the gothic classic of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Along with some additional short stories, Ito’s Frankenstein makes for an excellent addition to his bibliography.
Adapting the classic tale into manga format makes for a condensed version of the original novel; besides forgoing some of the philosophical elements found in Shelley’s Frankenstein, Ito follows the general plotline. The tale involves Victor Frankenstein retelling the story of his monstrous creation, and the agony it has brought upon his life.
It’s in Ito’s adaptation where we see one of the more chilling versions of the Frankenstein monster to date. Ito’s line work and shadowing of the creature exude physicality off the page; the gunk slithering across its eyes and the blood emerging from its stitched body parts bring out textures that readers can feel while looking upon the monster. Like much of Ito’s past work there is an even balance between illustrations and writing; the Frankenstein story is text heavy, but Ito does a superb job presenting the thoughts and dialogue of characters, while having plenty of room for the action and drama to shine. Having the added visuals makes Frankenstein more intimate in all its sinister moments.
While not all the short stories after Frankenstein are equally chilling, they are all still enjoyable reads. Exploring the existential and offering plenty of body horror, some of the imagery in these short stories is downright terrifying. That shouldn’t be a big surprise for long-time readers of Ito’s; of his contemporary peers, Ito is one of the masters of the manga/comic format. Ito’s images guide the reader on a slow burn trip, their eyes hovering over each panel with anticipation for what’s to come next. From children who turn into grotesque dolls to people who melt into gunk, there’s a variety of nightmarish images to take in.
For longtime fans of Ito’s, Frankenstein is a must read; for those who may not have heard of his work, Frankenstein makes for a solid start into a whole new world of horrors. Ito’s Frankenstein is a testament to the artist’s range and vision regarding his work; the drive to adapt the classic Frankenstein is no simple task, but Ito does a tremendous job honoring the source material, while still making the story his own.
Thanks for reading the first entry in Anime Horrors! I have many more creepy anime delights in the works for the near future, so stay tuned and expect more soon!