Title: Deserter: Junji Ito Story Collection
Author: Junji Ito
Release Date: December 21, 2021
Publisher: Viz Media
Junji Ito is probably the most renowned Horror Mangaka in the world, with their story Uzumaki considered their magnum opus of the genre. Deserter: Junji Ito Story Collection is a reminder of the fantastic and satisfyingly creepy mind behind such groundbreaking horror stories that represent Japanese Horror overseas.
Since Deserter is a collection of stories, there is not much depth to their delivery, making the enjoyment of the manga stem from Ito’s way to spook the reader with traditional body horror and suspenseful encounters of the supernatural kind. Each one of the stories within this collection feels like small homages to Ito’s works bringing everything a fan would love.
These stories by no means are on par with the longer stories within Ito’s works, and for some fans, that may mean it isn’t worth looking into. However, the appeal that makes Deserter a must-read is its simplicity. For those who have not read horror manga or are new to the genre, this is a perfect introduction into the mind of horror writers, of course, with focus on Ito himself.
There is no overarching plot, or need for foreshadowing due to them being short stories, so as a reader, you can focus on enjoying the ride being presented to you and take everything at face value. That’s not to say there is no esoteric value in this collection, with many of the stories appealing to myths that are said to be true in real life. It is difficult to explain these things without spoiling the stories, but be prepared to see commentary on war, socialism based on family relationships, and the twisted side to love both platonic and romantic.
I was creeped out yet glued to each story, wanting to see not only how these horrors began but also where they would lead and if any of the stories had at least a happier ending than the story before it. The flagship short story is called Deserter and was definitely worth being the name of the collection, reaching more toward real-life scenarios in Japan’s War scene. However, the build-up of all of the other stories makes the events of the last story feel like an accumulation of the themes in the story previously.
Deserter is the perfect pick-up for a taste of Junji Ito’s work as well as a refreshing return for veteran fans of his work or horror manga in general.
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