Author: Junji Ito
Release Date: Horror
Junji Ito is one of the most well-known horror mangakas with an epic catalog under his belt. Remina, released by Viz, feels fairly consistent with his previous works but does manage to branch out a bit into more technological sci-fi alongside his usual cosmic and body horror.
Remina’s plot revolves around a world-renowned scientist discovering a strange new planet. The planet is found on the scientist’s daughter’s birthday, causing him to name it after her, Remina. Other bizarre coincidences between the planet and his daughter begin to occur as Remina seems to gradually come closer to earth. During this seemingly inevitable collision, the public has a growing obsession with the scientist’s daughter, and things quickly escalate from there.
With Remina, Ito goes further with futuristic sci-fi elements than any of his previous work. The setting is an idealized Tokyo in the year 20xx. Buildings with swooping designs and hover cars cover the urban landscape. It is possible there was a deeper meaning intended from this setting contrasting with apocalyptic themes. Still, it could also simply be Ito wanting an excuse to draw something different with futuristic art designs. It’s an interesting departure from his previous work and one that might not really hold huge importance to the overall story but doesn’t distract from it too much either way.
Art throughout is top-notch, and some of Junji Ito at his best. Fantastic character expressions and horrific details are all here, along with the aforementioned futuristic architecture. My personal favorites saw immensely intricate body horror and surreal and abstract cosmic images that show up a bit later on. If Remina was Ito working digitally, it’s indistinguishable from any of his traditional work. His iconic hatching style is preserved and most prominent when in gruesome detail.
The story starts strong and gets straight into chaos almost immediately. From early on, Remina quickly becomes a scenario of escalating circumstances that takes the reader on a rollercoaster of events. Themes of obsession, cult, and mob mentality are featured heavily throughout. Existential dread and desperation loom over every character’s actions and motivations. This leads to a lot of interesting and terrifying scenarios. Ito also manages to balance his dark sense of humor, commonly causing laughs along with scares.
Unfortunately, I did feel that some of the later sections get a bit over the top and slightly more difficult to follow. For some more into heavy action anime and manga, it might not seem like a huge change in tone, but it came across as a little jarring to me. At times it can feel like characters appear like a revolving door coming and going. By the end, it more or less comes together, but coincidence does play a huge part in the narrative. As insane as things get, though, I still really enjoyed this chaotic journey.
Remina takes the reader on a wild and horrifying journey full of apocalyptic and cosmic terror. Junji Ito’s art throughout rivals some of the best in the industry. There are moments near the end that seem slightly out of tone with the rest of the narrative, but it does little to take away from most of the story. Remina might not be the most tonally consistent, but it’s still a scary good time.
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