During the summertime, it’s not that difficult to assume folks would want a good scare to pass the evenings. From the renowned manga creator Junji Ito is his newest collection of suspenseful horror, The Liminal Zone, where the author felt there were fewer restrictions in creating his stories. Junji Ito compared his previous experience of creating manga in the magazine format, plotting a story into 32 pages. Now, he could expand his unused ideas further in the digital release format—fun fact: this collection was published originally under the LINE manga app.
The Luminal Zone has a little something for every horror reader, so let’s look at what makes each story unique while not delving too much into spoiler territory.
In The Weeping Woman, the reader is introduced to a young couple named Mako & Yuzuru, traveling to the Tohoku countryside. Before their wedding event, the two stumble upon the sounds of a weeping woman from a funeral. The fated encounter changes not only one of them but their fates as well. The feeling of uncertainty carries over to the next Madonna, where at a boarding school for girls, a student named Maria Amano becomes the center of unwanted attention.
From a strangely obsessive principal to salt, what is the school connection? In The Spirit Flow of Aokigahara, an ill-stricken man named Norio, along with his girlfriend Miki, travel to Mount Fijis Sea of Trees for a grim purpose, only to discover a strange cave that leaves an unforgettable impression.
The last tale, Slumber, introduces Takuya Terada, who has been experiencing gruesome visions in his sleep while a string of murders occurs; he soon starts to question not only his sanity but reality as well.
Will his girlfriend Kamami prove his innocence, or is it too late to save him? Included is the afterword from the author Junji Ito as he explains the creative process in making this book from the beginning of 2021.
My impression is that each respective story exceeds in bringing the suspense that I’m sure readers can enjoy. Madonna was my clear favorite, with Slumber being a close second. However, that isn’t to say the other two stories, The Weeping Woman & The Spirit Flow of Aokigahara, have nothing worth praising as both offer some nice spooky moments in their respective premises.
The stories are told with enough mystery and end in a clear resolution despite that I had a few unanswered questions left. The best thing about the horror genre is that some questions in the story don’t need to be answered, and the mystery itself can be just as intriguing.
Would I recommend this collection to horror fans? Absolutely, the art is consistent with the artists’ signature style, containing plenty of horrific detail that older fans & new readers can appreciate. The writing is true to Junji Ito as well, offering plenty of eerie goodness that can perk up the attention of any causal manga reader.
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