- Mangaka : Ito, Junji
- Publisher : Viz Media
- Genre : Horror, Mystery, Supernatural, Josei
- Published : March 2023
Nowadays, whenever Viz announces a new Junji Ito short story collection, the fans will be ready to get the book whenever it’s available. Because at this point, collecting every single volume of this Japanese Horror master’s works has become a niche hobby in and of itself among the manga reading community. Add the fact that Viz usually publishes these collections in beautiful oversized hardcover editions, and you don’t really have a reason to pass on such a great deal. And now, we’ve got a new one to add to the collection. It’s called Tombs, and here’s our brief review of this short story collection.
Similar to other Junji Ito short story collections, the short stories in this collection have different page counts from one another. Some are only around 15 pages long, while others can be more than 50 pages long. The titular story in this book, “Tombs”, is one of the longest ones in this collection. It tells the story of a strange town where the people who die there are turned into tombstones. As a result, the town is littered with man-sized tombstones everywhere.
There’s also a story about a deranged middle-age woman who is obsessed with creating statues of her supposedly young and beautiful self. She is even willing to kill other people in order to obtain even better material for her statue. And then there’s the story of a giant deep sea creature that washes ashore. The scientist has no idea what kind of creature it is, but imagine their surprise when they find so many people cramped inside the stomach of this mysterious monster. Those are the kind of strange and horrifying stories that you can find in this collection.
1. A Dense Collection
Tombs: Junji Ito Story Collection may only have nine short stories in it, but this book somehow feels jam-packed with content. The main reason for this is likely because each story has a rather generous page count, such as the aforementioned “Tombs” that is 60 pages long, and stories like “The Strange Tale of the Tunnel”, “Bronze Statue”, and “Floaters” that are around 50 pages long. As a result, this book actually feels like a collection of novellas, rather than just a bunch of short stories.
Another advantage of longer page counts is that the stories get the chance to be truly fleshed out. They are not just a bizarre thing that happens in an afternoon, but they are actually stories that have a beginning, a middle, and a proper ending. That is why, compared to previous Junji Ito short story collections that have more stories in them, such as Deserter which has 12 stories or Smashed which has 13 stories, Tombs manages to stand apart because the stories are way denser than those aforementioned collections.
2. A Great Selection of Horror
Junji Ito’s stories can be roughly divided into the following categories: disturbing, gross, and scary. His brand of horror is unparalleled in its ability to evoke a sense of anxiety, disgust, and also fear into our hearts. For example, stories involving Soichi the deranged boy are rarely scary, but they are certainly disturbing. Some stories such as “Greased” from Shiver and “The Snail" from Uzumaki will surely make your stomach churn in disgust. And then there are the truly scary stories that are usually given the honor of being the title of the collection, such as Shiver, Smashed, Deserter, and also Tombs.
In most Junji Ito short story collections, we usually get a combination of the three different categories. That being said, some collections may have more disturbing stories than others, such as Smashed, while others have a bigger concentration of stories that can disgust you, such as Shiver. As for Tombs, well, the overwhelming majority of stories in this collection belong to the “terrifying” category. The slow burn horror of “Tombs”, the insidious terror of “Bronze Statue”, the constant feeling of dread in “The Window Next Door”, and the haunting story of “The Strange Tale of the Tunnel”, just to name a few. So as you can see, there’s a fine selection of horror in this collection.
1. Newly Published Old Stories
Although this is the first time the short stories in this book have been officially published in English, they are actually not new stories. On the contrary, Junji Ito actually wrote these stories back in the early 90s. Not only that, they were officially compiled and published as a book back in 1994. So if you’re looking for some brand new stories from the horror master, then this collection is not for you.
Compared to the other Junji Ito short story collections that were published within the last year or so, namely Deserter and Liminal Zone, Tombs is easily the best one of the bunch. The reason is mainly because most of the stories in this book have a generous page count, which allows them to be truly fleshed out. So if you’re a fan of Junji Ito’s works, or even if you’re a fan of manga or horror stories in general, then you should have this book in your collection.
Have you read Tombs? If you have, what’s your favorite short story in this collection? Let us know in the comment section below.