Fragments of Horror is currently the last of Ito’s works to be published and I have to say that it is one of his most unusual collections. It is very different from his typical body of work in both good and bad ways. Many of the stories were more absurd and uncanny rather than being straight up horror.
It was also interesting to me that there was a single connecting theme between many of the stories, and that was sex, infidelity, and fetishes. It brings to mind the ero guro movement of 1930’s Japan. Literally translating to “erotic grotesque nonsense,” the description really sums up the movement pretty well. Ito explores the distressing nature of some unusual and disturbing fetishes. Deviancy is met with punishments that are wildly out of proportion, as is typical of Ito’s brand of existential horror.
“It tells the story of a woman battling severe illness, doesn’t it?”
While not his strongest collection, Fragments of Horror does have a handful of fantastic stories that elicited a variety of reactions from me – sadness, discomfort, laughter. There was one point where I had thrown the book down in skin crawling disgust that alarmed my husband. Blackbird, Gentle Goodbye, and The Whispering Woman in particular were my favorites of the collection.
Long time fans of Ito’s work may enjoy this collection, though it is not one that I would recommend for those that are new to him. It is not representative of his usual work, and while it did have a few spectacular stories the collection overall was very hit or miss. Ito notes in the afterword that it had been 8 years since he had written horror manga and this is very clear by how experimental some of his stories are.
Title: Fragments of Horror
Author: Junji Ito
Publisher: VIZ Media
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
A new collection of delightfully macabre tales from a master of horror manga. An old wooden mansion that turns on its inhabitants. A dissection class with a most unusual subject. A funeral where the dead are definitely not laid to rest. Ranging from the terrifying to the comedic, from the erotic to the loathsome, these stories showcase Junji Ito’s long-awaited return to the world of horror.