Deserter: Junji Ito Story Collection

Viz Media. Dec. 2021. 392p. tr. from Japanese by Jocelyne Allen. ISBN 9781974719860. $22.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Cosmic terror, body horror, dread, and madness abound in this collection of 12 short stories created earlier in Ito’s (Sensor) career. “Bio House” opens with a young woman and a biotechnology researcher who share a “penchant for dining on the unusual” sitting down to a meal before taking a series of completely bizarre, impossible to predict twists. “The Reanimator’s Sword” progresses with similarly surreal, intuitive plotting, as a boy determined to capture a ghost ends up uncovering a dark family secret involving a supernatural entity with the power to revive the dead. In “Where the Sandman Lives,” an aspiring novelist tells a young woman, Mari, “the other me that lives in my dreamworld is trying to get out into the real world.” If that isn’t creepy enough, wait until the evil double makes his viscerally disturbing emergence. The final story, “Deserter,” in which a family enacts an elaborate ruse to convince a military deserter hiding in their house that World War II is still raging nine years after its conclusion, stands amongst the very best work of Ito’s career.
VERDICT Another exemplary volume from the internationally renowned master storyteller.
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