Lenni Reviews: “Smashed: Junji Ito Story Collection” by Junji Ito

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and us suggested for mature readers.

In another Junji Ito collection, I am once again impressed, frightened, and confused as to why I keep inflicting these nightmarish stories on myself. But Ito is true to his usual macabre, gory self in this series of short stories that will send shivers down your spine. I never get tired of this guy and love his work. I don’t want to go too deep into all the stories but my favorite was “Earthbound.” 5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Shiver” By Junji Ito

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is suggested for mature readers.

In yet another collection, Junji Ito continues to simultaneously impress me all while wondering why I keep chomping at the bit to read his work. Some of these stories feel a tad clipped but when you’re trying to keep things short, it can’t be helped. Ito really is a master of what he does even if I have to read happy things for awhile whenever I pick up a book of his. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Abara: Complete Deluxe Edition” by Tsutomu Nihei

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

*This review has been cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

In a dystopian landscape, creatures known as White Gauna have awakened, threatening to devour the city’s populace and destroy everything. The Observation Bureau enlists the help of Denji Kudou, a Black Gauna. But as more and more White Guana appear, Kudo may not be enough to save the city from destruction.

While the story is interesting and the art amazing – brutally awesome and detailed – you are tossed into this story without much guidance. How are these creatures bonded to people? What’s the technology level of a world full of all these cybernetics and how did they learn to use them on these beings? What’s the deal with the talking skeleton bird? You will not get much in the way of clear answers here.

That being said, Nihei tells a great story here. It reminds me of Battle Angel Alita with the impressive creature design and ultra-violence. This edition also includes some full-color art, pull out pages with larger art, and a side story “Digimortal.” This would make a great gift or a worthy addition for a collector. 3.9 out of 5.

This book will be released December 18th, 2018.

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Lenni Reviews: “Happiness” vol 6 by Shuzo Oshimi

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Yukiko Gosho has been trying to move on with her life and in the years since her injury from Makoto, she has grown up, gotten a decent job, and even a possible romance with a coworker. But the ghosts of her past resurface and she risks losing her stability to find answers.

While I enjoyed this volume, the ending makes it feel like filler. Fun filler, but filler. The abrupt ending felt less like a cliffhanger and more of a puttering out since once Gosho makes up her mind, all you can think about is what the fallout will be once it’s revealed what has been happening to the vampires in captivity all these years; if they are even still in captivity. Either way, I’m betting Makoto hasn’t been chillin at a hot spring in the years that have passed. 3.7 out of 5 for this one.

Lenni Reviews: “Junji Ito’s Dissolving Classroom” by Junji Ito

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New kid in town Yuuma Azawa introduces himself to his new class then immediately apologizes. And keeps apologizing… All the time. Keiko Arisu feels bad for him and befriends him but she didn’t realize Yuuma has an evil little sister, Chizumi. She tells Keiko Yuuma apologizes because he has summoned the devil and feels power when he says sorry to the demon. Oh, it also melts your brain so Chisumi can eat it.

When will I learn? Junji Ito = brain searing terror. From the mind that gave the world Uzumaki and Museum of Terror comes this equally horrid tale of two evil siblings who destroy everything around them. This surreal collection of stories about them is supposed to be “a literal interpretation of the ills that plague modern society” but I’m not seeing it. Is it apologizing too much? There is something to be said for apologizing for no reason or for the same thing over and over because in time the act and the words lose all meaning. But even without digging for interpretation, it’s a gloomy, creepy, SUPER GROSS bit of horror and is a classic example of Ito’s work. I give this book a 4 out of 5; taking a point away to punish it for my nightmares.

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Lenni Reviews: “Smokin’ Parade” vol 1 by Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou

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Youkou lives in a world where if a person gets cybernetic limb transplants, they run a risk of turning into a mindless killer called a Spider as a possible side effect. He has spent most of his time caring for his sister, who lost both her legs, and he learns the hard way how bad such a transformation can be. When his sister goes insane, a group calling themselves the Jackalopes come to save him.

I learned after reading this that Kataoka is the creator of Deadman Wonderland, which explains the creepy-cute and gory style. Our main villain, Kurama, seems over the top for me right now. GIANT breasts, bathing in human viscera… She might as well have “I’m Evil” tattooed on her massive chest. If gore isn’t your thing, you will not like this manga but so far I do like the characters and I want to know more about how the limbs are making people insane. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Higurashi: When They Cry” vol 25 by Ryukishi07 and Karin Suzuragi

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After a hundred years, Rika and Hanyu have exposed Miyo’s insane plan to become a god and kill everyone in Hinamizawa. Rika rallies all her friends and allies while Miyo does the same; resulting in a battle in the mountains around Hinamizawa.

Considering this series is all about trying out this same night until they get the ‘right’ outcome, I was happy with this final volume of the series. It was great to see Hanyu stop acting so passive and aloof and really fight to end this horrible cycle. And the final battle was cool to see; a bunch of kids and a few adults going up against these hardened soldiers.

I will admit this series had me frustrates in some parts but when I look back at all of it, I feel the payoff was absolutely worth it. If you’re willing to dig deep for your horror, I can see why this series is talked about so much. 4 out of 5,

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Lenni Reviews: “Higurashi: When They Cry” vol 18 by Ryukishi07 and Karin Suzuragi

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Rena is on the run from the cops and her friends; having completely been absorbed by her delusions and conspiracy theories. Believing she has been poisoned, Rena takes her friends and classmates hostage; threatening to blow up the school and burn everyone alive if Detective Ooishi doesn’t deliver the antidote.

This volume really cemented it for me; some sort of time loop is taking place and the characters are becoming aware of it. This arc ended on a more happy note than the others, as happy as one can be in a hostage situation and having to fight your cleaver-wielding friend on the roof of your school but in this series; an ending without someone scratching their own throat out in madness IS happy. I’d have to give this particular volume a 3 since it felt like it went a little hard on that ‘gotcha’ ending but the characters are amazing and the art is still on point. I’m willing to see what the characters will do from here.

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Lenni Reviews: “Higurashi: When They Cry” vol 17 by Ryukishi07 and Karin Suzuragi

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Rena tries to convince Keiichi about the parasites and a conspiracy to enforce the “curse” by fanatic believers in Oyashiro-sama but Keiichi is hesitant to agree. Without him, Rena becomes increasingly paranoid. The stops coming to school and believes everyone, even her friends, are part of a plot to kill her; going so far as to think there are human clones around her and one will eventually replace her.

Going along with my time loop theory, it’s looking like those timelines are intertwining, since Keiichi is getting flashes of murders he committed in previous volumes. The only one who seems to really know about these alternate events is Rika and as such, I’m getting some Madoka Magica vibes. I think they are all stuck in a loop, Rika is the only one fully aware of this loop, and is trying to end the loop in a way that saves all her friends. Interesting… 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Higurashi: When They Cry” vol 16 by Ryukishi07 and Karin Suzuragi

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Having done what she believed she needed to do to protect her father, Rena’s shocking deeds are discovered by her friends. All of them band together to help Rena since they regret not being able to save Satoshi in the past. They help cover for Rena and decide to forget everything so they can go on as normal. That is until the local nurse, Takano, stirs up Rena’s interest in Oyashiro-sama’s Curse then Detective Ooishi comes to investigate the murders of Takano and Tomitake on the night of the Cotton Drifting Festival.

With all these cycles, it’s Takano and Tomitake’s deaths which seem to be a fixed point. They end up killed the same way on the same night every time.

In this volume, we learn every resident of the village is infected with a parasite and that’s what’s making them hallucinate and kill people. Rena puts it together by reading this scrapbook Takano gave her before she was killed and now Rena believes there’s a huge conspiracy to keep it all quiet and the same people who murdered Takano are after her.

While I like that as a possible cause of all this, it all seems too perfect. Maybe I’ve had some of Rena’s paranoia rub off on me but I do have some doubts. Better keep reading to find out. This series it really good at leaving you enough questions to keep grabbing up the next volume. 4 out of 5.

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