Lenni Reviews: “Venus in the Blind Spot” by Junji Ito

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

In another great collection, we get a nice selection of more of Ito’s signature nightmare-inducing tales; including one about how his interest in horror grew as a child. What sets this collection apart is some color pages! They look beautiful, even if Ito’s art is fantastically effective in black and white. If you are a fan of horror, this will fit the bill with ghoulish perfection. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Drifting Classroom: The Perfect Edition” Vol. 3 by Kazuo Umezz

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

The kids find train tunnels filled with horrible creatures that turn humans into their own. These things actually have a record of what happened to humanity. Sekiya manages to take over the school but has no clue what to do when those tunnel creatures attack leaving Sho to be the hero again.

I know all the kids are scared but… They really jump to some fantastic conclusions when the finger-pointing starts. The constant infighting and constant splitting up is starting to get old. I was hoping for more of Sho communicating with his mother or perhaps some progress being made to get them home? I’m sure it’ll happen but after three volumes of hundreds of pages, I’d like to see some real development here. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Elfen Lied Omnibus” Volume 2 by Lynn Okamoto

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In the continuing adventures of “Everyone is Awful” Bando gets some upgrades and devotes himself to hunting down Lucy; who’s past is revealed more in this volume; specifically when she met Kouta.

In this volume we meet Nana and Nozomi, to add to the makeshift family Kouta is forming around him. And again, I reiterate my statement that “Everyone is Awful” should be the tagline of this series. I mean, YIKES.

At least at the end of this one, we get a much more lighthearted story about a violinist and a pianist coming together for their music. It was actually uplifting but compared to the rest of the omnibus, that’s not saying much. It’s a good series if a downer. 4 out of 5.

 

Lenni Reviews: “Elfen Lied Omnibus” Volume 1 by Lynn Okamoto

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The Diclonios, Lucy, who we come to call Nyu, escapes from a research facility that kept her prisoner; helpless against their viciously cruel experiments. She is injured in the process and loses her memory, happening upon a boy she once knew as a child, now grown. But the facility won’t stop hunting her.

I am not gonna lie, I actively avoided this manga for a long time. This is because the anime was mentally… I won’t say scarring but more jarring. All your anime tropes are turned on their head when someone’s head is graphically ripped off. In some admittedly fantastic sound effects (and this is coming from someone who was mentally scarred by the radio play on NPR; specifically the episode about the fog that turned people inside out);¬† my brain is marked by gruesome blood curdling crushing wet sounds that permeate this anime…

So, here we are at the manga!

What bothers me the most about this – and other media like it – is that people are objectively terrible. They see a weeping girl with bloody feet and look at her like garbage. They hit a random person and don’t care. They rationalize disgusting experiments that wouldn’t be ethical to perform on any species we know of under the guise of progress. I mean, what did any of these people expect but for their subjects to eventually rise up to destroy them? No wonder Lucy kills so readily… This manga comes from the thesis that everyone is awful.

The side stories are also dour but they are bittersweet; giving some much-needed light in the darkness of the rest of the book. 4.7 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: “The Drifting Classroom: Perfect Edition” Vol. 2 by Kazuo Umezz

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

Sho and his remaining classmates and friends are still desperately trying to get people to stick together to survive. But while internal conflicts about, now disease threatens to wipe them all out.

Like I said in the first review, these characters are almost comically deranged. They seem eager to start killing each other for any reason they can find! It’s a wonder any characters are left for a book 2, in my opinion…

What sets this apart for me is the connection between Sho and his mother. She can somehow hear him from the future in random places and I wish this angle was explored more. But I guess that’s for the third volume. It’s hard to say I like this because it’s so violent and depressing but I do and I want to read more! 4 out of 5.

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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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Finally Watched It: “House” (1977)

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Having seen this movie mentioned dozens of times on crazy movie lists, I finally had the chance to check it out.

We have our set up of a bunch of high school girls (I have nicknamed them The Sailor Scouts) all go to this old woman’s house and of course, shenanigans¬†ensue. Typical right? Hoooooo boy, ladies and gentlemen, this movie I have to come right out and say is either the scariest funny movie I’ve seen or the funniest scary movie I’ve ever seen. Everything feels otherworldly and off kilter even when things are “normal.”

When it starts, all the main characters are so damn happy and go lucky all you can think is “well, hey there, Cannon Fodder. I’m sure nothing will go wrong here.” But even as old as this movie is, gods is it refreshing to have a cast we actually root for instead of a collection of unlikable assholes you WANT to die. You actually feel for the characters as they go through all this horrific shit; all done with effects that are creepy in some parts, and ‘pause the movie because you’re laughing so hard’ parts. If done with skill, I wouldn’t mind seeing this movie remade with updated effects! As it is, I’m half tempted to watch it a few times just because it was so much fun. This movie BEGS to be watched with a bunch of friends and booze if you got it.

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Finally Watched It: Ringu

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As if this even needs a summary, this is the original Japanese movie about a woman who is investigating a cursed videotape that kills you a week after you’ve watched it.

This movie is damn creepy. It may not have aged very well in some ways but, yikes. There were plenty of moments that freaked me out. And it certainly made me feel old because heck, who has video tapes anymore?

Now that I’ve seen the original, I actually find the remake to be on par with it. They’re both creepy, both have this great tone and lingering uneasiness. I can’t say definitively one is better than the other. I like them both. It’s a shame it took me so long to get to watch this one.

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Finally Watched It: One Missed Call

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Whenever there’s an American remake of a foreign movie, I make it my business to track down the original; which is how I found out about the REC series. When I heard about the American movie, I skipped it and went for the Japanese version. I just assume it’s better on principal now.

The premise of this movie is that this group of young people start getting calls from their own numbers. Upon listening to the voicemail, its the audio of their own deaths; essentially making it a call from the future bout how they will die. Obviously, they all run around trying to avoid their fate and solve the mystery.

What I like about films like this is the slow build, the quiet, the dark lighting, and thoughtful dialog. It is just simpler and – to me at least – more frightening than all the fancy CGI, slow-mo, and dramatic music. It makes everything feel so much more unsettling. It can drag a little sometimes but it’s nice to see any media take it’s time with you rather than inundate you with images for instant gratification.

I don’t particularly want to inflict the American version on myself to compare the two but if repeatedly asked, I may do so.

As I work through these movies (I have a list!) I am hitting more good movies than not, and I’m grateful for that. I’m sure I’ll come across some duds but seeing these has been awesome.

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