22 Dec / The Liminal Zone by Junji Ito, translated by Jocelyne Allen [in Booklist]
Beyond the countless corpses, Japanese manga auteur Junji Ito’s latest import deftly – and, of course, ever so gruesomely – highlights the liminal spaces between life and death, good and evil, waking and sleep.
An engaged couple’s innocent decision to “stop somewhere on a whim” during a trip leads to grave tragedy in “Weeping Woman Way.” A manipulative, philandering boarding school principal finally gets deserved justice in “Madonna.” A dying man gets caught up in “The Spirit Flow of Aokigahara,” possibility achieving eternity. A serial killer manages to invade the dreams of an innocent neighbor in “Slumber.”
For the globally renowned creator of such intricate, detailed graphic horror on the page, Ito certainly seems to have quite an unexpectedly playful humility he tends to reveal in his afterwords. His confessions here include references to his own COVID-19 lockdown, his difficulty with keeping to page-count limits (“unbecoming of a professional,” he readily admits), and being “out of good ideas.”
Readers need not worry: this quartet, smoothly translated into English by Jocelyne Allen, is another dare-not-read-alone-at-night delight.
Published: 2021 (Japan), 2022 (United States)