While most Americans see Stephen King as the master of written horror, those of us who follow manga have a different master that we look to: Junji Ito. Now with Venus in the Blind Spot, published by VIZ Media, English readers get the chance to be reintroduced to Ito’s work. Venus in the Blind Spot is a “best of” collection of creepy tales from the Eisner award-winning mangaka.
With 10 short stories, Venus in the Blind Spot is a striking collection that presents some of the most remarkable shorts featuring an adaptation of Rampo Edogawa’s classic horror story “Human Chair” and fan-favorite “The Enigma of Amigara Fault.” In addition to these, the eight other shorts include “Billions Alone,” “An Unhealthy Love,” “Venus in the Blind Spot,” “The Licking Woman,” “Master Umezz and Me,” “How Love Came to Professor Kirida,” “The Sad Tale of the Principal Post,” and “Keepsake.” These 10 stories come as a deluxe presentation, including special color pages and showcasing illustrations from his acclaimed long-form manga No Longer Human.
It’s hard to review this volume of collected stories because each and every story deserves its own spotlight. The terror and body horror begins with “Billions Alone” were bodies of couples and groups of people are being sewn together like quilts and left throughout the city and hits an apex with “The Licking Woman” which you can google to see the absolute terrifying images in that one. But then there are more subtle moments of dread and creeping terror like “An Unhealthy Love” where a man is in love with a doll to his wife’s displeasure or the slow-burning unease of “Venus in the Blind Spot.” There is even a small comedic autobiographic short, “Master Umezz and Me,” which details how Ito became the master of horror we know and fear today and a few adaptations of works by other writers, with my favorite being “Human Chair.”
But above them all is “The Enigma of Amigara Fault.” As one of Ito’s most renown stories, it is crown jewel of the collected stories. However, with it placed near the end of the anthology, it feels like it was built up to by the previous shorts instead of eclipsing them. Coming third to last, “The Enigma of Amigara Fault” serves as a climax to the collection and as one of Ito’s most acclaimed stories. It’s worth picking up Venus in the Blind Spot for this alone. But trust me, the other short stories are still worth is.
If you haven’t heard of “The Enigma of Amigara Fault,” it was originally included in Gyo, another Ito work. In it, people are being unnaturally drawn into a mountainside fault. A story of compulsion, a boy named Owaki and a girl, Yoshida, meet on Amigara Mountain where they make an unsettling discovery: Human-shaped holes are scattered across the mountain. It soon becomes clear that the holes are “calling” to the people they are shaped like, and, of course, people answer.
Each and every one of these stories should be entered into with as minimal spoilers as possible, read in a dark room, and embraced for the pure horror they are, of the psychological and the bodily kind. But, while Ito’s stories and art are phenomenal as always in his pulpy style, the additional colorized pages and sometimes single-page panels work to bring a dramatic effect that emphasizes the emotions of the scene and ultimately the delivery of the scare, which is particularly true for “The Enigma of Amigara Fault.”
Overall, Venus in the Blind Spot is a must-buy for any and all horror fans. Whether you’ve ventured into Ito’s twisted sense of horror in the past or you’re new to his work entirely, this is the perfect place to start. While Tomie and Uzumaki stand as horror classics, Venus in the Blind Spot is here to show new readers exactly why Junji Ito is the master of horror.
Venus in the Blind Spot is available from booksellers August 11, 2020.
Venus in the Blind Spot
Venus in the Blind Spot is a must-buy for any and all horror fans. Whether you’ve ventured into Ito’s twisted sense of horror in the past or you’re new to his work entirely, this is the perfect place to start. While Tomie and Uzumaki stand as horror classics, Venus in the Blind Spot is here to show new readers exactly why Junji Ito is the master of horror.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.