Otaku USA Magazine
Stitches Is a Creepy and Mysterious Story Collection

Stitches by Hirokatsu Kihara and Junji Ito is a collection of short horror stories and urban legends that are allegedly based on real happenings. It consists of nine prose stories with illustrations from Ito, then you turn the book the opposite way and read a short manga story from Ito.

The stories are called “Face,” “Library,” “From the Sea,” “Festival of the Dead,” “The Play,” “Folk Dance,” “The Kimono,” “Snow Day,” and “Lips,” while the short manga is titled “Summer Graduation Trip.”

The stories are usually written about characters who are referred to by letters instead of names, like F or S. Sometimes it’s written from the point of view of someone who was there. The stories all involve mysterious, unexplained happenings, like a woman who doesn’t show up in any photographs, or a library that needs to hold an exorcism. A lot of the stories seem to involve ghosts. None of them are really scary, per se, but they are creepy and mysterious. Nothing ever gets explained, but that’s the point. Each story is only a few pages (the entire book is about 100 pages, and a quick read), and Ito adds to the atmosphere with his singular and haunting artwork. While the book claims that these are true stories, I take that with about as much of a grain of salt as Hollywood horror movies saying they’re true stories, and I just enjoy the stories themselves.

In an afterword, Kihara explains how the book came to be, and talks about how Weekly Shonen Sunday used to have almost as many illustrated prose stories as manga, and this collection is a continuation of that style. Kihara and Ito also worked together in a similar format with Mimi’s Tales of Terror (which is also allegedly true), except Mimi’s Tales of Terror was entirely in the manga format, and Stitches is only partly manga, with much more space dedicated to prose. This book would be best for fans of horror, particularly horror short stories, and anyone who’s a fan of Ito.

Story: Hirokatsu Kihara
Art: Junji Ito
Publisher: VIZ Media
Translator: Jocelyne Allen


Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.