Tombs: Junji Ito Story Collection offers up nine macabre tales from one of Japan’s most successful horror manga authors. Similar to Ito’s other work, the stories often involve nightmarish scenarios coming out of real-world situations. The cause of the nightmares may never get fully explained, but the stories still feel real enough to suck readers into a fun, sinister world.
The first and titular story “Tombs” might be the collection’s best. A girl goes to visit a friend in a new village and discovers horrific funeral rituals.
In “Clubhouse,” teenage girls wander into a spooky so-called “haunted house” and find themselves connected to the past.
“Slug Girl” is a short tale where a once talkative girl loses the ability to speak when her tongue turns gruesomely into a slug. This one is both odd and sad.
“The Window Next Door” has some of Ito’s grosser artwork on display as a mysterious person harasses a boy from the next house over.
“Washed Ashore” goes for primordial fears involving the deep ocean.
“The Strange Tale of the Tunnel” is one of the stronger and creepier stories, where a tunnel seems to call to people . . . but they enter at their own risk.
“Bronze Statue” involves talking statues and has some twists to it.
“Floaters” is a story where people’s innermost and most forbidden thoughts can go out into the open. This was quite a good one and taps into people’s fears about their own natures.
“The Bloody Story of Shirosuna” follows a young doctor to a rural community, where he tries to understand a strange sickness the people there have. The sickness includes people bleeding out all over. This is one of the stronger — and gorier — stories.
Tombs shows off Ito’s flair for the lurid, his detailed and finely finessed artwork, and his penchant for telling short stories like little horror-filled treats. It’s another book fans of Ito would want to pick up, along with anyone else who enjoys manga horror collections.
Story & 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.