Review: Smashed

I’m going to be honest: Junji Ito is one of my all-time favourite authors, so I may be a little biased. When I saw he had another collection of past short stories coming out as an official translation, I was pretty excited. Museum Of Terror and the whole Tomie series are two of my all-time favourite short story collections, so my expectations were pretty high for Smashed.

A collection of some of Junji Ito’s many horror short stories, each individual chapter within this volume represents a different individual manga. With themes ranging from eating disorders to heartbreak, guilt to outright ghost stories, each has a unique and creepy twist.

Bloodsucking darkness (one of the earlier stories within the book) focuses on a heartbroken young woman who develops an eating disorder after a bad breakup. With an initially likable supporting cast and understandable protagonist, things take an unexpected turn. 

The ghost of prime time has an air of modern-day creepypasta about it, whilst Roar and The mystery of the haunted house both feel like urban legends; wonderfully creepy and with an underlying air of familiarity, but not entirely memorable in the way of some of Ito’s other works.

As with many of Ito’s works, these aren’t all short stories with satisfying conclusions – yet many will leave you feeling intrigued, curious, unsettled, and inspired. One of the great things about Ito’s works is you’re never guaranteed a specific type of ending – good won’t always triumph, evil won’t always be explained, sometimes weird things just happen – supernatural or natural or somewhere in-between. You’re never 100% certain what you will get. 

Some reoccurring characters from Ito’s short storeis appear – particularly, Soichi, the creepy boy who always has nails in his mouth (now all grown up), features in multiple stories as an adult and child. Soichi doesn’t really have the same charm as other recurring characters of Ito’s; we don’t see part of ourselves reflected in Soichi or those who encounter him as we do with characters like Tomie and those who fall victim to her; instead, Soichi comes across as more of an entitled, creepy brat with few clear motivations or underlying goals.

One of the biggest disappointments comes from a single story within the collection (I won’t name it here, lest I ruin it for readers) but there is a ‘and it was all a dream’ ending for one of these stories. It feels cheap and poorly executed, not at all fitting alongside the other works within this volume or from Ito’s past work. A few others, Death row doorbell inparticular finish on an unsatisfying note. The story of a death row inmate who starts haunting the family of his victims before his death, it feels like the narrative doesn’t really go anywhere from start to finish.

That being said, one of the most thought-provoking stories from Ito lies within this volume; Earthbound. Haunting and intriguing, it’s tough to put into words without giving too much away, but I would highly recommend reading Smashed for this story alone.

Not the strongest collection of Ito’s works, Smashed is still well worthwhile for die-hard horror readers, as well as fans of Ito’s work. 

Unfortunately, it’s hard to comment on the illustrations themselves, as well as the book as a whole, as the DRC copy provided was extremely low-quality and missing one and a half of the stories (including the titular story, Smashed).

Smashed: Junji Ito Masterpiece Collection #11 by Junji Ito
Manga, horror
Available in hardback
Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Author: Bonnie Evie Gifford

*waves* I'm a writer and blogger from the not so sunny south coast of England. With bylines in Happiful Magazine, Harness Magazine, as well as on Counselling , Therapy, and Lifecoach Directories, I write about books, mental health, wellbeing, autism, and culture. When not writing, I can be found partially buried under a stack of books, hiding from the outside world. Find me lurking on Twitter:

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