Urban legends can truly thrive when transcending creepypastas and campfire stories, and this is the case for movies, video games, and even manga. In the case of 9 urban legends adapted from an original collection by Hirokatsu Kihara and Ichiro Nakayama, Junji Ito adapts truly terrifying and weird tales.
Terrifying and weird are certainly up there as a combination, and in this case, the terror is heaped upon one central character in particular, Mimi. This collection of 9 short manga stories highlights some truly eclectic characters, brought to life with Junji Ito’s style, and even a bonus story for the fans. Thanks to a review copy generously provided by VIZ Media, I’m able to give my review on Mimi’s Tales of Terror.
Everything Can Be Scary, From Mundane Objects to Weirdos
I’ve begun to appreciate that Junji Ito’s work is often not overtly edgy content. Many of his stories feature odd, offbeat, even comedic characters, but there’s still potential in them to shock or compel the readers. Giving him the reins of these stories, with their varied lengths, allows the readers to be transported into a macabre realm where everything can be scary, from mundane objects to weirdos.
Such examples include Sign in the Field, one of the last stories as well as one of the shortest, where somebody’s imagination got the better of them. It’s a fairly common spooky story, but it’s also a matter of perception and perspective brought wonderfully to life by Ito, doing arguably a better job than without illustrations.
Meanwhile, other highlights like Grave Placement showcase terrifying incidents seemingly directly caused by human intervention, and despite everybody else in the story urging it to stop, this musclebound oddball seemed hell-bent on giving us the chills. The ending of that story is a sight to behold, too.
Magnificent Artwork on the Inside and the Outside
I’m a sucker for good-looking manga that sits nicely on a bookshelf while also being a compelling read. It’s part of why I’ve got my Deluxe Edition Berserk shelf as an ongoing side-project, but this hardcover is an elegant collection of Junji Ito stories any fan should be proud to have. Not only does its dust jacket contain numerous visual references to the stories inside, but underneath is a gorgeous, red-covered minimalist cover with an almost primal rendition of the terrors inside.
Inside is another strong showcase of Ito, indicating magnificent artwork on the inside and the outside. Seashore in particular has some of the most striking art, featuring possibly one of the creepiest renditions of a bloated, shambling, waterlogged corpse that’ll live in my head rent-free. The Lady Next Door is striking as well, not just in the absurd and discomforting premise of a truly monstrous neighbor whose only purpose is seemingly to terrify fellow tenants of her building before disappearing.
The Stories Go to Some Truly Dark Places
My previous review of Ito’s collections was on his recently released Soichi book, where the stories had a set boundary of never going too far. In this collection, the stories go to some truly dark places, with highlights like Just the Two of Us or Scarlet Circle, with the former being uniquely chilling from start to finish. They’re never too long, but some of them truly leave a lasting, horrifying impression, but none more than the bonus manga by Ito beyond his afterword, Monster Prop.
Monster Prop Is a Perfect Ito Urban Legend
The final pages of this book feature a story that begins with a nice set of color pages, and beyond that is some of Ito’s best work. It has all the makings of a story that should rightfully be told by anybody wanting to unnerve their friends in the twilight hours. In short, Monster Prop is a perfect Ito urban legend.
The story has it all: unsettling artwork, distinctive characters, and some truly irresponsible decisions. It’s when humanity is abandoned to create, of all things, an amusement park attraction using the agonized moans of a man being crushed to death, that we see something that could easily feature in an episode of Black Mirror. It’s dark, fantastic, and truly an unexpected gift found in this already entertaining collection.
Mimi’s Tales of Terror reminds us of why Junji Ito is a beloved horror genius. In his eyes, everything can be scary, and he nails that again and again in this collection. It’s got some fantastic artwork, and some truly dark horror stories, and has something in it for everybody on this spooky season.
So get some friends together and share your favorite stories from this collection. Find out for yourself just how scary something is with the right perspective and some expert-level shading.
This review was made possible by VIZ Media, along with a complimentary copy of Mimi’s Tales of Terror, available physically and digitally as of October 24, 2023.
- This article was updated on October 30th, 2023