Manga Review: The Face Burglar by Junji Ito

The Basics

A collection of horror one-shots. The title story tells of a tragic and dangerous shape-shifter, a stealer of faces.

My Thoughts

As opposed to the previous volume, this was definitely more on track of what I love to see from Ito. In particular, “Falling” captured perfectly that penchant for tragedy that Ito has. His horror becomes more effective not just for the cosmic nature of it in most of what he writes, but for the empathy with the characters. In the case of “Falling”, we are told the story through the eyes of a husband watching his wife suffer from a mysterious illness, and it feels like this is where Ito found the personal story within the horror that made it that much more effective.

I’m also a fan of “Scarecrows”, another horror story that finds a personal, empathic edge that makes it all the sharper. But the star of this collection is definitely “The Hanging Balloons”. The artwork is incredible, which makes the very idea of it, and it’s a very strange idea, truly terrifying.

Ito rarely explains why a thing is happening. Mostly he just presents the events, and no one ever gets an explanation. For me, this makes the whole thing scarier. What’s worse than stumbling blindly into a void? What tickles at our fear centers more than the unknown? But I could see this annoying some readers, so fair warning.

In truth, there isn’t a weak story to be found in this volume, and I highly recommend it.

Final Rating