The reception of Studio Deen’s recent attempt at bringing Junji Ito’s fantastic stories to animation has been harsh, in a way that few other anime have to suffer. I was initially excited for the show, but decided not to watch it after the first impressions and reviews rolled in. That brings us to a few months later, when many of the stories that featured in this anime are re-released in a hardcover collection. Fans who were left disappointed by the anime can finally rejoice!
Shiver contains 10 stories handpicked by Junji Ito himself and which, combined, make for an interesting mixture. Unlike the recently-released Fragments of Horror, these are all old stories you may have read before, but which are incredibly difficult to get in the West. This includes many stories which were featured in the recent anime, such as Fashion Model and Shiver, but also avoids overlapping in any way with Fragments of Horror, so dedicated Ito fans will find both books 100% worth owning.
The selection is one I enjoyed a lot and really does star some of Ito’s finest works. It’s a bit strange that The Enigma of Amigara Vault and Army of One aren’t on it, but that gives some lesser-known tales room to shine. Fashion Model is a fantastic example of Ito’s horror taking on the shape of a person and how unsettling that can be, Hanging Blimp is a strange story that really plays with the fear of the unfathomable, and Greased is disgusting and vile in all the right ways.
Each chapter is a bite-sized story and the complete book counts only about 400 pages. This includes an afterword for each of the stories wherein Ito reminisces about how it was created and what inspired him. Each story is also accompanied by a scanned document that reveals the initial ideas for it, which are both interesting to read. Of course it’s cool to learn what inspired Ito to create his bizarre stories, but even more so I enjoyed reading what the first draft for the characters and plot were, and how much this changed in the final version.
Shiver is a kind of book I hope we’ll see more of, as there are many great stories written by Ito that remain impossible to own legally for many fans. This hardcover release is really nice and not too expensive at around $23, even if you will find yourself breezing through it and might suffer a few sleepless nights afterward.