Shiver by Junji Ito

This entry is part 2 of 23 in the series 2023 Reads

I’m continuing with posting about the books I’ve read. The tag has changed to #booksread2023, but not much has changed: the posts get published with some lag—though I’m trying to shorten the lag a little, too.

I’d had a reservation request on file with the local branch of the National Library for Shiver since sometime in early December. It took someone a long time to get it back to the library, apparently. I assume it was in a pile with some lengthier books, because personally it took me less than 24 hours to finish this one.

Shiver is a collection of short manga narratives, each a different flavor of horror. There’s one piece from the Tomie series, which I’d read recently and didn’t reread. The rest were new to me, though I have no idea if any of them were part of a larger narrative. (Ito’s work being so often episodic, it’s possible for several of them to be: I wouldn’t know.)

I enjoyed Shiver about as much as I enjoyed the other collection of short comics I read, Smashed. When it comes to Ito’s work, I think I slightly prefer the longer narratives, but this was a good collection. A couple of the stories, like “Honored Ancestors” and “Greased,” seemed to me like they were just begging for a thoughtful academic analysis. “Honored Ancestors” especially seems like it’s ripe for feminist interpretation: horror, after all, is about disempowerment, and feminism is about recognizing and addressing it. There’s something about the parasitic ancestors controlling the mind of a young man who “needs” a “wife” to keep his family line going—and about the horror his girlfriend experiences when she sees the parasitic ancestors in the big reveal—that feels very, very much like an overt allegory. 

“Long Dream” has also stuck around in my head for a few days. It feels a lot like a Twilight Zone episode, and come to think of it, that’s not something I’d say about a lot of Ito’s stories, because a lot of them are too visually over-the-top or to have gotten the Twilight Zone treatment. 


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