Mangaka: Junji Ito
Translation & Adaption: Jocelyne Allen
Touch-up Art & Lettering: Eric Erbes
Publisher: VIZ Media
WHAT IS IT?
A Cosmic Horror story that shines a terrifying light on fame, one's name, and the horrors of what humans can do.
This is Junji Ito's answer to what happens to humanity when a planet-eating Hellstar chooses Earth as its next meal.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Set in the future of Earth in 20XX, scientist Dr. Oguro spots a planet coming through a wormhole. On his only daughter's 16th birthday, Dr. Oguro names said planet after her: Remina.
With such a huge achievement named after her, Remina starts to live the famous life. She gains her own fan club and becomes an actress. But, as the Hellstar Remina changes course and starts eating its way to Earth, her life – and others' – take a turn for the worse.
Remina is not just a story about a Hellstar trying to eat Earth. It's about the horror of humans as well. Hell, the human horror aspect may just be even more terror-inducing.
The physical design of Remina is gorgeous. Cover and Graphic Designer Adam Grano chose some of the best, non-spoiler imagery to use for the front and back. The physical media also feels fantastic in your hands. The front and back are a hard glossy material, while the spine feels more like a rough paper texture and is more flexible for reading. The color design is a terrifying red and black mix that carries into the head bands on the inner spine, making for beautiful synergy.
Ito hasn't used the future much in his stories, but for Remina he does. It honestly doesn't play too much into the story, but his futuristic designs are pretty cool.
Remina's story set-up works great and quickly grabs your attention, making you want to learn even more.
Although the story's genre is more cosmic horror, Ito adds a lot of human elements that make the horror feel even more real. Ito does this by showing how humans act once they know Hellstar Remina is making its way towards Earth. A lot of the population blames Dr. Oguro and his daughter Remina for the Hellstar that's on its way to kill us. The story quickly becomes one about humans and how we react to certain events, especially by putting the blame of all the problems on one person.
When we are treated to the cosmic horror sections, Ito does wonders with the story, especially the aforementioned human reactions. But, he does equally as well with the mystery and suspense around the Hellstar.
Let's not forget his amazing use of humor. Honestly, there isn't much, and when there is, it's done visually, but damn do some parts make you laugh.
A last note on the story side: there are a surprising number of twists that will probably catch you. I don't want to go into spoiler territory, but these moments work amazingly and are quite smart.
On the visual side, we have some of what may be Ito's best work. During some scenes, Ito uses multiple pages to show just how gigantic and frightening Hellstar Remina truly is, with people and buildings looking minuscule in comparison.
There are pages of intensely detailed panels that prove how great Ito is at his craft. To call out any singular page for its terrifying or graphic ability would be hard, but during each part, Ito knocks it out of this universe.
Ito's art design for characters and places has always been great and mystifying. This especially holds true for the Hellstar Remina, but even more so for the design of its atmosphere. Her atmosphere is hell personified and hard to explain, with the things showcased leaving you terrified, and at a loss for words.
One art element that really sticks out is how Ito draws heavy rain during some moments. When heavy rain occurs, what's happening is hard to see, making it feel that much worse. These may be some of the best rain effects I've seen in a while.
I'm an avid Ito fan and have read his work since it dropped in America, and I can't think of any other story he has done that's like Remina. Yes, it's horror, but the stakes in Remina feel bigger than his other stories while being even more human. Plus, it's in a future with different technology.
Some aspects and people that work on Manga aren't talked about much, like the translators and adapters. In this case, Jocelyne Allen. It may be hard to comment on such work, especially if you haven't read the original. But, Allen is able to make the translation feel like Ito's other works in terms of his story voice.
Another part that isn't brought up much is the amount of work that goes into touch-up art & lettering. It may not seem like much, but each ballon needs to be redone for the translations, and sometimes art needs to be redone. This usually means the person on the job has to mimic the original creator's style. In Remina's case, Eric Erbes does this fantastically.
Memorable Quote: "It noticed our existence!" - Ikeuchi. Every horror story has a quote you remember, and this one works beautifully.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
As someone who has read (and owns) every translated Junji Ito book, his main female characters tend to look the same. They usually look like Tomie, and the only time they don't look the same is when he uses them as a horror device.
If you aren't a horror fan, or into Hellstars that eat Earth, then Remina really isn't for you.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This segment could easily just have two words: Junji Ito. Ito has easily become one of the most recognizable names in the horror field because he is a master of the craft. That said, Remina may be one of his best works yet. By basing the story around a cosmic horror such as a Hellstar, he also shows us how crazed humans can be.
If you consider yourself even a bit of a horror fan, this is worth checking out!
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