Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Frankenstein: Junji Ito Story Collection and Dementia 21

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Cycling Nonsense

On this manga episode, their last of 2018, Shea and Derek look at two recent works of manga that are actually quite similar in a number of ways. They begin with Frankenstein: Junji Ito Story Collection(VIZ Media). This isn’t the first time, by far, that the guys have discussed Junji Ito’s horror work, and whereas they’ve been less impressed with some of his more recent translations, they are more enthusiastic about this current collection. The standout story is Ito’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic romance, which takes up almost half of the text. But the other stories in this collection, specifically the Oshikiri cycle ones, are gripping, as well.

After that the Two Guys check out a wild example of manga, Shintaro Kago’s Dementia 21 (Fantagraphics). While both Derek and Shea had heard of Kago, until now they really hadn’t read any of his works. This book, the first in a two-volume series from the publisher, is a collection of 17 stories that surround the escapades of Yukie Sakai, a young home healthcare aide. Her assignments to a variety of elderly patients all turn out surreal, taking her into mind-blowing adventures that are hilarious as they are nonsensical (and even metafictional, in some cases). Kago’s manga has been described as ero guro nansensu, although in this collection there is more nansensu than there is ero guro. (For the latter, listeners are referred to another translated collection of Kago’s, Super-Dimensional Love Gun, from Fakku Books.)