segunda-feira, 25 de novembro de 2013

[Manga Review] Black Paradox by Junji Ito.

It´s funny how we some things are better left to sink in before you attempt any kind of summation, of review, etc. There are some works that I just leave in my mind for some time, because I either don´t have time to write about them, or because I´m lost for words at which to talk about them. 

This is the case - or at least was - of Black Paradox, a manga authored (written and drawn) by Junji Ito. 

Exactly like that, in fact. I was first at a loss for words, and then my time was literally consumed, to the extent that I´m finding it hard to have the time to update my blogs in the last couple of days (meaning, months). 

So here I´m now, trying to get some of that time back.

A panel from the manga, drawn and written by Junji Ito. 

The story begins with two guys and two girls who, having decided to commit suicide, gather at some crowded place, all dressed in black - like they combined - to go some place quiet to finally die. They take off and suddenly they start to talk about their motives when one girl sees another car passing by them - and the car is similar to theirs, and also, who are those inside the car? The girl screams when she sees another band of similar looking people inside on that other car that passes right by them. 

Some time after this, the girl discovers (and panic ensues) that she´s is the only one there who is the "real version" of her, the other ones are... well, quite not. The real ones are the ones that passed on that other car that she saw (more on this later on). After some time, they decide to commit suicide another day, by ingesting pills. And while some of them don´t want to take the pills because they think the other ones will bail on them (??), one of them does and dies because of it. But way before he dies, he spits out a curious looking ball. This ball is very shiny and presents some odd traits that they exploit, and turns out to be the gist of the story. 

After this, and also some time in the middle - chaos ensues.


The first part of the story, which feels like a prelude, is very well thought out and is the best part of the story for me. The premise is interesting. 4 guys and gals who reunite through a website to commit suicide together? Very interesting (also, it seems to be some type of a thing they do at Japan, considering that story over Paranoia Agent, another anime which I think I´ll spare some time to comment on in the near future). And the bit about the girl who discover she is alone with 4 other "copies" of her suicidal colleagues? This is priceless. Really priceless. I thought that was the point of the whole thing, about doppelgangers and all. But it actually isn´t. It´s about something else altogether, the very first pages being some kind of prelude to the real story, which begins when one of them actually takes the pills and begin spitting the odd balls out of his stomach. 

Also, there is the part about the odd balls being harvested, and also there´s a part about them, as a group, splitting apart and also becoming together again toward the end to work towards... saving the world, I guess? I can only guess, because it ends when they get up from their chairs and face the fourth wall (the readers) on a (I gotta give it that) very cool scene. But then, that´s it. Fin. The end.

Though I gotta say it again, it´s all very stylish. I think Junji was shooting for style in this one. Call it a hunch.

But the middle of all the story, I gotta confess, it didn´t move me much. I was not reading it very interested like I am when I read much of Junji Ito´s works. I was kinda just trudging along. Nothing moved me past my curiosity, like when I read Tomie, or Hellstar Remina, or Uzumaki. It was just... okay.

Note that I´m not saying that the work of art is not good. It is. It´s very good. It has a lot of effort put in, from where I see it. It´s also weird, and the drawing style is completely Junji´s. All good for the fans. But the thing is, that it just doesnt move us much. The plot is not that compelling when it comes to the gist of it. 

Not that authors can´t experiment with other types of storytelling, and to tell stories that appear (appear being key here) that don´t go anywhere. They can. I fully embrace this. I know and understand this, as an author myself. 

The thing is, you just won´t find in this the same "Junjiness" of the other stories (that I´ve read by him). It is strange, sure, and to my personal taste, yeah, it tingles some receptors; I won´t negate I love the feeling of uneasiness some stories by him have, including that one. But it´s by far not the same type of 'scary story' that, for example, Uzumaki is, or Gyo is. Or even some of his short stories.

But nevertheless it´s an awesome story. 

Go check it, and let me know what you think!

Many cheers!

Positive Points:
- Great art;
- A bit of  Junji Ito´s creepiness; 
- Interesting (if a bit over the top) story about the shiny spheres;

Negative Points: 
- Plot doesn´t seem to get anywhere;
- It doesn´t appear to be much connected with his other works, thematically;

Rating - 3 crows!

* All rights belong to the author of the work and the company that has released it. 

4 comentários:

  1. Ah, you read Tomie, Gyo and Black Paradox too? I haven't read Hellstar Remina yet though; know where to find scans?
    Anyway, at the end of Black Paradox, it is implied that the world will come to an end through the involvement of the cast of 4 - 1 + 1, yet they ultimately decide to proceed out of spite.

    1. Yes Bazompora! I´ve read them all, including Uzumaki and some of his short stories. I´ve looked for Hellstar Remina just by searching on google and could find in an instant. If you have trouble finding it, I´ll try and see if I can find it here, somewhere.

      I didn´t get this, perhaps I should go and read again - that´s even better, I thought they were going to help the world. What do you mean by cast of 4-1+1? Cheers

    2. The original Pitan managed to die (thus, -1), although in an unforeseen gruesome manner, and it's his robot lookalike that joins the cast (hence, +1).

      It's OK, I found it already.

    3. Yeah, I thought you were going to say that. =)


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