Remina: Junji Ito's Horror is a Whole Planet!

Remina is one of Junji Ito's latest horror manga stories, and it's utterly nuts. In a good way. A horror story should be utterly insane, nightmarish, and irrational. Ito understands this better than most storytellers. He might have taken a few years off horror to draw a manga about his cat, but he's come back with a vengeance. His output seems unstoppable right now.

Remina: Junji Ito's Horror is a Whole Planet!
"Remina" cover, courtesy of Viz Media

The cosmic, unstoppable monster this time is an entire planet. A scientist discovers a distant planet moving across space, devouring and destroying any bodies in its way, even planets. He names it Remina after his beloved daughter. He's lauded for his important discovery, and Remina becomes a celebrity. However, when the planet Remina turns out to be heading straight towards Earth, seemingly intent on consuming the world, panic ensues in the worst way imaginable. The mob turns on Remina and her father, blaming them for dooming the Earth. A doomsday cult thinks sacrificing human Remina would keep the planet Remina from destroying the Earth.

The major quibble here is that Remina the girl is passive and a perpetual victim throughout the story. She's dragged from one horrible situation to another and constantly has to be saved by men. She has no real agency and is dependent on men. It's a very old sexist trope from Horror that Ito falls into because it's easy. It's a bit disappointing that Ito is making a commentary about the sexism and exploitation of girls in celebrity culture only to indulge in the very sexism that he's condemning the world for.

Aside from that flaw, Ito pushes the story as far as it would go. The idea of a planet that's actually evil is a fun one. There's the Lovecraftian theme of a cosmic monster so vast and unstoppable that humans are barely an after-thought in its path of destruction. The story is a masterclass in escalation. The setpieces get bigger and bigger, split between the planetary catastrophe that no one can escape and Remina trying to escape both the crazed mob and the doomsday cult that want to kill her. Men are feckless and irrational here, and poor Remina is thrown from one maniac to another. No man is reliable, not her boyfriend, not her fan club's president until a homeless man emerges as the one heroic and selfless figure in the whole story. There's also a thin line between horror and dark comedy, and Ito dances close to the threshold but never quite steps over it. However, the horror is so insane and absurd that sometimes inappropriate laughter is the right reaction.

Remina is now out in hardcover or digital editions.

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Adi TantimedhAbout Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist who just likes to writer. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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