HomeComics/MangaMANGA REVIEW | "Soichi" Delivers Ito’s Own Brand of the Sillies

MANGA REVIEW | "Soichi" Delivers Ito’s Own Brand of the Sillies

MANGA REVIEW | "Soichi" Delivers Ito’s Own Brand of the Sillies

If Tomie is Junji Ito at his most creepy and unsettling, then Soichi is him at his most zany. The grade-schooler with a unique nail-biting habit is always causing mischief upon family and classmates. However, he’s no Dennis the Menace or Bart Simpson; Soichi’s a lot more demented with his pranks! And his level of troublemaking is on full display in VIZ Media’s release Soichi: Junji Ito Story Collection.

Showcasing ten stories featuring the titular character, the tales spun here give readers a solid idea on what kind of bad boy he is. Alas, he’s no dreamboat bad boy, no thanks to his creepy mannerisms. Nay, he’s a bad boy who probably should’ve been sent to juvie long, long ago! From terrorizing cousins and brothers to even his teachers, Soichi demonstrates just how far he’ll go to pull a prank!

© JI Inc./Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc.

His family, the Tsujiis, certainly deserve an award for putting up with his mayhem. Nailing straw dolls to trees, spitting nails at those who disrespect him, and even forcing his brother to go to extreme lengths to soundproof his room are all solid examples of how bad this kid really is. Thankfully, even when it seems like Soichi has the upper hand, karma has a way to shove the bastard down to the swamp and ceremoniously unclogging the drain. It’s this aspect that makes reading this collection of stories more laugh-inducing than give Junji Ito fans the usual creeps.

Mind you, this is Junji Ito we’re talking about. So naturally, his creep-inducing means is still on display here. In the two-parter “Soichi’s Home Visit” and “Teacher of Cloth”, Soichi’s home room teacher is transformed into a human-sized stuff doll. On top of him sharing the same mannerisms as Soichi, the teacher also moves and talks in ways that are fairly unsettling. “Soichi’s Birthday” also places a creepy (and somewhat missing) great-aunt to torment his cousin Michina, all for the sake of Soichi feeling good about himself.

© JI Inc./Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc.

But instead of leaving his readers with unsettling emotions, Junji Ito instead goes for the funny bone. Reading as a prank goes haywire in “Soichi’s Petty Curses” results in some hilarity, with him almost losing his head in the process thanks to a vengeful groundskeeper. “A Happy Summer Vacation” gives Michina a chance to have Soichi’s nail-sucking habit backfire horrifically, albeit in a way that makes it hard to feel sorry for him. And even when it looks like he has the upper hand, “Teacher of Cloth” ends with Soichi delightfully being the butt of the punchline.

The collection saves the best for last in “Rumors”, where Soichi finds a way to make himself look more appealing. It starts off with some small good deeds, only for it to snowball into unbelievable acts of heroism. All of it leads to a big cameo from another one of Junji Ito’s creations, who inserts herself into the story in a way that’s both frightening and hilarious. (Let’s just say Soichi learns the hard way why he should never take someone’s picture without permission.)

© JI Inc./Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc.

While The Liminal Zone and Tombs showcase Junji Ito at his creepiest, Soichi demonstrates his knack for dark comedy. Although one can easily find humor in some of Ito’s scarier works, he fully goes into wacky territory when Soichi is the star of the story. It won’t change the minds of those who’ve been frightened by his previous works, but Soichi: Junji Ito Story Collection is proof that Japan’s king of horror is no one-trick pony.


Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media. In stores July 25!

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)