HomeBooks/Light NovelsBOOK REVIEW | "Stitches" Sews More Shrugs Than Scares

BOOK REVIEW | "Stitches" Sews More Shrugs Than Scares

BOOK REVIEW | "Stitches" Sews More Shrugs Than Scares

Stitches isn’t the first time authors Hirokatsu Kihara and Junji Ito have collaborated together. Years back, Ito had taken Kihara’s Mimi’s Tales of Terror compilation, and added his own twists to the tales. However, Stitches is the first time the two writers have teamed up to come up with something original. Unfortunately, not everything delivered gives off either authors’ trademarked creeps.

The collection of nine short stories (plus a bonus manga) puts a focus on strange apparitions. From ghostly tumors in “Face” and neighbors returning from the dead in “Festival of the Dead”, these tales deal with situations that somehow come and go as they please. Perhaps this is where the biggest flaw of Stitches is on display, as both Kihara and Ito are known to leave readers feeling uneasy after each story. Instead, things sort of wrap up in a Deus Ex Machina sort of fashion.

Granted, some of the spookier tales do offer genuine eyebrow-raising. “Folk Dance” focuses on a photographer taking pictures of a student outing. When the time comes to see the pictures, an odd situation arises due to a subject’s vanishing. “Snow Day” has a mysterious woman appearing to a high schooler on a freezing morning with no shoes. But then, the next day, the woman appears again, this time in her house and hanging from a rope.

These tales have the right amount of info revealed about the specters, leaving readers with more questions than answers. It’s that level of unsettling nerve that keeps these tales shining brighter than the rest, with their endings feeling more open-ended. But it’s not all spooky tales, as “The Play” delivers chills involving a weird marionette. It builds towards something spooky, only for it to end with a surprisingly funny punchline.

Then again, it’s the bonus manga at the end that showcases the strengths of both Ito and Kihara. Seemingly a true story, “Summer Graduation Trip” involves two friends at a traditional inn. They attempt to use the onsen, only to walk deeper into the basement towards it with no end. In true horror fashion, what ends up happening leaves more questions to be asked, with nary a reason for the spine-chilling vibes to occur.

When Stitches leaves readers asking more questions, it results in a good spooky story. However, half of the time, the story builds towards something scary, only to end with little-to-no fanfare. It’s no Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but there are a couple of winners in Stitches that are worthy of being told around a campfire.


Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media.

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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)