Junji Ito is a bizarre safety blanket, given that he writes some of the most disturbing body horror ever put to the page, but here we are: I read Junji Ito to fall asleep at night. Something about the stories he tells, from the absolute seriousness with which the characters take the happenings (including _Junji Ito’s Cat Diary_, though the author isn’t taking himself seriously at all) to the plain but graceful art style, to the content’s surreal Twilight Zone on steroids content. I can’t account for it, but for some bizarre reason it all registers in my brain as soothing.
One of the reasons may be the collector’s joy that I get from reading Ito’s stories. I first heard of him in some listicle talking about the horrifying content he put forward, and between pictures of an armchair in which a stalker could live, always holding their victim, to the images of a Town Cursed by Spirals, I just had to put it in my head. At the time very few of his stories were translated, so each time I get a new Junji Ito I have the chance to uncover another set of context behind that first terrifying article.
Black Paradox is clearly one of his earlier stories, based on the art style. It’s bizarre, even for Ito. In the first story, you have an eclectic cast of characters, from a man being hunted by a robot double, to another convinced he has a supernatural doppelgänger. It takes Ito’s sincerity in style to pull something like this off. You have little choice but to be kept afloat by his own willing suspension of disbelief, which he seems to easily place in your hand as the reader. Ultimately, the payoff for this one isn’t enough that I’d recommend it to new readers the way I would a collection like Shiver, Tomie, or Uzumaki, but fans of Ito’s other work will get more of the beloved same here.