Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram)

I read Junji Ito for the first time a few months back, it was his comeback at the horror genre after an eight year break. The book was ‘Fragments of Horror’.

As someone who was reading Junji Ito for the first time, ‘Fragments of Horror’ was a thrilling experience. It was also the first time I was reading Horror manga and was completely in awe.

I chose to buy ‘Dissolving Classroom’ next because frankly – that was the cheapest book by Ito available online. And I couldn’t wait to read it.

I was excited when the first page came, it was in colour! Just had the title and two severed heads on the table, with something oozing out of their eyes. And what looks like bottles with alcohol spilt on the floor. Reading the book will reveal it to be far more sinister than your imagination can ever fathom.

Ito straight off presents to us the main protagonist in the very first panel, Yuuma Azawaa, a handsome young man who has been transferred to a new school.

The boy introduces himself to his classroom with an apology. And the apologies do not stop.

The story is a weird weird tale about a boy who is obsessed with saying sorry, an act that has rather devastating consequences.

For me, this book wasn’t as shocking as ‘Fragments of Horror’. It has lesser “what the fuck” moments, but is definetely creepy.

The other main character, Azawa’s sister, who stalks and terrorizes people, is strikingly similar to another one in Fragments of Horror. But since Dissolving Classroom came first, she must have served as inspiration for it.

The artwork in the book is obviously flawless and creates the dread he intends to portray perfectly on paper.

However, I was hoping a lot more story wise from this one. There’s not enough back story to why the main protagonist is the way he is. The reader has to rely on what the other character tells you and it’s conveyed to the reader that their narrative is definitely not trustworthy. Maybe that adds to the confusion & terror.

There are two really random short stories in the last few pages. They are neither very disturbing, nor scary, not even memorable. But the book is worth a read for horror enthusiasts.

I guess I will have to buy his earlier creations to get a peak  into his genius and the work he became famous for.