Review: Black Paradox – Not the Best of Junji Ito, But Still Worth Reading

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Halloween is nearly here and it’s the perfect time of the year to pull out the Junji Ito manga: specifically the Black Paradox which is releasing in English later this month. As far as horror goes, Junji Ito is a master of the craft but you can’t deny that some of his stories are just better than the rest.

Sadly, Black Paradox falls into the “rest.” While the premise gives out mysterious and creepy vibes, the story quickly loses its direction. What starts off as a suicide pact interrupted by creepy circumstances quickly devolves into a sci-fi/spiritual mystery that doesn’t offer much in terms of resolution. It comes down to human greed, which eventually will be the downfall of humanity. The idea is nothing original, but I have to admit that the supernatural aspect and transversing worlds make it a tad more interesting.

The characters in Black Paradox are quite an unlikeable bunch. Only one of them is bearable (Marusono) but in the end, even she becomes a completely different person. Their development, in general, feels pointless: we have a group of suicidal people with their own motivations and reasons but eventually, all of those reasons stop being relevant. Other than Barrachi, none of them got what they wanted. The “other me” moments were interesting, but that too felt pointless by the time the big twist showed up.

Overall, Black Paradox is by no means a bad read, it’s just that Junji Ito has so much more to offer. Story aside, the art is, as always, grotesque in the best way possible with signature Ito style, making this a visually pleasing work. Definitely do include the manga in your lineup if you choose to do an Ito marathon this Halloween because it does have that charm and can still be enjoyable.

The English release of the manga by Viz Media is set for October 25 and the synopsis is described as:
Four people intent on killing themselves meet through the suicide website Black Paradox: Maruso, a nurse who despairs about the future; Taburo, a man who is tortured by his doppelganger; Pii-tan, an engineer with his own robot clone; and Baracchi, a woman who agonizes about the birthmark on her face.
They wander together in search of the perfect death, fatefully opening a door that leads them to a rather bizarre destiny…

Anime Corner received an advance copy of Viz Media’s release of the Black Paradox manga for review purposes.

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