Manga Review: Remina

Remina is a six-chapter manga that illustrates some of the worst aspects of human nature.

Remina
Written by: Junji Ito
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 15, 2020

Unlike the previous Junji Ito release that I read (Venus in the Blind Spot), this volume tells a complete story in its 256 pages rather than presenting a collection of short stories. At the beginning of the story, Professor Oguro has won the Nobel Peace Prize. During an interview, a reporter mentions a planet emerging from a wormhole that the professor had discovered 30 years earlier. The professor has named the planet after his daughter, Remina, because it appeared on her 16th birthday.

Having a planet named after her and having it announced at a major press conference throws the shy Remina into the spotlight overnight. At first, Remina turns down offers to go into show business. However, she finally breaks down and accepts an offer because she feels it’s just not possible to hide from people forever. Right around the same time, though, Professor Oguro and his assistant are noticing that the planet Remina is acting mysteriously.

For a while, though, the manga focuses on Remina’s rise to stardom, which includes getting a fan club and becoming the face for Mineishi Construction. When Remina has dinner Mr. Mineishi and his family, she meets his son, Kunihiro, who is a big fan of Remina. It becomes clear that Kunihiro is interested in Remina.

But as Remina’s popularity soars, it’s discovered that the planet Remina is headed toward the Earth. As word gets out to people through the media, people begin panicking. The panic only gets worse when it’s discovered that Remina is destroying the planets along its path.

And this is when Junji Ito’s ability to write horror really comes into play. The people decide that since the planet was discovered by Professor Oguro and named after his daughter, that they are somehow calling the planet to the Earth. They decide that the way to save the Earth is to kill both the professor and Remina. The lengths that these scared and panicked people are willing to go to are truly terrifying. And the way that Kunihiro and his family turn on Remina is also disgusting. She was wonderful as long as she was making money for them. But now they’re panicked and wanting to blame someone, and she’s the perfect target. It’s disgusting behavior, but sadly, it’s realistic. But let’s just say that with something that the Mineishi family experiences through their own selfish actions is almost poetic justice. While I wasn’t necessarily rooting for this outcome, it was pretty obvious that this was going to happen to them thanks to their arrogance.

Remina ends up on a wild chase, accompanied by a mysterious homeless man she encounters when she’s trying to hide from an angry mob that’s wanting to kill her. The man’s identity becomes important when they’re trying to figure out how to save those who have supported Remina throughout this whole ordeal.

Remina ends up being a wild ride, and the stakes keep getting higher and higher right until the end. Sadly, though, we don’t know the ultimate outcome for the characters that survive this ordeal, especially since there was a time limit thrown out there. But with the story that Ito is trying to tell, that detail isn’t important. It’s just, as a reader, it’s a loose end that’s left hanging out there.

It’s interesting to note how Ito’s art is very detailed early on in the volume, especially during Remina’s rise in fame. But as the panic and chaos ensures, the art starts having less and less detail to it. I like to think that this was done intentionally, as a way to highlight how bad things get for Remina and the other characters after the chaos ensues. One of the main exceptions to this is when the planet makes it to Earth… the eye on the planet is very detailed, which helps to make it “pop out” from the page.

I was impressed with the storytelling and the art in Remina. While there are horror aspects to this story, it didn’t quite have the same horror feel that many of the stories in Venus in the Blind Spot had. The more I’m starting to read to Ito’s work, the more impressed I’ve become with it. I’m usually not a fan of horror, but Ito has a style to his storytelling that helps to raise his stories above the baseline level of horror.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Additional review of Junji Ito’s work:

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