Filled with stellar artwork and a story that weaves between cosmic mythos, religious iconography and classic horror, this is Ito Junji with some of his best work in recent years.
Story, 6: The volume is roughly tied together through the presence of Tsuchiyado Wataru, a journalist seeking information on the mysterious appearance of a golden-haired woman named Byakuya Kyouka. However, the first four chapters roughly felt like one-shots due to their relatively disconnected nature. Each explored a disturbing facet of the lore behind Byakuya Kyouka's appearance and the eruptions at Mount Sengoku. Though I enjoyed them for the most part and the conclusion was mostly
satisfying, some of the reveals weren't handled particularly well and tarnished my enjoyment a bit.
Art, 9: There are genuinely gruesome pieces here, particularly in Chapter 3: Hypnotherapy and Chapter 4: The Insects of Bishakeura. Highly recommended for fans of body horror.
Characters, 6: Byakuya Kyouka seems much like a blonde version of Tomie from Ito's other works, though with a comparatively lighthearted tone. Men become obsessed with her and tap into their divinity. Many of the characters felt undeveloped outside of their operations as plot devices, but the scope of the story was galactic so this can mostly be forgiven.
Enjoyment, 7: Despite my grievances with some of the plot developments and characters, I still enjoyed this title quite a bit, as the sci-fi nature of the story is fairly uncommon in other Ito Junji works. Great art as well.
Overall, 7: Fans of Ito's other works will likely enjoy this, as well as fans of his specific title Black Paradox. The stories are dissimilar but encompass relatively similar themes.