There are all in all 6 chapters telling the story of four people who met to commit group suicide. However, their attempt lead to a bizarre turn of events that opened the door to the spirit world and all the disturbing phenomenon it carries with it.
As with every Junji Itou's story, the signature uneasiness and creep factor is always present especially on the later chapters.
The charm of this story for me is how the spirit world is presented and how souls are depicted as beautiful gems (dubbed as "Paradoxical Night"). These sphere like jewels brims with life that is also capable of immense destruction.
find the interactions among the four main characters. Marusou, Taburo, Piitan and Barachii is quite tense yet comical at certain points. They all have their moments and each of the characters are fleshed out and played out their roles perfectly.
There are also 2 bonus stand alone chapters in the form of The Licking Woman and Mystery Pavilion which are great creep out chapters as well. You can finish the bonus chapters in about 2-3 minutes so I won't discuss them thoroughly here as the titles speak for themselves.
Definitely a must read for Junji Itou's Fans, and a good starting point for beginners who want to read horror mangas like Gyo, Tomie or Uzumaki. 8/10.
Trigger warnings: suicide, suicide attempts, brief mentions of brain tumours
Review may contain mild spoilers depending on how you view a spoiler
Black Paradox is a one-volume manga by guro artist and author, Junji Ito. When a group of anonymous people meet through the Black Paradox website and join together to kill themselves, their lives take a sudden, unexpected turn. Following greed, fear, and loss of mental stability, Ito takes his writing to a whole new level with Black Paradox.
Now, as someone with suicidal tendencies, I actually very much enjoy how Ito utilises it within this manga. Although it won't be for everyone - and
please do be careful as actual suicide attempts occur within the manga - there's something about it that speaks to humanity's greed, lust for money and fame, fortune and power. It's interesting how it can sway these people and their ideals and values change within just six chapters, especially how their moral compasses change as their true colours come through.
Thoroughly, pardon the French, fucked up, with people diving into brain tumours (yes, literally diving into), explosions, and kidnapping, Ito delves into the morality of humanity in a way that leaves you disgusted but intrigued at the same time.
The Licking Woman is a short story included in Black Paradox as an extra chapter. Within this story a woman goes around on muggy, foggy nights, licking strangers with her tongue. Murders occur, horrific, graphic murders, and the story only gets stranger later on. This is more of the gore content I began reading Ito for. Although not quite gore and more just graphic, unsettling images, this still filled my enjoyment for the topic. This story itself is just another reason to be wary when walking alone at night, fictional or not, and definitely another reason I'll be looking over my shoulder.
A one-volume horror story about a group suicide that goes wrong in the strangest way possible.
Story: The story itself is very bizarre and grotesque, based around a group of suicidal adults who find portals to another world filled with a new kind of stone, beautiful and extremely valuable. How far will they go to exploit this new stone? The story questions the depths of human greed and selfishness using this bizarre premise.
Art: Ito's people are easily distinguishable, with expressions that are cliche but understandable. Where the art really shines is in its depictions of the frequently-grotesque portals and the more horrific aspects of this manga.
These are lovingly drawn with incredible amounts of detail and are the high points of this manga.
Character: The characters are for the most part selfish and unrelatable besides the protaganist, but they're also well developed. In the end, they become jaded and bitter, apathetic about virtually everything, and their downfall is well plotted.
Enjoyment: The bizarre plot and the wonderful art make this a very enjoyable read, despite being generally a superficial story with mostly flat characters.
Junji Ito's Black Paradox is an interesting story concept. A group of suicidal people grouping together to go to the other side and finding themselves wrapped up in a spiritual journey through another world definetly intrigued me when I was beginning to read it. Perhaps there is an important overarching theme or message to all of the supernatural events that occur in the story that require a little bit more digging. But I am not willing to do that digging because of how much it bored me to undeath.
It's very obvious that Ito is a horror director at heart. He is the master of the
page turn scare and builds tension to such a degree that you want to read through his stories faster to see just how it turns out. There are elements of horror in this Manga, don't get me wrong. It wouldn't be Junji Ito without them. But if anything, this is much more of a weird mishmash of genres that don't really go together. There aren't enough action elements to call it a Shonen action Manga, there isn't enough focus on the relationships between characters to call this a romance, and, most disappointingly, the horror aspects of Black Paradox focus on freaky visuals rather than the horrifying implication that truly makes Ito's best works shine. It really feels like it doesn't know what it wants to accomplish as a Manga.
Not to mention that the pacing is very awkward. There's what's supposed to be the big reveal in the last chapter that is foreshadowed in the first chapter incredibly subtle and no where else. Not to mention that when the reveal drops, it's in multiple pages of lengthy exposition that could have much more interestingly been captured in the actions that we aren't shown. The whole Manga plays out incredibly slowly up until the later chapters, that have a much bigger focus on the moral aspect of what is happening rather than the more interesting dilemma being the actual action in it of itself. Especially since we aren't explicitly given a real reason to doubt the morality of what is happening until too late.
You really aren't presented with a reason to really care about the characters or what they are doing, and it makes for a very boring read once you get over the concept. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone other than those who appreciate Junji Ito's art in other work, as it is the best part of the whole Manga in my opinion. Even then, there are some wonky designs that being to look silly once you've been looking at them for a few chapters.