THE SOICHI FRONT is a direct continuation of "Secret of the Haunted Mansion" from the first Yami no Koe.
SOICHI’S BELOVED PET is about Soichi, the devilish boy that Ito has written about in a number of his other stories, and the events that unfold when his family adopts an abandoned cat.
IN THE VALLEY OF MIRRORS- "There is bitter enmity between two villages, facing each other across a river. But instead of erecting walls and battlements, they both decided to put up mirrors. What could this mean? And where did all the people disappear to, all those years ago?"
ANYTHING BUT A GHOST- "While driving on a mountain road one night, Shigeru finds a girl covered in blood."
LIBRARY OF ILLUSIONS- "Koko lives with her husband Goro in a giant mansion full of books. The books are a family heirloom, and he’s fiercely protective of them, so it would really suck if something were to happen to them …"
SONGS IN THE DARK- "Ever had a song stuck in your head? Of course you have, there’s probably one there now. But what if it didn’t go away? Days, weeks, months, the same song 24/7."
SPLATTER FILM- "A bunch of stoned slackers get hooked on delicious honey, with delicious [read: grotesque] results."
After I joined one of the Manga groups here, I saw this book on the 'top 65 horror mangas'...I gave it a try...This is my very first horror manga..Wow !!! It just blew me off...I really liked the stories,very original.My favorites were the first 2 chapters in the book,Library of illusions,Songs in the dark & Splatter film...The best of them all is "Songs in the Dark" !!! The only story that was so so was 'In the valley of mirrors".Not gonna write anything more about the stories and spoil the fun...Horror lovers, do read this book !!!
So given, that I recently read Ito's Voices in the Dark, I was compelled to also check out its successor; the New Voices in the Dark.
Considering most of Ito's work being short stories and the previous part being an anthology of those, I wasn't expecting much of continuity, but it turned out, that the very first segment of the book was in fact a direct sequel to the "Haunted House"-segment of the previous book. Unfortunately, I may add, because while the story in the previous volume had a bit of an anti-climactic-fan-service kind of ending, I was still satisfied with it, this first segment, however
left me completely disappointed in almost every aspect (other than some good art, of course). Knowing the story from the previous book, there is no mystery to be cleared up and even for a going-in-blind reader, everything is probably happening way too fast to get immersed into... and not to spoil anything; but the pay off of the story is awful and completely negates whatever satisfaction you might have gotten from the first part of the story in Voices in the Dark. Realizing that the next segment would once again be about Ito's comic relief character Soichi, who while likeable just doesn't have particularly interesting stories to work with, I almost thought, that the bad track record of the volume would continue, but was pleased to find out, that this might just be my favourite Soichi story I watched/read. In it Soichi is trying to prove to his family, that he is not an animal-abusing soon-to-be psychopath by bonding with the family's new cat ultimately resulting in some enjoyable and quite funny twists. With the third segment Ito moves into mystery and ghost-story territory again; "In the Valley of the Mirrors" tells the story of a mysterious abandoned village, that was once inhabited by 2 feuding halves, that for some reason ended up setting up mirrors all around their village; it's another example of Ito's interesting spins on ghost mystery stories... and speaking of ghost stories; in "Anything but a Ghost", we get Ito's spin on the ghost on the side of the road story. I guess the mystery and pay-off aren't as good as the mirror valley story, but it's another decent addition to Ito's library. "Library" is also the keyword for the next segment; "Library of Illusions" was probably my favourite segment out of this book. A young man inherits his family's vast library and develops quite a passion for keeping it well organized and tidy, his loving care for the books however slowly starts to bother his wife. I guess I especially liked it for it's psychological elements. Story #6 is "Songs in the Dark", where a young woman develops an especially undying earworm after hearing a street musician singing away her blues. It's another stellar output, that with it's premise and more down to earth "villain" works much better than /for example) the comedian duo segment in the previous book or the circus segment, that was adapted into anime, which also focus on supernatural spins on the entertainment industry. Last but not least is a short story by the name of "Splatter Film". In the segment an adventurer returning from his journey brings along a nectar with an otherworldly taste. Soon his friend, who was given a sneak peak of that taste, becomes infatuated with the nectar and informs his friends about it, completely neglecting the adventurer's warning, that eating from the nectar jar comes with a price. The segment again features an interesting concept and some great detailed artwork.
It's a mixed bag, but one with some genuinely good stuff. The first story culminates in a pretty terrible throwaway joke, but other than that all the other stories range from decent to good.
Like it's predecessor, there isn't much room to have deeply characterized characters with a ton of development, but in all fairness, it doesn't have to. It's purpose is to schock and chill. So giving us characters, that are just relatable enough for us to understand the horror of the situation will do. A special honourable mention goes to the "Library"-segment for the interesting psychology of the husband character.
The artwork was definetly more satisfying in this, than in "Voices in the Dark". Not necessarily for it's quality, but while there was no crater-face kid, there were quantitatively more chilling panels to look at in this one. Additionally, the placement of the various panels is well-thought out and does good to a reader's immersion.
I guess if I had to compare it to it's predeccesor, I'd say it's on pair. The very first segment definetly bummed me out, but it slowly grows better. Once the good stories start, it definetly keeps being consistently more entertaining than the first book, but while all the stories are good, they also don't quite reach the same high points as the predecessor either, but even with that, it's still a good addition to Ito's collection of horror stories.
As seen above, I use a star system (symbols I have stolen from Yu-Gi-Oh!'s entries here on MAL) to rate the series/movies in terms of the significant categories, which can indicate its quality. Those ratings do affect the final score I give the series/movie, but I do not use a strict mathematical method to assign the final score. Ultimately I weigh the final ratings by considering the stars given. I do not consider the categories to be equivalent and value a good story and characters over good art or a cathcy soundtrack. As far as the stars given go, I use a four stage scale:
(-) - bad, a series/movie is terrible in this category
(☆) - okay, it's fine, tolerable, but likely nothing special
(☆☆) - good, it's good, but may have flaws or isn't quite among the best I've seen in the category
(☆☆☆) - great, the best rating I can give, when it's truely remarkable in the category