I was first introduced to Junji Ito’s work when I was fifteen years old. I remember my friend talking non-stop about Uzumaki, and almost infecting us with her obsession with the spiral-themed manga. Our friendship group quickly devoured the series. While not everyone kept up with Ito over the years, I definitely did. I followed his other series, one shots and a rather lacklustre anime series adaptation. It seemed each year he put out something better than the previous, and I couldn’t get enough of it! So when Viz Media announced they had acquired the rights to his 30th year celebration art book – The Art of Junji Ito: Twisted Visions – I knew I had to get it.
The art book has 150 pages which includes over 130 images, an interview with Junji Ito and an image directory. Of the images there’s three main categories they fall into. The first part of the book is dedicated to art of Tomie, then Uzumaki and finally general images. The interview and art index is at the back of the book.
The hardcover book is wrapped in a rather unique dust jacket. The art has been created for the purpose of the book. Unfortunately, the art isn’t included in the book’s art index. Which is a little disappointing as I would have liked to learn more about it. Nonetheless the dusk jacket is incredibly striking. As you can see the sprawling motif of hair and wires interconnect female figures, skeletons and eyes. The hot pink highlight on the main figure’s eyes and the spine’s middle eye was a brave choice. Hot pink isn’t something I would usually associate with horror, but it is far more striking than something traditional like red would have been. Taking the jacket off, the book is plain black with the title printed across the spine. I’m not a big fan of how ‘Twisted Visions’ is printed here. I would have preferred it keeping with the simple font of ‘The Art of Junji Ito’, and save the space and ink for a small design like a spiral.
Opening the book up, you can see printings of various iconic moments in Ito’s work. As mentioned above, the art section of the book features three ‘chapters’ – Tomie, Uzumaki and Other Works. Other Works includes art from his one shots, other manga series as well as images he was commissioned for. The images are divided into colour prints on glossy paper, and black and grey prints on regular paper. I’m a little torn on how much I like the black and grey prints. On one hand, I think the black ink would have been clearer on white paper, the image just isn’t as crisp on the grey. But on the other, it does tie in with the book’s cover, and is quite unique. Where the grey paper does become more of a problem is at the back of the book, when trying to read the interview and art index.
The coloured images are breathtaking. There’s honestly not much else to say but that. There’s an excellent selection of images, and I can’t help but keep going through the book every day and looking at them. My favourites are definitely from the Tomie section. but that’s more because I absolutely adore Tomie.
At the back of the book is an interview with Junji Ito about his creative process. I found reading this very insightful, and it was a fantastic addition to the book. But, my favourite bit was the art index which included small comments from Ito on each piece. It was interesting getting a small insight into each work.
This book is something I am going to cherish for years to come. The artworks featured are a great blend of iconic images, manga panels and lesser known works. When I first opened it, I had my mum next to me, and we had great fun talking about certain stories that I recognised and noting down others I had yet to check out. This is truly a piece that every Junji Ito fan would adore.