Soichi is one of Junji Ito’s emblematic characters to whom he has devoted several short stories. They are all collected in this collection published by Mangetsu. But how can a boy be so scary?
A demon in shorts
Like most of the works of the Japanese master of horror, Soichi is organized around a series of independent short stories, but we find the same places and most of the characters return to each story including the monster of the title. However, the demon here is a child. The atmosphere is set in the first short story. Teenagers Yusuke and Michina spend a vacation with unknown parents in the countryside against their will. They find the son Kôichi of the same age and the youngest, the daughter Soyuri and the last Soichi. The atmosphere between the four oldest is very joyful until the arrival of the youngest whose eccentricity and violence transforms the bucolic stay into a nightmare.
Initially, Soichi innocently does evil. He lets his instincts act without limit so that his family notices him. His brother and sister put him aside because of his peculiarities. He constantly keeps nails in his mouth to cure his anemia. This exclusion pushes him to develop a feeling of superiority.
Soïchi wears a college uniform, blue shorts and an ordinary white t-shirt but also a red cape as a childish disguise but also as Dracula. Over the episodes, he evolves little, but his madness or his powers seem to strengthen. It doesn’t always hurt, but her mere presence and then her deceptively sweet words incite others to violence. In the second short story, Soichi uses his nails like a vampire would suck blood. Further, it pumps the energy of an adult. He practices black magic and voodoo, but can be overwhelmed by his creations. Soichi does not just follow a child but also his family and thus the reader goes back to the sources of evil before, in the last third of the book, to switch further into the future when little Soichi has changed a lot…
Soichi and Ito
Soichi find the gloomy paths of horror. Many characters are at a pivotal time in their lives. Yusûke will leave high school. Soichi is in his last year of primary school and therefore a year of transition. Junji Ito finds in this volume his obsessions by marrying the everyday and the disturbing. However, unlike other short stories, Junji Ito doesn’t go all the way to outright horror (like murder or destruction). Everything returns to normal at the end of the short story and the bad boy is punished. We can hypothesize that he holds back because the characters concerned are children.
Turning the pages, the reader can find Junji Ito’s drawing very precise and gentle. It appears without harshness, but through very subtle changes it distills concern: a black shadow around the eyes, mismatched bangs, drops of sweat on the face… Dread is often transmitted through the face – which is the place where the reader operates a transfer. These short stories being written at different periods of Ito’s career, we can also see his style evolve.
The editor Mangetsu brings together in one volume all the adventures of Soichi. It also offers an exclusive cover designed by Junji Ito. This choice, but also the preface, the postscript and the quality of the paper illustrate how carefully the publisher takes care of the author’s works. The preface by Marius Chapuis sheds a dark light on this new volume of the works of Junji Ito.
Through this set aside child who takes revenge, Soichi is a critical exclusion of different people. The demon in shorts is not so evil and the various news offer a look sometimes disturbing sometimes tender. Soichi is also a trip to rural Japan, that of small towns too rarely highlighted in manga.