Comics/Graphic Novels

It’s Best If You Don’t Know Too Much About this Horror Manga

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Emily Martin

Contributing Editor

Emily has a PhD in English from the University of Southern Mississippi, MS, and she has an MFA in Creative Writing from GCSU in Milledgeville, GA, home of Flannery O’Connor. She spends her free time reading, watching horror movies and musicals, cuddling cats, Instagramming pictures of cats, and blogging/podcasting about books with the ladies over at #BookSquadGoals ( She can be reached at

Novels are my first love, but I’ve been making room in my heart for more graphic novels lately. And so I thought it would be fun to share with you one of my favorite graphic novels I’ve read this year, and if you love cosmic horror, this is a really fun one.

Content warning: body horror and suicidal thoughts.

Black Paradox cover

Black Paradox by Junji Ito

If you know anything about horror manga, then you’ve likely heard of Junji Ito before. Ito’s name is basically synonymous with the genre, and he’s developed quite the cult following. I’d consider graphic novels like Uzumaki and Tomie contemporary horror classics, they are already so beloved and revered. But Ito’s catalogue goes a lot deeper than his most popular titles.

I know I’m newer to graphic novels, but when I picked up Black Paradox at my local bookstore (shout out to Elliott Bay Book Company!), I had never heard of it before. Aside from just knowing and appreciating Ito’s work, I was also intrigued by this particular story and its artwork. Obviously, I was not disappointed. Black Paradox is a quick read with shocking imagery you won’t soon forget, and it deserves to be recognized alongside Ito’s most popular works.

Black Paradox tells the story of a group of four strangers who all meet each other on a website called Black Paradox, where people meet to help plan and facilitate each other’s deaths. All four have their reasons for seeking out death. Maruso is a nurse whose dark visions of the future leave her with uncontrollable anxiety. Taburo is pursued relentlessly by a doppelgänger. Baracchi is haunted by the birthmark on her face. And Pii-tan’s robot clone has him questioning his own existence. Maruso, Taburo, Baracchi, and Pii-tan agree to meet in person to carry out their suicides together. But right from the beginning, nothing goes according to plan. And nothing is what it seems.

Yes, the material in Black Paradox is dark, and no, the four main characters aren’t particularly likable. But if you can appreciate dark subject matter and morally gray characters, there’s so much to love about this story. With every turn of the page, there’s another mind-bending, reality-warping twist that just pulls you deeper into the web of Ito’s sick, twisted world. I won’t give any of those twists away because I didn’t know what I was getting into when I picked this one up, and I think it’ll be so much more fun for you if you do the same.

This is the shortest graphic novel I’ve read from Junji Ito, but Black Paradox packs a punch. It was such an unexpected journey and one I’d love to see more people share with me — mostly because, selfishly, I’d love to talk about this book with more people! If you’ve never read Junji Ito before, this is a wonderful way to dip a toe in. If you already know and love Junji Ito, this might still be one that isn’t on your radar yet. Either way, make sure you check it out! And report back. Warning: I will not hold myself responsible for any weird dreams/nightmares you may have after reading this.

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