Hi, it’s Sabrina and today I have another Spooky October post! This time, I’m interviewing my dad and my sister, Allison, about a horror graphic novel I forced them to read – Smashed by Junji Ito. I got the book out from the library and then decided I was too afraid to read it, so I came up with an alternative idea and luckily my dad and sister were on board. And I am so glad, because from what I’ve heard from them, I definitely would have been scarred for life had I read it myself, lol. And with that, let’s get started 🙂
ME: Hi! Thank you for doing this for me! To start off with, I would like to ask what your overall feelings were toward the book.
DAD: I’m going to say interesting.
ALLISON: Good! It was interesting. I have never read something like this before. I’ve read a few comics before, but not ones that are horror – I’ve never read any horror. Like, I’ve read Garfield before.*
*My sister doesn’t actually read all that much at all, but she does tend to enjoy YA dystopian series. She has had my copy of Champion by Marie Lu for months, but she did enjoy Legend and Prodigy. Dad doesn’t read that much either, but I know he has enjoyed some fantasy series.
ME: Did you like the plot of the stories?
DAD: I would say 75% of them I liked the plot.
ALLISON: Yeah, there were definitely some unique and original plots. I don’t think many people would come up with them – sometimes it was a bit like… creepy.
ME: Did you like the art style?
DAD: Yes! I liked the way they could express darkness in a person, as opposed to how they expressed lightness in a person. Although it was basic, they made the girls look pretty… I guess the boys were handsome, I didn’t notice them so much.
ALLISON: Yeah I liked it. I think it suited what the author was trying to do. It was interesting – the visuals really complemented the story and without them it wouldn’t have been as effective. It wasn’t so much scary, but there were a lot of full page graphic images that really displayed the grossness and creepiness. The gruesomeness of the stories.
I remember there was a picture of a cat , it had what was supposed to be a creature from hell in its mouth… it was kind of spider-like with lots of eyeballs and really creepy.
Also with the art style I really found that the eyes were very important. They always grabbed my attention and they were really creepy. They really expressed the personality of the characters. There were a lot of different stories and different eyes like ghost eyes and hatred eyes and demon eyes … all different types of eyes that were all unique in their own way, just like all the stories were unique.
DAD: Yes, they seemed to focus on the eyes a lot. That’s how they showed the darkness in people, through their eyes.
ALLISON: Also, you got used to it by the end, but the pictures did seem like they had a lot going on and it was hard to tell sometimes because there was so much there – but maybe that was the feeling they were trying to express.
DAD: I didn’t find the pictures too cluttered. Okay, yeah, some of it was a bit busy but it’s just portraying a general idea – even though it was a bit busy you didn’t need to look at it closely, you just got the general feel of what was happening through the picture. I wasn’t as compelled to look through the pictures as I was to read the words – Allison was the opposite.
ALLISON: Also by the end of it, there were some people (it was very rare), but some of the girls and even one of the guys looked the same even though they were different stories.
DAD: Perhaps the drawing of the characters is too similar, even though they’re different characters. Some of them looked the same. They didn’t have enough distinguishing features to change it up – unless I was wrong and they were all the same person all the way through but I don’t think that’s what happened.
ME: Did you have a favourite story in the collection?
DAD: Yes, yes. I think I liked “Earthbound” the best. I think because it was different, it was a different storyline. I guess they were all different, so that’s not really true. It was a mystery, it had a twist… they all had mysteries, but they were more obvious, the other mysteries. (ME: Did it just work better for you?) It was interesting. I don’t know, it had a good feel about it.
ALLISON: Okay, this is kinda hard because for me, I don’t really like horror. If we’re talking about what scared me the most (which also made for a good story – it was entertaining, kept me on edge), in the middle there were three stories that had the same character and I kind of liked them even though* they were a bit creepy and gory. But they were entertaining. I was grossed out by it, but I liked the complexity of one character over the stories. I liked the first story too – I don’t know if that’s because it was the first one I read or not, but it was pretty intense. There’s one about books in a library, by the way, so I don’t know, maybe your blog readers would like that one?**
* Here, my sister visibly shuddered, lol.
** That made me smile.
ME: Were there any stories you didn’t like and didn’t get anything from?
DAD: The ones I didn’t like the most were Splendid Shadow Song and Ghosts of Prime Time. I thought they were stupid. (I can’t say that, can I? ME: Yeah it’s fine, it’s your opinion) The plots made sense, I just didn’t like the ideas. They were both similar storylines to be honest – a little bit. I felt they were a bit rushed, but they are short stories so that makes sense. They just didn’t work for me. I didn’t like them.
ALLISON: Yeah there were a few that seemed to just drop off and ended abruptly. And I’m not sure if that’s part of the horror genre, having not experienced many horror stories, but yeah. There was one, which I didn’t mind because I thought the whole time that something scary was going to happen, but nothing per say scary happened it was just like… “oh okay”. That one was called Roar and the other one I didn’t like was Death Row Doorbell.
There was also one that was really confusing to start with (Dad agreed with me that it was confusing). It was the second one in the linked stories called The Mystery of the Haunted House; Soichi’s Version.
ME: Were all the stories scary? Were they more gory or freaky than outright scary?
DAD: I didn’t find them scary. Freaky was number one, definitely different levels of gore. Some were semi feel-good ones*, but more often than not it ended badly. Whereas a lot of horror movies – except when they want to continue – they usually have the good guy winning eventually. But these ones, not really.
*Here, Allison scoffed and said “Sorry, WHAT?”
ALLISON: There were definitely different levels of scariness and goriness throughout. Roar, the one I didn’t like, wasn’t gory or scary in my opinion – it was kind of mysterious and mystical. Throughout the stories, most of them had a mysterious type of thing. All of them had that. They had some other powers going on, like supernatural stuff. Almost all of them were supernatural. The first one was pretty gory to start off with and there were some gross things too. But there were some creepy images that weren’t necessarily gory as well.
DAD: Yeah, there were some gross things. Some creepy things that weren’t gory. There wasn’t much that was funny, even though the characters laughed a few times. There were some disturbing things. Disturbing things that only a certain type of author would be able to talk about that are not generally accepted in mainstream. Do I get to say what annoyed me most about the book?
ME: Sure, go ahead!
DAD: It was in every story. I don’t know how to explain it, but there were too many Batman kapows*. They were repetitive and seemed wasteful. It feels like I have to read every one because it’s a word written there. If I could just look at them it would be okay.
*He’s talking about sound effects. Also, he showed me an example and I could definitely see what he meant – there were four pages in a row that were full of, and only, noises.
ME: Okay, let’s talk about the characters. Were there any you liked? Any you hated?
ALLISON: In the three connected stories I mentioned before, I liked them for the complexity of one of the characters. There was an evil character but like I liked him because he had nails in his teeth. I thought it was interesting to have that kind of character. It was cool/interesting aspect.
Also, one of the starting characters… you know how in movies you’re like “DON’T DO THAT!”? It didn’t happen too often which was kind of good but in the first story, I was like, “why did you do that???”!
DAD: Yes! There was one that I liked: Asano, out of my favourite story, Earthbound, because she was caring and didn’t worry about the danger. I didn’t like this guy, Furuhashi, because he was creepy. This other guy was a good character too – he was an interesting bad person, but I won’t say his name because it could be a spoiler.
ME: Would you read something like this again?
ALLISON: Yeah! Not often, but yeah. I don’t really like horror.
ME: And finally, what rating would you give it?
ALLISON: 3.5 out of 5. Just because I didn’t reeeeally like it but that was because I don’t like horror.
DAD: MA*. Out of five, I’ll give it a 3.5. To keep you reading, I’d give it a 3, but out of interest I’d give a 4 – but that’s because I haven’t read anything like this before so if I was to read it again it would probably not be a 4.
*This is a joke about movie classification, because I know he knew I was asking for a rating out of five.
What do you think?
Have you read Smashed or anything like it? Have you ever forced your family (or anyone else) to read a certain book? Let me know!