BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Dissolving Classroom by Junji Ito, translated by Melissa Tanaka

Here’s your upfront warning: gruesome horror ahead. As one of Japan’s most successful horror manga artists, Junji Ito knows how to make your hair rise, your heart race, your stomach churn. This one comes with quite the social commentary, too: beware of empty, false apologies. They’ll literally kill you!

Check out the last two standing on that cover. You’ve got seemingly straight-laced Yuuma who’s default reaction to just about every encounter is cries of “I’m sorry.” He’s supposedly making up for all the evil he perpetrated as a young boy: he found stress-relief from living with “really strict” parents by brutally killing small animals. “Divine wrath” as a result of his senseless cruelty somehow turned his younger sister Chizumi from “sweet little girl” to “twisted” stalker, leaving Yuuma to obsessively apologize on her behalf. Or so the story initially goes … until it doesn’t.

And who’s sorry now?

An entire classroom melts, leaving a sole survivor who’s also the only witness. The pair disappear, then reappear to wreak more havoc on the unsuspecting – trusting young women prone to flattery, unsuspecting new neighbors, a boy who fatally catches Chizumi’s attention. But the siblings start getting sloppy with their victims, leaving a trail that’s getting easier to track …

When all is said and dissolved, and you’re feeling that relief of knowing this is just fiction, Yuuma reappears in the afterword with a warning slap of reality: “Apology press conferences are major events!! Popular entertainment!!” he reminds. “Infidelity! Adultery! Eating snacks! Last to work! Last minute cancellation! … You’ve got no shortage of reasons to apologize yourself, I bet!! And apology is pleasure!” he grins. Don’t get sucked in. Or rather, don’t get your brains sucked out.

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2016 (Japan), 2017 (United States)


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