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Never Open It cover
Yen Press

Manga and Anime

‘Never Open It: The Taboo Trilogy’ review

With the Halloween season at hand, I find myself pulling any spooky movie or book off the shelf to satisfy the narrative urge for horror. Understandably I’m not the only one looking for content in this vein, and publishers across the spectrum release like-minded books to an eager audience looking to be frightened as the sun sets on their mundane workday. 

An unanticipated supplement to my Halloween reading list is Ken Niimura’s Never Open It from Yen Press. The Spanish-Japanese comic artist has crafted three fitting short stories built on existing Japanese folk tales. While few of us may sit around the campfire and share spooky fables, it’s short stories like this that make excellent companions to the season. Additionally, Niimura’s style and flare gives this book ample character to differentiate it from other collections of this ilk. 

Never Open It screenshot
Yen Press

Based on the cover, I initially expected a more gruesome approach to legends like the Urashima Taro and The Crane Wife, but Never Open It quickly showed itself to be a book approachable to young and old audiences alike. There are moments of fear and horror, but they’re done in a cultivated manner with little extraneous gore or blood to offend the squeamish. After reading the first chapter, my young children (already fans of scary stories) were included in the reading of the subsequent chapters. They floated over multiple pages, taking in the narrative casually conveyed by Niimura. In our household, which is already filled with books and comics, returning to a single text is a sign of its vitality, and this book clearly grabbed their attention as it was our bedtime read for a week straight.

Never Open It screenshot
Yen Press

Niimura’s style is instantly recognizable, giving homage to great comic artists in the west and east, yet discernible and unique. The simple line-work, bordering on experimental minimalism at points, captures epic spaces with careful framing. His work is a testimony to the complexity of space that can be communicated with the slight turn of a pen. How fluently conflict and space is communicated to the reader with each chronicle present in this collection is something to behold. The humble application of red on the black and white pages effectively connects a singular theme in each of the narratives, and its sparing use gives it heft and impact when suddenly splattered across the panels at opportune moments. 

Niimura may be a young talent working in the field, but his stylistic merging of multiple styles and comic traditions with sharp and simple line-work makes him an artist to look out for. As we enter the dark winter months that follow Halloween, it’s a perfect time to sit in a quiet space and immerse yourself in Never Open It.  

Never Open It cover
‘Never Open It: The Taboo Trilogy’ review
Never Open It: The Taboo Trilogy
Niimura may be a young talent working in the field, but his stylistic merging of multiple styles and comic traditions with sharp and simple line-work makes him an artist to look out for.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
While scary at times, the book is appropriate for old and young alike, making it a perfect horror book for the whole family.
Creative, minimalist line-work that merges eastern and western comic stylings and gives Niimura's work dynamism and character.
9
Great

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