Hellstar Remina is a sci-fi horror manga by none other than Junji Ito dealing with the dangers of facing the unknown and the all consuming descent into violence as humanity is pushed further and further into desperation in the face of certain death bearing down upon...
...bearing down upon... them.
...Guys. Guys, can we just drop the act? I'm sorry, but can we just drop the act? Okay? I'm gonna start over now. Now that we're dropping the act.
Hellstar Remina is a schlocky over the top horror manga with some sci-fi elements by Junji Ito featuring a planet with a face that can apparently move faster than the speed of light and can travel the entire distance of the Solar System in like a day. This manga is honestly amazing. I thought I had read enough of Junji Ito to the point he couldn't surprise me anymore.
I've long since realized his stories are messy, various questions are usually never answered, and Junji Ito in general just does not give a flying fuck. Which to be quite honest, is a part of the reason why I love the man.
"I'm gonna do a manga about killer fish or something and farting blob monsters, fuck it, throw some weird supernatural shit in there and a RANDOM CIRCUS EVEN THOUGH THE WORLD IS IN ADMIST A FISH APOCALYPSE. SPIRALS ARE INFECTING THE WORLD! SATAN'S ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVES TRANSMITTED VIA A TEENAGER APOLOGIZING WILL CAUSE PEOPLE'S FACES AND BODIES TO MELT INTO A GORY MESS."
But Hellstar Remina, takes it to a whole new level.
Okay first of all, there's flying cars. That's how you know this story is taking place in the future. There are flying cars. This story is centered around the discovery a brand new planet which the scientist who found it proceeds to name after his daughter, Remina. For some reason, the country proceeds to become obsessed with this completely normal girl who this planet has been named after, and some guy keeps hounding her about becoming an idol because a planet was named after her and eventually, she does.
However, that's not important. What IS important is the planet. It's after this that the scientists realize, oh shit. OH SHIT. THE PLANET IS MOVING AT AN INSANE PACE, AND IT'S HEADING TOWARDS US. And as it continues onward in its journey, it's proceeding to eat all of the other planets that are in its way.
PLUTO, NEPTUN--wait, Pluto??? Oh right, this manga was from 2005 which is a year before Pluto had its planet card taken away. BUT ANYWAYS, IT'S EATING THE ENTIRE SOLAR SYSTEM. IT'S EATEN MARS, AND NOW IT'S COME TO EARTH. OH NO!
...I've brought up the term schlock in numerous other reviews I've done, but look. There cannot be a more definitive example of schlock than a planet essentially eating the entire Solar System within the span of 24 hours. Remina (the planet) is apparently massive, massive enough to where it's weird tongue appendage is capable of pulling the entirety of Mars into it, but it's moving across the entire Solar System at the speed of light and...
Like I'm not even a science person but like I'm pretty sure if this object ate the rest of the Solar System, then proceeded to eat the Earth's Moon, and then just sat directly right over Earth in its orbit... any combination of any of these things would probably immediately just fucking kill us all? But if you're at all sane, your brain has already long since given up trying to make sense of anything before reaching this point.
It's just beautiful nonsense. Because after this point, the gravity on Earth is just completely and utterly fucked. Like there's a whole chase that goes on between the two surviving main characters and the mob of frenzied and panicked humans witnessing the APOCALYPSE and they are basically flying over entire countries. And apparently they're moving so fast or over so much distance that they actually at one point... like they start the chase in Japan but then they reach Japan again.
...DURING THIS CHASE, THEY LITERALLY COMPLETELY GO AROUND THE ENTIRE PLANET. AND AS THEY'RE PASSING BY OTHER COUNTRIES, PEOPLE FROM THOSE COUNTRIES ARE JOINING THE CHASE AND SCREAMING FOR REMINA'S DEATH.
Let's not even get into how the final surviving guy who escapes along with Remina (girl) is more or less a COMPLETELY RANDOM HOMELESS GUY she bumps into when hiding from the mob out for her blood. AND THE RANDOM HOMELESS GUY IS NOT ACTUALLY NAMED UNTIL THE FINAL COUPLE OF PAGES OF THE MANGA.
How and why. How and why.
Also, It's Actually Genuinely Pretty Okay
Putting the insanity of everything about this manga (there's more I didn't go into) aside, there actually is a lot of genuinely effective stuff in my opinion. Like the idea of this mob just descending into insanity as the apocalypse proceeds and becomes absolutely consumed by the idea that this girl who shares the name of their destroyer is to absolutely be blamed for their impending deaths...
It's great! Really great. Would probably be much, much better if things were extended so it's more of a gradual thing. As it stands, she basically becomes an idol, it's learned that Remina (the planet) is coming for Earth, and basically a random guy just throws out the idea that the scientist and his daughter is to be blamed for it or is directly causing the planet to come after them.
Yeah, that's a great plan. My Nobel prize and my daughter's status as a massively popular idol will do me a lot of good when the Hellstar EATS EARTH, THE VERY PLANET UPON WHICH I LIVE.
But you know, I feel like an asshole for even suggesting that he should have went a different direction with this. I absolutely loved how fucking ludicrously insane this became. Which may be seen as a bit hypocritical if you've read another one of my manga reviews, but the difference is that with this, Junji Ito never even attempts to put on airs. He goes from one weird story to the next and if he gets bored during it, he'll throw some weird new development in there because again, he does not give a fuck. Which I can absolutely respect.
Be as weird and absurd as you want to be, and I'll fucking happily marvel at your beautiful insanity. But the moment you apply a serious tone to it, and if that serious tone does not work, then it's just a bunch of random nonsense that you've made annoying. I don't hate random weird nonsense. I hate it when it's annoying. As this manga in my opinion proves, it CAN be fun.
Also, there was genuinely some actually creepy stuff. Like the whole part where they're exploring Remina (the planet) and the nightmarish landscape that turns out to be, and like when they force one of the injured passengers to take off their helmet to test and see if the air's breathable... but then their face just fucking melts and becomes a part of Remina itself.
Additionally, the mob
showing Remina (the girl) her father's burned and crucified corpse and then proceeding to attach Remina to the cross but they just simply put her over her father's burned corpse... yeah, that's pretty fucked up. That scratches the horror itch nicely.Actually, I really fucking love the mob in GENERAL before the gravity button is just completely switched off... because as described before, that's just when it snowballs into complete and utter insanity.
Bonus: An Army of One
I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention the included extra Junji Ito short story. There's not a huge amount to discuss about it in comparison to the actual story of Hellstar Remina, because I'm pretty sure the reason for its existence is solely that Junji Ito just wanted to draw human corpses stitched together.
...Yeah that's pretty fucking weird, and disturbing. Like a bunch of different other Junji Ito short stories, the actual story leaves a lot to be desired because we're never shown this group that's doing this and hijacking radio stations and dropping happy appearing posters...
...But I can't say I've ever seen Christmas trees adorned with stitched together humans corpses. So once again, you win this round, Mr. Ito. You sick, sick bastard.
Hellstar Remina is really, really fucking entertaining overall. As much as I love Junji Ito's insanity which makes up a lot of the manga, there actually is also some good horror stuff in there. It's certainly not the best Junji Ito manga but I really actually loved this one. A 7.5 out of 10 or 75 out of 100.