Remina Review: Cosmic Horror and the Fear of Guilt

What would you do if the public thought you were guilty of causing a disaster? What if you couldn’t be sure that you didn’t? Fear of other people’s judgement features heavily in the subconscious terrors of mankind. Whether you’ve dreamt about going to class with no pants on or waited impatiently for the verdict from a jury of twelve, fear of judgement is a fear we all have experience with.

The Story of a Girl and a Planet


Horror master Junji Ito’s newest western release, Remina (originally  called Jigokusei Remina or Hellstar Remina), dives deep into that fear of public judgement. When the story starts, our titular protagonist Remina Oguro is tied to a cross and hoisted high above a desperate, angry mob calling for her death. An enormous, demonic eye peers down from above. The narration tells us that the end of humanity has come.

From there, we take a step back in time to a year before the events of the intro. Many years from our present day, an astronomist named Professor Oguro is awarded a Nobel Prize for discovering a strange planet that has arrived from another dimension through a wormhole and is gradually drifting through space toward Earth. He decides to name it in honor of his beautiful daughter Remina, as it seemed to have originally appeared on the day she was born. Association with the strange planet propels her to a more figurative stardom with an explosive career as a pop idol.

But as the strange planet grows closer to Earth, it begins to destroy all in its path, leaving mankind to wonder if a similar fate awaits them. Desperate for answers, some begin to believe that Remina Oguro herself is the cause of the planet’s approach, and that they can only be saved through her death.

Terror from Beyond the Stars

Remina is cosmic horror in the truest sense. An inevitable, unstoppable threat approaches from the stars with no regard for human life. The planet’s origins and methods uncertain, those in its path are left nothing but despair and grasping at straws. That hopelessness is wonderfully captured by Ito, whose depiction of society’s descent into madness and desperation never feels out of place or rushed. While Ito’s works aren’t generally known for their slow burn, in Remina the gradual decline is presented as smooth as butter. It’s a single, coherent story, unlike the more episodic (but equally terrifying) Uzumaki. By the end, the story has escalated into a wild and unforgettable fever dream.

Ito’s art is often the lynchpin of the horror in his stories, and while the storytelling is the source of the most shudders here, the art doesn’t disappoint. The hostile and alien planet Remina is shown gradually in more and more detail as it approaches, and each new view of humanity’s impending doom adds to the incomprehensible and horrifying feeling. Ito’s characters are endearing when sane and delightfully twisted and terrifying when they’ve gone mad. He manages to achieve an impressive sense of size and scale as the enormous planet Remina approaches Earth.

I truly believe that Remina is one of Ito’s greatest works. While I was first exposed to the work of Junji Ito through his short stories (like those compiled in the western releases Fragments of Horror, Shiver and Smashed), reading a fan translation of Hellstar Remina is what really endeared me to his style. I’m excited to finally have this beautiful hardbound copy from Viz on my shelf a long sixteen years since the story’s original Japanese release. The other books there – H.P. Lovecraft’s tales of cosmic horror, Kazuo Umezz’s Drifting Classroom, Ito’s other works – will all enjoy being in the company of Remina, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who enjoys those stories. The book officially releases on December 15th. 

You can pre-order the book from Barnes and Noble here:


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