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Manga / Voices in the Dark

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Whispers of stories to keep you up at night.

Junji Ito's second anthology serial of short stories, comprised of original material not seen previously. The entire anthology was later compiled in Viz Media's Smashed collection, with the exception of "Greased", published earlier in their Shiver book.

The stories included are as follows:

  • "Blood Sucking Darkness": A girl with an eating disorder meets a boy with an unusual connection to bats.
  • "Ghosts of Prime Time": Two painfully unfunny comedians have their audiences rolling in the aisles with laughter.
  • "Roar": A mysterious flood carries images of the past, so close you could almost touch them.
  • "Greased": A restaurant soaked in oil struggles to remain in business.
  • "Death Row Doorbell": A condemned criminal's presence haunts his victims.
  • "Earthbound": People become frozen in place with no explanation.
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  • "The Mystery of the Haunted House": A dapper man with nails in his mouth runs a haunted house that may be all too real...

A follow-up serial, New Voices in the Dark, was released later, with a chapter continuing the plot of the first volume's story "The Mystery of the Haunted House" among its new tales.

These stories are just as varied:

  • "Smashed": A delicious exotic nectar places any who consume it at great risk.
  • "Splendid Shadow Song": A song gets stuck in people's heads to frightening degrees.
  • "Library Vision:" A man's library starts to drive him mad with memories of his childhood.
  • "I Don't Want to Be a Ghost": A man finds a blood-soaked girl on the side of the road, and discovers her unusual diet.
  • "In Mirror Valley": Two rival towns exchange powerfully malicious glares across a river.
  • "The Mystery of the Haunted House-Soichi's Version": Soichi's cousin tracks down the haunted house, chasing the "Soichi front" of children who have begun to imitate him.
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  • "Soichi's Beloved Pet": Supernatural brat Soichi tries to turn his family's new cat against them.

Tropes in Voices in the Dark and ''New Voices in the Dark:

  • Abusive Parents: The father in "Greased" is willing to force-feed his daughter cooking oil in order to make her greasy enough to serve in his restaurant after disposing of his son in this way.
  • All Just a Dream: The events of "The Mystery of the Haunted House: Soichi's Version", and by extension, "The Mystery of the Haunted House". This is largely because the later stories involving the Tsujii family are mostly Lighter and Softer Black Comedies focusing on Soichi as a child, in contrast to the outright horror and gorn of "Haunted House", where he is an adult.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: In "Library Vision", the protagonist's fiancé starts to hallucinate figures resembling caricatured perceptions of his parents, who recite the books they loved and read to him as a child, and he refers to them as the spirits of the books themselves.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The Earthbound in the story of the same name are revealed to be trapped by guilt over crimes they have committed.
    • Pretty much every character in "Smashed", save for Ogi, who obtained the honey as a gift and had presumably been consuming it for years before the other characters interfered.
  • Astral Projection:
    • Possible subversion in "Death Row Doorbell". The "ghost" of a criminal sentenced to death visits the home of his only living victims every night, begging for forgiveness. On the night when his sentence is carried out, the "ghost" stops appearing.
    • The tree in "Smashed" either teleports or projects its branches to attack whoever it catches eating the honey made from its nectar.
    • "Ghosts of Prime Time" centers on an unfunny stand-up duo becoming famous by astrally projecting to tickle the audience and make them all laugh hysterically. They also tickle the protagonist's friend to death because the laughless protagonist could see the spirits and guessed their secret.
  • Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: Subverted to Hell and back in "I Don't Want to Be a Ghost".
  • Death Glare: In "In Mirror Valley", the people in the two towns have managed to weaponize this, due to having common ancestry that gave them discomfort-inducing stares.
  • Die Laughing: In "Ghosts of Prime Time", two comedians, Sasage and Azuki, project tickle-spirits into the audience to get people to laugh at their awful comedy, in hopes of landing a regular spot on the titular television comedy hour, where they will be able to influence a greater audience. However, any comedians who serve as competition or those who know their secret are astrally-tickled to death, laughing 'til the end, for standing in their way.
  • The Dog Bites Back: A rather literal case of a cat biting back, as in "Soichi's Beloved Pet", Soichi curses the family cat, Collon, and ends up regretting it.
  • Driven to Suicide: Yuina in "I Don't Want to Be a Ghost".
  • Ear Worm: A supernaturally malevolent one in "Splendid Shadow Song".
  • Eat the Evidence: Done in "Greased" when Goro is accidentally killed in an altercation, and he is served up at the family restaurant to rave reviews. The success of this motivates the father to try replicating the results.
  • Fictional Document: In "Library Vision", the two books Goro obsesses over, and their authors, are made up for the story.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: The honey tree in "Smashed". If it catches you being gluttonous with the delicious honey made from its nectar, it will teleport one of its branches to your location, and then crush you flat.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Binzo Tsujii, the hypothetical son of an adult Soichi and monstrous fashion model Fuchi.
  • I Ate WHAT?!:
    • Nami in "Blood Sucking Darkness" is horrified to learn that her dreams of raining blood weren't completely imagined, and that this is how she has been given sustenance in the face of her eating disorder.
    • Similarly, Yui in "Greased" begins to have dreams about Mount Fuji erupting oil and flooding her town as she drowns in it. When she wakes up in one of them, she sees that cooking oil is being forced down her throat by her father, hoping to prepare her for his restauarant.
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    • The customers at the restaurant in "Greased" become this when Goro is killed and served up because he had been consuming grease for years. The sudden success makes the father desperate to achieve it again, regardless of the cost.
    • Misaki in "I Don't Want to Be a Ghost" doesn't eat people... but she does eat ghosts. And they bleed.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: "Blood Sucking Darkness" features a concept of transferred blood, with bats drinking from one source and feeding a target with that blood.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Murder Shot: Binzo Tsuji does this in "The Mystery of the Haunted House" when the protagonist catches him eating the lost policeman's leg.
  • Rape as Drama: Asano in "Earthbound" was raped, and is horrified to discover that her recently-earthbound volunteering colleague was bound because he was her rapist.
  • Rise of Zitboy: Played for pure nausea in "Greased", wherein Goro, and eventually Yui, suffer hideous acne from the oily atmosphere of their restaurant. Oh, and Goro squeezes all of his face pimples onto his sister.
  • Sanity Slippage: Featured for two characters in "Library Vision" as a result of paranoia causing the owner to try committing all of the books in the library perfectly to memory.
  • Taken for Granite: Invoked in "Earthbound", in which living people attach themselves to a certain spot, totally unmoving, bound in place by guilt for crimes. Eventually, they harden to the point of being able to break like stone.
  • Together in Death: An old man implied to be the father of one of the main characters who, waiting for the illusion of his wife drowning in "Roar", after thirty years of trying to save her phantom, finally jumps after her when she can no longer hold his net.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Featured in "Blood Sucking Darkness" when the anorexic protagonist learns how she's been sustained.

Alternative Title(s): New Voices In The Dark


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