When it comes to books, VIZ Media is best-known for its manga, but it will also sometimes publish prose. Viz previously released the prose anthologies The Future Is Japanese and Phantasm Japan, and now there’s the recently-released Hanzai Japan.
Hanzai means “crime,” and this new anthology boasts crime stories from writers in Japan and around the world. The theme that keeps them together, besides crime, is Japan. That gives the writers plenty of leeway. Common Japanese story themes like yakuza and kitsune are in these pages, but the writers will also touch on aliens, cursed tattoos and conscious maps who know every spot their owner left a murdered body.
Coming in at 341 pages and sixteen stories, Hanzai Japan is a treat for fans of dark fiction, short stories, and all things Japanese. The stories do tend to take on a supernatural edge. For instance, there is a story detailing vampire murders with a vampire crime scene investigation unit and another where people investigate whether a kindly old Japanese man was killed by a doll. Other tales get a little more into realism, like a story where the worst of humanity comes out after a large earthquake in Japan has brought about a food crisis. The people are starving and desperate and will do whatever they can to survive.
And some stories are just kind of unique . . . like the story of the bookish girl who goes into her high school with a chain saw to massacre everyone and her boyfriend because he dumped her for the new transfer student.
The anthologists really put together a good cast of writers for this project: Ray Banks, Libby Cudmore, Brian Evenson, Kaori Fujino, Jyouji Hayashi, Naomi Hirahara, Yumeaki Hirayama, Violet Levoit, Yusuke Miyauchi, S.J. Rozan, Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Setsuko Shinoda, Jeff Somers, Genevieve Valentine, Carrie Vaughn, and Chet Williamson. Four of the stories have been published in past years, but the rest of them are new in 2015.
All the stories are solid and build their own world, and the range of voices gives you everything from atmospheric horror to the creepily fantastic to stories dripping with dark humor and a wink at the readers. Hanzai Japan is definitely different from a lot of what is on the market and it’s a fun ride all the way through. Let’s hope to see more of these anthologies coming from VIZ Media!
Publisher: VIZ Media
Editors: Nick Mamatas and Masumi Washington
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