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Manga Review: Dissolving Classroom by Ito Junji

English Title: Dissolving Classroom

Japanese Title: 溶解教室

Writer & Artist: Ito Junji

Released: 2015

Length: ~175 pages

Publisher: Akita Publishing (Japanese), Vertical Comics (English)

Dissolving Classroom (English cover)
Dissolving Classroom (English cover)

Dissolving Classroom is a collection of short stories that follow the Azawa siblings Yuuma and Chizumi. They are orphans and Yuuma is the older brother with Chizumi is the younger brat sister.

There are seven short stories and a single-page afterword. (Two of the stories—“The Return” and “Children of the Earth”—are not related to the Azawa siblings and are more like vignettes, and I will make no further comment on them.)

In the first story, which is the titular piece, Yuuma is in high school and he seems polite. He profusely apologizes to anyone and everyone. Over time, the students start to melt and dissolve. According to Chizumi, who goes around scaring and provoking people, Yuuma is obsessed with the devil which is somehow the cause of the disastrous effects.

The next four stories—“Dissolving Beauty”, “Dissolving Apartment”, “Chizumi in Love” and “Interview with the Devil”—follow the siblings as they move from one place to another with Yuuma apologizing with or without a reason followed by people dissolving. In this regard, the stories are somewhat repetitive even though the settings are different.

Like Ito’s other works, his plotting is not necessarily the best but the premise is intriguingly whack. Yuuma apologizing for no apparent reason is amusing. I have not read all his works but this is more humorous than others, being mildly black in tone.

The artwork is in his usual style. Yuuma vaguely resembles Kazuya, the eldest of the Hikizuri siblings, and the female characters resemble his usual designs found in his other works.

The theme is obviously making fun of empty apologies, especially public apologies, that contain no actual confession or explanation. People melting after hearing enough of it can be read in multiple ways. Empty or false apologies being linked to the devil perhaps lacks subtlety, it may be more fitting if linked to a “false god” rather than explicitly the devil. Either way, although it is an amusing and entertaining read, I think Ito could take the satire and black comedy further.


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