English Title: Sensor
Japanese Title: センサー
Writer & Artist: Ito Junji
Length: ~230 pages
Publisher: Asahi Shimbun Publications (Japanese), Viz Media (English)
Sensor can be described as supernatural-cosmic horror and, whether intended or not, has certain elements found in the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Philip K. Dick. It was originally released in serialized form under the title Travelogue of the Succubus (夢魔の紀行) and is now available as a single-volume text.
A young woman named Byakuya Kyoko goes hiking on Mount Sengoku, a volcano. She meets a villager who knows her name and claims that the village Kiyokami has been waiting for her. At Kiyokami, she sees that just about everything is covered with golden volcanic hair called amagami. Even the villagers have a few strands connected to them. This allows the villagers to “sense” the universe.
According to the villagers, during the Edo period when Christianity was prohibited, the villagers hid Father Miguel (who had blond hair). Eventually, they were discovered and captured, and Father Miguel and the villagers were then thrown into the volcano. Since then, the volcano has been expelling amagami and the villagers believe this to be from Father Miguel. The first chapter ends with more amagami falling with Byakuya sensing a dark force…
The text is organized into seven chapters, each about 30 pages long. Although Byakuya is initially the viewpoint character, she is not the main viewpoint character. Ito introduces Tsuchiyado Wataru, a reporter who is interested in the strange occurrences around Mount Sengoku and it is through him that the mystery is gradually revealed.
Typically, Ito has decent ideas even if his plotting is sometimes lacking. The premise is certainly intriguing and, in this case, the narrative is tight. It might come across as a little episodic but that could be because it was originally released in serialized form. The author admits that he intended the story to be different but the characters “might have been moving on their own” and “went in a strange direction”.
Despite all the above, the work is nonetheless captivating. There is also enough action and suspense, and the pacing is steady, so it makes up for any weaknesses. The ending is signposted throughout and is sufficiently complete to be satisfying. In terms of plotting, this is one of Ito’s better works.
The artwork is in his usual style but cleaner than his other works given the nature of the sub-genre—it has a few “gross” moments but that is a technique not heavily relied on. The work is able to maintain the tension with what is essentially happening along with the unknown rather than merely with gore or something gross. As already mentioned, Sensor is a well-plotted and satisfying work, making it an easy and enjoyable read.
And by the way, the hardcover is really nice in terms of design, print quality and material.
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