Manga musings: Hellstar Remina

NOTICE: Hi. What you’re reading is an old review from when I was using a different template. It was kind of ugly, so I switched. If I make a mention of spoilers going to be blacked out, they won’t be. Sorry. It’s just so long ago I wrote this and it’s a bother to go back and edit it extensively. Sorry if you get spoiled, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t put any major spoilers in anything without giving big warnings about it first. Cheers.

Hellstar Remina is a good manga

So, how about Hellstar Remina?

Oh my word, WTF.

Oh my word, WTF.

If you’ve read an Itou Junji manga before, you know shit is getting real real up in here. Let me just state this: Hellstar Remina includes some crazy imagery that is not suited for everyone. Eldrich abominations and locations are in there. With that, let’s go. There’ll be some very slight spoilers in this text, in black text. You have been warned.

Hellstar Remina’s premise is incredibly simple. A professor predicts a wormhole to be present in the Hydra constellation. One day a planet is witnessed passing through it, into our dimension. The professor receives the Nobel prize. He decides to name the star after his daughter, who is instantly propelled into a global celebrity. Some time after this, it’s noticed that the planet is constantly moving  – at times at the speed of light – and that stars around it seems to just disappear. Scientists are befuddled, especially when they notice that the star has changed its trajectory and is now headed towards Earth. Then shit gets crazy. The following panic makes some people just lay down and cry and some go on a wild chase after the people they hold responsible: Professor Oguro and his daughter Remina. All while the planet slows its pace and seems to now be slowly approaching our blue planet. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: The planet has eyes and mouths, and devours the damn moon in a quick bite.

It’s an interesting notion that Itou puts out about celebrity: We’re rather quick as a people to shine the spotlight on things we find curious and then put it on a pedestal. Remina has done nothing apparent to validate the gigantic fanbase and general following she gets and her decision to “enter the world of entertainment” is incredibly bizarre from our viewpoint, but is widely celebrated in the manga. Maybe the people are so starved for enjoyment that they cling on to anything new, or maybe its a symbol for the sheep we all become to the organisations that produce the products we consume. It’s an interesting point to make.

Let me just restate: This manga is bonkers. Absolutely crazy. It’s a look deep into the human psyche. How far will you go to save yourself with apocalypse knocking at the door? How far can people be driven by insane ideas, when reality is insane enough that they seem plausible? As much as Hellstar Remina is about a monster-planet from another dimension coming to Earth and killing the fuck out of everything in its way, it’s also about people losing their morale values and becoming driven by mad ideas and basic needs. In the middle of global panic, a cult steps up and takes control of the numerous mobs in Japan.

These guys know how to ruin a party.

These guys know how to ruin a party.

Their Mission? To kill the professor and his daughter. People follow these zealots with a burning passion and a wild hunt is on. It features some commentary on people using religion to get other people to follow their lead. It’s also not pointed out as an evil, because hey, what if they’re right? As crazy as it sounds, reality is more crazy now than ever before, so it’s not plausibility isn’t naught. People basically revert back to the dark ages and witch hunting. At times they even stop to find enjoyment in what they’re doing, which is when they’re seemingly pointed out as being of lesser morality than us readers. That said, they could also be so relieved at the ordeal soon being over and just letting go. However, not only religious craze is spotlighted when people lose their shit with apocalypse on the doorstep. There’s a scene where a man tries to rape Remina, and she fights back. The scene is discovered and the man says “she was asking for it.” Surely we’re all shaking our heads at that comment, but it’s accepted in the manga, because, hell, she’s the cause of the apocalypse. If she can bring a killer-planet to us, why can’t she ensnare men by sheer will? It’s a different kind of horror to the jump-scares us horror fans find in most horror flicks nowadays. It’s the realisation that anything goes when it comes to killing this girl when it’s about staving off all our deaths. And we don’t even know that her death will save us.

Puny humans...

Puny humans…

All this while the monstrous planet above is just looking on. Maybe approvingly. Maybe it’s just observing us to see what happens when it shakes the world. By all accounts, it appears no more intelligent than a small child, poking our planet to see what happens. The few times we do get a peek at Remina’s surface, it’s terrifying beyond words.

lifeonremina

Life on Remina is pretty shitty.

The art is really good. It’s not the best I’ve seen, but it’s highly realistic most of the time, and very confusing at other times.

As for the characters, there’s really only one to talk about, and there’s not much to say. Remina is a young, shy and modest girl who is propelled into super-stardom just by existing and having a planet named after her. She seems to have difficulty with handling the attention given to her, and then the apocalypse happens. Her desperate struggle is certainly one you feel sympathy for, but there’s not much exploring as far as character development goes. Remina is just another person. She just happens to be in the middle of a global witch hunt when mind-boggling coincidence has it a planet named after her arrives to kill Earth.

I highly enjoyed Hellstar Remina, and recommend it to people who enjoy horror and chaotic stories. As far as the ending goes – without spoiling it – I wasn’t a big fan of it. The story feels unresolved to me.

To finish, let me just say again that this manga is not for everyone. It features very graphic violence, like torture and (attempted) rape, which could be a trigger for some. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it. Just know what madness you’re opening yourself to.

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