When you’re 12 years old, you read things like Hideshi Hino and think it’s the coolest thing ever.

You don’t stay 12 forever.

I would describe Hino as gory spooky-themed kiddie manga, heavily influenced by western comics in both story and aesthetic, with a weird art style (and not in a good way), and a strong imagination. The Collection is a heavily “enhanced” biography of Hino’s, presented as a series of short comics about all the sick shit his mother, father, brother, grandfather, etc do.

Between each episode we have Hino himself providing commentary (a framing device similar to EC Comics’ Crypt Keeper…Hino’s from Japan, but his muse lives on the other side of the Pacific!), and the stories themselves are just plain bizarre. The most memorable sequence in The Collection stars comic-Hino’s grandfather fighting a sword battle against an evil sentient tumor that’s attached to his own body.

If you’re looking for something more than wacky gross-outs — anything more — you will not find it. The stories are like bare threads connecting one gory bloodbath to another. The blaring one-note characters are not sympathetic or interesting. Hino’s Klasky-Csupo approach to art cuts the legs out from anything resembling atmosphere or scariness. Violence aside, The Collection seems like something written for children.

No, it’s worse than that. Kazuo Umezu’s “The Drifting Classroom” was written for children. By volume three I was engrossed in an amazing post-apocalyptic survival story and I didn’t care. The Collection is a series of bloody jokes. The first couple of pages involve a woman driving down a road at night. Who is she? Where’s she going? These are questions another mangaka might have asked (and found entertaining answers to), but Hino doesn’t care. He just skips right to the part where she dies horribly.

It’s cliche to refer to something as a joke with no punch-line. Hideshi Hino’s The Collection is actually the reverse…all punch-lines and no jokes. It’s a series of boom-boom-boom climaxes with scant substance to give them context and meaning.

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