If you’re looking to expand your viewing palate, diverting away from mainstream anime, then I suggest taking up Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre anime anthology series.
It’s dark, twisted and definitely not for young viewers to watch.
Spanning 12 episodes, this series premiered on Netflix early this year, and it took me quite a bit of contemplation on whether or not it was a good idea to suggest it. But, the horror fan in me screamed, “Yes! Share the madness!”
WHO IS JUNJI ITO?
Japanese horror manga artist, Junji Ito, was born in Sakashita on July 31, 1963.
Ito’s fascination with the horror genre began at a very young age, being exposed to Kazuo Umezu’s works by his two older sisters.
He started drawing manga at the age of four, and in 1987, he submitted a short story to Monthly Halloween which was later serialised for 13 years and became the basis for his work, Tomie, later on and terrifying his readers ever since.
Ito was also originally involved in the development of the Silent Hill video game, but the project was cancelled by Konami, the intellectual property’s owner, a year after its announcement.
JUNJI ITO MANIAC: JAPANESE TALES OF THE MACABRE
Many sources were actually disgruntled with how disappointing the adaptation of this anime series was in terms of artwork and graphics.
As a person who has never read the manga – simply because I don’t like spoiling my viewing pleasure – I was still quite entertained.
The adaptation stories was initially revealed to the public mid-2022, directed by Shinobu Tagashira and produced by Studio Deen. The series’ scripts were penned by Kaoru Sawada, while its music was composed by Yuki Hayashi.
The episodes are standalone stories that have no link or causation between them.
You have an episode that details a photographer’s intrigue in spirits and ghosts who decides to visit the eerie and unsettling residence inhabited by six siblings, then you have a different episode where an enchanting young man driving an ice cream truck appears and the mystery is that only children are allowed to enter and ride in the truck.
Yet, episode The Long Hair in the Attic remains my personal favourite.
The story revolves around Chiemi, a woman who grew her hair long to please her partner.
After a heart-wrenching breakup, she decides to sever her locks, instructing her younger sister to fetch a pair of scissors.
But before her sister returns, Chiemi meets a grotesque and mysterious demise that will send a shiver down your spine.
UPCOMING ANIME ADAPTATION OF JUNJI ITO’S WORKS
A fresh teaser for the eagerly awaited Uzumaki was released recently by Adult Swim and Production IG. Black, white and grey hues fill the artwork in the trailer, placing a bigger emphasis on the macabre theme it tries to convey.
Certainly one of Ito’s most renowned creations, Uzumaki has earned its status as a classic for good reason. It masterfully intertwines a supernatural curse with a ghostly narrative set in the small town of Kurouzu-cho.
The town isn’t haunted by conventional spirits; instead, it is consumed by the eerie and relentless presence of spirals, giving rise to a uniquely unsettling story.
Ito’s signature art style plays a pivotal role in transforming these typically unremarkable shapes into something genuinely horrifying.
Within Uzumaki, you’ll encounter recurring themes that are dear to Ito, such as fixation, paranoia, and the uncanny transformation of the ordinary into the utterly bizarre. The impact of Uzumaki cannot be emphasised enough.
Not only is it Ito’s most widely recognised narrative, but it has also inspired two video games, a live-action film, and an ongoing anime adaptation, all drawing from the spiral horror that defines Ito’s chilling tale.
Under the direction of Hiroshi Nagahama, the adaptation of Uzumaki was initially announced in 2019 and has been in development ever since.
Some have raised questions about the reasons for the delay, speculating that it may be to ensure a flawless portrayal among other factors.
However, I’m certainly hopeful that the reports indicating a 2023 release date were accurate.
If you’re ready to embrace the macabre and let it grip your imagination, don’t miss the chance to be captivated by the dark genius of Junji Ito.
Let him take you on a twisted journey into the darkest corners of the human psyche. Give it a watch, if you dare, and let the horror unfold. – Izah Azahari