Normally when I write about mangas, it is normally about a lesser-known one and only one series. However, recently I stumbled across a Manga-ka called Junji Ito and I have fallen in love with his work.
Well, love might not be the right word, considering that the manga he creates are horror masterpieces. Perhaps a better term would be morbid fascination?
Chances are if you are a part of the anime community with a taste for the darker side, you probably know him and his most famous story, Uzumaki. If not, allow me to tell you about him and how he makes quite possibly the creepiest manga I have ever read.
First thing first, when it comes to his art, it is extremely unsettling. Even when he draws something that isn’t meant to be creepy, it has a distressing vibe to it. There is something about how he draws eyes and facial expressions that really freaks me out. Combine that with great composition and pacing and you have one disturbing manga.
There is something about how he draws eyes and facial expressions that really freaks me out. Combine that with great composition and pacing and you have one disturbing manga.
One thing that helps him stand out from other horror makers is the amount of detail he tells the reader. With western movies, they tend to tell you everything, to the point that they spoon feed you everything about the villain that they stop being scary. Take Freddy Kruger for instance, now that we know everything about him, he isn’t as scary as he used to be.
Junji Ito tells us just enough to scare us, but not too much to lose the fear factor. A perfect example would be my favourite story, The Enigma Of Amigara Fault.
The Enigma Of Amigara Fault is about the discovery of human-shaped holes dug into the side of a mountain that only got revealed by an earthquake. It is never truly explained why these holes exist, or how.
All we are told is that they tunnel deep inside the mountain and each one fits everyone in the village perfectly. When someone finds their hole, they feel compelled to climb in, and once they do, they are slowly pulled in.
I won’t tell you any more than that because, like most horror, It is better to experience it with as little knowledge as possible. However, I have to talk about a certain cartoon that apparently took inspiration from this manga. Steven Universe.
In the episode, On the Run, we find out were Amethyst was made. It is one of the darker episodes of the series (and that is saying something) and many fans have pointed out the similarities. Both mention how the holes are theirs and their size. Even the way Amethyst slides into her hole match the manga.
Back on topic, Junji Ito avoids using the traditional types of monsters. He instead tends to use concepts. Uzumaki is basically about a town that becomes obsessed with spirals. However, don’t let that fool you. The story is interesting with some of the most disgusting art you will ever see.
Uzumaki has been made into a live action movie, as has several of his Tomie stories. Gyo is the only one that has been made into an anime, but I hope that someday some of his other work get anime adaptations. An anime version of Uzumaki would be awesome!
I think the main reason that I like Junji Ito’s work so much is mostly because of the art. There is something oddly captivating about it. I’m failing my job as a writer because I simply don’t know how to describe it. Like the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words.
If you think you can handle it, I highly recommend giving these manga a read. Like I said The Enigma Of Amigara Fault is my favourite but he has written quite a few, so I’m sure you will find one you will like.