A Mesmerizing and Bizarre Take on the Horror Genre

Photo Credit / Michael Chintalan Junji Ito stretches the horror genre beyond simple slasher-type stories and goes for a wide variety of unnatural phenomenon.

By Michael Chintalan

A&E Editor

Halloween may be far away, but it doesn’t mean the scares should wait. Renown Japanese horror manga artist Junji Ito is by far has a great selection of manga to look at for an easy, albeit disturbing read.

His work was inspired by multiple artists, his own older sister, and even H.P. Lovecraft.

From that inspiration he created three popular series, plenty of short stories, and even an anime based off his works called “Junji Ito Collection.”

His three biggest hits were “Tomie,” “Uzumaki,” and “Gyo.” They feature body horror, dark themes, and forces that are otherworldly and abstract in nature. Some of which are never fully explained, leaving the reader to interpret and ask questions for themselves.

Altogether, they blend in with graphic and detailed artwork to create the perfect mixture for shocking scenes and gruesome monstrosities.

Tomie

“Tomie” is a series about a woman who has the powers of a succubus and manipulates men to do what she wants. Eventually though, they would turn on her and dismember her for an unexplainable reason.

From the severed limbs she would then regenerate a new body from each part and continue on with her seemingly invincible and numerous lives.

Each story is either a separate part in the series or is part of an arc. The main antagonist comes back in different ways and makes each story a unique and fresh experience.

Plenty of moments in “Tomie” will bring emotions of pity, curiosity, or terror with the gruesome ways she returns to haunt the fictional universe Ito created.

Uzumaki

“Uzumaki” has a funny premise when thought about, but the twists and turns it takes are seemingly endlessly horrifying.

Following the way “Tomie” was made, it is a compilation of short stories revolving around a single character.

It takes place in a fictional city named Kurozucho and a terrifying curse centering around spirals that plagues the citizens.

While being one of Ito’s major hits, it was also nominated for an Eisner Award in 2003 and had also been in the Young Adult Library Services Association’s list of “Top 10 Graphic Novels for Teens” in 2009.

The curse itself causes the inhabitants of the city to either become obsessed or repulsed by spiral patterns that occur almost supernaturally.

As the story moves along, more strange events happen and the main protagonist, Kirie, is a witness and even becomes a victim to them.

Gyo

“Gyo” is just as abstract as “Uzumaki” is. It starts with fish beginning to surface from the ocean and threaten the world with strange, sharp metallic legs and an odor called the “death stench” pouring out of them.

Not only do fish come to shore, but sharks and even whales come along too. There are plenty of silly moments with shark attacks and even beached whales.

The hilarious catastrophe turns dark once the truth of the odor is found out and humans begin to become infected and society as a whole collapses. It is a dark tale with nauseating visuals that could surprise any readers.

Ito’s works do not end there. Many other collections and collaborations were made by him and he also helped work on “Silent Hills,” which was unfortunately cancelled.

“Junji Ito Collection” is also based off his work and even features Tomie in one of the episodes. It recently finished off the first season and is twelve episodes long with two stories in each episode.

A few of his other popular short stories were “Hellstar Remina” and “Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu.”

Hellstar Remina

“Hellstar Remina” is an apocalyptic story where a new planet is discovered once it comes out from a wormhole. The scientist who discovers it names it Remina, after his daughter.

The planet continues to seemingly swallow stars at a distance and moves in erratic directions. Eventually, it stops and then heads straight for Earth.

People begin to panic and believe the planet is controlled by the scientist and Remina, which leads to their decision to sacrifice her in a brutal fashion.

The story spans over six chapters and gets more unnerving and disturbing as it goes. From earthquakes to other natural disasters, to even a planet-eating-planet, “Hellstar Remina” is an oddball, but entirely enjoyable.

Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu

On a happier note, “Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu” is about the artist, his wife, and their adorable two cats.

It’s a much needed break for those who binge read most of Ito’s work and it comes with plenty of adorable moments in it.

Fans of horror truly should give Ito a try. His unique approaches at horror are a wonderful way to spark interest in the genre again even though most of his work is old. Turning page after page and knowing something horrid is going to happen will almost always leave the reader feeling dreadful.

Although, it may be a tough read for those who are newer to the horror genre. Either way, be warned. Junji Ito’s work is not for those with a weak stomach.

Email Michael at:

mchintalan@live.esu.edu

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