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Junji Ito Already Terrifies Me With His Manga, so Now’s a Good Time for Him to Announce an Anime Anthology With Netflix

99 severed head balloons...

Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre.

Things took a turn for the unsettling Japanese horror during Netflix Geeked Week when Junji Ito announced a brand new anthology. “Horror” and “Junji Ito” go hand and hand, as he’s a creator known for the slow build-up that leads to a beautifully horrific reveal of the terror that his characters face. His artwork is painstakingly detailed. He’s the kind of creator that can make spirals and human-shaped holes in the wall give you nightmares. Oh, and something about his cat?

I got into Junji Ito pretty late but I’ve been aware of his work for years. If you’ve been keeping up with my writing, you know I’m a big ol’ chicken when it comes to horror, but I’m a sucker for good storytelling (and my wife is a horror fanatic), so Junji Ito is a household name that I didn’t touch for myself until last year. I definitely see the appeal, but damn, this man can make you paranoid about anything – even loose strands of hair!

What is Junji Ito’s Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre?

Maniac will be an anime anthology of 20 Junji Ito stories selected by the man himself. This isn’t the first time he’s had his work animated, the last attempt being the Junji Ito Collection. There’s no word on when this new anthology will be released or who will be doing the animation, but I have to say, I don’t envy whoever’s trying to bring Ito’s collection to life. I’m not exaggerating when I speak about how much work he puts into his art and how part of the appeal of reading his manga is the effect of turning the page and being greeted by such haunting imagery. It’s scary! But it’s also fascinating and stunning to look at because the artwork is so damn good! Ito’s the kind of horror creator where if you don’t know his name, you at least know his art.

What stories are we getting?

Junji Ito Tomie
(Image: Junji Ito)

While Ito didn’t tell us all of the stories we can expect, he did reveal three of them. Maniac will include Tomie, Souichi, and The Hanging Balloons. Here’s a description of what each of those is about.

Tomie: Tomie Kawakami is a femme fatale with long black hair and a beauty mark just under her left eye. She can seduce nearly any man, and drive them to murder as well, even though the victim is often Tomie herself. While one lover seeks to keep her for himself, another grows terrified of the immortal succubus. But soon they realize that no matter how many times they kill her, the world will never be free of Tomie.

Ito told Netflix Geeked, “Tomie was my debut work. The idea for Tomie came from the concept of a lizard’s tail growing back after getting cut off. It’s about that feeling when someone close to you suddenly passes away, and the disbelief that comes with it.”

Souichi: This is actually the main character featured in a couple of different works by Junji Ito. He’s also in the Junji Ito Collection anime series. Ito told Netflix Geeked (while showing character sketches of Souichi), “When it comes to facial expressions, I think that the eyes are the most important feature on a character. Of course, the eyebrows and mouth contribute to the overall expression, but it’s the eyes that really reflect the character’s inner mind.” As if to illustrate his point, he doesn’t actually describe what kind of character Souichi is, but by looking at the sketches you can tell that you probably shouldn’t approach him.

The Hanging Balloons: Part of the Horror World of Junji Ito, this is the sixth chapter from volume 4, The Face Burglar. Ito discussed his thought process for the plot with Netflix Geeked. “I had this image of a corpse hanging at the neck from a giant balloon floating in the sky. That is what I envisioned, and I thought I could use that in my manga.” Jesus Christ, dude! “I came up with a story about a town below where strange events took place whenever a balloon showed up. But as I was thinking it through, I decided to make the balloon itself like a severed head that would attack people, and that’s how it became The Hanging Balloons.”  

On that note, I’m gonna be sleeping with all the lights on tonight.

(Featured image: Netflix/Junji Ito)

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Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)