For not having read any of Junji Ito‘s works, seeing some of the horrific imagery in snippet panels of his work online and knowing about his reputation as one of the most well-known horror mangaka out there, I think the first episode of Junji Ito: Collection wasn’t as frightening as I thought it was going to be.
Junji Ito’s manga Ito Junji Kyoufu Manga Hakubutsukan, of which the anime adaptation is based on, is a collection of currently sixteen volumes of numerous creepy standalone stories. Its first two volumes, however, are linked by the character Tomie. According to Crunchyroll, the series is directed by Shinobu Tagashira and is animated by Studio Deen.
The first episode contains two stories from Ito’s collection: Souichi’s Convenient Curses and Hellish Doll Funeral.
Our protagonist Souichi Tsujii is a creepy and twisted character.
I find that Souichi shares some characteristics with the modern-day anime villain: someone who chooses to blend in with the crowd by feigning a “regular Joe” persona yet possesses a (blatant) superiority complex that shines blindingly within his monologues (internal or not). Souichi’s creepiness lies in both his distinct character design, namely his dark sunken eyes and his strange habit of chewing on iron nails, that makes him stand out against the desaturated backdrops and the plainer designs of the story’s secondary characters, and Mitsuya Yuuji‘s voice work. Yuuji’s work compliments Souichi’s eerie looks when he switches the pitch of his croaky voice as he speaks his lines.
But I won’t deny that Souichi’s voice can sound grating by the end of his story arc.
I usually tend to like villains in anime because they possess a unique spark that interests me, such as their level of badassery, depth of character, you name it.
Sadly, Souichi couldn’t make this list.
In fact, I dislike him. Not for being a heartless villain who commits dastardly actions but for not having interesting motivations or a clear backstory to explain his character. Souichi merely casts curses upon others on a whim, whether it’s for his own sake or not. He’s a petty person. The chances of seeing Souichi again might be slim considering how Ito’s collection is made up of one-shots, so we might never learn more about him.
The concepts behind Souichi’s curses are unsettling but not terribly horrifying on screen. The dark shadows with the sombre backgrounds are used to create a spooky atmosphere but they act as a distasteful censorship that draws away from the “scary” factor and instead, forced me to squint into the blackness in anticipation.
…An anticipation that was left unanswered.
I do admit that watching someone be buried alive with their head exposed from the ground or seeing a gigantic spider crawling down from above are unpleasant moments I wouldn’t want to experience myself nor wish upon anyone else. #NightmareFuel
The “humourous” portions of Souichi’s foiled attempts to scare the pants off his sister also killed the “scary” vibes of the story for me. One example is the scene of Souichi flinging the remains of a gold orb weaver spider toward his sister but having its corpse fly onto his face, which ends with him squealing, jumping up out of fright. This scene shows the viewer that Souichi is an annoying brat who isn’t at all above anyone as he strongly believes to be.
Significantly shorter than Souichi’s story, its concept is also a whole lot of a heck darker.
Much like Souichi’s story, Hellish Doll Funeral lacks any contextual information to explain the supernatural disease: doll transformation. It is never explained about how it’s contracted.
But the viewer is left knowing that this transformation is permanent and that the victim would eventually lose their ability to speak and move, making them (in a sense) the living dead. The only reprieve that the victim is offered is to be burned alive.
The ending of the story is abrupt and leaves no room for the viewer to sympathize with Marie’s parents. It brings no sentimental flashback or an emotional response from Marie’s parents. Instead, the story’s final image is jarring and utterly grotesque that I didn’t bother pasting it to this post. You can go check it out yourself. #EvenMoreNightmareFuelBelieveMe
The first episode of Junji Ito: Collection left a lot to be desired.
Either that or I’m just plain greedy and particular about the littlest of details.
As its only the first episode, there are many more stories in future episodes that can feed my desire to be scared. What this episode accomplished was make me feel a bit uncomfortable, but not to the point where I had to cringe or wince at something gross.
Even though I feel a bit disappointed by the first episode, I won’t abandon the series. I feel like I won’t be watching this series on a weekly basis. I’ll most likely wait for its completion and choose the stories that seem the most interesting by their titles or jump off the anime bandwagon completely to read Ito’s other manga series.
What did you think of Junji Ito: Collection? Let me know down below.