Terrifying Explosion of Mind-bending & Wildly Imaginative Content
Eerie folk tales, spooky anthologies, and terrorizing shorts are linchpins of the horror genre. According to Videomaker, “folk horror (a subset that incorporates urban legends and Creepy Pasta) is among the most popular and oldest horror subgenres of horror….” Likewise, the horror anthology also has roots reaching back to a foregone time. But amazingly, these creative forms continue to withstand the test of time. Creators continue to produce bone-rattling entertainment for the masses in this fashion via film and tv. Some of the more recent examples are Black Mirror, Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, The Midnight Club, and most recently Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre.
Junji Ito, the esteemed creator of the Japanese Tales of the Macabre, is a maven of his craft who has made a name for himself via Manga. According to Polygon, “Ito has drawn some of the most incredible horror images of the past decade, And over time, he has worked his way from a cult figure to Manga fans to a Creepypasta icon.” However, like many artists whose talent is too large to be encapsulated in one market, Ito’s work has expanded, traversing global boundaries. And the recent adaptation of his works on Netflix is evidence of his expansion.
Elements of Junji Ito Japanese Tales of the Macabre
Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre are short and chilling animated stories that delve into various uncanny situations and events within a frightening subtext. These brief features range from mild to substantially grotesque. The imagery is titillating and twisted. Its viewing can be described as looking through a kaleidoscope to see a prismatic mesh of weirdness. It can be best defined as an experience, an alien observation of an unimaginably vivid world whose colorfulness is a projection of a mind bent by nightmares. Polygon sums it up perfectly. “He [Ito] layers his pictures with countless small (often gross) details that lend them weight and uncomfortable verisimilitude,” making many of the visual aspects gasp-worthy. However, each selection must be weighed on its own merit, and some episodes may appear mediocre. But, cumulatively, the collection impresses in its ability to awaken the imagination. There is something for everyone who loves horror, but specifically for those whose cup of tea is a nightmarish anime.
Some Notes of Interest/Scare Factor
According to Polygon, much of what is presented stays true to Ito’s work. As is noted, “This anime exactingly and faithfully replicates Ito’s stories, often to the point of precisely reproducing his panels in many shots,” which is brilliant. However, there is some criticism about the level of impact of the series, given the creative elements lost in translation. However, this is not uncommon. Such a distortion often results from the difficulty in transferring the more technical aspect of artistry from one medium to the next. As Polygon notes, “Ito is a master of shading and especially contrast. However, the anime is brighter than Ito’s art — which dampens the atmospheric dread.” Thus, viewers get less of the shock, awe, and morbidity viewing the series on screen than they might get from consuming Ito’s Mangas. However, the anime still captures enough of Ito’s stylistic rendering not to do his work a disservice. And the imagery still packs enough of a punch to make viewers do a double take.
Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre are now streaming on Netflix. It is a feast for the senses, a delight for fans of terrifying narratives framed in a cultural context. And it is a treat for those seeking something unique to gratify their darker sensibilities. This series gets an overall rating of a B+ and is certainly worth a look.