Junji Ito’s horrific stories are getting an anthology anime adaptation on Netflix, slated for 2023.
If America has Stephen King as the king of horror novels, then Japan has Junji Ito who tells horrific Japanese tales. This week (Wednesday, June 8, 2022), Netflix Geeked Week brought about many teases for upcoming series on the streaming platform, including the brand-new anime anthology adaptation based on Junji Ito’s manga stories. The mini-interview video with the author revealed the anime will be called “Junji Ito’s Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre.”
Maniac is said to be an anime anthology of 20 Ito stories selected from the author himself that takes stories from various well-known titles such as Tomie, Souichi, and The Hanging Balloons manga. Ito’s artwork and designs have been most celebrated for his attention to human details and grotesque body parts in peculiar states. Also, the rustic art style in his works contains many spirals and human-shaped holes with beautifully drawn reactions of the character faces when the horrific moment is revealed.
While Ito did not reveal all the stories coming to Netflix, he provided brief notes on the three tales mentioned above. 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.”
The story follows the femme fatale, Tomie Kawakami, who has unnatural beauty and could seduce any man. However, when one man tries to keep her to himself and after her lovers try to kill her multiple times, they realize Tomie cannot be rid of so easily.
Then, Ito explained, “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.” This character is the main character in various Ito works and based on the sketches, Souichi does not look like a man to trust (that eerie smile!).
And finally, Ito detailed the story behind The Hanging Balloons (a part of the “Horror World of Junji Ito”, this is the sixth chapter from volume 4, “The Face Burglar”) to 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…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.”
This was not the first adaptation of Ito’s works as “Uzumaki” and Tomie inspired live-action adaptations, along with the GYO manga getting an original video anime project. Ito’s Uzumaki manga was meant to get its own four-part anime adaptation series on Toonami in 2020 but was delayed to 2021, then October 2022.
While I have to bravely admit as an avid manga reader, I have not read any of Ito’s works, I will definitely be checking out some of his collections. Some of the recommended readings that were given to me included “Fragments of Horror, Frankenstein: Junji Ito Story Collection” and “Smashed: Junji Ito Story Collection.” While no confirmed release date from Netflix has been set yet, it will sure be a frightful one with many of Netflix’s great horror series like The Haunting… series and Midnight Mass.