Junji Ito (born July 31,1963) is a Japanese horror manga artist.
Style (IN-PROGRESS) Edit
Junji Ito uses a distinctive style to portray his stories in manga, with large amounts of detail and use of dramatic sound effects at important scenes. He also has several recurring themes in his work.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
Physical appearance is often used as a shorthand for various alignments in Ito's manga. Extremely attractive (e.g. Tomie, the Intersection Bishonen, and the girls affected by the "beauty disease" in Dying Young) and unattractive (e.g. Souichi Tsujii, the neighbor from The Neighbor's Window, and the Reanimator) characters are usually antagonistic and/or supernatural in some way; conversely, most of the protagonists are relatively mundane in appearance. However, more "normal"-looking characters can also act as antagonists, even without falling victim to supernatural corruption.
Body Horror Edit
Most of Ito's work includes detailed imagery of human (and sometimes animal) anatomy twisted into something bizarre and frightening. This includes gruesome transformations (e.g. Long Dream, The Enigma of Amigara Fault, and Dissection Girl), portrayal of aliens and monsters (e.g. The Neighbor's Window, Hellstar Remina, and The Thing That Drifted Ashore), and the aftermath of severe injury or death (e.g. Street of Gravestones, Tomio: Red Turtleneck, or Army of One).
Criticism of (Japanese) Society Edit
Sometimes, Ito uses elements of Japanese society (or society in general) as story elements, often painting them in a negative light. For instance, Hellstar Remina can be seen as a jab at Japan's pop idol culture, while the constant privacy invasions of The Town Without Streets allude to the rise of the Internet and other methods of tracking others. A few of his stories also invoke horror through "improper" treatment of the dead, such as desecration of grave sites or burial of a body without cremating it first (both are seen as highly unnatural in Japanese society).
Many of Ito's stories involve characters dealing with copies of themselves or others. Some examples include:
- The Tomie series: The titular character constantly generates new instances of herself from (parts of) her body.
- The Face Burglar: A character is able to take on the facial features of others.
- The Hanging Balloons: Characters are stalked by giant balloon-like versions of their heads.
- Memories: The main character is haunted by faint visions of a hideous version of herself.
- Scarecrows: Scarecrows planted near graves take on the features of the deceased.
- Toru Oshikiri sometimes encounters alternate versions of himself that appear from portals in his mansion.
Some of Junji Ito's stories use hair as a plot point, such as Tomie, Uzumaki (both of which have a chapter explicitly titled "Hair"), and The Long Hair in the Attic. In other stories, hair has no importance of its own, but serves as an easy means of identifying characters (Mimi has long blonde hair, while Souichi has unkempt, greasy-looking bangs).
A recurring element of Ito's work is the apparent insignificance of humanity in the grand scheme of things. Most of his characters find themselves at the mercy of the supernatural forces around them; those who try to defy or control said forces inevitably meet unfortunate fates.
In many cases, Junji Ito also uses small-scale cases of helplessness, with characters feeling trapped by circumstances or the actions of themselves and those around them. Examples of this include:
- In the Valley of Mirrors and Twisted Souls: A pair of young lovers are unable to see each other due to a feud between their families.
- Approval: A man is constantly denied the right to marry his fiance by the latter's father, yet the woman continues insisting that he try.
- House of the Marionettes: A family begins living as "human puppets", surrendering all control of their bodies to hired puppeteers living in the ceiling.
One of Junji Ito's most apparent themes is his tendency to leave many questions unanswered. Several of his stories have very little explanation for the source of supernatural phenomenon, with major examples including:
- The origin of the spiral city beneath Kurozu-cho in Uzumaki.
- The origins of Tomie and her powers.
- The source of the afflictions in Dying Young, Long Dream, She is a Slow Walker, Slug Girl, and A Doll's Hellish Burial.
- The creators of the eponymous enigma at Amigara Fault.
- The origins of the eponymous Hanging Balloons.
Alternately, Junji Ito may opt to leave the ending of his story at an ambiguous moment, such as:
- Ribs Woman: The mysterious woman is never found, but her haunting music can still be heard in the night.
- Hellstar Remina: The few survivors of the planet's destruction are left floating through space in a bomb shelter, with enough supplies to last them for a year. Their chances of survival are slim, but they retain hope that they may yet find help before their supplies run out.
- Inside the Earth...: It is not explained how Kuni snuck into the time capsule, or how she could call Teranishi over the phone despite lacking power, food, water, or air.
- Gyo: The main protagonist is last seen meeting up with a group of people immune to the Death-Stench, who are searching for a way to cure the plague.
- In Old Records: The fate of the haunted record remains unknown, despite at least two other people still aware of its existence and seeking it out.