In the light of day and in the dead of night, mysterious horrors await in the darkest shadows of every corner. They are unexplainable, inescapable, and undefeatable. Be prepared, or you may become their next victim.
Ito Junji: Collection is a compilation series of horror stories that were originally written by Ito Junji – a popular mangaka known for his stories and art style, often making him one of the most talented horror creators. So, when this adaptation was announced, I was quite excited. Sure, I don’t particularly like horror all too much, but at the time, I wasn’t a massive manga reader either, so I was excited to get a taste of this man’s work in a medium I was already a fan of. However, perhaps I should have just gone for the medium it was intended to be enjoyed as.
Don’t get me wrong, as an anthology series, it’s fine, but it all seems a little… rushed. Perhaps this is simply my ignorance of Ito Junji’s writing, but whilst watching the series, I felt the stories were over pretty quickly. Half an episode dedicated to one story is sometimes not enough time at all. That being said, the series works as a good introduction to Ito’s works, particularly the more famous pieces such as Tomie, Slug Girl and, of course, his short stories about his character Souichi.
The first thing to mention about this show, though, is the art style. It’s not exactly a masterpiece. But you know what? That’s okay. The average looking settings, characters and colour palettes fit together perfectly to create the creepy tone that should be present in such a series and I think Studio Deen did a brilliant job here. (I know it’s not often Deen gets a compliment, but here we are…) I don’t really think I can imagine another studio being a good fit for Ito Junji’s work, so I have no complaints here.
Secondly, that’s all this show is – creepy. I wouldn’t necessarily call it ‘scary’, but I guess everyone has their own definitions of that. To put this into perspective, however, Ito Junji’s work relies on a lot on body horror and mundanity. There aren’t jump scares (to my knowledge) and it doesn’t use too many horror cliches that we might see elsewhere. Instead, everything is mundane. Boring. And that’s what makes it creepy. Ito Junji takes what we do in our everyday lives and somehow is able to put a twist on it to make it just slightly creepy.
Another way he makes it creepy is by making a lot of his stories end on a cliffhanger. For a lot of characters, we don’t know what happened to them. Many stories are left open-ended and are left for the viewer to decide what happened. It’s this lack of knowledge that makes the show scary. We’re left wondering what happened to them and we have no way to find out.
Although the primary genre is horror, many of stories have other genres too. For example, some stories featuring Souichi may be classed as a comedy, as would the story entitled The Circus Comes to Town. Others may contain romance, drama and much more. Quite frankly, even if you don’t particularly like horror, you should find a story that takes your interest here.
I can’t talk about Ito Junji: Collection without giving a special mention to both the OP and the ED. A part of me feels like these are really underrated tracks. Neither of the groups involved have done many anime OSTs before – The Pinballs (who are credited with the OP) have only done third ED of Ninja Slayer From Animation previously. For JYOCHO, this is their debut into the world of anime soundtracks. Regardless, both groups did a splendid job and JYOCHO, in particular, impressed me with their ED quickly becoming a favourite of mine.
So, Ito Junji: Collection is an okay watch. It’s not bad, but it’s definitely not great either. I think a lot of people didn’t expect great things from this adaptation from when it was first announced, but it did an okay job… Even if Ito Junji deserves better. Eh, whatever. I suppose I’ll read the various manga one day.