Junji Ito Maniac is not the first time that the works of the famous mangaka have been adapted into anime. Can this new project prove that Ito’s manga isn’t impossible to adapt?
Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre
Netflix surprised fans when popular horror manga mangaka Junji Ito appeared on their Geeked Week stream and revealed that it will be releasing a new anime adaptation of his works.
Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre will adapt twenty stories hand-picked by Ito, including those by Tomie. This is big news for fans of Ito’s work, as many want to see their favorite stories on screen.
However, Ito fans are also quite contemplative about this announcement. Some of Junji Ito’s works have been animated before, but none have lived up to the expectations of experts. Some have even asserted that Ito’s work simply cannot be turned into an anime. His stories are manga masterpieces, using techniques that only comics can depict and filled with insane amounts of artistic detail.
In 2012, one of Ito’s most popular works, Gyo, received an anime adaptation. Gyo takes the humorous idea of fish with legs that go to extreme extremes when the ocean invades land and leads to the doom of mankind. Combining fear of advanced technology with the many crimes committed during the Second World War, Gyo is a story about humanity causing its own downfall. However, the anime adaptation is very different in a not very positive direction.
Manga Gyo revolves around a young couple, both of whom end up engulfed in terror. While the movie adds a group of friends. This increase in character size seems to only exist to kill more characters, but it’s not the biggest change. In the manga, the main character is a young man named Tadashi and his girlfriend Kaori acts as his driving force. The anime reverses these roles, creating a strong female character at the center. For that alone, not a bad choice at all. Admittedly, Kaori is an accident story character in the original.
However, while the manga’s Tadashi just wants to prove his girlfriend isn’t crazy, the film’s Kaori is more like an action-oriented heroine. She tries to save people from terror and is determined to find as much hope as possible.
This is in direct conflict with Ito’s style, as he never gives the audience a straightforward answer about his monsters. The author can offer suggestions or possible explanations, but nothing is certain because ambiguity makes it all the more terrifying.
Crunchyroll also aired Junji Ito Collection in 2018, and this was also a disappointment to manga readers. In the same vein as Junji Ito Maniac, the anime adapts his famous twenty-four one-shot stories and some of his longer works. Despite being faithful to the original, this anime series ended up being quite underrated by viewers.
It begins in the worst way possible, by promising fans stories of the king of horror manga and kicking off volume 1 with Ito’s funniest character, Souichi. Many people unfamiliar with Ito watched this single episode and dropped the series because of this choice to go underground.
Another big problem with Junji Ito Collection is its production process. Animated by Studio Deen, Junji Ito Collection is filled with hard stills and motion. The detail has been stripped from every character and monster, which would most likely make the series’ animation easier, but the lackluster results don’t make up for this loss.
An animation teaser from the movie (1:30)
However, based on this situation, upcoming projects can overcome the above minus points. Uzumaki’s upcoming anime is highly anticipated as it is announced that it is strictly following Ito’s art style. While there’s only been a trailer so far, the portion of the visuals used is giving fans hope. However, given the reported four-volume run and the nineteen chapters of the original, the story is likely to be condensed. Hopefully Netflix has seen what caused the failures of previous adaptations when it started producing Junji Ito Maniac.
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