A great Horror-Mangaka and a great inspiration to us all.
Instead of counting down the steps of his life à la Wikipedia, I shall do something different:
Junji Ito has published over 30 books full of manga stories already and since he tends to focus on short stories from 20 to 40 pages he covered a wide variety of topics to make into horror stories. So I´ll instead count down the
"Top 5 most ridiculous sounding things that Junji Ito made a terrifying horror story of"
"Top 5 pretty harmless things that Ito Junji will ruin for you"
Yo, ho, ho, pirates! Spoilers ahead! Also disgusting pictures. You have been warned.
(Of course this top 5 is purely subjective. The places where chosen on the base of the biggest gap between how harmless/ridiculous the topic and how terrifying the results are)
No 5 - Snails
Okay, this one only ranks so low because there are a lot of people that - even though not necessarily afraid of snails, they find them pretty icky. Now take that and multiply it with the mind of a former dentist - yes he used to be a dentist and no-one is surprised - and you get stories like "slug girl" or some chapters of Uzumaki. Now you might think: Oh well, it´s still just a snail. No matter if you make it big or extra disgusting or acid sweating or anything, you can always outrun it, oh WAIT...
Hey, fun fact: The story is 16 pages long, this is page 9. It only gets worse from there :D
No 4 - Balloons
At first, something as unthreatening as a balloon seems rather crappy material for a horror story unless you throw in some creepy clowns. One of the great qualitys of his horror stories though, is, that he manages to fuse two thoughts into one: In "The hanging balloons", mysterious floating balloon-heads with nooses are out to get the person that shares their face. The image of a gallow combined with a balloon. While the story itself is not that scary, which is also why I ranked it so low, the imaginary feat is quite impressive. Also: Junji Ito first drew comedy before switching to horror. Sometimes it shows.
*snicker* Look at them balloons. They´re so happy :D
No 3 - Red thread
One of his other great qualities is the ability to explore one idea thoroughly. "Red string" is a great example for that: A boy, after his girlfirend broke up with him, discovers a read thread being sewn through his skin. Where does it come from? Is it a rash? Is it because his ancestors are sewing it through him for his own protection? Or is it the "thread of faith" growing through his body since the girlfriend was his destined one?
And when will it stop? Or will it?
I´m not gonna lie. This story does give me the creeps, probably because I used to have huge problems with syringes... D: Still it´s one of the funniest so far (not counting the Cat Diary).
Gotta love the nonchalance...
No 2 - Ice cream
"Ice cream bus". It´s a story about a recently divorced father and his child, living in an area where there´s a nice man who allows children to eat as much ice cream as they want :D. Neat, right? Yeah, this story is not about obesity, though (even though it would be an option). Rather, the twist is a bit different: After a while, the child´s toys become sticky, the father sees two children licking each others skin off, while proclaiming: "It´s sweet, right?" and in the end... well, you are what you eat. Quite literally.
Junji Ito really knows how to make the reader feel and explore the circumstances. Take the picture above, for example: It´s just so... graphic. You can almost feel the head splosh off like a popsicle breaks through on a hot summer day. Yikes.
No 1 - Spirals
Well, of course this had to be number one, I guess. Not only is "Uzumaki", the 3-Volume-story and one of his longest works, making you fear spirals - it makes you fear them in about 20 different ways. It´s a masterpiece because it´s a showcase of his imagination, the exploration of the theme on very different levels and smaller topics and his DRAWING ABILITY.
How did I get here without mentioning his incredible art?! While his people, while drawn realistically and quite pretty, are nothing, NOTHING compared to when he shows off. And boy, does he ever. It´s really gorgeous, in a way.
So if you are into Horror and haven´t checked him out already, I would really recommend it. He has so much stuff, there will be something that you will like and give you the chills. So if you have to possibility
Honorable mention goes to the "Cat Diary".
No, it´s not horror. It´s comedy.
It´s about Junji Ito getting two cats and the misadventures he has with them.
It is drawn like one of his horror stories, though.
AND IT IS HILARIOUS!!! XDDD
What? It´s just a normal person kissing and cuddling his cat!
Itou Junji Kyoufu Manga Collection not purchaseable in English yet
Itou Junji no Neko Nikki, Yon & Muu not purchaseable in English yet
Itou Junji´s Uzumaki purchaseable from VIZ Media LLC
Manga Pages are hosted on Mangafox.com, names of the scanlation-teams were not available, unfortunately.