Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre Trial by Fire Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
Junji Ito is a well-known and revered name within horror circles. Ever since his debut manga, 1987’s Tomie, the artist’s collection of grotesquely provocative and darkly humorous tales have garnered him an international cult following. Over the years, Ito’s work has been adapted for both the big and small screens, with a twice-delayed Uzumaki series for Adult Swim still hotly anticipated by his fans. The latest adaptation to be based on Ito’s oeuvre is Netflix’s Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre, which draws upon 20 of the horror creator’s works. Like the series’ title suggests, Maniac is as imaginatively twisted as only Ito’s work can be.
Whereas the artist’s imagery is known for its striking black-and-white presentation, this twelve-episode series brings a touch of colour into the equation. Purists may turn up their noses at the thought of altering the style, but series director Shinobu Tagashira breathes new life into these familiar tales while remaining completely faithful to the source material. Some frames are taken straight from the panels of the manga. Whether it’s seeing the ghostly heads in The Hanging Balloons descend from the sky or the sudden arrival of a Lovecraftian creature in The Thing That Drifted Ashore, the fresh coat of paint only reinforces the startling imagery without sacrificing the pulpy aesthetic of the manga.
Alongside the gleefully gross art style, the chill of this series is rooted within the unexplainable madness of each instalment. There’s no specific reason or justification for why these appalling things happen, they just do; sometimes they don’t even end with a fulfilling conclusion. Lurking underneath the ensuing madness, though, are wider ideas and themes that range from the existential to the deeply personal. It’s the ways the anthology manifests these ideas into fascinating horror stories that makes this show as entertaining as it is frightening.
For those unfamiliar with the Ito’s collection of ghoulish works, Maniac makes for a fantastic introduction to the wicked imagination and style. And to those versed in the world, this Netflix anthology offers an engrossing and faithful way to experience it all over again.