Random Curiosity

Grancrest Senki – 01 »« Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho – 01

Ito Junji Collection – 01

OP Sequence

OP: 「七転八倒のブルース」 (Shichitenbattou no Blues) by The Pinballs

「双一の勝手な呪い / 地獄の人形葬」 (Souichi no Katte na Noroi / Jigoku no Ningyou Sou)
“Souichi`s Convenient Curses / Hellish Doll Funeral”

With Uzumaki, Gyo, and Tomie under his belt, Ito Junji is considered to be manga’s master of horror. Naturally, he’d regulate some of the high concept ideas he’d have as short stories. But are they all as great as his full-length works, or is he bound to have hit-or-miss stories under his anthology collections? From the first episode, it teeters more towards the latter.

A majority of the episode is focused on “Souichi’s Convenient Curses” to introduce us to the re-occurring character of Souichi, a vengeful kid who uses his ability to curse his classmates in order to punish them for petty reasons. It utilizes some dark humor to show us how ridiculous Souichi is in the logic behind why he’d hex someone, and the delusions of grandeur he has about being feared and respected by his student body who would say otherwise. While it’s faithful to the original story and the artwork is the most accurate we’ve seen of Ito’s style in anime form, the adaptation has a hard time with tone.

It can be chalked up to which story they began with, but any of the creepiness that Souichi could have exuded is diminished by how silly he is. A kid who you would want to avoid for looking creepy, lest you become a victim to his curses, should be a lot creepier, and there are moments where he does behave in an unsettling manner. But it doesn’t feel like he’s ever presented as a threatening figure outside of the opening scene of him driving nails through a voodoo doll. The remaining story works to assassinate his character by giving him an eccentric voice, going for relatively harmless curses, getting chased around his house with a spider, and his last humiliating act of getting caught in a trap while trying to chase around a classmate he loathes. By the time he opens the box where his frog died from being trapped for days, it feels like there should be a studio audience’s round of applause as a sax version of the main theme plays him off.

However, the last few minutes of the episode do much more to ring in the frightful potential of bringing Ito’s work to life through animation as the “Hellish Doll Funeral” segment was incredibly creepy and unsettling. A young girl being afflicted by a curse that turned her into a doll, and would eventually deteriorate into a monstrously wooden parasite from my nightmares is truly terrifying, and much like in Ito’s work, this segment does a good job at hanging onto that last lingering moment as we’re left with the image of that girl’s horrific transformation. It was an idea that would’ve been awesome if it was developed into a full-fledged story where they explained where the curse came from, if there was someone trying to reverse it, and if they find out that the people afflicted with it couldn’t do anything to stop the curse from overwhelming them as they transform into a wood blob.

Ito Junji Collection has potential to bring his work to life, and make some truly scary segments from his short stories. In the process though, there might be instances throughout the anime where we will get works that aren’t as scary either because of the humorous tone of the chapter or through direction choices that can undercut the unsettling imagery found in his stories. A big reason for the 50/50 take on this episode is because of the differences in tone and feeling between the adaptation of “Souichi’s Convenient Curses” that didn’t capture the creepiness of Ito’s art and characters, and the “Hellish Doll Funeral” adaptation that did. Hopefully, there will be more hits than misses, but for now, Ito Junji Collection should be an anime to give a try if last season’s horror fare left you feeling grim.

ED Sequence

ED: 「互いの宇宙」 (Tagai no Uchuu) by Jyocho

January 5, 2018 at 2:40 pm
9 comments »
  • January 5, 2018 at 8:58 pmCatgirl

    Interesting choice in adaption and timing. Souichi`s Convenient Curses was 2/3s of the first episode…I thought it would never end and I was getting bored and annoyed. Then Hellish Doll Funeral came on and it was so short that I thought it was the preview for the next episode except they showed the whole plot of the story in 3 or 4 minutes! It, at least, was interesting for those minutes. I am thinking that this series might be better as a under 10 minute short.

  • January 5, 2018 at 9:04 pmIncognito

    http://randomc.net/image/Ito%20Junji%20Collection/Ito%20Junji%20Collection%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2004.jpg
    Usual reaction of (most) females to this kind of person: “Kimoi! / Kimochiwarui!”

    http://randomc.net/image/Ito%20Junji%20Collection/Ito%20Junji%20Collection%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2020.jpg
    Pay phones? In this day and age of the Internet and smartphones?

    http://randomc.net/image/Ito%20Junji%20Collection/Ito%20Junji%20Collection%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2021.jpg
    Japanese Slenderman? (OK, it’s actually not, but still…)

    Well, the first 3/4ths of the episode managed to encapsulate the memetic “narminess” of some of Junji Ito’s stories (like manga!Gyo‘s “GASHUNK!” scene or manga!The Enigma Of Amigara Fault‘s “DRR…DRR…DRR…” scene)–which I still like in a “So Bad, It’s Good” way. But the last quarter of the episode, though… Now there’s the Junji Ito brand of body horror I’ve been waiting for!

    Also, I like how the next-episode preview titles are just labeled “Collection Number (0XX)/(0XY)”, which leaves those unfamiliar with Junji Ito’s manga guessing as to what manga short stories will be animated next. I’ll be happy to see Tomie get animated, but if Hellstar Remina or the aforementioned The Enigma Of Amigara Fault gets the anime treatment (I wish), it would be a welcome surprise.

    • January 6, 2018 at 9:11 amChoya

      This might be one of those adaptations that keep the stories within the dates they were made rather than modernizing them. That particular Souichi story was written around 1997, so they’d probably stick with payphones to make the scenario still work. Not sure if Caller ID was as prominent in Japan at the time, but I guess since the town looks suburban or rural, households wouldn’t have had phones that up-to-date.

      It did give us both sides of Itou’s work with his expertise in dark comedy and body horror. They could’ve added some extra runtime for the horror segment to balance it out, but they did great with the artwork to replicate his style accurately.

      I think I saw Tomie in there, but I’ve been anticipating a Tome adaptation some point soon. It’d be interesting if it was integrated into the series or adaptated into a standalone series like I’ve read somewhere. The Enigma of Amigara Fault would be awesome to see in motion, but it would be one of those things that they might try to add in if they run out of stories in Ito’s Collection anthologies.

  • January 6, 2018 at 8:36 amPokeNirvash

    I’m not watching this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had Souichi take up the first 2/3-3/4 of the episode to lull the viewer into a false sense of security/boredom before hitting them with the horror of the short at the end.

    • January 6, 2018 at 9:54 amChoya

      Sounds like a tactic that would work since it hits harder to see the doll deteriorating after getting used to how whacky Souichi’s story ended up being.

      I also think it was to introduce Souichi since he is featured in a few of Ito’s short stories, so they’d want to give him an introduction early on so that we’re familiar with him once he starts showing up in a couple more episodes.

  • January 6, 2018 at 4:35 pmStranger

    The false sense of security is a valid tactic, but I think they overdid it with Souchi here. If it weren’t for the doll bit at the end, I would give this series a miss, since it made for an extremely weak first impression.

    Hope we get something good like the spiral story next episode.

  • January 7, 2018 at 5:12 pmsealouse

    Frankly it was downright humorous how short the second one was. Also I found it funny how that doll curse seems to be a common occurrence in that world with no explanation. You know it kind of reminded me of a Simpsons Halloween special.

  • January 7, 2018 at 5:53 pmDEFC

    this was so boring.. oh god..and just when they show a story thats kind of interesting BOOM… it just 2 minutes.. what an incredible waste of time … please tell me the rest of the stories are better..probably yes.. but i cant understand, by the love of god, why they choose this as the first episode.

  • January 9, 2018 at 12:48 amMincemaker

    Honestly, I don’t think of Junji Itou’s horror works as horror, per se. They are all dark comedies. Remina’s centrifuge Earth scene is absurd. Gyo’s screaming girlfriend and the chain of convenient coincidences and the farting hangwoman scenes are all really funny for me.

    It takes a really dark sense of humour to appreciate his works.

Leave a Reply

Please DO NOT ask or give links to raws, subs, or PVs. Instead, please check the Community section on the sidebar for useful links.
Gravatars are supported, so please sign up for a free account if you would like your own globally recognized avatar.

HTML tags are enabled for comments: <a href="" title=""> <b> <blockquote> <em> <i> <s> <spoiler> <strike> <strong>
** Please use <spoiler></spoiler> around any major spoilers. **