Assignment #1

An underground horror genius

By Pascale Rioux

At first I was going to do my assignment on a live-action series called Arrow, based off the superhero Green Arrow. The thing is, I don’t think I’ve been able to reach past even  three episodes of the ongoing two season show. Instead, I decided to review a manga artist’s work.

His name is Junji Ito, and his expertise is the horror genre.

junji ito's photo

During my last two years in highschool, my french teacher liked to make us read a specific type of literature. She called it “Le Fantastique”, and the only appropriate way to translate this way to call the genre is by relating it to psychological horror. I`ll be calling it ‘fantastic’ from now on in this article.  Junji’s work is nothing but that, and although I rarely read a ‘fantastic’ story with much gore in it, this man manages to mash up all kinds of horror sub-types together and makes it work well. The reason I mainly put his mangas in the ‘fantastic’ category is because most of these types of stories are usually short enough to be compiled in one volume. Junji however does have a few series  containing three volumes.

Junji’s stories sometimes range to a science-fiction setting. There is a rare number of them set quite back in time, mostly the feel of it comes in the legends and certain locations that this manga artist picks when it’s time for a new story to be drawn. Though to be honest, this guy is really something. He’s always grown up with horror, and most of the time, he takes a random idea to prepare the story by twisting it up and turning it to the extreme. He then proceeds to draw his new horrifying story. Despite how twisted his plots and images are, he looks average and lives in a plain apartment. Apparently, since he could remember, he was already fascinated by another Japanese artist’s works of horror, Kazuo Umezu.

As for the mangas themselves, the art is pretty simple and definitely not a style you would see in most popular mangas. I love it, it makes it easier to to fit the gruesome themes shown in the different short stories. According to a rare interview of Junji and his career, Junji loves drawing both extremes of ugly poor styles and clean beautiful ones, though he much prefers the former. Being someone who loves horror, I enjoy not knowing the outcome of a fictional story or who the bad guy is in advance. This man does even more than that. Often, you’ll only have an idea on what you just witnessed, and sometimes you won’t ever know about the subject of your story that intrigued you the most. This is also another tactic usually featured in ‘fantastic’ literature. Junji Ito is a normal man with a genius mind for things that will leave you unsettled, disturbed and begging for more. He’s also the person who compares how he was as a kid to one of his more famous characters who goes by the name of Souichi. If the image below proves this appearance-wise already, then you might or might not want to search his mangas online or read the available list 0n http://openawesome.com/junjiito.html.

souichi

Don’t worry, I’m sure Junji exagerated greatly about the similarities in his and the character’s behaviour, at least.

***

Images from google

Interview found here :

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