Spooky season is upon us! Scary makeup, scary movies, and scary stories are in full swing. Horror enthusiasts are looking for the best recommendations to feel the rush of adrenaline. Though I am not one for scary movies, I do like to read scary stories, specifically horror manga. Junji Ito is a well-known horror manga illustrator and author whom I love to read in my free time. I am recommending these nine stories, in no particular order, for anyone who is looking for disturbing images and creatively scary stories.
Forewarning for all readers that there will be some spoilers but only enough to get you hooked.
“Uzumaki”, translating to ‘Spiral’ in English, is based around the events that happened in the town of Kurouzu-cho, ‘Black Vortex Town’. The reader follows a high-school girl, Kirie Goshima, and her boyfriend, Shuichi Saito. The story starts with an almost unnoticeable obsession over the spiral of a snail’s shell. Slowly, this obsession turns towards paranoia and a curse that reigns over the town with unexplainable and supernatural events.
“Used Record” revolves around an old-fashioned record with a haunting and alluring jazz tune. Anyone who hears the song instantly becomes infatuated with it and needs to have it. The greed that this record causes turns catastrophic with death around every corner.
“Shiver” is not for the faint of heart if you have trypophobia. This story’s main character, Yuuji, has a next-door neighbor with an illness that is a mystery to all. She often screams in horror about bugs constantly swarming around her. The times that Yuuji does get to see her she has holes in her body. This sickness is not a new occurrence though, as it is still a mystery.
“Painter” follows a famous painter, Mitsuo Mori, who works with portraits of women. He is confronted by a beautiful woman named Tomie to do a commission for her. She taunts Mitsuo about his painting of her saying that it doesn’t resemble her true beauty. Mitsuo’s ego is crushed and he drives himself to create a painting that shows her raw beauty.
In the story “Dissection Girl”, Tatsuro Kamata is having a normal day at medical school. They have been assigned with dissecting the human body to learn about the inner workings. When he opens the bag, there lies a girl who could easily be mistaken as being alive. But that is no mistake. The woman blinks and she is confirmed to be alive. After being caught she runs away after declaring she wishes to be dissected. Tatsuro remembers her as they used to go to the same school together when she became obsessed with the art of dissection.
“Hanging Blimp” starts with the tragic news of the main character, Kazuko’s, best friend,Terumi Fujino, committing suicide by hanging herself from the telephone wire. It was a seemingly unpredictable death for she never expressed any reason to consider suicide. After Terumi’s death, people reported seeing her head flying in the sky. As the days press on, the residents of the town see more and more flying blimps that look exactly like them.
In “Honored Ancestors”, Risa, the main character, is found by her friend, Shuichi Makita, wandering the streets after losing her memory. After going to the doctors, they determine that her memory loss is due to psychological trauma. She goes home to rest and starts having weird visions of a caterpillar monster attacking her. Later in the story, we figure out that Risa actually promised Shuichi that she would marry him and Shuichi reveals his darkest family secret.
In “Marionette Mansion”, it follows Haruhiko and his father, older brother, and younger sister. They are a traveling family that make money doing puppet shows. They don’t make a lot of money and are seen constantly struggling. After their father becomes gravely ill and dies, Haruhiko is left to take care of his sister after their older brother left them to pursue his own dreams. The siblings are reunited by a letter from the older brother, Yukihiko, inviting them to visit. Arriving at a mansion, Haruhiko finds Yukihkio is extremely rich and has made a good living along with being constantly controlled by strings like a puppet. Haruhiko witnesses the horrifying effects of being controlled by strings.
Though I am recommending these nine stories to read, all of Junji Ito’s other works are worth the read. I hope you enjoy the stories and have a killer spooky season!