A part of what makes Junji Ito’s work so terrifying is the way it sticks with you. The thoughts behind iconic horror manga like Tomie and Uzumaki takes an thought — whether or not it’s a schoolgirl who can’t die or a small city obsessive about spirals — and steadily pushes the idea as far it may well go, often towards some type of disturbing physique horror that forces you to look away. Earlier than you already know it, the thought has lodged itself in your mind, his rigorously crafted black-and-white pictures flashing even after you shut the e-book.

The brand new Netflix anthology Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre, which adapts numerous Ito’s tales into animated episodes, captures a few of that terror. The concepts are nonetheless there, the horrifying creativeness that may make even children consuming ice cream into one thing unsettling and grotesque. But it surely additionally breezes previous the tales so rapidly that they don’t have the possibility to essentially get caught. In that manner, it’s a superb introduction to Ito’s work — but it surely doesn’t totally seize the dread.

Tales of the Macabre options variations of 20 totally different tales unfold out throughout 12 episodes; some episodes are devoted to a single thought, whereas others are cut up into two. There are some classics right here, like “Hanging Blimp” (also referred to as The Hanging Balloons), about unusual inflatable doppelgängers, and the images chapter of Tomie, by which a digital camera is used to show supernatural secrets and techniques that result in a grisly finish. The tales included are all (principally) standalone and totally different, however they share lots of the similar traits. Particularly, they begin as one thing easy — say, a loud attic or a lacking e-book — and get more and more fucked up from there.

Regardless of the change in mediums, the core of Ito’s work stays. You continue to get the visceral physique horror of peeling away uncountable layers of pores and skin or seeing a child’s second head being axed off. Every kind of issues come out of individuals’s mouths that shouldn’t be in there. And also you’ll see loads of characters who simply look shady in a manner that’s arduous to explain (and are folks you undoubtedly don’t wish to sublet an condo to).

For probably the most half, Ito’s distinctive visible model — particularly his characters — stays intact right here. Tales of the Macabre is much less detailed than the manga it’s primarily based on, however in any other case, it seems like what it’s: a comic book in movement. The animation is sparse however serviceable, and the anime crew has made some attention-grabbing artistic selections that give the totally different tales their very own vibes. All however one of many tales is in colour (the entire authentic comics are black-and-white), and whereas most episodes are displayed in a contemporary widescreen format, others are extra sq., as when you had been watching on an outdated tube TV (which is sensible, since lots of the tales are set within the ’80s and ’90s). Sadly, like quite a lot of fashionable anime, the visuals are additionally tormented by low-grade 3D components — principally used for giant transferring objects like vehicles or bizarre monsters — that really feel jarringly misplaced. That mentioned, it does have an unbelievable, surreal title sequence.

The true subject with the present, although, is that it’s simply too quick. Significantly for the cut up episodes, it looks like every episode is racing to the massive scary twist, giving little time for the regular, methodical build-up that makes these twists actually hit you. It’s no shock, then, that the perfect episodes are those devoted to a single story, like “Hanging Blimp” or “Tomb City,” which have sufficient time to dig into, say, the logistics of a city crammed with an unattainable variety of gravestones. A lot of the others, although, really feel rushed, and as quickly as they attain the attention-grabbing reveal — say, what’s inside that ice cream truck — they’re over.

It’s a disgrace as a result of Ito’s tales are among the most unsettling and engrossing in all of horror. However Tales of the Macabre treats them extra like appetizers than a full meal, and consequently, they don’t have that very same endurance because the supply materials. (One other upcoming adaptation, Uzumaki on Grownup Swim, might be able to keep away from this by specializing in a single e-book.) The perfect I can hope for is that the present conjures up some folks to select up the originals— after which not be capable to cease excited about them for a very long time.

Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre is streaming on Netflix now.

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