Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram)

‘Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre’ is a horror anthology of about 20 short horror stories, ranging from creepily grotesque to weirdly funny.

Titled ‘The Strange Hizikuri Siblings’, the first one is the softest in terms of horror but sets an interesting pace for the rest of the collection. It is about a bunch of orphaned wealthy siblings living in a haunted property and the characters look like Junji Ito may have drawn inspiration from the Addams Family.  

As a Junji Ito fan, I could see that the terror his manga invokes on physical pages is a little hard to capture with animation. But that still didn’t dilute the visual experience and some of the stories were entertainingly bizarre. Some of the stories were too abrupt and felt like they got over in a minute. Despite that, most of them have the kind of climax that will make viewers wonder out loud ‘what the fuck?’. My friend and I enjoyed most of the brusque endings, however many other viewers might feel underwhelmed by the shorter hasty tales.  

Some of the stories that really stood out were ‘Hanging Balloon’ which is about a senseless epidemic of suicides sweeping through Japan after a young popular idol dies; ‘Tomb Town’ – two siblings find themselves on a road filled with tombstones; ‘Layers of Terror’ – an eerily violent tale of a woman losing half her face and ‘Whispering Woman’ that’s about a lady who takes up a uniquely challenging job of constantly instructing a neurotic child and the two end up forming a scarily symbiotic bond.

One wishes the makers had tweaked the stories to make them longer and more arresting. It’s a 7/10 from me. Stream the anthology on Netflix.

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