The master of horror manga

Junji Ito is often hailed as the best writer to ever grace the world of horror manga. He has two upcoming series based on his works, one of which is called A Compilation of His Short Stories Junji Ito Maniac: Tales from the Japanese Macabreand one of them is an adaptation of his infamous series Uzumaki. However, much of Junji Ito remains a mystery despite his popular cult following. From dental technician to esteemed author and everything in between, Junji Ito has done it all.

Junji Ito is the mangaka behind it Tomie, Uzumaki, Gyo, and many short story compilations, which are his main focus as a mangaka. He often writes about cosmic horror and body horror and combines the two concepts in most of his works. He also adapted Mary Shelly’s frankenstein, for which he won an Eisner Award and even had a cameo appearance death stranding. What sets this small town boy from Japan apart from the rest of horror mangaka? What works has he done outside of horror? What led him down the path of the terrifying manga panels that have kept international manga fans up at night? This article will explore the depths of Junji Ito and highlight some of his finest works.

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His humble beginnings to the beginning of Tomie

Junji Ito grew up in a small town and revealed in an interview in 2019 that his two older sisters read horror manga by authors like Kazuo Umezu. Growing up, he read the same manga that his sisters read. He drew his own manga from childhood until he became engrossed in his career as a dental technician. After a few years of working as a dentist, he entered a short story career Monthly Halloween and won the Kazuo Umezu award, with the same Kazuo Umezu he read as a juror.

This short story became what is known today Tomie. The series features a young woman named Tomie whose presence and manipulation drives men to commit acts of violence. Junji Ito’s legendary first series was published in the same magazine for thirteen years. The series was incredibly popular in Japan, where it was adapted into nine films and an anthology series.


Tomie is just a drop in the bucket of Junji Ito’s work. Another of his most popular series is Uzumaki, a horror series about a spiraling city’s sudden supernatural obsession and paranoia. The franchise is currently being adapted into an anime miniseries by Studio Drive and will premiere on Adult Swim. His other popular series gyo is about undead fish with metal legs that terrorize a young couple on a diving vacation in Okinawa. In addition to original horror series, he has also adapted Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and has written an original slice-of-life manga about his cats named Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu.


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However, Junji Ito is not only known for series. Most of his work is short stories collected in anthology form, showcasing his unique blend of cosmic and body horror. Some of these anthologies include Flesh colored horror, lovesick deadand dissolve classroom. Some one-shots that are not part of short story anthologies include Junji Ito’s Snow White, phantom mansionand Ghost Heights Management Association. He was also part of a canceled one silent hills Video game project starring Guillermo Del Toro and Hideo Kojima and later had a cameo appearance in the game death strandingshowing that he still has contact with the two.


Part of this is due to his drawing style. Junji Ito doesn’t draw his manga in the typical style that we often associate with manga and anime. It is drawn in a much more realistic art style than a cartoon style, making the frightening events and images even more frightening. Many fans of Ito often talk about how empty and hollow the artwork and dialogue are, which contributes to the overwhelming eeriness of his works. Junji Ito also creates contrasts, with startling images often having dark, crowded backgrounds, keeping his artwork simple and uncluttered between honor images. This also helps the horrific images to have a much greater impact.


Another thing Junji Ito excels at is pacing. Many of his stories are slow paced rather than action packed. Junji Ito creates manga jump scares that are full-page or even two-page terrifying images during a boring scene. Junji Ito’s panel planning is often compared to her The incantation, as he often leaves the truly frightening for later and spends most of his work slowly building suspense through background information and subtle cues. On a second or third reading of his works, you’ll often find clues and more throughout the series that you might not have noticed before, giving a once-dull scene a much deeper and chilling meaning.

MORE: Junji Ito’s scariest stories

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