"The Scarlet Circle" Hmm, a Hell Gate in the form of a little red dot of blood that gets darker with each person it swallows, and grows to engulf the room whenever it takes someone.. Throw in that it's in a tiny little room with no way in or out other than a hole torn in the ceiling. No, not an entrance way in the ceiling. There was no way in or out until the hole was torn open.
"The Grass". Mimi and her boyfriend Naoto go for a walk in the woods, only to find the body of a woman who hanged herself. Naoto notes that there is nothing for the woman to have stood on while she hung herself, and the branches on the tree are too high for her to have climbed. Naoto keeps hearing something falling off the woman but there is nothing under her body. Then they both look up and she is suddenly facing them. Mimi and Naoto immediately get out of there but Mimi notes that the corpse was facing them the whole time as they left.
The Seashore gives us a slowly rising terror, culminating in the epilogue when the photographs of from our heroes' adventure on the beach are developed. There's the pictures of their friend who died, which show very clearly a host of drowning children's ghosts clinging to him with their faces twisted in utter agony. (Dear God.) Then there's the pictures we don't get to see, because the owner threw them out, destroyed the negatives and violently refused to talk about it. Long suffering fans slowly lets it sink in that whatever was in those pictures was too awful for Junji Ito to draw.
The ending of "The Bully".
The worst part of The Bully is that there's nothing supernatural at all. With things like Uzumaki, you can rest easier in the knowledge that that could never happen in real life. But with The Bully? That actually COULD happen.
To elaborate, the story starts with a sweet woman telling about how, when she was much younger, she bullied a younger boy his mom trusted her to play with. She hurt him physically and psychologically, but he stuck around because he remembered how nice she once was to him and seemed to think she'd go back to being that way around him. As adults, the girl and the boy meet, fall in love, and get married. After having a son though, the guy goes off to work and never comes home. The girl does her best to be a single mom, but the stress makes her start to build up anger towards her son. She then notices that the son is the spitting image of the guy as a child, prompting her to dress up like she did as a child and begin subjecting him to the same horrific bullying. It's one long child abuse story.
"Army Of One" is about people that are apparently murdered (without a single evidence of the perpetrator) and then sewed. From only two people being sewed, it went to six, twelve, around fifty, then around one hundred, and then the record was topped gloriously with FIVE FREAKING HUNDRED CORPSES SEWED TOGETHER. And we never get to know who committed everything. That was a scary one-shot, to say the least.
Oh but we do get to know who did it in the end. They killed and sewed themselves as a group. After all, "No one wants to be a lonely only..."
Just imagine waking up one morning, waiting to enjoy the holiday, only to find parts of the city furnished with hundreds of naked corpses sewn together to look like different kinds of Christmas decorations. There are even a few of them sewn on the Christmas Trees, damnit!
Splatter Film: after you eat the honey, it all boils down to either never eat anything again or risk being splattered to death at any arbitrary moment you're eating. You'd think people being splattered flat like a pancake would be funny, but... it's not. Its revealed at the end that the honey isnt actually honey but sap from an enormous, moving tree in the Amazon. The tree has huge, flytrap-like branches that move around like tentacles, and can somehow sense when anyone, ANYWHERE, is eating its sap.
The good news is that you won't get splattered solely for eating, but if you're caught eating that special honey...the real horrifying part is how far that one plant must be able to stretch its limbs so it instantly splatters people in other countries, separated from it by oceans! Of course, its never revealed just WHEN you are caught eating the honey, it doesnt happen every single time, and there seems to be no corelation between them.
Oh, but we know how! The answer is the plant teleports its limbs away for the split second it takes to splat someone flat! This means, of course, you're safe nowhere. NOWHERE!
Oh, and the honey is addictive, so you won't want to eat anything else.
Not exactly. It's not that you can't eat anything else, so much as everything else tastes "like shit" compared to it. You can eat normally, you can still taste everything, but it's like you've experienced a bit of heaven and everything on earth can never compare until you go back. If you ever want to be satisfied with eating again, you pretty much have to try the honey again.
From "Voices in the Dark", "The Dark Drinks Blood". A body that is torn to shreds, and the parts scattered all around, should guarantee death, right? Well, not if you have a swarm of bats to act as your circulatory system.
Ghosts of Golden Time: they'll kill you... with tickles!
If you're very ticklish, this story can indeed be horrifying. Especially since it's actually true that you can die from laughing too hard (basically, if you don't get enough breath between laughs, you suffocate) or too long (you can't rest, eat, or drink properly while laughing. Death by exhaustion is most likely in this case). Being tickled to death might sound like Narm, but it is possible.
From "New Voices in the Dark", "Anything But a Ghost". Being possessed by ghosts really can suck...but you start to feel sorry for them when your girlfriend eats them. Worse yet, they bleed. A lot.
And she very obviously plans on eating your ghost when you die, and is so eager to eat you that she sits there, watching you with wide eyes, just waiting for you to stop breathing...
Or the possibility of even creepier creatures, as the chapter aludes to.
As creepy as the Thing is, its not even the real horror of the story, its whats inside the creature - the still-living survivors of a shipwreck who have been living all this time INSIDE THE CREATURE LIKE HUMAN PARASITES, feeding off the creature itself and being driven mad both by their horrifying situation, and the things they see through the creatures transluscent skin. By the time theyre released when the creature dies and washing up on shore, they're just raving, screaming madmen, little more than animals.
Flesh Colored Horror: The story starts off creepily enough by introducing a little kindergartener with a bad skin condition who attacks his school mates out of resentment. But then we get the real reasons behind his skin condition, and it just gets worse from there. Turns out the kid's mama and auntie have been experimenting on themselves and their own skins, and they've reached a point where they could successfully jump in and out of 'em like clothing. And now they've been researching for ways to do the same to junior, explaining his scars. Why? Because the mother believes that the human body, sans skin, is the most beautiful thing in the world, so she wants to spread her twisted sense of beauty to her child. Yeah.
One of the more unsettling scenes is after Chikara destroys his mothers skin. Realizing how screwed she is without it, she decides to "borrow" Maya's. By basically ripping her face off. And then Chikara defends his aunt. How? By grabbing his mother's leg muscles and ripping them apart. Ugh.
Den of the Sleep Demon.
And guess what? Here's a riddle: what's worse than a body turning inside out? The answer: a body turning inside out and swallowing another body in the process.
The City Without Streets works in several levels. In one hand, there's the absurd escalation of the main character's fear of losing her privacy. On the other hand, there's the strange onesnote who are people with deformed oblong heads with lots of eyes. Too many of them., who are, of course, depicted in good ol' Junji Ito levels of detail.
Don't forget the dream the girl has of a Jack the Ripper-type guy who breaks into her room and kills her boyfriend. When she runs away to see her aunt, a kind man in a mask guides her through the city. It turns out, it's the same guy. And he had gone into her room to kill her while she slept, and only was kept from doing so because her boyfriend was there, leading him to kill the guy out of frustration. Even worse, there's really no reason for this guy to be in the story. He's around in both the girl's old life and the strange city, so it's hard to know what is going on with him!
The way everyone in the city just sort of accepted the absurd situation with the buildings taking over an entire section of the city, because there was nothing they could do, since anything that was torn down was just rebuilt again. It borders on Kafka-esque.
It gets worse when you learn why she had the mental breakdown. In the story, Risa has a nightmare about being attacked by a giant caterpillar monster. However, it turns out it wasn't a nightmare, and there was no caterpillar. What really happened was that when she visited Shuichi's ailing father, she saw that his ancestors' scalps were still attached to his head alive and fully capable of thought and feeling. After the father dies, the scalps attach themselves to Shuichi's head and tell him to chase after Risa so she can bear his child and continue the family line.
The Long Dream. In Mukoda's mind, he's lived for thousands- no, MILLIONS- of years, every night lasting exponentially longer than the last. After several days, one night of sleep is enough to wipe all his memories of the waking world. And then he ages, or evolves, into something resembling a gray mixed with a harlequin fetus, which crumbles into dust soon after.
It then begins happening to the woman with the fear of mortality as well, and its revealed that the main character found these odd crystals in the remains of Mukoda's skull, presumably the state his brain had evolved into, and used them as medication on the woman.
Hanging Balloons is the surreal story in which giant floating heads of people start hanging them by nooses under the necks. One shocktastic scene is when Kazuko and her friend Chiharu escape being hung by ducking into an alley. A man who lives in the house next to it sees the giant faces floating and shoots Chiharu's balloon head with a crossbow. The giant face deflates... and so does Chiharu's face, in a gruesome display. And no, that's not the end of the story yet.
It gets more downright horrifying and disturbing on the doppelganger balloons side. Capable of mimicry and are very devious along with the side of being resourceful. The fact that nobody can actually cause harm to a "balloon" without causing death to another (Or in most cases their own owners since the balloons home in on just the sight of their original victim's that they're based off of) and to be relentlessly hounded by them throughout the duration to the point of exhaustion... This troper always gets chills since it's one of Itou's many stories where you can feel the entrapment and the helplessness of the atmospheric world that he's crafted, where you can't fight back and no matter where you go... they're always looming overhead.
The Window Next Door loses no time by already featuring a creepy opening illustration. Then it gets worse. Wait until the old lady next door actually appears...
"The Ice Cream Bus" A father and his son just moved to a new apartment complex that is visited by an Ice Cream Truck every Saturday night. The driver of the truck gives the children free ice cream and takes them on a drive around the neighborhood before bringing them back. Sounds charming right? That is until the father lets his son go on the truck as well. One time he even catches a glimpse of what is going on in the truck and sees the kids licking huge mounds of ice cream. The scary part? The ice cream mounds are really the MELTED BODIES of the kids. Turns out the more ice cream the kids eat, the more their body becomes ice cream. It gets worse! Near the end, the father catches his son licking piles of ice cream-that used to his friends mind you- and is naturally horrified. He tries to stop his son, but ends up knocking off his head in the process!
Glyceride could be his most repulsive story, and that says a lot. It's full of downright sickening moments, but one scene - that involves horrible acne - takes the cake. Try finishing the story without taking a break or even without swallowing hard once.
The short story, "Slug Girl", is about a high school girl's third person narration of her close friend, Yuuko, who one day develops a Speech Impediment but refuses to explain why. When she visits her home the second time after Yuuko stops coming to school, she finds out why. her tongue transformed into a huge crawling slug. When she desperately tries to cut off the slimy new appendage with scissors, the offending mollusc grows back and continues to return no matter how hard she tries. When her parents try to put salt in her mouth, she spits it out as if she can't stand it. Eventually Yuuko's body slowly begins to wither away, and as a last resort, her parents submerge her in a bathtub of salt hoping it would cure her condition. Instead, the rest of her body breaks down, leaving only her head which the parents wash down with water hoping it will grow back. However, the slug STILL DOESN'T DIE and just like a snail, the slug carries her head on its back like a snail and continues to slither around in the backyard while its "shell" will stare at anyone nearby with the saddest gaze. And, what's more, there is absolutely nothing the girl does that would make her deserve such an awful fate. It truly shows how much of a Crapsack World Junji Ito's human characters live in.
Even worse, it's mentioned that the Yuuko was terrified of slugs. Imagine having something you're phobic about inside your mouth, attached to you! And even worse, it's clear the slug is sentient, so it keeps crawling around on her face, against her will. And it's also impossible for her to speak or eat, because she's lost control of that part of her body...
If you were to look at the chained monstrosity in Mystery Pavilion, you would think it was the hideous offspring between a bird and an Eldritch Abomination. The reality will make you wish this was the case. It's actually a hideous genetically modified now-extinct pelican in the future.
If that's not bad enough, the monster eats two onlookers. The man running the pavilion orders the beast to spit them out, which it does, but it's too late for the victims; as soon as they hit the ground, they start MELTING. And they're still alive.
"Secret of the Haunted Mansion" Almost to the end, when we see that boy, eating lost policeman's arm (It's the first thing you see while entering on main index and it scares you out.)
Mold. The final shot of the protagonist tearing the skin off his face, sitting alone in the dark, helpless to stop his body disintegrating as he repeats "itchy ... itchy ..." With a bonus close-up of his rotting skin! He can't leave, even if his mind weren't under the influence of the mold, because his legs have already decayed away.
The image of the kids covered in mold is pretty horrific, especially the girl, since we only see her eyes glinting in the dark and the bottom of her legs. Now, imagine what the rest of her looked like ...
The Groaning Drain. The drain under the house of a clean-freak and her two daughters gets clogged and nothing will fix it. Then the girls' father is killed by their mother when he sunk into the house to see his daughters, leading to a lie about the mother using self-defense, the blood left by the father's body can't be scrubbed away. Shortly after this, a horrible stench starts to come from the drain, and they can hear it groaning, almost like a human. The younger sister puts her hand down the shower drain to unclog it and declares she's stuck, but the protagonist believes she's playing a trick. Even as the sister screams and begs for help all night, the protagonist thinks she's tricking her...And then she comes into the bathroom the next day to see her sister's leg sticking out of the shower drain, blood on the floor, as her sister has spent the entire night being slowly and agonizingly pulled into the drain.
And then there's the question of how the guy got into the drain in the first place ...
Even worse, when the younger sister suspects that someone is hiding down there, her older sister tries to dispel the notion by pointing out that the drain is simply too small, and a human would somehow have to break their skull to fit inside. Now, consider what must have happened to the younger sister, as she was pulled head-first down the drain. Brrr...
The Supernatural Transfer Student. Human eyes growing out from flowers is bad enough, and that's before we see Shibayama return as a gigantic, hideous, bloated, projectile-vomiting zombie.
The Back Alley. A student takes up a room on a boarding house. At night he's annoyed by the sounds of children playing on the alley next door. He manages to pull himself to the alley's wall to shout at the children, but it turns out the whole alley's sealed. Soon after, he hears the children calling for his landlady's daughter. Next morning, a man talks to him on the street, telling him that he stayed once at that very room, and that on the sealed alley, there's a bunch of bones belonging to a couple of kids and human silhouettes on the alley's wall, and he begs the student to see if he can confirm the story and report it to the police to put the bones to rest. The student finds a hidden window and a rope leading into the alley. Indeed, he finds the bones, but when he tries to go up again, he's knifed... by the landlady's daughter, a Serial Killer obsessed with ruling over the alley, and who has killed two kids, two classmates and her own father and put them in there. The student falls and breaks his neck. As the girl goes down to toss him with the other corpses, the rope breaks, and it's her, the corpse and the shapes in the wall...