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Creator / Junji Ito

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The David Cronenberg of manga.

Junji Ito (born July 31, 1963) is one of the top leading mangakas in the horror genre, his most popular works being Uzumaki, Tomie, Gyo and "The Enigma of Amigara Fault". He also writes several individual short stories and a few short series, and despite his varied works, a few recurring characters pop up from time to time within these. Such characters include Souichi, a spiteful young boy with supernatural powers, Oshikiri, a boy who has several run-ins with parallel dimensions and other hauntings, and Fuchi, a fashion model whose behavior is even more monstrous than her physiology.

Ito used to work as a dental technician until the early 1990s, which probably explains a couple of things about his work.

His Tomie series have been adapted into a series of movies and TV specials, eventually followed by a movie adaptation of Uzumaki, and Gyo has received an anime adaptation. Later, a number of his short stories were adapted in the anime Junji Ito Collection by Studio DEEN in 2018.

(Note: Since the vast majority of Ito's works have not received official English translations, some stories are referred to with varying translated titles. On these works' pages, stories which have received official translations are listed with those titles.)


Works:

Long Series

Short Series

Anthology Collections

  • Junji Ito Kyoufu Manga Collection (16 volumes, original source for many of his stories and includes several sub-series)
  • Museum of Terror (Alternate publication for the works featured in the Junji Ito Kyoufu Manga collection)
  • Voices in the Dark, New Voices in the Dark
  • Fragments of Horror
  • Shiver (reprinted, author-selected stories, with the inclusion of original bonus story "Fashion Model: Cursed Frame")
  • Frankenstein (reprints the titular story and also collects the Oshikiri series)
  • Smashed (reprinted stories from Voices in the Dark)

Miscellaneous

  • Various unattached one-shot stories and bonus stories included with longer series
  • Licensed Pokémon artwork, believe it or not, focused on Pokémon Banette and Gengar.
  • Silent Hills (was to be the main art director before its cancellation)


Tropes commonly found in his works (and tropes specific to his miscellaneous works):

  • Abhorrent Admirer: A few of these. Kari in "Groaning Drain Pipes", the monstrous neighbor in "The Adjacent Window", and Ms. Fuchi in "Fashion Model" are all examples. Manami Kino in "Wooden Spirit" is this to a house.
  • Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: Something like this may be possible for the monstrous hikers in "Mountain of the Gods", as we see one pressed against a tent- face on the bottom, hands at standing level.
  • Action Survivor: The default for any heroic character who survives more than one chapter.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Some of his longer works in the anime are streamlined to only include the main plot of the story or outright truncated so they don't take up an entire episode.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The anime does this to some of his works. For example, The manga version of "Further Tales of Oshikiri" ends with Mio asking Oshikiri if they'll ever return home; the anime has another Oshikiri sneak up behind them as she says this.
  • Aerith and Bob: Since most of his characters's names are the expected Japanese, the few times English names like Colin, Paula, Maria, and Amy pop up, it's rather noticable.
  • Always a Child to Parent: The main conflict in "Layers of Fear" is about a woman desperate to have her daughter be a baby again and discovering means that she thinks will allow that to come true.
  • And I Must Scream: Many of his endings count as this.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Pretty much every character in "Splatter Film", save for Ogi, who obtained the honey as a gift and had presumably been consuming it for years before the other characters interfered.
    • The Earthbound in the one-shot of the same name are revealed to be trapped by guilt over crimes they committed.
  • Astral Projection:
    • Possible subversion in "Dead Man Calling". The "ghost" of a criminal sentenced to death visits the home of his only living victims every night, begging for forgiveness. On the night when his sentence is carried out, the "ghost" stops appearing.
    • The tree in "Splatter Film" either teleports or projects its branches to attack whoever it catches eating the honey made from its nectar.
    • "The Ghost of Golden Time" centers on an unfunny stand-up duo becoming famous by astrally projecting to tickle the audience and make them all laugh hysterically. They also tickle the protagonist's friend to death because the protagonist could see spirits and guessed their secret.
    • A Paradoxical Night stone in Black Paradox will unleash the soul it contains if hit hard enough.
  • Author Appeal: Unnatural beauty, disgusting tongues, and unusual hair play several roles in his work, and Ito really likes themes of obsession and compulsion, with the two corruptions of human behavior appearing in most of his stories.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: You can usually get a good idea of who's going to be a nice person/protagonist just by looking at them. However, it is also equally obvious what the character is like if their "beauty" goes a tad over the top.
    • If a character's role in the story shifts at all, there's usually a corresponding shift in appearance. In "Secret of the Haunted Mansion", Koichi appears to de-age (facially, at least) several decades after regaining his sanity and breaking free from Souchi's control.
    • Inverted in "Dying Young". Girls catch a disease which makes them extraordinarily pretty, but kills them soon after. A rumor is then spread that killing another girl on a certain date will stave off death, driving the surviving girls into a mania, desperate to stay alive.
    • Subverted in "Army of One" (the short story at the end of Hellstar Remina), where the protagonist's crush was revealed to have stitched her parents together. Whether she became afflicted with the sewing madness by her loneliness and despair, or was one of the parties responsible for the incidents, is left unanswered.
    • Averted in "Ice Cream Bus": The bus looks normal and the driver is handsome, but children are slowly turned into ice cream after they ride the bus.
    • Inverted in "Memories": The protagonist has lost her memories of her childhood. Although beautiful, she has just one memory of herself with a hideous/deformed face, and is terrified of returning to that state. She eventually learns that her memory is of her twin sister, whom she murdered out of terror of becoming ugly like her sister.
    • Tomie is perhaps one of the biggest subversions of this trope. She is unbelievably beautiful and desirable but also vain, cold, cruel, selfish, chaotic, and enjoys tormenting people by making them become obsessed with her and then ignoring them.
    • The Bizarre Hikizuri Siblings subvert this. Narumi is set up as an innocent girl being put upon by her fiendish and bizarre siblings, and is pretty... but she turns out to be selfish, spiteful, manipulative, and incapable of really caring about others. The actual good one of the family is Hitoshi, who is corpse-like, with sunken, bag-plagued eyes, a slouch, and a drawn face with an overly long chin, resembling a somewhat more normal version of his older brother Kazuya. He does turn into a cute kid for about a panel when we first find this out, but after that he's right back to being just mildly less unsettling than most of his siblings.
    • Averted with "The Back Alley" as it turns out that the normally/mildly attractively drawn Shinobu is the one responsible for the murders in the titular alley.
    • Played with in "Junji Ito's Snow White". This trope applies between Snow White and the queen, but not between the queen and everyone else: Snow White is totally innocent, and regarded as more beautiful than the queen; At the same time, the queen is more beautiful than everybody who isn't Snow White, despite being an absolutely horrible person.
    • In Lovesick Dead, the frighteningly influential Pretty Boy of the town crossroads is called that for a reason, but he does no good for anybody.
  • Bedtime Brainwashing: Featured in "The Gift-Bearer" and "The Town Without Streets".
  • Bishōnen:
    • Given they at least look like normal humans, male characters are usually good-looking, but some are more feminine or attractively drawn. Not hard to understand, considering that many of Ito's works were originally published in Shojo horror magazines.
    • Lovesick Dead invokes this, as it has two characters referred to as "bishounen" by others: the Intersection's Pretty Boy and Ryuusuke, the "White-Clothed Pretty Boy".
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Misaki in "Anything But a Ghost", Shinobu in "Back Alley", Satoko in "Orphan Girl" to name but a few. Tomie very often starts out as one of these.
  • Bittersweet Ending: If you're lucky.
    • Lovesick Dead. Ryuusuke ultimately dies without protecting those he cares about or stopping the Intersection Pretty Boy, but the ending implies that he's actually become the Pretty Boy's Good Counterpart who can oppose him on his own level.
    • "Red Turtleneck". Tomio manages to break the curse and save himself from dying from decapitation, but it leaves him traumatized by the whole experience, to say the least.
    • "Back Alley". Shinobu kills Ishida but becomes trapped in the alley and is left helpless as the ghosts of her victims come out for revenge.
    • "Marionette Mansion". Haruhiko saves his sister and destroys Jean-Pierre but his girlfriend is killed and it's revealed that Yukihiko and his family have become marionettes.
    • In "Shiver", Yuji witnesses Hideo succumb to the curse of the jade statue, being warned by him that the doctor is really a servant. Hideo's body is later found with the statue missing, but Rina seems to be finally free from the curse with her body apparenly back to normal.
  • Black Comedy:
    • Creepy as they are, his stories often venture into this territory by virtue of their sheer over-the-top nature (for example: The entire premise of "Splatter Film" is about a tree that can literally squash you flat from across the globe). See also: Uzumaki's human jack-in-the-box and the continuing misadventures of Soichi Tsuji.
    • "Ghost Heights Managment Association" is this, being a slice-of-life apartment community story featuring ghoulish residents and their supernatural problems, while the new guy, a normal human assigned the role of manager, tries to get his work done in peace.
  • Body Horror: His work essentially runs on this trope.
    • In "Hell'o Dollies", doll's disease is turning children into dolls. And that's before things go From Bad to Worse.
    • To say nothing of "Flesh-Colored Horror"...when we see what Chikara's mother's idea of "beauty" is.
    • Uzumaki
    • "The Enigma of Amigara Fault" has this occurring to the people who get stuck in the holes on the fault.
    • Tomie runs on this. When you kill her, each part becomes a new Tomie. You get to watch her body slowly reform over the course of weeks. Also, the only way to kill Tomie is to burn her entirely. Any parts left are still alive and capable of speech!
    • In "Ribs Woman", the titular character is an unstable patient whose repeated rib-removal surgeries left her with a mass of wires, and then, later patients' removed ribs, replacing those she had lost.
    • In "Children of the Earth", some kids are found buried to their waists in the soil after going missing. When their parents try to pull them out, they discover that their bodies don't end, before what seem to be the children get sucked into the ground completely and disappear.
    • "Layers of Fear" has a girl who, by means of a curse, is not structured like a normal human, but is composed of layers of her past selves, new ones growing over the older ones. When she has an accident and this is discovered, her overbearing mother goes too far and tries to peel off the layers to restore her to her two-year-old self. Yeah, it turns out that growing changes your proportions, messing up the structure of past layers, and when she regrows them, one can only imagine from the shadowed back view how horrific she looks.
  • Came Back Wrong:
    • Soichi's grandfather in "Coffin" and Shibayama in "The Supernatural Transfer Student".
    • Technically, Reimi in "Layers of Fear", both mentally and physically, and in regards to both an attempt at de-aging her and in her recovery from that incident, as both are failures to return her to a desired prior state. Both turn out badly because her unusual layered structure doesn't disregard the proportional factors of growing up, getting an unexpectedly twisted body when trying to peel off layers to de-age her. However, she comes back wrong in regards to being an adult again, too, as she has to live with that altered structure as a new base for growing layers again, while now stuck with the younger mind of her two-year-old self.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin':
    • "Drifting Spores" features little fuzzballs in the air which repeat recent conversations in their vicinity, making it impossible for some characters' unsavory choices and thoughts to be secrets.
    • Characters cheating on their wives/girlfriends will suffer horrific consequences as a result, such as Shigeru in "Anything But a Ghost" and Tomio in "Red Turtleneck".
  • Cassandra Truth: Frequently, the horror will go unnoticed by all but the protagonist, leaving their claims doubted. However, the protagonist is usually proven right once things go far enough for the others to notice, though this is often when it's too late to do anything about it.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: His stories hardly ever have a corporeal villain or a clear explanation for why horrible things are happening to people; instead, the source of everyone's misfortunes will be some unknowable, untouchable, faceless force like the spiral in Uzumaki or the titular enigmatic fault at Amigara.
  • Creepy Cemetery: This setting is sometimes featured, and played for additional horror in context— Japan rarely practices burial, so the notion of whole corpses interred in the ground is seen as very bizarre and disgusting.
  • Creepy Child: Often featured, with the most frequent case being Soichi.
  • Cute Monster Girl: "Cute" isn't exactly the right word, and they don't stay good-looking for long if they might qualify, but...
    • One that you could say is cute is the younger daughter from "Layers of Fear", especially her two-year-old face layer.
    • The Female Wretch from Frankenstein is rather-good looking for being made of stolen parts but even she still looks rather off, owing to the new creature using Justine Moritz's head, provided by the monster.
  • Daddy's Girl: Riko in "Gentle Goodbye" is probably the best example. Miho in "Heart of a Father" is one until her father starts turning against her. Also Mizusu from "Approval", whose father lies and uses a man for years just to be able to see her spirit.
  • Darker and Edgier: His adaptation of Edogawa Ranpo's "The Human Chair", which is about an author reading a letter that gradually reveals that the man who wrote it is a stalker who's been concealing himself inside of her sofa. In the original story, the twist is that there never was a man in the sofa and it's a story he's written for her to critique. In Ito's version? Nope, he's really in there.
  • Dead All Along: A twist that features in "A Deserter in the House", "Gentle Goodbye", and "Mold".
  • Death by Irony: "Fashion Model: Cursed Frame" features a model with the eccentricity of being very uncomfortable when any part of her body is cut out of frame in her photographs. When she accidentally crosses another model who happens to be our dear friend Fuchi, she is found lying dead in a tape square on the ground, with the parts that fell outside the frame having been torn off by Fuchi's teeth before going missing.
  • Destination Host Unreachable: In "The Return", a dying woman swears she will come back to her lover. After her death, he begins to sense her presence, and ultimately she does come back... riding with a meteorite, charred to the bone by the impact, with only her engagement ring identifying her. How she got into space to begin with is left a mystery, and of course, the reunion is rendered null by the means of her return.
  • Determinator: Saiko in "The Town Without Streets" and Tomou in "Red String" don't let the horror get in their way.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: Few of the horrific beings who show up in Ito's works have known backstories or match any creatures from myth or legend... which makes them all the more TERRIFYING. Compare a horror story where the villain is a vampire: the tension only lasts until the characters deduce which of the stock vampiric weaknesses apply in this 'verse. But if the villain's a planet-eating abomination from the another dimension? A cliffside full of people-shaped holes? The very concept of the spiral shape itself?
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • A rather literal case of a cat biting back. Soichi curses the family cat, Colin, and lives to regret it.
    • Chikara from "Flesh-Colored Horror" gets back at his psycho mom by dissolving her removed skin (which she wears like a suit) with acid and then tearing apart her leg muscles, dooming her to eventually mummify.
    • In one of the "Bizarre Hikizuri Siblings" stories, the badly abused and mistreated Hitoshi manages to get back at his siblings by summoning the terrifying ectoplasmic form of their father from his mouth. He's completely oblivious.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Consistently averted across his works, with obsessive, predatory and abusive behavior from both men and women often featuring yet being constantly portrayed as a serious problem on both ends.
  • Downer Ending: The number of his stories that don't end with either the protagonist being dead or doomed, an all-consuming destructive apocalypse, or a combination of the two, can be counted on one hand.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Lovesick Dead is based around girls being compelled to commit suicide after meeting a mysterious man at intersections.
    • The premise of Black Paradox is strange events happening after four people meet over the internet to arrange a group suicide.
    • Horribly subverted in "Hanging Blimp", where the apparent suicides early in the story are revealed to have been caused by something much more surreal and terrifying. What's really causing the deaths are giant flying balloon-like heads with nooses hanging from them, bent on hanging their facial matches.
    • Other examples include Yuina in "Anything But a Ghost", Masao in "Drifting Spores", Furukawa in "A Deserter in the House", the two sons and the father in "Heart of a Father", and both Morimoto and the protagonist in "The Devil's Logic". Tomie's adoptive mother killed herself in one story, as well.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: The only difference between Ito's male and female protagonists, appearance wise, is that the guys sometimes have a longer face than the girls. This is seemingly addressed in his post-return works (Fragments of Horror onward), with his male leads having more variety and realism in their facial designs.
  • Ear Worm:
    • A particularly malevolent in-universe version serves as the supernatural menace of the day in "Songs In The Dark".
    • In "Used Record", people get obsessed with a song to the point of killing others just to get their hands on the record.
  • The Eeyore: Piitan in Black Paradox (and subsequently the Piitan robot, even more so than the original.)
  • Eldritch Abomination: When the abominations aren't humanoid, anyway.
  • Eldritch Location:
    • The house in "Wooden Spirit" becomes impossibly warped and mutated after a woman's love for it goes a little too far.
    • In "Ryokan", the hot spring inside the inn seems to be a literal portal to Hell.
  • Enfant Terrible: Evil children are abound, even more so than just your standard Creepy Child.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: What many folks learn when they try to bend the various malignant forces in the stories to their own purposes. In Soichi's case, repeatedly.
  • Fan Disservice: If there's nudity or skimpy clothing in his works, don't expect it to be played for titillation.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: The protagonist of "Ghost Heights Management Association" is in an apartment complex full of monsters and the undead, but takes nearly until the end of the one-shot to realize it, even though it's obvious by the second page. Why? He doesn't believe in ghosts.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In "Ribs Woman", the doctor who offers rib-removal cosmetic surgery mentions that the psychological well-being of patients is important, since unstable patients can take badly to the surgeries. Later, we see the case that likely prompted that speech.
    • The dialogue in the car ride at the beginning of "Layers of Fear" hints at the bizarre physical and psychological aspects of the sisters' unusual conditions.
      • Later, the MRI image of Reimi's structure shows how stretched and distorted the inner layers' necks have become — a subtle touch that the reader is likely to overlook the first time around, but one that indicates the flaw in Reimi's mother's plan long before the grotesque Reveal.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: "Junji Ito's Snow White". Let's just say that Ito somehow managed to turn a classic, child-friendly fairy tale into an all-out horror story. Then again, the story wasn't all that innocent in its early days, either.
  • Genius Loci:
    • Ito writes about a few of these, including the Spiral City under Kurozu-cho in Uzumaki and the titular town in "The Blood Sickness of White Sands Village", which has a subterranean heart pumping blood for all of its residents.
    • The tree in "Splatter Film" also counts.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry:
    • In "The Will", the two sisters get along horribly due to what one sees as preferential treatment to the other.
    • Subverted in "Layers of Fear". While Narumi resents the amount of doting attention her sister Reimi has received all her life, she is well aware that it's all her mother's fault, and she bears no grudge against Reimi, showing love and concern for her throughout the story.
  • Grossout Show: Things get nasty in Ito's artwork, and often in familiarly disgusting ways.
  • Hellgate:
    • In "Ryokan", an inn turns into one when the proprietor digs too far for a hot spring.
    • The titular entity of Hellstar Remina also apparently emerged from one, first presented as a wormhole in space.
  • Hikikomori: The main character in "Army of One", and Tomio in "Futon".
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: While the supernatural evils in his stories are often invincible, his nasty human characters are usually undone by their own actions.
  • Humanoid Abomination: His smaller-scale horrors tend to be these.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: These sometimes occur.
  • Idiot Plotinvoked: He frequently does this intentionally, and plays it for horror. The people in his works quite often do not act, by any stretch of the imagination, like real people, and this quite frequently seals their doom and ruins any chances they might have to escape their gruesome fate. Sometimes their Weirdness Censors go into total overdrive and cause The Cassandra to remain the Cassandra to people who have previously been direct witnesses to as many as three separate instances of the supernatural craziness he regularly warns people about, and other times they turn a young lady into an overnight celebrity over something as trivial as having a celestial body named after them, and then, when that celestial body turns out to be a world-devouring Eldritch Abomination, proceed to attempt to kill that woman in the insane belief that because it was named after her, killing her will somehow stop it.
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    • Soichi's potential son.
    • And the mother of that son, who eventually eats Soichi for trying to run away from her.
    • Also all the customers at the Greasy Restaurant in "Greased", after Yui and her father kill her brother.
    • A weird subversion in "Anything But A Ghost". Misaki doesn't eat people... she eats ghosts. And they bleed.
    • Fuchi is a petty monster-woman who resorts to eating when people bother her.
    • In "She is a Slow Walker" the protagonist eats a zombie. His girlfriend, in fact, whose motion was so slow he gave up trying to evade her and turned the tables, becoming a super-fast zombie afterward.
  • I'm Having Soul Pains: The horrific entity in "Phantom Mansion" is literal phantom pain that likes to latch onto people.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted, since it is horror, after all. Cases of this aversion include "Village of Sirens" "The Story of the Mysterious Tunnel", and "The Seashore" in Mimi's Ghost Stories.
  • Jump Scare: Ito has arguably perfected the manga equivalent of this in a technique that has been referred to as the "page-turn". Basically, this refers to his practice of devoting his most detailed and terrifying "reveal" images to large panels and full-page spreads after the turn of a calmer page. The effect is that it shocks the reader turning the page with their sudden, unforgiving horrific imagery. It has been noted by fans that this is particularly effective because the viewer controls their own startle by turning the page themselves, thus being technically responsible for exposing themselves to these frightening images, and keeping them even more on edge while reading after seeing a scary page-turn, becoming worried about future ones.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • Junji Ito's Cat Diary Yon and Mu compared to the rest of his works.
    • Pretty much all of the works involving Soichi and the Tsujii family after "Mystery of the Haunted Mansion". The first story portrayed Soichi as an outright murderer with his family as a group of emaciated slaves, while the subsequent stories are mostly Black Comedies where nobody really dies and Soichi is more of a quirky neighborhood menace than an outright villain.
    • "Ghost Heights Management Association" also tends more toward black comedy, and the protagonist, Shougo Yanagida, seems pretty happy in the end. Even if he does end up as an undead monster.
    • "Scarecrows", at least compared to the rest of the stories in the anthology series. The scarecrows are just disturbing, not actively trying to kill someone. The one person who dies had killed a child before the story started. Another man's fate is left ambiguous.
    • Ito's work for the Pokémon franchise is this for him, although it's considerably Darker and Edgier than most of the scenes depicted in other canonical works. The scenes don't feature as much overt creepiness or violence as most of the author's artwork, although the image of Gengar does include an attack on an apparently defenseless person, while the drawing of Banette has deeply disturbing implications when the Pokemon's canonical backstory is considered. The former is more of a mean-spirited prank, but given that Banette is abandoned and vengeful, the child in its panel is likely to be in more serious danger.
    • It seems that he will usually have one story in every anthology book that focuses on drama and is more character-driven with a supernatural element as a plot device as opposed to the main story. "Gentle Goodbye", "Heart of A Father", "Approval", "The Giftbearer" are easily the most obvious examples while "Dead Man Calling", "The Long Dream" and "Memories" focus equally on both sides.
    • Then there's "A Shit to Remember", which turns out to be an outright comedy with no horror or supernatural elements whatsoever.
  • Karma Houdini: The vast majority of Ito's horrors are untouchable, and the humanoid incarnations and carriers of them often suffer no consequences for their actions.
  • Medical Horror: Occasionally features in his work.
    • Two chapters of Uzumaki focus on a maternity ward being horribly twisted after spiraling mosquitoes bite pregnant patients.
    • "The Conversation Room" sees opposing sides of a car crash ending up in a hospital ward with unusual patients who do not eat and share dreams.
    • "Ribs Woman" features ill-advised plastic surgery procedures as the cause for its horrors.
    • "Dissection-chan" festures a woman obsessed with being cut open, leaving a nasty surprise once she gets her wish at her autopsy.
  • Monster Sob Story: To varying degrees. While the antagonists of his stories are often Eldritch Abominations or worse, there is the occasional antagonist who has more sympathetic motives.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family:
    • Ms. Fuchi in "Fashion Model". Binzo Tsujii, her possible future son with Soichi, has even more of them.
    • "Layers of Fear" has this for the two daughters, but not played for a threat. Each row of teeth belonged to a past "layer" of the daughters, who are by curse structured like nesting dolls whose past selves are grown over by new layers of their bodies.
  • Mouth Full of Smokes: One of the residents in "Ghost Heights Management Association" has a mouth crammed with cigarettes, and the smoke billows out through holes in his body. After a brief conflict, he resolves to stop.
  • New Transfer Student: The title character of "The Supernatural Transfer Student" is one, and Yuuma in Dissolving Classroom spends the first chapter as one.
  • Nightmare Face: Unsurprisingly, this is very common in his stories.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Ito himself is a pretty clear example.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Mostly averted, as Junji Ito seems to enjoy depicting extreme Body Horror. "The Seashore" from Mimi's Ghost Stories, however, has a straight example. The photographs taken at the story's haunted beach are deeply disturbing, but some (depicting a waitress) are so frightening that the man who develops them destroys them immediately, leaving the reader to only imagine what they must have depicted.
  • One Name Only: In none of her appearances is Fuchi ever declared with an honorific or a second name, so its unclear status seems to be a case of this.
  • One Steve Limit: Significant characters in his longer works or recurring characters tend to have unique names out of all of his stories, but in his one-shots, the same names tend to pop up again from time to time.
  • Only Sane Man: A few of these, including Tsukiko in volume one of Tomie (and Yasuko in Tomie: Again). Koichi or Michina usually take the role in Soichi stories.
  • Only Six Faces:
    • Particularly noticeable in his short stories. The character designs used for Kirie and Shuichi from Uzumaki appear all over the place with different hairstyles. Less savory characters tend to have more unique facial designs. This trope seems to be enforced in the case of Magami Nanakuse, whose face is notably different from Ito's other women...because she's not a woman; at least, not biologically.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Uzumakinote , "Bio House"note , "Blood-Sucking Darkness"note  and "Blood-Bubble Bushes"note  all have different takes on vampirism. "The Blood Sickness of White Sands Village" features a particularly unusual example in the form of a vampiric Genius Loci.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Discussed before becoming a plot point in "She is a Slow Walker", specifically on whether Romero-style slow zombies are scarier than zombies that can run.
  • Overly Long Tongue: A recurring feature of various characters in his works—and never a good sign. The monster in "The Licking Woman", one of his one-shots, is an Overly-Long Tongue.
  • Perspective Flip: The original "The Human Chair" story was an old story by Edogawa Rampo told from the person inside the chair. Ito's version flips the perspective to the person who sits on the chair.
  • Planet Eater: Hellstar Remina is centered around one named after its discoverer's daughter.
  • Posthumous Narration: Averted. Reflective narrators are either at the brink of destruction or...some other state of existence when they recount their stories.
  • Prehensile Hair: Twice subverted, with the the hair having a mind of own.
    • In Uzumaki, the spiral latches onto hair and mesmerizes onlookers with its spiral patterns, draining the life of the affected to maintain its hypnotic swirls, and the hair is capable of fighting as well.
    • In "The Long Hair in the Attic", a girl's hair is the only thing controlling itself, and it doesn't take kindly to being cut.
  • Rule of Scary: Applied liberally, in much the same way as other writers would use the Rule of Cool.
  • Scary Stitches: "Army of One" is about mass murders that result in the stitching-together of the victims' corpses. These also feature on Souichi's cloth mannequins which he uses to replace people, and on the monsters in his take on Frankenstein.
  • Scary Teeth: A great deal of Ito's monsters have them.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: More of Ito's protagonists do this than many horror characters. It's essentially Saiko's M.O. in "The Town Without Streets".
  • Self-Deprecation: Ito occasionally appears in the afterwords of manga volumes, looking just as creepy and unhealthy as any of the deranged humans in his work.
  • Self-Parody: Ito actually managed to draw a pet diary once (twice if you include the short Dog Diary he would later go on to write). Needless to say, his fiancee wasn't amused when she became the equivalent of his signature scary woman with Prophet Eyes.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: The final page in "Layers of Fear" set several years in the future, where the main protagonist relates that her sister Reimi has begun to regain the layers that were torn off by her mother. However, the natural alteration of her older layers have given her a different base for growing than she had originally, and the audience only gets a shadowed back shot of Reimi's disturbingly elongated and textured body.
  • Something Completely Different: "The Bully" has no overtly supernatural elements, no gore or deaths, and very few outright Nightmare Face moments. It's more or less grounded in reality in comparison to most of his stories, but that doesn't make its ending any less disturbing.
    • His cat diary counts too, of course.
  • Stalker with a Crush: "The Human Chair" shows how far someone will go to be close to their object of desire.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Featured in one chapter of Uzumaki and in the short story "Valley of Mirrors".
  • Statuesque Stunner: Subverted with Fuchi. While she's a professional model and around eight feet tall at the least (the Souichi stories show her even larger), she's no beauty.
  • Surreal Horror: A lot of the stories are weird first and scary second.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: Hellstar Remina is about a planet doing this.
  • Taken for Granite:
    • In "Gravetown", the residents transform into gravemarkers when they die. But when the process is disturbed by moving the dead from the exact location of their death, they transform irregularly into hideous corpses riddled with jagged stone growths.
    • Invoked in "The Earthbound", in which living people attach themselves to a certain spot, totally unmoving, bound in place by guilt for crimes. Eventually, they harden to the point of being able to break like stone.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Souichi is a plump, spoiled sadistic kid with awesome paranormal powers, usually employed to be little more than a pest and a nuisance with delusions of grandeur, always caught and punished by his family. However, in time with his powers increasing, he becomes a sharply dressed businessman, the owner of an haunted mansion where he enacts his revenge over his cursed parents and siblings and keeps his cannibalistic son with a demoness. He's not actually any better at avoiding gruesome and humiliating consequences for forgetting that Evil Is Not a Toy, though — we're actually introduced to this version of Souichi before the child version, and those two stories kick off his long tradition of gruesome and humiliating defeats. But... it turns out to be Soichi's dream as a child, and is yet another blow to him since it causes him to oversleep and miss out on playing outside.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: A favorite setting for Junji Ito. Outside of the town of Kurozu-cho featured in Uzumaki, there's also the titular small town from "The Blood Sickness of White Sands Village" and the community from "The Town Without Streets", among others.
  • World of Symbolism: His surreal horror can actually be seen as a vehicle for commentary and meaning. In particular, a lot of Ito's stories can be read as criticism of Japanese societal norms. For example, Gyo is about the atrocities of World War II (such as the human experimentation in Unit 731) that Japan has yet to apologize for, and Hellstar Remina is about Japan's dangerously exploitative pop-idol culture.
  • Writer on Board: The protagonist of "Ghost Heights Management Association" is a horror mangaka beleaguered by the stress of his work intersecting with his other duties and definitely isn't a means for Ito to rant about his own job. Ito himself has also been a member of a town council, so that most definitely plays into it.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The mother in "Layers of Fear" discovers that though it worked on the head, peeling off her daughter's nested layers does not exactly restore her perfectly to her two-year-body. So she decides "that one's ruined" and plans to take advantage of the family curse that caused it, peeling off her own layers to the age she gave birth to her daughter so she can have her again and be a mother of a needy baby once more. Insanity of the idea aside, the problem turns out to be that she didn't have the curse.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: If any chapter featuring Soichi seems to end with him happy and successful, it's the first part of a story that eventually ends badly for him—not that the reader usually ends up feeling any sympathy, though.
  • Youkai: Not as often as you might think, since he rarely uses existing monster concepts in his stories. There are exceptions, though—for example, the title character of "Blackbird" may be a Tengu.
  • You Are Worth Hell:
    • In "Den of the Sleep Demon", Mari stays with her boyfriend, even risking destruction by his supernatural problem to do so.
    • Through all the events of Uzumaki, not once do Kirie and Shuichi question their love for one another, or consider abandoning each other. Shuichi even decided to stay in the town just to be with Kirie, despite knowing something was wrong since the very beginning.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The setting of "She is a Slow Walker". Gyo arguably counts too.

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