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Manga / The Enigma of Amigara Fault

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"This hole...! It was made for me!"

A short horror manga story by Junji Ito. A boy named Owaki, and a girl, Yoshida, meet on Amigara Mountain, where an unsettling discovery has been made. An earthquake has created a huge fault in the mountain, and human-shaped holes are scattered across the face of the fault line. It soon becomes clear that the holes are "calling" to the people they are shaped like. So what happens when they enter the hole? Well, you can be sure that massive amounts of claustrophobia and Nightmare Fuel are involved.

The story was originally printed as a bonus one-shot alongside his fish-zombie-apocalypse manga Gyo, and was reprinted in the short story collection Venus in the Blind Spot.

This manga provides examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: The walls are patterned so that you can only move forward. And then there's what happens after you get to the other side...
  • Body Horror: Put together human-shaped holes on one side of a mountain and squiggly-shaped holes on the other. Then put a tunnel between them.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Owaki has one in which he is Nakagaki, some poor bastard who entered his hole.
  • Claustrophobia: The story's horror heavily draws off of this fear with its increasingly narrower holes.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: One analysis video of the story compared the compulsion to enter the hole with suicide ideation. Not helping is that Japan has some of the world's highest suicide rates.
  • Downer Ending: Owaki sees his hole after Yoshida enters hers. With a Thousand-Yard Stare, he enters, accepting the compulsion and inevitable fate. Although he survived, it was not a pretty way to go.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: Everyone who has a hole carved for them.
  • Eldritch Location: There is something seriously wrong with the fault and the holes running straight through it.
  • Fan Disservice: People usually undress in order to fit into the holes, and not all of these people are attractive. Owaki stripping to his underwear (or less, considering the fact that we only see him from the waist-up) would be fanservice if not for what will eventually happen to him.
  • Fate Worse than Death: In Owaki's dream, he is a man from a primitive tribe condemned to a hole for an unforgivable crime.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: The other end of the hole is shown to be misshapen, which leads to the discovery of the severe Fold-Spindle Mutilation of the holes' victims.
  • Fold-Spindle Mutilation: A rare case where the mutilation isn't fatal.
  • Forcibly Formed Physique: The fate of the people who go through the tunnels.
  • Genius Loci: The fault itself, or whatever roams around the fault, is implied to have some degree of sentience, as its holes are able to hypnotically draw their owners into them. People who spend the night around the fault also have dreams that hint at the fault's origins, as well as visions of the people that entered the holes.
  • Hope Spot: Owaki seems to come across a solution about the holes when Yoshida finds hers. He finds heavy stones and uses them to fill her hole. Then he stays with her in her tent, reassuring her You Are Not Alone. When he falls asleep, the compulsion takes her, and she removed all the stones to enter her hole. Oshida can't follow to rescue her because he's too big, and succumbs when he sees his hole.
  • Impact Silhouette: Inverted. The holes were already there and each one is seemingly tailor-made to resemble a specific person. Anyone who finds their hole is then compelled to enter it.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It was never explicitly said the fault was actually supernatural.
  • More than Mind Control: Once a victim sees their hole, they're compelled to enter it. Not in the mindless sense of "Must. Enter. Hole.", but in the more lucid sense of "...I don't want to do this, but I feel like I must." which actually makes the whole thing scarier.
  • Noodle People: Literally - when people enter "their" hole, they are stretched in every direction until their limbs are thin like tentacles, yet are still alive.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: What kind of horrific supernatural phenomenon is causing the holes to appear? We never get any answers. It just happens.
  • Pretty Boy: Owaki's quite the looker due to his thin facial features — enougth for Yoshida to become smitten with him despite only knowing him for around two days.
  • Primal Fear: This manages to hit isolation, darkness, the unknown, claustrophobia, and body horror all in one fell swoop.
  • Schmuck Bait: A prime in-universe example.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After the mass panic in which several people enter their holes at once, the scientists studying the end of the fault quickly cut their losses and get the hell out of there, only returning to the plot after they find the other end of the fault.
  • Shown Their Work: As per the dream, there were people in Japan as early as 50,000 BC. They also developed stone-carving technology remarkably early.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: When Yoshida is scared after showing Owaki her hole, he calms her down. Then he grabs several dozen stones and closes the hole, deliberately choosing heavy ones. He stays with her all night so that she has an incentive to not go through the hole. Sadly, it doesn't work.
  • Subterranean Sanity Failure: Exaggerated; when an earthquake uncovers a strange number of human-shaped holes in the mountain, people are immediately drawn to it, becoming inspired to fit themselves into the holes - and once inside, they cannot escape, but can only continue forwards into the depths. And even after witnessing this nightmare in action, people keep entering, the tunnels driving them to deranged obsession and inspiring terrifying nightmares in people who resist. Worse still, the nightmares reveal that the people inside are left howling in claustrophobic terror as they continue helplessly onwards, even as the tunnels get narrower and narrower. On the other side of the mountain, the exit points for the tunnels can be found; those who emerge from them have been stretched and warped into nightmarish figures.
  • Taught by Experience: After a few people enter the holes and don't come out, the government finally has the sense to close off the area during the Time Skip and ask geologists to explore the other side. It comes too late for Owaki and Yoshida, but it may have saved other lives.
  • Wham Shot:
  • Written Sound Effect: The first guy's sounds (in the Japanese version) are ズズ and ズポツ, and the protagonist's is ズ…ズ…ズ. The first two are rendered "SSLL" and "SLIP", but the last is the famous "DRR... DRR... DRR". Which, apart from being a nonexistent Japanese phoneme (it could be "ZU... SU... ZU"), this transliteration is so obtuse that people are apparently under the impression that this is the sound of the disfigured peoples' groans or their bones being bent rather than the sound of them sliding through the tunnels. These are squicky sounds, people!

"Si-Sir!! I-I see something!! It's slowly coming this way!!"
DRR... DRR... DRR...