Junji Ito is a world-famous horror mangaka whose works have been translated into various languages around the globe, including English. Many of them have also been adapted into other media, such as live-action film and television, as well as an anime series called Junji Ito Collection, which is also available in English.
Within the Junji Ito Collection anime, fans will instantly recognize manga-favorite characters like Tomie and Souichi Tsujii, along with popular stories such as Fashion Model, Marionette Mansion and Boy at the Crossroads to name a few. The anime also features stories adapted from manga that are not yet available in English. Here's what those are, and what the chances are that we’ll see them in future US prints of Junji Ito: Story Collection.
Souichi’s Convenient Curse/Cloth Teacher/Rumors
For a character who's highly prominent in many of Ito's works, it's surprising how little of Souichi Tsujii's stories have actually made it into the English market. As of this writing, Souichi only appears in three stories featured in the English version of Smashed, part of Viz Media's Junji Ito: Story Collection series. Two of the stories depict him as an adult in a possible future while only a single story features the iconic 11-year-old prankster he really is. Luckily, the Junji Ito Collection anime treats fans to three more of his famous stories not yet available in the US manga market.
The first of these is "Souichi's Convenient Curse" in which he decides to curse a few of his classmates for kicks and giggles. Viewers are introduced to a mischievous 11-year-old boy who thinks of himself as brilliant, clever and handsome, which contradicts his classmates' opinion of him being a weirdo. Souichi similarly has a low opinion of his family -- especially his two siblings Kouichi and Sayuri -- though he enjoys mercilessly teasing Sayuri. His favorite pastime, however, is inflicting curses on people using dolls.
Souichi's first curse victim is a boy from school to whom he gives stomach pain by nailing his doll to a tree. He later inflicts a second curse that causes another classmate to hibernate like a toad in the woods, though it doesn't quite go as planned since the boy is discovered and hospitalized. Souichi then decides to scare another classmate he doesn't like by inflicting a spider curse while said classmate is in the bathroom. "Souichi's Convenient Curse" ends with him attempting to scare another classmate by dressing as an insect-like monster, though he unwittingly falls victim to his own prank.
In Junji Ito Collection's other two Souichi-based episodes -- "Cloth Teacher" and "Rumors" -- the prankster continues his affinity for inflicting childish curses. In "Cloth Teacher," he creates puppet versions of two of his teachers for his own amusement but also inflicts a curse on another classmate he dislikes by giving him facial hair. He later makes a puppet version of that same classmate to run around naked as payback for pulling down his pants and exposing his rear. In "Rumors," Souichi doesn't inflict any curses but starts rumors about himself as a way of getting his classmates to notice him. One rumor, however, ends badly when his attempt at pranking a female classmate causes him to run into Fuchi, another recurring character in Ito's stories.
Slug Girl/Hell Doll Funeral/Scarecrow
"Slug Girl" is another popular Junji Ito story that surprisingly hasn't seen a US manga release. The anime episode featured in Junji Ito Collection is certainly among the creepiest. A girl named Yuuko mysteriously starts transforming into a slug, seemingly as part of a curse that begins when her father mercilessly kills slugs in their backyard. Her parents attempt to get her back to normal by giving her a saltwater bath, though this plan backfires as her body (minus her head) shrinks. The slug isn't killed but ends up using Yuuko's head as a shell, effectively turning the girl into a giant snail.
"Hell Doll Funeral" is about another weird transformation -- this time, a girl named Marie mysteriously turns into a doll. It is not explained this is happening, but it is known that children who become dolls get buried by their parents. Marie's parents, however, decide to keep her post-transformation, only to find out the hard way why they needed to bury her in the first place. It turns out children who become dolls don't remain in that state. Instead, they continue transforming until they become hideous monsters.
"Scarecrow" is the last transformation-centric story in Junji Ito Collection anime that hasn't seen a US manga release. In contrast with the other two stories -- where the victims undergo weird transformations while they're still alive -- "Scarecrow" has the transformations occur after the victims have died. In the story, a grieving father places a scarecrow over the grave of his deceased daughter, only for the scarecrow to take on her likeness. This causes the father to think his daughter has come back to life. Before long, other townspeople begin planting scarecrows over the graves of deceased loved ones as well.
The Ongoing Tale of Oshikiri/The Supernatural Transfer Student
Of the Junji Ito stories that deal with the concept of parallel universes, "The Ongoing Tale of Oshikiri" is one of the few that hasn't made its way to the US. A high school boy named Oshikiri lives in a house where he encounters parallel versions of people he knows. During one of these encounters, a parallel version of himself abducts a female classmate in order to conduct inhumane experiments on her.
"The Supernatural Transfer Student" concerns a mysterious high school boy named Ryou Tsukano who causes weird phenomena in the new town he moves to. Having joined his school's Supernatural Club, Tsukano keeps "finding" strange new things that didn't originally exist in the town -- eyeball flowers growing on school grounds and a mysterious waterfall that gives people superpowers. In one case, a whole construction site got turned into a lake containing a dinosaur, and another neighborhood was replaced with the Easter Island statues. Once Tsukano transfers again to a new school, the town goes back to normal.
The Window Next Door/The Circus Comes to Town
"The Window Next Door" is one of the more spine-chilling stories in Junji Ito Collection that surprisingly hasn't been printed in the US. Having moved into a new home, a boy quickly learns an unnerving truth about the house next door. Not only is it windowless except on one side of the house, but the sole window is right across from his bedroom. The only thing worse than being next to a house with one single window is the creepy neighbor who resides in that very room. Having developed an obsession with the boy, the creepy next-door neighbor somehow manages to "grow" the window closer to the boy's, effectively making it easier to make an unwelcome bedroom visit.
"The Circus Comes to Town" likewise falls somewhere between strange and downright terrifying. A mysterious circus arrives in a small town to the surprise of one enthusiastic boy, who decides to pay a visit. Having developed a crush on a female performer named Lelia, the boy attends the circus expecting to have a good time -- only to get more than he bargained for. With the exception of Lelia, every single performer is killed while performing their act. Lelia then reveals that the ringmaster may not actually be human, but a shinigami who purposely sends people to their deaths in order to collect their souls.
Town of No Roads/Blood-Bubble Bushes/Bridge
"Town of No Roads" is a classic Junji Ito story to file as creepy and terrifying. After feeling fed up with the lack of privacy in her own home, a girl decides to move in with her favorite aunt. The only problem is, her aunt lives in a strange neighborhood completely enclosed in a building that cannot be accessed by road. Once inside, the girl quickly learns the residents all wear masks and peep on each other, which is worse than her situation at home. If that isn't bad enough, the neighborhood is also home to a serial killer who calls himself Jack the Ripper.
"Blood-Bubble Bushes" is set in another creepy town populated by terrifying residents. After their car breaks down on an isolated road, a couple walks to a nearby town to call for assistance. When they arrive, they are first greeted by strange children with an insatiable hunger for blood, but that's not even the worst part. The town itself is completely devoid of life, save for one man who offers them a place to stay for the night. When the male partner explores the house, however, he quickly discovers the townspeople's horrifying fate.
"Bridge" is perhaps the saddest story in the entire Junji Ito Collection anime that has yet to come to the West. Nearing her end of days, an elderly woman named Osode invites her granddaughter, Kanako, over to her village where she is the sole surviving resident. Once there, Kanako is greeted by the ghost of her great-uncle, who is waiting for her grandmother to pass on.
Inside her home, Osode tells Kanako about her old village tradition of sending the bodies of the dead down the river to be disposed of. Aiming to buck that tradition, she requests Kanako to bury her body in the ground when she dies. However, Kanako wakes up in her car realizing she dreamt the entire visit. Upon actually arriving, she is too late to stop the village ghosts from carrying on the river funeral tradition with her grandmother's body.