Prepare for a spine-chilling journey into the macabre world of Japanese horror with “Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre.” This gripping anthology, released on Netflix in January 2023, brings to life Junji Ito’s acclaimed works, including “The Hanging Balloons,” “Sōichi,” and “Tomie.”
Produced by Studio Deen and directed by Shinobu Tagashira, each episode is a carefully crafted descent into the unknown, blurring the lines between reality and nightmare. As we delve into Ito’s imagination, the series beckons those with a taste for the eerie and uncanny, questioning the very fabric of reality.
Join us at TOTT as we rank the narratives from least to best, exploring the depths of horror where every shadow conceals a secret and every story is a portal to the surreal. Share your thoughts on the ratings – are we on the same page? Let the unsettling journey begin.
Table of Contents
Japanese Tales of the Macabre 2023 – 20 Stories Of The Show Ranked From Least To Best
20th Four x Four Walls EP 4
Kouichi, striving to study for exams, faces mysterious disturbances in his home, suspecting his mischievous brother Souichi. Despite no concrete evidence, Souichi claims a poltergeist is responsible. Mr. Tsujii suggests soundproofing Kouichi’s room, but the carpenter is unavailable until after exams.
Enter Mr. Tagaisu, a peculiar man sent by a construction company, insisting on four levels of insulation to “kill” the noise. Souichi disrupts the process but impresses Tagaisu with his skills, leading to an unexpected collaboration. Kouichi returns to find his room excessively sealed, reduced to a tiny space.
Amid Souichi’s hidden antics, a cricket-like noise persists. Kouichi discovers Souichi’s presence in the confined spaces, leading to a perilous chase. Souichi’s nail-trap inflicts injuries, culminating in Kouichi’s unfortunate fall into a septic tank.
19th Souichi’s Beloved Pet EP 12
The Tsujii family’s life takes a peculiar turn when they adopt a stray kitten named Coron. Souichi’s tormenting stunts lead to a scratch on his face, triggering his jealousy. Angry at the attention showered on Coron, Souichi casts a curse, unleashing a mysterious static crackle.
Sayuri catches Souichi using a dead snake as a cat toy, warning of a curse. However, they discover Colin chewing on the snake, leading to a strange turn of events. Coron transforms into a snake-hunting, insect-eating feline, causing chaos in the household.
Souichi believes Coron brought an abomination from hell as a present, and the family is forced to keep her indoors. The curse intensifies, culminating in a surge of electricity that electrocutes Souichi. Mistaken by neighbors as a lightning strike, Coron returns to her lovable self, while Souichi is left seriously injured and immobile.
18th Library of Illusions EP 6
Koko Shinozaki lives with her husband Goro in a mansion filled with a vast book collection. Goro is obsessively protective of the library, fearing something will happen to it. Koko discovers that Goro’s paranoia is rooted in a traumatic past, involving his mother leaving the family and his father’s descent into insanity.
Goro believes that books can come to life, and after encountering ghostly manifestations of his parents’ favorite books, he memorizes the stories to make the ghosts disappear. In an attempt to break the curse, Koko burns down the house, leading to Goro’s tragic death as he refuses to abandon the library.
17th The Bizarre Hikizuri Siblings: The Seance EP 1
Kazuya, part of the Hikizuri family, encounters Sachiyo at a pond and invites her to his supposedly haunted home. Jealous of his brother Shigorou’s attention towards Sachiyo, Kazuya suggests a seance to allow Misako, struggling since their parent’s death, to communicate with their spirits.
During the seance, Shigorou appears possessed by their father, Gouzou, who accuses Kazuya of lying about work. An angry Kazuya smashes Gouzou’s gravestone. Shigorou, now claiming psychic powers, plans another seance. However, Sawano, Sachiyo’s boyfriend and a physicist, exposes the ectoplasm as udon flour.
The siblings confront Shigorou, leading to Hitoshi releasing real ectoplasm in the form of their father’s spirit. The terrified family witnesses Gouzou’s ghost before it disappears, leaving Hitoshi puzzled about the events.
16th Ice Cream Bus EP 2
Sonohara moves to a new town with his son Tomoki and encounters an ice cream bus that offers free ice cream to neighborhood kids. Sonohara refuses to let Tomoki eat ice cream, but the other kids do. Tomoki becomes closer to the kids and refuses to eat his father’s food. Sonohara is suspicious of the bus driver’s generosity. And the kids eat from a large ice cream mountain.
Tomoki becomes sticky and refuses to bathe. When Sonohara returns home, he finds the hallway covered in sticky goo and Tomoki’s friends melting away into ice cream. Sonohara tries to drag Tomoki away but is unable to, leading to a fatal situation.
15th Intruder EP 5
Oshikiri hears mysterious footsteps in his house, and his friends Kamiyama, Watanabe, and Koizumi believe it’s a portal to an alternate dimension. They stay some time to investigate but witness an alternate version of Oshikiri committing murder.
The group discovers the bodies of alternate Kamiyama, Watanabe, and Koizumi. They help Oshikiri bury them, concluding that an alternate Oshikiri is a serial killer.
While the plot concludes we watch another version of Oshikiri continuing to hear menacing footsteps in his house.
14th Hanging Balloon Ep 3
Kazuko is confined to her house by a deadly creature mimicking her voice. A month earlier, her friend Terumi’s suicide triggered a wave of copycat deaths, with fans claiming to see her ghostly floating head. Terumi’s boyfriend, Shiroishi, succumbs to the ghostly influence, hanging himself and transforming into a balloon-like head.
The next day, Balloons with Kazuko’s friends’ faces appear, leading to their deaths.
As the phenomenon engulfs Tokyo, Kazuko’s family falls victim. Yousuke, her brother, fights off the ghostly heads but disappears. Everyone is captured by balloon-like heads except Kazuko, who remains trapped at home. Deceived by an illusion of Yousuke, she opens a window to her demise, joining the haunting display of suspended bodies in the sky.
13th The Thing That Drifted Ashore EP 8
A gigantic, serpentine creature washes ashore on the Pacific coast, believed to be a prehistoric organism. Despite scientists wanting to preserve it, the creature is already rotting, and patches of its skin are transparent. A boy, terrified of the ocean, confronts his fears to see the creature. He meets Mie, whose fiancé Tadashi vanished at sea years ago.
As scientists examine the creature, they discover hundreds of people trapped inside, including Tadashi and others lost in a ferry crash. These individuals are alive but have turned into zombie-like parasites, living off the creature. Everyone wonders about the horrors witnessed through the creature’s transparent skin.
12th Mold EP 6
Akasaka returns home to find it infested with a mysterious mold. Believing his former teacher, Mr. Rogi, intentionally trashed the house. Akasaka also discovers the Rogi family disappeared. The mold takes the house while teaching Akasaka that it’s a fungus growing from the mutated remains of the Rogis.
As the infestation worsens, Akasaka succumbs to lethargy and unknowingly infects himself. His body disintegrates like the Rogis’, and he sits in the decaying house repeating “itchy… itchy…” as he scratches his face.
11th Story of the Mysterious Tunnel EP 2
Gorou’s mother committed suicide at a notorious tunnel plagued by accidents and mysterious deaths. Local rumors suggest a supernatural force is at play. Gorou, with friends, explores the tunnel. His sister Mari inexplicably appears, and their father believes a malevolent force lured his wife and now targets Mari.
After Mari vanishes again, Gorou discovers a research lab in the tunnel studying cosmic rays. His father goes missing, and Mari keeps returning involuntarily. The scientists experience strange phenomena, leading to the lab’s closure.
Gorou and Mari prepare to move, but Mari disappears. Ms. Koyama, a scientist, calls Gorou in terror as colleagues are absorbed by the tunnel. Mari succumbs, and Gorou barely escapes pursued by tunnel ghosts.
10th Alley EP 11
Ishida rents a room next to a fenced-off alley at Mrs. Uchiyama’s house. He hears children’s voices, and when confronted by a previous tenant, learns three children were murdered there. Investigating, Ishida discovers the gruesome truth: Shinobu, Mrs. Uchiyama’s daughter, seals classmates in an underground hatch.
Ishida is attacked, revealing Shinobu’s dark past. As he succumbs, Shinobu tries to dispose of him but is stranded in the alley. Ghosts of her victims approach at sunset, marking her gruesome fate.
9th The Sandman’s Lair EP 4
Yuji, tormented by a dream person trying to enter the real world, seeks help from his friend Mari. Despite initial skepticism, Mari agrees to watch over him. In a desperate attempt to prevent the dream person’s escape, Yuji has Mari bind him with tape.
As he falls asleep, the dream person manifests, with limbs distorting and reaching out. Panicked, Mari removes the tape, inadvertently allowing the dream person to emerge. They struggle to contain it, realizing the dire consequences if it escapes. Yuji, born with an “empty body,” believes the dream person desires Mari.
In a final attempt, Mari tethers herself to Yuji, but both get absorbed into the dream world. When questioned by the police later, Yuji claims Mari has become his intestine, sent on a one-way trip to his dream world.
8th Unbearable Maze EP 10
Friends Noriko and Sayoko discover an ancient temple with a corrupt Buddhist cult. The cult practices extreme rituals, including self-starvation for spiritual preparation. Noriko wants to leave, but Sayoko, paranoid about being watched, decides to stay.
They meet Kuramoto, searching for her brother in the temple. One night, they follow a procession to an underground maze, revealing the place of eternal meditation with mummified monks lining the walls. Kuramoto finds her dead brother and chooses to stay with him. Noriko and Sayoko continue, encountering fresher corpses and collapsing from exhaustion.
Sayoko fears punishment and believes they are being watched, which Noriko dismisses until they find themselves surrounded by living monks in eternal meditation, staring at them. Sayoko screams in terror.
7th Bullied EP 10
Kuriko opens up to her boyfriend Yutaro about her dark past at a playground. As a child, she bullied a boy named Nao who befriended her. Despite her cruel treatment, Nao continued to care for her. Kuriko later learns that Nao, now an adult, still has feelings for her.
She leaves Yutaro for Nao, and they marry, but Nao mysteriously disappears after their child is born. Four years later, Kuriko, struggling with grief, mistreats her son Hiroshi, occasionally confusing him with Nao. She believes Nao’s disappearance is his revenge.
In a disturbing moment, Kuriko, dressed as a child, takes Hiroshi to the playground, expressing her desire to play with Nao again. The story ends with a chilling image of Kuriko leading Hiroshi towards the park.
6th Whispering Woman EP 12
Mayumi, suffering from a debilitating mental illness, needs constant instructions to function. Her father hires Mitsu Uchida, who proves patient and caring. Mayumi’s condition improves, and a unique bond forms between them. However, Mitsu’s health declines and Mayumi’s father discovers Mitsu’s abusive boyfriend.
Tragically, Mitsu is brutally murdered by her boyfriend. Mayumi, seemingly guided by Mitsu’s spirit, continues following whispered instructions. The shocking revelation comes when Mayumi confesses to murdering Mitsu’s abusive boyfriend, leaving her father horrified and questioning the true nature of their connection.
5th Tomb Town EP 7
Kaoru and her brother Tsuyoshi visit Izumi’s distant town, accidentally running over a woman who turns into ossified remains due to the town’s peculiar curse. Izumi explains that deceased residents become gravestones unless touched, leading to metamorphosis.
Kaoru and Tsuyoshi discover the woman is Izumi’s sister and decide to leave town, disposing of the body in a bottomless well. Tsuyoshi’s hand injury leads to hallucinations of the transformed dead emerging from the well.
Back home, Tsuyoshi surrenders to an infection leading to the same fate as Ayumi. At Izumi’s house, we find fresh gravestones, suicide notes, and empty pill bottles, indicating Izumi’s family’s tragic fate.
4th Headless Statue EP 11
Art club members Shimada and Rumi discover their teacher, Mr. Okabe, murdered and decapitated like his statues. Shimada, wearing a mask, denies guilt and insists Okabe is alive. When they return to the art room, all statues are missing, except one with Okabe’s head. Shimada revealed as a statue, wants Rumi’s head for the sculpture.
A struggle ensues, leading to the shattering of Shimada’s statue. Another statue, wielding a cleaver, chases Rumi. Headless bodies of intruding girls appear, and the statues demand Rumi’s head. She’s captured in a room, with the statues arguing over her fate, intensifying the gruesome situation.
3rd Long Hair in the Attic EP 5
Chiemi’s boyfriend ends their relationship, claiming dissatisfaction despite her efforts. Distraught, she returns home to find mice in the attic. After burning a photo of her ex, Chiemi wakes to discover a dead mouse in her hair. She decides to cut it, however later, her decapitated body is found, head missing.
A week later, Chiemi’s ex, gets a phone call and hears teeth-grinding sounds. Meanwhile, Eri’s father dies checking the attic. Investigating, Eri finds Chiemi’s head with rapidly growing, blood-soaked hair. The head comes to life, slithers away, and torments Chiemi’s ex. Eri realizes her sister’s vengeful hair killed her for wanting to cut it.
2nd Layers of Terror EP 8
Archaeologist Professor Soya’s team uncovers layers resembling a human face at an excavation site. Thirteen years later, Soya is dead, and his daughter Reimi, who grows new layers of skin annually, suffers a disfiguring accident. Narumi, neglected by her beauty-obsessed mother, reveals they’re cursed. Reimi’s layers mirror the burial site Soya unearthed.
Mrs. Soya is fixated on two-year-old Reimi’s beauty and believes cutting through layers will revert her to that age. However, Mrs. Soya is unaffected by the curse, leading to gruesome consequences. Narumi, realizing the infant skull from the excavation is missing, finds her mutated mother and Reimi trapped in a room. The horrifying situation remains unresolved.
1st Tomie’s Photos EP 9
Tsukiko, a photography club member, secretly sells photos of boys, including her crush Yamazaki. Caught by Tomie from the “Public Morality Committee,” Tsukiko is suspended. Developing incriminating photos of Tomie, Tsukiko discovers monstrous faces. Tomie’s influence over Yamazaki and others is revealed, leading to a murder plot against Tsukiko.
Cornered at home, Tsukiko confronts Tomie, who undergoes a grotesque transformation. Kimata and Daichi accidentally decapitate Tomie, leading to a new one emerging. Tsukiko witnesses Tomie’s regenerative abilities, realizing the horror is far from over.
TOTT’s Take On Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre 2023
In conclusion, the anime “Junji Ito Maniac” serves as a testament to the enduring power of Junji Ito’s storytelling and the ability of animation to elevate horror to new heights. Whether you’re a seasoned fan of Ito’s works or a newcomer to the realm of Japanese horror, this series is a captivating and spine-tingling experience that will resonate long after the screen goes dark.
This is my ranking of the narratives rated from least to best. Now it’s time to learn your favorite story from the show, also make sure to review the same in the comment section below.#AD
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