Junji Ito (Japanese: 伊藤 潤二, Hepburn: Itō Junji, born July 31, 1963) is a Japanese horror mangaka. Some of his most notable works include Tomie, a series chronicling an immortal girl who drives her stricken admirers to madness, Uzumaki, a three-volume series about a town obsessed with spirals, and Gyo, a two-volume story where fish are controlled by a strain of sentient bacteria called “the death stench.” His other works are Itou Junji Kyoufu Manga Collection, a collection of different short stories including a series of stories named Souichi’s Journal of Delights, and Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu, a self-parody about him and his wife living in a house with two cats.

Life and career

Junji Itō was born on 31 July 1963 in Sakashita, now a part of Nakatsugawa, Gifu. He began his experience in the horror world at a very young age; his two older sisters would read Kazuo Umezu and Shinichi Koga in magazines, and consequently, he began reading them too. He grew up in the countryside, in a small city next to Nagano. In the house where he lived, the bathroom was at the end of an underground tunnel, where there were spider crickets. Such experiences were later reflected in his works.

Itō first began writing and drawing manga as a hobby while working as a dental technician in around 1984.

In 1987, he submitted a short story to Gekkan Halloween (月刊ハロウィン, lit. Monthly Halloween) that won an honorable mention in the Kazuo Umezu Prize (with Umezu himself as one of the judges). This story was later serialized as Tomie.

Film director Guillermo del Toro cited on his official Twitter account that Ito was originally a collaborator for the video game Silent Hills, of which both Del Toro and game designer Hideo Kojima were the main directors. However, a year after its announcement, the project was canceled by Konami, the IP’s owner. Itō and Del Toro would later lend their likenesses to Kojima’s next project, Death Stranding.

In 2019, Ito received an Eisner Award for his manga adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Personal life

In 2006, Junji married Ishiguro Ayako (石黒亜矢子), a picture book artist. As of 2013, they have two children.

Inspiration and themes

In addition to Kazuo Umezu, Itō has cited Hideshi Hino, Shinichi Koga, Yasutaka Tsutsui, and H. P. Lovecraft as being major influences on his work. The universe Itō depicts is cruel and capricious; his characters often find themselves victims of malevolent unnatural circumstances for no discernible reason or punished out of proportion for minor infractions against an unknown and incomprehensible natural order. Some of the recurring themes of Itō’s work include jealousy, envy, body horror, seemingly ordinary characters who begin to act out of irrational compulsion, the breakdown of society, deep-sea organisms, and the inevitability of one’s demise, all displayed through a realistic and simple design, which emphasizes the contrast between beauty and death. The events narrated are unpredictable and violent, and arise from normal situations.

Tomie was inspired by the death of one of his classmates. Ito felt strange that a boy he knew suddenly disappeared from the world, and he kept expecting the boy to show up again; from this came the idea of a girl who is supposed to have died but then just shows up as if nothing had happened. Gyo was influenced by his anti-war feelings, developed when he was a child, due to his parents’ tragic and frightening war stories. “The Hanging Balloons” was also based on a childhood dream.

Works

Manga

  • The Junji Ito Horror Comic Collection (collects stories from Halloween, ComicsOne, English editions have flipped pages):
    • Volume 1 and 2: Tomie (富江) (does not include Tomie: Again, English: 2001, ISBN 978-1-58899-084-6 and ISBN 1-58899-085-0, respectively)
    • Volume 3: Flesh-Colored Horror (肉色の怪, Nikuiro no Kai) (English: 2001, ISBN 1-58899-086-9)
    • Volume 4: The Face Burglar (顔泥棒)
    • Volume 5: Souichi’s Diary of Delights (双一の楽しい日記, Souichi no Tanoshi i Nikki)
    • Volume 6: Souichi’s Diary of Curses (双一の呪い日記)
    • Volume 7: Slug Girl (なめくじの少女)
    • Volume 8: Blood-bubble Bushes (血玉樹)
    • Volume 9: Hallucinations (首幻想)
    • Volume 10: House of the Marionettes (あやつりの屋敷)
    • Volume 11: The Town Without Streets (道のない街)
    • Volume 12: The Bully (いじめっ娘)
    • Volume 13: The Circus is Here (サーカスが来た)
    • Volume 14: The Story of the Mysterious Tunnel (トンネルの奇譚)
    • Volume 15: Lovesick Dead (死びとの恋わずらい)
    • Volume 16: Frankenstein (フランケンシュタイン)
  • Uzumaki (うずまき) (VIZ, 2001, ISBN 978-1-56931-714-3)
  • Museum of Terror (恐怖博物館, Kyōfu Hakubutsukan) (collects stories from Halloween in order of publication, Asahi Sonorama,[11] first 3 volumes translated into English by Dark Horse Comics[12])
    • Volume 1 and 2: Tomie (富江) (Volume 2 includes Tomie: Again, Asahi Sonorama, 2002, ISBN 978-4-257-72159-8 and ISBN 978-4-257-72160-4, Dark Horse, 2006, ISBN 978-1-59307-542-2 and ISBN 978-1-59307-612-2, respectively)
    • Volume 3: The Long Hair in the Attic (屋根裏の長い髪, Yaneura no nagai kami) (Asahi Sonorama, 2002, ISBN 978-4-257-72164-2, Dark Horse, 2006, ISBN 978-1-59307-639-9)
    • Volume 4: Kakashi (案山子) (Asahi Sonorama, 2002, ISBN 978-4-257-72169-7, 2007 ISBN 978-4-02-267008-3)
    • Volume 5: Rojiura (路地裏) (Asahi Sonorama, 2002, ISBN 978-4-257-72173-4)
    • Volume 6: Sōichi no katte na noroi (双一の勝手な呪い) (Asahi Sonorama, 2002, ISBN 978-4-257-72177-2)
    • Volume 7: Umeku haisuikan (うめく配水管) (Asahi Sonorama, 2002, ISBN 978-4-257-72179-6)
    • Volume 8: Shirosunamura chitan (白砂村血譚) (Asahi Sonorama, 2002, ISBN 978-4-257-72184-0)
    • Volume 9: Oshikiri idan (押切異談&フランケンシュタイン) (Asahi Sonorama, 2002, ISBN 978-4-257-72187-1)
    • Volume 10: Shibito no Koi Wazurai (死びとの恋わずらい) (Asahi Sonorama, 2003, ISBN 978-4-257-72191-8)
  • Gyo (ギョ) includes two bonus stories: The Sad Tale of the Principal Post (大黒柱悲話, Daikokubashira Hiwa) and The Enigma of Amigara Fault (阿弥殻断層の怪, Amigara Dansō no Kai) (VIZ: 2003, ISBN 978-1-56931-995-6)
  • Mimi’s Ghost Stories (ミミの怪談, Mimi no Kaidan) (Media Factory: 2003, ISBN 978-4-84010-484-5)
  • Hellstar Remina (地獄星レミナ, Jigokusei Remina) (Shogakukan: 2005, ISBN 978-4-09186-083-5)
  • Voices in the Dark (闇の声, Yami no Koe) (Asahi Sonorama, 2007, ISBN 978-4-02213-023-5)
  • New Voices in the Dark (新・闇の声 潰談, Shin Yami no Koe Kaidan) (Asahi Sonorama, 2007, ISBN 978-4-02213-024-2)
  • Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu (猫日記 よん&むー, Neko Nikki Yon to Mū) (Kodansha: 2009, ISBN 978-4-06337-664-7)
  • Black Paradox (ブラックパラドクス, Burakku Paradokusu) (Shogakukan: 2009, ISBN 978-4-09182-532-2)
  • Rasputin the Patriot (憂国のラスプーチン, Yuukoku no Rasputin) (Shogakukan: 2010, ISBN 978-4-09183-610-6)
  • Fragments of Horror (魔の断片, Ma no Kakera) (VIZ: 2015, ISBN 978-1-4215-8079-1)
  • Dissolving Classroom (溶解教室, Yōkai Kyoushitsu)[13] (Vertical Inc.: 2017, ISBN 978-1-94299-385-8)
  • Shiver (VIZ: 2017, ISBN 978-1-42159-693-8)
  • Smashed (collection that includes: Yami no Koe and Shin Yami no Koe Kaidan) (VIZ: 2019, ISBN 978-1-42159-846-8)
  • Sensor (センサー, Sensa) (Asahi Sonorama, 2019, ISBN 978-4-02214-284-9)
  • No Longer Human (人間失格, Ningen Shikkaku) (VIZ: 2020, ISBN 978-1-97470-709-6)
  • Specials and One Shots
    • Phantom Mansion
    • Demons Voice
    • Fixed Face
    • Ghost Heights Management Association
    • Human Chair
    • Junji Itos Dog Diary
    • Junji Itos Snow White
    • Mountain of Gods
    • Ribs Woman
    • She is a Slow Walker (I Am a Hero spinoff)
    • The Summer Time Graduation Trip
    • Umezz Kazuo & Me
    • Youkai Kyoushitsu

Adaptations

Tomie was adapted into a series of films, beginning in 1999. Several other works of Ito’s have subsequently been adapted for film and television:

  • The Fearsome Melody – (戦慄の旋律 Senritsu no Senritsu), 1992
  • Tomie – (富江 Tomie), 1998
  • Tomie: Another Face – (富江:アナザフェイス Tomie: Anaza Feisu), 1999
  • Tomie: Replay – ( 富江:re-play Tomie: re-play), 2000
  • Uzumaki – (うずまき Uzumaki), 2000
  • Gravemarker Town – (墓標の町 Bohyou no Machi), 2000
  • The Face Burglar– (顔泥棒 Kao Dorobou), 2000
  • The Hanging Balloons – (首吊り気球 Kubitsuri no Kikyuu), 2000
  • Long Dream – (長い夢 Nagai Yume), 2000
  • Oshikiri – (押切 Oshikiri), 2000
  • Kakashi – (案山子 Kakashi), 2001
  • Lovesick Dead (also known as Love Ghost) – (死びとの恋わずらい Shibito no Koiwazurai), 2001
  • Tomie: Re-birth – (富江:Rebirth Tomie: Rebirth), 2001
  • Tomie: The Final Chapter – Forbidden Fruit – (富江 最終章 ?禁断の果実 Tomie: Saishuu-sh? – Kindan no Kajitsu), 2002
  • Marronnier – (マロニエ Marronnier), 2002
  • The Groaning Drain – (うめく排水管), 2004
  • Tomie: Beginning, 2005
  • Tomie: Revenge, 2005
  • Tomie vs Tomie, 2007
  • Tomie Unlimited, 2011
  • Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack, 2012
  • Junji Ito Collection, 2018
  • Uzumaki, 2021

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