Junji Ito Collection Series Review: Twisted Tales and Weird Delusions, But Something Is Not Quite Right

This horror anime collection was talked up a lot before the season started, but how did it go in the end? Be sure to share your thoughts on the series in the comments below.

Review:

There are many creepy moments in this animated horror collection. Some of these include body horror, disgusting imagery, blood, and just a general feeling of unease and that something is very, very wrong. Where Collection doesn’t quite succeed is in translated these into a memorable narrative that lasts beyond the initial viewing.

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Part of the issue is the format of the show itself. Trying to convey two separate tales per twenty minute episode where the cast and object of horror is completely separate from the previous story means that there is never any build up or connection made with these weird and strange events. While in written form perhaps there is more lasting impact, but in anime form, these stories simply feel like sketches or outlines of a much greater narrative we’ll never get to see.

Even the stories I quite enjoyed, such as Smashed in episode 12 or earlier stories about the doll disease or the weird neighbour, never left more than a momentary impression before they were forgotten. Other stories just never clicked in the first place because we had no reason to be invested. This was definitely the case with the circus story where mostly it just seemed random and stupid rather than in any way creepy or scary. And yet, if time were given to building up the characters and providing motives and actually fleshing out the horror (and spreading out the deaths so it wasn’t quite so in your face) there is still real potential here.

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I’ve read the argument that the point of this anime is to introduce people to Ito’s work and while it might do that the impression it leaves on those who have never read the original work is not a particularly favourable one. You would have to admit after watching this that it is neither a particularly impressive animated series or a particularly impressive advertisement for the source material, though I imagine the source material probably works quite well as some of the imagery in the anime is quite disturbing and in still images would probably be more affective.

Which leads us to the artistic choices for this series. It is very dark (visually, though the subject matter is also clearly dark), but that doesn’t really add much to the atmosphere as at times it is actually difficult to make out what we are supposed to be seeing on the screen. The characters are all very flat and dull to look at and I guess if they are standing in for Average Joe they have succeeded but you would be hard pressed to remember a one of them after the anime was done (except Souichi who most of us will just wish we didn’t remember because that giggle of his was really obnoxious).

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Where the art shines is in some of the moments of horror themselves. The creepy smile, the model, the slug emerging from the girl’s mouth, even the centipede/brain thing, are all really remarkable images that while the animation isn’t amazing, the image itself sticks. Given more time and possibly a larger budget, bringing these moments to life could have lead to something truly amazing and instead we get glimpses of genius underneath a smearing of the very ordinary.

There isn’t a lot more to say about this other than it is basically formulaic with each story setting up a character dealing with or walking into a weird situation which rapidly escalates before the story ends, sometimes without any kind of resolution. The very good thing about this is you are not compelled to watch the whole series. You really could just pick and choose individual tales to watch from the collection and enjoy them for what they are without sitting through a whole series.

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While I’m not really recommending this, I didn’t hate it. Okay, I hated one or two moments where they crossed the line from horror to disgusting for the sake of it, but for the most part I found the episodes worked well enough even if I always felt the series was somewhat lacking. If you really enjoy horror, there’s enough here to make it worth while checking out, but ultimately the potential of this show far outweighs what it delivers.

Episode Reviews:


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Karandi James

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Junji Ito Collection Episode 12: Not With A Bang But With A Whimper

I guess it kind of works that for its final story this anime returns to Souichi and to the creepy model giving us a sense of some kind of progress throughout the course of this series of disjointed tales. To be fair, both the stories this week were quite interesting in different ways, and while I would have liked the first story to be given a whole episode to be developed, and a slightly stronger ending, I actually quite enjoyed it.

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However, otherwise the same criticisms of this anime continue with characters we don’t much care about facing supernatural horrors we aren’t really scared by and aren’t really given long enough with to really get caught up in the story. Also, the music and animation remain pretty ordinary.

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Still, this episode does at least allow this series to end on a high-ish note which will perhaps make people slightly more generous in their overall series reviews.

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Junji Ito Collection Episode 11: Return To Weird Stories

The first story this week was actually kind of fun in a weird tales kind of way. Random transfer student shows up in town and suddenly weird things start happening. However, it isn’t the transfer student who is truly the problem but his appearance acts as a catalyst for some of the tensions in the group from the supernatural club bubble to the surface.

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The second story is also just kind of weird but not necessarily horrific. It certainly could have been if it had been given longer and more development, particularly the revelation about the couple who had lost a child, but instead this story remains a ‘what if’ kind of pondering without really delivering much more. The combination of graveyards and scarecrows is certainly unsettling though so great choice of setting.

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And that was this week’s Junji Ito Collection. Better than the previous two episodes but still not really reaching to actually being more than a watch once and done kind of affair.

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Junji Ito Collection Episode 10: And I Thought Last Week Was Gross?

I wonder if the Junji Ito Collection anime took it as a challenge when I called it gross last week in my review? This week seemed all about being as gross as possible with the kind of body horror that just leaves a sick taste in your mouth and feeling a little unsettled. The story doesn’t actually scare or leave you feeling happy you watched it, it is just disgusting.

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And after the vileness that is the first story this week we then get a fairly standard but incomplete ghost story as a follow up. It isn’t particularly bad but it isn’t particularly good and it is hard to focus on when you are wanting to go and wash the horrid taste out of your mouth from the first story.

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I’ve been wanting this show to do more and actually use some of its ideas to give us something actually horrific but instead it has gone for body horror and the gross out effect and there’s quite a difference in the appeal of a show that can affect you psychologically and a show that just makes you want to vomit. My tolerance of this one is fast disappearing and this episode is my new low point for the winter season.

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Junji Ito Collection Episode 9: So, Gross?

Review:

There’s probably a better word to describe the events of the second story, but gross was the impression I walked away with. Not scary or creepy, because it didn’t succeed on either front, but just disgusting. And like all of these stories it lacked sufficient context or grounding of the circumstances to really have any more impact than that. And no I didn’t take a screen cap of the blood bush thing growing from people’s necks. If you are really curious, just watch it.

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The first story worked a little better but like all of these stories it escalated too quickly. We went from meeting the girl, to being obsessed, to bashing in someone else’s head, to strangling the girl in minutes and none of these moments were given the time they needed to have real impact.

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It is a shame, because there was a lot of potential in that first story and I might have really enjoyed it if it had been delivered differently.

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Karandi James

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Junji Ito Collection Episode 8: There Are No Words

Review:

Again two stories though this week I kind of watched both in more or less stunned silence. The first one because by the time you kind of really knew what the story was about it ended and the second one because it was just too weird. The audience sitting through all those deaths just pushed credibility too far. And neither story was particularly interesting.

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The biggest problem with the first story, like with so many others in this series, is a lack of development. We enter the story after it has already begun, we see a quick snap shot as the situation escalates, and then it ends, all before we’ve had a chance to care about anything that is going on. As weird as the concept might be it just doesn’t sink in.

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However, the circus story is perhaps the weakest so far in this series. While it is apparent the ring master is evil, the only way this is actually confirmed is through a plea by the girl to the guy she loves when she declares the ring master is a demon. Whether he is or not is never answered and answering that might have helped bridge the credibility gap as to why the audience hadn’t really reacted to the copious scenes of death.

This show continues to remain on my watch list but I’m not really expecting much from it any more so I wasn’t disappointed this week.

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Karandi James

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Junji Ito Collection Episode 7: Round and Round We Go

Review:

I’m not really sure what to make of the first story as it really seemed more like an idea rather than a fleshed out tale. Basically, record of an artist after she died and everyone who listens to it seems to become obsessed with owning it, to the point where they would steal it or hit the current owner over the head to keep it. It isn’t particularly interesting or shocking and it is over before you really begin to care about what is happening.

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The second story presents a bizarre scenario and aspects of it could have been really cool if explored further. Yet the presence of Jack the Ripper just felt so forced and unnecessary as an added issue to deal with and the Aunt first threatening to kill the niece and then saving her doesn’t really sit right.

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So this series remains consistent in presenting ideas but not really crafting good stories or characters and the wasted potential really hurts.

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Karandi James

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Junji Ito Collection Episode 6: Once Again, Possibilities Squandered

Review:

This one is going to be pretty short because I kind of enjoyed the first story presented this week and then it ended without any kind of resolution. Nothing. Just left us hanging like a window frame reaching out toward the neighbours house in point of fact. So an kind of creepiness or expectations this story may have created were pretty much abandoned as we shifted onto story two.

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And story 2 is… Well, it was pretty dull. Interesting concept and dead people are creepy. The twist is kind of obvious but even then it could have worked but all and all it just didn’t do much for me.

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So this series continues to be more interesting in ideas than execution and it is kind of a shame because some of these ideas could make for very interesting stories but the stories themselves just aren’t coming across.

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Karandi James

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Junji Ito Collection Episode 5: Souichi is Just Really Kind of Annoying

Review:

Another mixed kind of episode with the first story about the house connected to other worlds having an interesting concept but then not really building on that concept in the limited time it had, and then another short story about Souichi. I’m going to be honest and say that while I didn’t mind the first episode and story with Souichi, this story was decidedly pointless and not in the least bit interesting.

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Back to the first story though, there was some genuinely good atmosphere about the creepy house and the classmates showing up all weird and twisted. The scene in the classroom was probably the weak link with the most poorly animated fist fight in history (okay, exaggeration but I’m better it will be the worst fight for the year).

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All and all, we could have scrapped the second story and just had more of this one and overall it would have been a far more satisfying viewing experience.


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Karandi James

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Junji Ito Collection Episode 4: Did I Ever Mention I Find Puppets Creepy?

Review:

Once again we get two creepy stories with neither one really pushing into actually being scary so much as strange and a little unsettling. What horror I did find in the second story came from my own dislike of puppets and marionettes which was firmly embedded when I was a child. And, just saying, but that puppet was so creepy looking I can’t imagine anyone actually taking it with them when they ran away.

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The first story this week was kind of nothing. Creepy cursed object story but as usual this anime doesn’t take the time to build up the suspense of atmosphere and merely walks us through the events. While they are dark and the end is kind of tragic, it never really gives us a chance to feel for any of the characters leaving the end of that first story fairly empty.

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And so this series continues to be watchable but not really all that good.


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