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|Occupation||Writer, penciller, inker, manga artist|
Junji Ito (Japanese: 伊藤 潤二, Hepburn: Itō Junji, born July 31, 1963) is a Japanese horror manga artist. 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 in which fish are controlled by a strain of sentient bacteria called "the death stench." His other works include The Junji Ito Horror Comic Collection, a collection of his many short stories, and Junji Ito's Cat Diary: Yon & Mu, a self-parody about him and his wife living in a house with two cats. Ito's work has developed a substantial cult following, with some deeming him a significant figure in recent horror iconography.
Life and career
Junji Ito was born on July 31, 1963 in Sakashita, now a part of Nakatsugawa, Gifu. He began his experience in the horror world at a very young age, with his first manga being Mummy Teacher by Kazuo Umezu; his two older sisters read 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.
Ito began to draw manga at the age of 4, taking inspiration from the works he read in magazines. He continued to draw as a hobby until he became a dental technician in 1984, where he struggled to find a balance between the two.
In 1987, he submitted a short story to Monthly Halloween that won an honorable mention in the Kazuo Umezu Prize (with Umezu himself as one of the judges). This story ran for 13 years and was later serialized as Tomie.
Ito drew the cover of Mucc's 2002 album Hōmura Uta. He collaborated with the band again in 2020, for the cover of their made-to-order single "Shōfu 2020". Ito teamed up with Takashi Nagasaki and former diplomat Masaru Sato to create Yūkoku no Rasputin (2010–2012), based on Sato's personal experiences in Russia, for Big Comic.
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. Ito and Del Toro would later lend their likenesses to Kojima's next project, Death Stranding.
In 2006, Ito married Ayako Ishiguro (石黒亜矢子), a picture book artist. As of 2013, they have two children.
Inspiration and themes
In addition to Kazuo Umezu, Ito has cited Hideshi Hino, Shinichi Koga, Yasutaka Tsutsui, Edogawa Ranpo and H. P. Lovecraft as being major influences on his work. Ito has stated that Umezu has inspired his storytelling, and Hino has inspired his ability in creating a mood for a work. He has also stated that he admires Guillermo del Toro's work.
Ito has been inspired by horror since childhood, with his first manga being written about a protagonist with an eye in the middle of his hand, attacking him; this was heavily influenced by Kappa no Sanpei. Ito was inspired by the occult horror films of the 1970’s (such as Dracula and Frankenstein), as well as period dramas of ghosts. He has also found inspiration from Rakugo storytellers who tell Kaiden ghost stories, incorporating it into No Longer Human.
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 childhood anti-war feelings, due to his parents' tragic and frightening war stories, and the shark attack scenes from Jaws. The Hanging Balloons was based on a childhood dream. Long Dream was inspired by his sister mentioning research of dreams being instantaneous, and Slug Girl was inspired by Ito moving his tongue around in the mirror and finding that it resembled a slug.
Ito studied and graduated from a vocational school with a degree in Dental Technology before working as a dental technician, where he worked for 3 years until he became a full-time mangaka. Ito found anatomical interest in the books for the medical students, which he used to study muscles. He is also cited stating the schooling gave him more inspiration for his tools in drawing, namely pens and how to whittle pencils like dentures.
Ito's work consists of many subgenres of horror, mainly being host to the subgenres of body horror and cosmic horror. Much of his work is based solely in them, with other themes including a relationship of predator to prey, a loss of humanity, and obsession being common. The universe Ito 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. He takes inspiration from his own fears as well, including death, war, insects, and being watched.
Ito has been cited saying that he draws the manifestation of the mind becoming reality, represented in body horror.
Museum of Terror (collects stories from Monthly Halloween in order of publication):
- Rasputin the Patriot (憂国のラスプーチン, Yuukoku no Rasputin) (Shogakukan: 2010, ISBN 978-4-09183-610-6)
- The Art of Junji Ito: Twisted Visions (異形 世界)
- A first-ever collection of Junji Ito’s artworks, featuring over 130 images from his bestselling manga titles along with rare works. This sublime collection includes all of Ito’s unforgettable illustrations in both black-and-white and color, from Tomie’s dreadful beauty to the inhuman spirals of Uzumaki. Includes an interview focused on Ito’s art technique as well as commentary from the artist on each work.
- Black Paradox (ブラックパラドクス) (six chapters over one volume)
- Four people intent on killing themselves meet through the suicide website Black Paradox: Maruso, a nurse who despairs about the future; Taburo, a man who is tortured by his doppelganger; Pii-tan, an engineer with his own robot clone; and Baracchi, a girl who agonizes about the birthmark on her face.
- Includes two bonus stories: The Licking Woman and Mystery Pavilion
- A Diary of Embellished Patches (潤色まだら日記) (collection of three one-shots)
- Collects: Pond, Conversation, and DIY Instructions
- Dissolving Classroom (溶解教室) (five chapters over one volume)
- A pair of twisted siblings—Yuuma, a young man obsessed with the devil, and Chizumi, the worst little sister in recorded history—cause all sorts of tragic and terrifying things to happen wherever they go. These scary short stories will shock the reader with a literal interpretation of the ills that plague modern society.
- Includes two bonus stories: The Return and Children of the Earth
- Deserter: Junji Ito Story Collection (脱走兵のいる家) (collection of 12 one-shots)
- Reprint of Museum of Terror Volume 3: The Long Hair in the Attic
- Fragments of Horror (aka The Shard of Evil) (魔の断片) (collection of eight one-shots)
- Collects: Futon, Haunted Wood Mansion, Tomio: Red Turtleneck, Lingering Farewell, Dissection Girl, Black Bird, Nanakuse Magami and Whispering Woman
- Frankenstein: Junji Ito Story Collection (フランケンシュタイン)
- Reprints Museum of Terror Volume 9: Oshikiri Idan & Frankenstein
- Gyo: Ugomeku Bukimi (aka Fish: Ghastly Squirming) (ギョ うごめく不気味) (19 chapters over two volumes)
- The floating smell of death hangs over the island. What is it? A strange, legged fish appears on the scene... So begins Tadashi and Kaori's spiral into the horror and stench of the sea.
- Includes two bonus stories: The Sad Tale of the Principal Post and The Enigma of Amigara Fault
- Junji Ito's Cat Diary: Yon & Mu (伊藤潤二の猫日記 よん&むー) (ten chapters over one volume)
- Junji Ito, as J-kun, has recently built a new house and has invited his financée, A-ko, to live with him. Little did he know, his blushing bride-to-be has some unexpected company in tow—Yon, a ghastly-looking family cat, and Mu, an adorable Norwegian forest cat. Despite being a dog person, J-kun finds himself purrsuaded by their odd cuteness and thus begins his comedic struggle to gain the affection of his new feline friends.
- The Liminal Zone (幻怪地帯) (collection of four one-shots)
- Collects: Weeping Woman Way, Madonna, The Spirit Flow of Aokigahara, and Slumber
- Lovesickness: Junji Ito Story Collection (死びとの恋わずらい)
- Reprint of Museum of Terror Volume 10: Lovesick Dead
- Mimi's Ghost Stories (ミミの怪談) (collection of six one-shots, adapted from Hirokatsu Kihara and Ichiro Nakayama's Kaidan Shin Mimibukuro (怪談新耳袋))
- Collects: The Woman Next Door, Sound of Grass, Graveman, The Seashore, Alone With You (aka Just the Two of Us), and The Scarlet Circle
- No Longer Human (人間失格) (24 chapters over one volume)
- Remina (aka Hellstar Remina) (地獄星レミナ) (six chapters over one volume)
- This is a horror/sci-fi story about a giant planet-consuming creature from another dimension that a scientist discovers and mistakenly identifies as a planet. Being given the honor to name it as its discoverer, the professor chooses to name it after his only daughter, Remina, but when Hellstar Remina is headed on a direct collision course with Earth the world goes insane and all the people in the city start a witch hunt to kill Remina, thinking she is somehow to blame.
- Includes bonus story: Billions Alone (aka Army of One)
- Sensor (aka Travelogue of the Succubus) (センサー) (seven chapters over one volume)
- A woman walks alone at the foot of Mount Sengoku. A man appears, saying he has been waiting for her, and invites her to a nearby village. Surprisingly, the village is covered in hair-like volcanic glass fibers, and all of it shines a bright gold. At night, when the villagers perform their custom of gazing up at the starry sky, countless unidentified flying objects come raining down on them—the opening act for the terror about to occur.
- Shiver: Junji Ito Selected Stories (伊藤潤二自選傑作集) (collection of ten one-shots)
- Collects: Used Record, Shiver, Fashion Model, The Hanging Balloons, Marionette Mansion, Painter, Long Dream, Honored Ancestors, Glyceride (aka Greased), and Fashion Model: Cursed Frame
- Tomie (富江) (20 chapters over one volume)
- Tomie Kawakami is a femme fatale with long black hair and a beauty mark just under her left eye. She can seduce nearly any man, and drive them to murder as well, even though the victim is often Tomie herself. While one lover seeks to keep her for himself, another grows terrified of the immortal succubus. But soon they realize that no matter how many times they kill her, the world will never be free of Tomie.
- Does not include Tomie: Takeover or (the Souichi/Tomie crossover one-shot) Souichi Possessed
- Venus in the Blind Spot (盲点のビーナス) (collection of ten one-shots)
- Collects: Billions Alone (aka Army of One), The Human Chair and An Unearthly Love (adapted from the Edogawa Ranpo stories of the same name), Venus in the Blind Spot, The Licking Woman, Umezz Kazuo and Me, How Love Came to Professor Kirida (adapted from Robert Hichen's How Love Came to Professor Guildea), The Enigma of Amigara Fault, The Sad Tale of the Principal Post, and Keepsake
- Voices in the Dark (闇の声) (collection of seven one-shots)
- Collects: Blood-Slurping Darkness, The Ghost of Golden Time, Roar of Ages, Secret of the Haunted Mansion, Glyceride (aka Greased), The Earthbound, and Dead Man Calling
- New Voices in the Dark ( 新・闇の声 潰談) (collection of seven one-shots)
- Collects: The Soichi Front, Soichi's Beloved Pet, In the Valley of Mirrors, Anything but a Ghost, Library of Illusions, Songs in the Dark, and Splatter Film
- Smashed: Junji Ito Story Collection (collection of 13 one shots)
- Reprints Voices in the Dark and New Voices in the Dark, with the exception of Glyceride (aka Greased)
- Uzumaki (aka Spiral) (うずまき) (19 chapters over one volume)
- Kurozu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in small ways: seashells, ferns, whirlpools in water, whirlwinds in air. And in large ways: the spiral marks on people's bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi's father, the voice from the cochlea in your inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurozu-cho are pulled ever deeper, as if into a whirlpool from which there is no return...
- Includes bonus story: Galaxies
- Specials and uncollected one-shots
- Demon's Voice
- Ghost Heights Management Association
- Junji Ito's Snow White (adapted from Snow White)
- Layers of Fear
- Mountain of Gods: Precipice of the Unknown
- Mr. Inagawa's Ghost Story Treasure Box
- Mystery Pavilion
- Return of the Hanging Balloons
- She is a Slow Walker (written for 8 Tales of the ZQN, the I Am a Hero spin-off anthology)
- Soichi Possessed
- The Summer Time Graduation Trip
- Tomie: Takeover
- Tomie (富江), 1998
- Tomie: Another Face (aka Tomie: Fearsome Beauty) (富江:アナザフェイス), 1999
- Tomie: Replay (富江:re-play), 2000
- Tomie: Re-birth (富江:re-birth), 2001
- Tomie: The Final Chapter – Forbidden Fruit (富江 最終章 ?禁断の果実), 2002
- Tomie: Beginning (富江 BEGINNING), 2005
- Tomie: Revenge (富江 REVENGE), 2005
- Tomie vs Tomie (富江 vs 富江), 2007
- Tomie Unlimited (富江 アンリミテッド), 2011
- The Fearsome Melody (戦慄の旋律), 1991 – (adapted from Used Record)
- Uzumaki (うずまき), 2000 – (adapted from the story of the same name)
- Uzumaki - Television Mystery (うずまき 〜電視怪奇篇〜), 2000 – (adapted from the story of the same name)
- Uzumaki - Curse Simulation (うずまき 〜呪いシミュレーション〜), 2000 – (adapted from the story of the same name)
- Gravetown (墓標の町), 2000 – (adapted from the short story of the same name)
- With no DVD/VHS release, this work is considered a lost television broadcast
- The Face Burglar (顔泥棒), 2000 – (adapted from the short story of the same name)
- The Hanging Balloons (首吊り気球), 2000 – (adapted from The Devil's Logic, The Long Hair in the Attic, and The Hanging Balloons)
- Long Dream (長い夢), 2000 – (adapted from the short story of the same name)
- Partition (aka Oshikiri) (押切), 2000 – (adapted from Intruder)
- Scarecrow (案山子), 2001 – (adapted from the short story of the same name)
- Love Ghost (死びとの恋わずらい), 2001 – (adapted from The Junji Ito Horror Comic Collection Volume 15: Lovesick Dead)
- Marronnier (マロニエ), 2004 – (loosely adapted from Marionette Mansion and A Doll's Hellish Burial)
- The Groaning Drain (うめく排水管), 2004 – (adapted from Groaning Drain Pipes)
- Tomio (富夫), 2011 – (adapted from Tomio: Red Turtleneck)
- Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack, 2012 – (adapted from Gyo: Ugomeku Bukimi)
- Tales of the Bizarre: 2015 Spring Special - The Earthbound (世にも奇妙な物語 スペシャル・春 - 地縛者), 2015 – (adapted from The Earthbound)
- Junji Ito Collection, 2018
- NextDoor, 2021 – (adapted from The Woman Next Door)
- Uzumaki, TBD
- Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre, 2023
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