Netflix Takes Horror Up a Notch With an Animated Series Based on Junji Ito's Manga

junji ito maniac netflix
junji ito maniac
PHOTO BY netflix / junji ito maniac

( Have you ever felt so grateful for what you have in life that you looked up to the heavens to offer up a silent thanks? Yes? We’re glad to report that the chances of that happening are not slim, but what are the chances of being greeted by a floating head that’s staring right back at you? Now that's pretty damn near impossible—unless you’re stuck in a Junji Ito world. That’s just a preview of what one of the most famous Japanese artists had in mind when he wrote a classic. If you’re in the mood to amp up the fear meter by a notch more, you’re in for a treat because Ito has collaborated with Netflix to give the viewers a quick look at his works in animated form.

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Junji Ito Maniac: Everything You Need to Know

What It’s About

Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre is a collection of Junji Ito’s horror classics adapted into an animated series. The artist mentioned they plan on including 20 stories from his works and breathing life (or the opposite) into them.

Characters and Their Stories

Mangaka (manga artist) Junji Ito recently let us into a quick teaser of some interesting characters that will haunt our nights (and days) during and after watching the entire show. We round up some of them here.

Tomie, from the same manga series title, is Junji Ito’s debut work. His flair for the creeps brought her to life—specifically, he likened Tomie to a lizard’s tail that eventually comes back when it’s cut off. In the same way that the tail grows back after severing it from the body, he imagined this character to reappear after suffering a sudden and brutal death—as if nothing happened. We don’t know about you, but that’s unsettling and intriguing at the same time.

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Most horror series and films root from external conflicts like dysfunctional families and fake friends. But what can come of the situation if everyone’s relationship is healthy and well-adjusted? That’s what Junji Ito tries to challenge when he created Souichi. Souichi is from the mangaka’s series, Souichi’s Diary of Delights (Souichi no Tanoshi i Nikki). Instead of the usual burden-riddled life trope that the main character is subjected to, Souichi provides the opposite and has everyone around him walking on eggshells because of his eerie and hard-to-explain antics. What’s more, Junji Ito made sure to put that extra emphasis on the eyes in an attempt to lure the viewers into a world of a sociopath who’s deep into everything occult and supernatural.

A lot of shows depict the release of balloons in the sky as freedom from suffering, a new beginning, and all things optimistic. But what do we make of the sight of a floating balloonor really, the decapitated head of an idol who committed suicide—that spells bad news every time a person sees it? And what if it just doesn’t look at you, but begins assaulting you? We hope you get your flight mode on because we sure as heck won’t be fighting that one off.


Junji Ito initially imagined Terumi Fujino from The Hanging Balloons as a corpse hanging by the neck from a large balloon flying in the sky. He later scrapped the idea and just went with the idea of having the aggressive severed head as the floating object.

Other Stories

Aside from the three books confirmed to be in the show, the production team also mentioned these shows that will surely give those extra chills you’ll definitely not feel alone: Ice Cream Truck, Ryotaro Okiayu, Sara Matsumoto, and Takatsugu Chikamatsu.

Where to Stream

As of this writing, Netflix announced a total of five stories dropping on January 19, 2023—the announced launch date for the show. The production team is still looking to add more stories as they progress with the consolidation, character design, and the overall production process. Stay tuned for further updates.

Trailers and Posters

Netflix released an official clip of the series' opening and yup, it was an absolute trip. It didn't give away much in terms of the stories but it definitely set the tone with its horror-slash-psychedelic visuals. If that isn’t goosebumps-inducing to you, we’re not sure what is.

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