A core principle of the works of horror mangaka Junji Ito, is the mundane and everyday only backwards. This concept is perfect for short stories as there is no need, or time, to explore lengthy explanations for the uncanny. Events are as they appear which renders them all the more uncomfortable, as we do not know the motivations behind an entity and, thus, are unable to relate and/or empathise, keeping us in the dark.
When creating his short stories, rather than using a regular story arc, the beginning, build up and climax, his work can be characterised as a series of spikes, culminating in a sharp jump towards the climax to nail home the horror of the scenario. This is better explained in SuperEyepatchWolf’s video, How Media Scares Us: The Work of Junji Ito. In his video, he demonstrates how Ito uses page turns to build suspense. A character will react to something they’ve seen off screen, leaving the reader to turn the page to see it, thus contributing to the build in tension. It is a small but important act of interaction on the behalf of the reader as they are now curious and tense, primed for the big, horrific reveal.
Ito’s explorations of human nature, from the hubris of man in the Hanging Balloons, to the obsession like nature we can fall into, as demonstrated in his three volume series Uzamaki, makes for a compelling and unsettling read. Horror is more than just a cheap jump scare, rather it is how our need for safety within the norm is, in actual fact, fragile. Forces beyond our comprehension have little interest in our wants and needs. We are incapable of ignoring our better instincts for the allure of curiosity and, unfortunately, often fall victim to our compulsion to survive.
Horror works best when it leaves us feeling uneasy; the mundane and everyday, only backwards.
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Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Aug. 7, 2020
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