Junji Ito ‘Maniac’ Doesn’t Disappoint, ‘Japanese Tales of the Macabre’ Anime Review
Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre brings a little of that iconic anime horror to Netflix, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
Junji Ito has been the name in anime and manga horror for years. His specific style of weird and spooky has become iconic to the genre to the point of meme-ability. Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre is his latest animated project. Does Netflix’s new anthology hold up to our standards? Is this an enjoyable horror series?
If you’re already a fan of the whole Junji Ito experience, you’ll probably like this too. That’s honestly the core of it. But that doesn’t mean that Maniac is generic or not fun. It’s full of all of the weird, strange, and off-kilter anime horror goodness that you’ve come to expect. And a few things you may not see coming, too.
I think that when you get right down to it, the Junji Ito style of storytelling is part of what we love about his work. I never left an episode of this show feeling actually scared or unsettled. Instead, they leave off with a general feeling of “what the heck?” But in a way that’s enjoyable and familiar. It’s less The Ring and more listing to your friends tell ghost stories at a sleepover. Honestly though, what I’m here for.
There are twelve episodes in this anthology, and I thought that this meant that there would be twelve individual stories. Instead, quite a few episodes are split into two, shorter stories. In practical terms, each story takes exactly the amount of time it needs. None are stretched to fill the twenty-five-minute run time or squished into a twelve-minute segment. They’re all short stories, but short isn’t an exact science and Maniac lets each episode take the time that it actually needs.
While this show will likely be a winner amongst fans of Junji Ito’s style, the opposite side of the coin is unfortunately also true. This isn’t a show for everybody, and the ratings on IMBd and IGN are evidence of that. Maniac isn’t traditional horror by western standards and potential viewers could easily be turned off by the entire thing.
I also didn’t love the animation… or the sound mixing. In the case of the sound it was a “thanks, I hate it situation,” where it was perfect but gross enough at times to make my teeth hurt. The animation on the other hand just felt bland. The Junji Ito style is so special and specific. But Maniac just felt a bit half-hearted in its attempt to capture that. It’s not bad and the show looks good enough overall, I just wasn’t wowed as I have been by other productions.
So is Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre a good show? Some of my horror friends have enjoyed it and some of my anime friends have enjoyed it. But where it’s really landing is with my horror-anime friends. You need that cross-section of appreciation for this one and that makes it a little less universal than even other horror shows. But if you fall into the category that this was made for, I think you’ll find it to be a pretty fun watch. Not every story is a winner, but the majority are good in a weird and spooky sort of way.
Did you enjoy Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre? Which story or episode was your favorite? What about your least favorite? Let us know in the comments!
Ja ne, adventurers!