Junji Ito Maniac Teaser: The Terrifying Manga Artist Inspires A New Netflix Series

What's that you hear? The sound of horror nerds everywhere rejoicing? Well, let me fill you in: Horror mangaka Junji Ito is getting his own Netflix series titled "Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre," and we finally have our first teaser trailer for it. Ito is a legend of the genre, and I don't use that term lightly, so it's probably all clicking for you now, why you just heard this cacophony of horror fanatics going wild. It's a big deal, and I won't sit here and pretend it's not.

The streamer dropped the sneak peek on Friday, November 18 via its YouTube channel, and though the clip is only a mere 40 seconds, it does give us some visuals to work with right from the start. The trailer shows us images of extra heads growing out of women's own heads as these images fall from a building window and scatter on the ground below. A woman then asks a group, "Hey, guys. I need your help. Will you hear me out?" It's not much, but it's enough to entice an audience, that's for sure.

Watch the Junji Ito Maniac Teaser

What's truly interesting about this series is what it will actually contain. According to the streaming platform, the show will be "a selection of 20 macabre masterpieces brimming with his original worldview and fascinating characters drawn in his stunning style, including popular titles such as 'Hanging Balloon' and fan-favorite characters Tomie and Souichi." Based on this, we can make an educated guess that we will be seeing aspects from "Tomie," one of Ito's most popular series. Additionally, that means we could get some of his most intense and well-known one-offs, like my personal favorite, "The Enigma of the Amigara Fault," or even more gruesome ones like "Glyceride." There are tons of options here, including several Souichi-centric stories, so it will be fun to see which ones the series ends up highlighting. That said, if "Amigara Fault" isn't one of them, Netflix will have to answer to me.

Wait, who is Junji Ito and why should I even care?

You know, I'm so glad you asked me this question. I realize manga can be a niche interest, but in 2022, horror certainly isn't — which is why I feel compelled to explain to those of you who aren't familiar why you need to add Ito's work to your horror repertoire. Ito is a master of unsettling, visceral imagery with a style all his own in both his art and his words. He started out as a horror manga artist with a short he submitted to a Japanese manga magazine called "Monthly Halloween" in 1987. The piece won an honorable mention for the Kazuo Umezu Prize, and the story later went on to be fleshed out into his well-known story "Tomie." Over the years, Ito has cemented himself into the horror canon with the uniqueness of his work, as well as his bold cosmic horror overtones and downright strange storylines. Just go read "Amigara Fault" and you'll learn exactly what I mean.

The mangaka's twisted mind has resulted in some memorable collaborations, on top of providing inspiration for countless other horror creators who have come after him. Ito collaborated with Guillermo del Toro and Hideo Kojima on the canceled "Silent Hills" video game, as well as "Death Stranding." In a 2020 conversation I had with "Daniel Isn't Real" director Adam Egypt Mortimer for my radio show "YOUR NICHE IS DEAD," the filmmaker revealed to me that several panels from Ito's work were included in his mood book for the film, particularly in reference to the scene where the titular Daniel pulls open a victim's body to step inside and inhabit it.

More adaptations to come

Despite this kind of influence, we have yet to get a substantial and quality anime adaptation of any of Ito's work. That's not for lack of trying, as there have been several attempts over the years. But Netflix's new series will be another shot in the dark, one that hopefully hits a bullseye. I'll no doubt be watching, especially since the previously-announced "Uzumaki" series on Adult Swim is still at a bit of a standstill — and possibly more than that, given the troubling restructuring of Cartoon Network.

"Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre" premieres on Netflix on January 19, 2023.