Horror manga extraordinaire Junji Ito is renowned for terrifying his readers with his stomach-turning work. The mangaka started his journey back in 1987 and now is counted amongst some of the finest horror manga authors.
From painstakingly detailed illustrations to well-crafted storylines, Ito’s horror manga has all the bells and whistles that are crucial to a great horror tale.
Here are the 13 most horrifying Junji Ito manga stories that compel readers to admire his art and storytelling oeuvre, but beware of sleepless nights – these are not for the weak of heart!
Ito compels his readers to launch into this space-horror manga.
Acclaimed Professor Oguro has discovered an alien planet and named it "Remina" after his daughter.
Coincidently, she and the planet are both 16 years old. And because of the coincidence, her daughter gets famous.
Elsewhere, the scientists observing Planet Remina note that it is acting weird. At one point, they realize that there is something sinister about the alien planet.
Stars that come close to Planet Remina disappear without a trace. Meanwhile, Remina is getting famous and the planet eventually turns its attention to Earth.
The news of the mysterious planet approaching Earth spreads like wildfire and people start blaming Oguro and her daughter for the dismal turn of events.
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The Beautiful Boy At The Crossroads
Straight from Ito’s Lovesickness collection, The Beautiful Boy at the Crossroads combines love and curse.
Ito introduces his readers to Ryusuke, who is heading back to his hometown of Nazumi.
For some reason, he is dreading this return to Nazumi. As he arrives, he learns about an unusual trend of young women meeting strangers at the crossroads and asking them to predict their future.
Soon, these young women start turning up dead, and it is a pretty gruesome sight.
The story explores how the girls end up dead and if Ryusuke’s arrival has a connection to their murders.
The Mystery of the Haunted House
With The Mystery of the Haunted House, Ito teases the readers with pure horror and sprinkles of dark comedy.
Coming from the Souichi Tsujii series, this horror manga revolves around the 27-year-old owner of a haunted house.
The mangaka tells two versions of this story from the perspectives of two characters namely, Kouichi and Michina Hirose (Souichi’s cousin).
In Kouichi’s version, he sets out to investigate rumors about the haunted house with his buddy, Satoshi. Souichi allows them to enter the house for free, but there is a catch, and it is a deadly one.
The second version is Michina’s perspective as she desperately looks for the missing Tsujii family.
During her investigation, she ends up meeting with Souichi’s older brother who remains in a terrible condition.
What is even more horrifying is she also finds the missing members of the Tsujii family inside the haunted house.
The manga appears in the Junji Ito Collection Volume, Smashed.
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The plot of Gyo is simple – sea creatures start transforming into deadly monsters all around the city.
The two protagonists, Tadashi and Kaori, sight something strange during one of their scuba diving sessions, and things quickly spiral into something evil and sinister.
Gyo is filled with grotesque monsters and gore and shows humanity stretching beyond its limits.Advertisement
Ito, who is known for creating an eerie atmosphere using the plot, decides to take a different route with Sensor, which is also known as Travelogue of the Succubus.
With Sensor, the horror mangaka allows the characters to drive the story home.
The manga follows Kyoko Byakuya as she takes a trip to Sengoku Mountain where she encounters a man who seems to know a lot about her.
For unknown reasons, Kyoko is drawn to the mystical Sengoku Mountain and a small town adjacent to it.
After her arrival, she encounters the angel hair that the villagers call Amagami.
Slowly, Kyoko starts to uncover the mysteries surrounding the village and the importance of her arrival.
Sensor features one of Ito’s most beautiful artwork, and the captivating storyline is just the cherry on top.
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Venus in the Blind Spot
Horror master Ito goes beyond the terror of the supernatural and digs deeper into the relationships between troubled characters.
A group of men falls in love with Mariko Shono, a remarkably beautiful woman. Mariko’s father, who runs a UFO research club, cannot take it and decides to control her moves.
Venus in the Blind Spot follows the deeply troubling relationship between Mariko and her controlling father.
This masterpiece takes human emotions like lust, possessiveness, and desperation to new lows.
A mystical supernatural force is controlling people all over Asano’s hometown in this horror story from Junji Ito’s Smashed collection.
After frequent sightings of people getting stuck in uncomfortable poses, Asano takes it upon herself to unravel the mystery.
She starts investigating these unusual happenings known as “Earthbound symptoms.”
The victims of Earthbound symptoms are stuck and cannot move their bodies. Eventually, the victims end up decaying.
The Earthbound shines in displaying body horror with supernatural elements.Advertisement
The Human Chair
Based on mystery author Edogawa Ranpo’s original story, Ito brilliantly illustrates Ranpo’s epic story that was originally published in October 1925.
The short story balances creepy and horror elements as a man decides to hide in a chair. The reason he hides inside the chair is his obsession with human contact.
With his intricate and imaginative illustrations, Ito brings Ranpo’s The Human Chair to life.
The Strange Hikizuri Siblings
In The Strange Hikizuri Siblings, Ito invites his readers into a slice-of-life tale with a dark twist, of course.
The manga follows a group of siblings who derive pleasure in torturing and tormenting each other and other unsuspecting folks.
The story shows how their pranks can turn out more than just inconvenience.
Considered one of Ito’s most popular stories, Fashion Model wastes no time in introducing the horrifying monster.
A man sees a rather bizarre-looking model and becomes consumed by her looks. He is unable to get her face out of his mind.
Day and night, all he can think about is that model’s face with sharp teeth and a piercing gaze.
As time passes by, he seems to forget her, but during a casting audition for a student film, the same woman appears before him and his friends.
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Ito plays with ambiance and atmospheric elements in Used Record.
This eerie manga tells a story of a record that hypnotizes the listener. The protagonist of the story, Ogawa, buys a used vinyl and becomes obsessed with the song.
Not just Ogawa, the song also manages to entice her friend, Nakayama.
The duo starts listening to the record from cover to cover and it is all they could do.
Sadly, there is only one copy, which means Ogawa and Nakayama will have to find another way to listen to the hypnotizing music.
Used Record brilliantly delves into addiction and obsession.
Students of a high school are mourning the brutal death of one of their own – Tomie Kawakami.
She was murdered and dismembered, and her classmates are beyond terrified after hearing the news of her gruesome demise.
Suddenly, a familiar student who is drop-dead gorgeous appears before the class. Her name is Tomie and she apologizes for coming in late.
However, this Tomie disregards humanity and is manipulative. She has a beauty mark under her left eye and unlucky men get instantly smitten when they look at her.
More than lust, the men get urges to dismember her. But even after killing her, she returns from the dead to continue manipulating men.
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Taking the top spot is an Ito classic manga – Uzumaki. Considered his magnum opus of sorts, Uzumaki revolves around spirals taking over a small town, Kurouzo-cho.
Ito excels in Uzumaki by turning mundane everyday things into psychological horror for the characters.
This classic manga features several themes like paranoia, obsession, and everyday things turning bizarre.
Uzumaki is one of the most iconic manga by Ito that got a live-action film, two video games, and an anime, which, as of this article’s writing, still remains in production.