This week’s Junji Ito: Collection, and especially its first part, felt a bit out of place. Let’s find out why.
Japanese Original Episode Title: 超自然転校生 / 案山子
A mysterious transfer student is approached by his new classmates to join an occult school club. Upon his arrival in town, all sorts of abnormal incidents start occurring; plants that grow human eyes, waterfalls that grant magic powers, and mysterious lakes and statues that replace entire neighborhoods, odd statues, and wandering zombies. His classmates, initially fascinated by the excitement those weird events bring, they start engaging with them, and one of them is soon reported missing. He later comes back as a zombie to fight his friend, who pushed him into the waterfall to steal his superpowers (what). The living one wins, but the transfer student leaves the town and everything goes back to normal.
A miserable old man is burying his daughter, who committed suicide after he disapproved of her marriage to her loved one. During the funeral, he lover shows up, and in an effort to drive him away, her father sticks a scarecrow on his daughter’s tomb. Soon, the scarecrow starts changing, to the point where it looks like the dead girl. Other people start repeating the process, with one of the nearby graves belonging to a dead child, who manages to seek revenge over his killer. The dead girl also seeks her lover in his dreams; he finds himself stuck to her grave and her scarecrow, unable to leave her side until he is found dead.
Themes & Trivia
Fun with plants: As if blood fruit weren’t enough, Junji Ito mixes it up in this episode by introducing a new exciting plant: anatomically correct eyeball flowers. Kids love them.
Spoon Bending: A popular magictrick that became acommon misinterpreted manifestation of supernatural powers during the 70’s thank to the Israeli ‘psychic’ Uri Geller. It is still very much used in popular culture as a display of psychic powers.
Lochness monster: One of the paranormal phenomena summoned by Tsukano in the first part of the episode is an obvious reference to Nessie from the well-known legend of the Loch Ness monster. In Scottish folklore, Nessie is an aquatic creature that is supposed to reside in Loch Ness. Loch, by the way, is the Gaelic word for lake.
Easter Island Statues: Moai, commonly referred to as Easter Island Heads, are actually whole-bodied monolithic statues found on eastern Polynesia. They have been carved by the Rapa Nui people, a Polynesian native tribe, in the period between the 13th and 16th century. It is also a popular emoji (🗿).
Literate Scarecrow: The symbols on the scarecrow’s face are the Japanese characters he (へ), no (の), and mo (も).
The Power Rangers bit was a bit too much maybe
I mean, ok Junji, but seriously? Your characters shooting lasers at each other? What is this?
What did you think of the Junji Ito Collection’s elevent episode? Let us know in the comment section! And don’t forget to check the rest of the Winter 2018 anime reviews on MANGA.TOKYO!