Have you ever wanted to have your fortune told by a tall slender man with stunning good looks who likes to wear lipstick? I wouldn’t advise it. Better just learn how to read tarot cards. Also, slugs.
Japanese Original Episode Title: 四つ辻の美少年 死びとの恋わずらい / なめくじ少女
The first part of the episode takes place –as do many- in a high school, with the protagonist Ryuusuke having moved back to the town he used to live in as a child. Being considered attractive by the majority of his peers, he grabs the attention of Midori, the most popular girl in his school. The two are briefly dating, but Ryuusuke inexplicably breaks up with Midori, for he cannot bear keeping a terrible secret from her. As a child, he once gave a fortune telling to a woman at the town’s crossroads and told her that her lover would never acknowledge her or her unborn baby. She was not impressed with his answer, so she proceeded to kill herself in the messiest way in the book – by slicing her neck open. That woman happened to be Midori’s aunt. Their mutual friend, Suzue, who spends way too much time caring about their relationship, attempts to get a fortune telling at the crossroads, and is encouraged to take care of her own love life by a tall guy with lipstick and several ear piercings. She then decides to blow off Midori and start pursuing Ryuusuke, who is completely disinterested in her. After he finally tells her to GTFO of his life, she – guess what- slits her own throat. Ryuusuke dedicates himself to giving people happy prophecies in an effort to find the lipstick fortune-teller, but when finally both him and Midori catch a glimpse of him, he disappears, along with the fog known to be covering their little town.
In the second part, two parents find it a good idea to submerge their daughter who is turning into a slug in a bathtub filled with salt. Her body shrinks and her head becomes a shell for the slug that lives in her mouth. That is messed up.
Themes & Trivia
Fortune Telling: As you might have guessed, Japan is no stranger to absurd fortune-telling rituals (not that there are non-absurd ones anywhere). From golden poop trinkets to cat figurines, there are many ways to engage with your potential future in Japanese culture. The one described in this episode is actually pretty damn old and is called tsujiura. In order to perform the ritual, you will need a comb to signal passers-by, something to cover your face with, and a random stranger. Stop them down the road and ask them to tell your fortune. Slap them in the face if they don’t (<= this is called sarcasm). Interestingly enough, the ritual was so popular that it was made into food – can this get any better – and is the actual origin of what we call ‘chinese fortune cookies’. Even more interestingly, people who are not happy with their fortunes are said to commit suicide.
Trapped: A major theme in Junji Ito’s work is the inevitability of the characters’ destiny and the futility that characterizes their actions in an effort to avoid it. By following any Junji Ito storyline, you will notice that the characters, usually innocent harmless people, are having to put up with the shittiest curses, and will soon begin every story knowing that someone’s gonna get messed up for no apparent reason. Pretty sadistic. Then again, he is a dentist.
Slugs: Junji Ito’s obsession with spirals –which led to what I believe is his best work: Uzumaki– can be detected in the slug girl episode. A common theme in Uzumaki has humans being turned into slugs, even though not in that awfully gross way that almost made me gag.
Lipstick Bishonen: I can’t find out when this particular story was released, but I can’t help being reminded of 80s Japanese icon (and proud top-5 member of my personal to-do list) Atsushi Sakurai from the band Buck Tick. A quick glimpse of their video Dress will probably explain why. Damn, he’s hot. *watches it again*
Once more, not my favorite story to work with on this episode. I did prefer the second one, found it significantly more disturbing and to the point. I guess more than anything because, if you’re stalking strangers in the fog asking them to tell your fortune, well, you’re kind of trying your luck. Also, the idea of having a giant slug instead of a tongue is really, really messed up. Bloody dentists.
(Notice how I didn’t mention the crappy animation this time? I’m growing up.)
Brush your teeth kids
Unless you wanna be turned into a slug-kid, that is.
What did you think of the Junji Ito Collection’s third 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!