At last, it happened: this week’s episodes were creepy enough to make me forget the show’s poor animation and production. Sheesh.
Japanese Original Episode Title: 寒気 / あやつり屋敷
As usual, the episode is split into two parts, and this particular one is split in half. It begins with the story of Yuuji, whose neighbor Rina is severely ill (physically and mentally), and because of her condition, she is never allowed to go outside. Yuuji often hears her scream from his bedroom window and has noticed a creepy doctor coming to visit her again and again. One day, Rina shows Yuuji something in her garden by pointing her finger at it, and Yuuji observes that her skin is full of holes. Having not read this story, and being both a trypophobic as well as a mild hypochondriac with a particular distaste for skin diseases, I was already not happy. I would rather be looking at a million bleeding wounds than these pattern-arranged dried holes all over someone’s body. BLEH. Anyway, Rina’s condition reminds Yuuji of his grandfather’s death: he vaguely remembers barging into the room where his grandfather corpse was kept and staring at his hole-covered body (ewwww). His parents, of course, denied any of this happening. While hanging out with his friend Hideo in what used to be his grandfather bedroom (but is now his), Yuuji discovers his grandfather’s journals and finds out that his grandfather did, in fact, die of a hole disease after being enticed by some sort of large jade stone. He easily comes to the conclusion that the stone is what Rina was showing him in the garden and that the creepy doctor is after the people who have been touched by the stone. During a stormy night, his friend Hideo unexpectedly appears in his window screaming that he had been taken over by the stone, and after being caught by the creepy doctor, he dies. Rina, however, is healed.
In the second part of the episode, a family of traveling puppet players loses its only parent, and while one of the three children escapes to ‘avoid being taken over by the puppets’, his other two siblings live a modest life with older Haruhiko getting a job and young Natsumi going to school. Haruhiko even meets up with his childhood friend Hidaka and they start dating. At some point, the older brother Yukihiko sends a letter to Haruhiki and Natsumi and invites them over to his custom built house, where he and his family are being completely controlled and moved around by strings, just like puppets. After a few visits, Natsumi decides she wants to move in with Yukihiko’s family, and some of the larger puppets around the house are trying to convince Haruhiki to join the party and wear strings like everyone else. When Hidaka barges into the house hoping to confront Haruhiki thinking he’s been seeing another woman, the puppets take over and all hell breaks loose.
Themes & Trivia
Trypophobia: Trypophobia, originating from the Greek word ‘τρύπα’ (hole), is, of course, the fear of holes, and is the uneasy feeling one is subjected to when looking to repetitive patterns of clean holes on a surface. As most phobias, it is said to be originating from the fear of death and the appearance of decays holes create. Things that trigger trypophobia include cheese, the Nelumbo nucifera lotus water lily, and frogs that keep their young ones parasitically growing on their back. Just google it, as I will not be doing that for you. All you’re getting is this.
Jade: A symbol ofpower and status, particularly in Chinese culture, jade is an absolutely beautiful stone that is most popular in green around Asia, especially China. It also represents beauty, grace, and purity. A Chinese saying goes: ‘gold has a value; jade is invaluable’, which is probably why the characters in the show were so infatuated with the jade stone.
Puppet theatre: Even though the puppets in this episode were very much westernized, Japanese puppet theatre is a thing, and it’s called Bunraku. Funnily enough, the Bunraku National Theatre in Osaka looks very much like Yukihiko’s customized house.
I hate holes and puppets are creepy anyway
I guess that was a proper love-or-hate episode. I was really disturbed the whole time (not necessarily due to the anime doing a good job but probably because of my own definition of fear) yet I still enjoyed watching.
What did you think of the Junji Ito Collection’s fourth 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!
NEXT TIME: The Ongoing Tale of Oshikiri Collection / Cloth Teacher (押切異談 / 布製教師)