A relatively lackluster start lacks any of Ito’s trademark visual nastiness.
This recap of the Netflix anime anthology Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre Season 1 Episode 1, “The Strange Hikizuri Siblings”, contains spoilers.
The first episode of the Netflix anthology Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre adapts a single story from The Circus is Here, the fifth volume of Horror World of Junji Ito. It’s a simple tale in many ways, chronicling the exploits of an eccentric Addams Family-style clan: Kazuya, Kinako, Shigorou, Narumi, Hitoshi, and Misako Hikizuri.
Junji Ito Maniac Season 1 Episode 1 Recap
The family has a huge inheritance so they don’t have to work, but Kazuya goes out every day and pretends to. While doing so he meets a spirit photographer whom he invites to photograph the creepy and supposedly haunted mansion. The dysfunction within the family plays for both comedy and off-kilter quasi-horror, and the suggestion of Kazuya to hold a seance so the youngest siblings can meet their dead parents doesn’t exactly bode well.
However, most of the hook of this story is in whether the family is telling the truth. After the seance, which the photographer and her boyfriend are invited to witness, one of the siblings supposedly becomes possessed by the spirit of his dead father and vomits up ectoplasm that is later revealed to be udon flour — the entire thing was a ruse. Because of the pre-established dysfunctionality, though, the point of such a thing remains nebulous. There’s a bit of the siblings trying to one-up each other, a bit of crying out for attention, and a bit of trying to frighten outsiders.
This idea of what is essentially a family drama masquerading as light horror is a good one but means there’s little of Ito’s best stuff, which is arresting and terrifying imagery and truly frightening concepts. “The Strange Hikizuri Siblings” has neither of these things and despite a last-minute foray into the outright supernatural when the real spirit of the Hikizuri patriarch chases the kids out of the house, there’s little that’s memorable here. A standard theme of meddling in things one doesn’t truly understand for personal gain probably being a bad idea does little to elevate the drama.
You can stream the Netflix anime anthology Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre Season 1 Episode 1, “The Strange Hikizuri Siblings” exclusively on Netflix.