Junji Ito Maniac Season 1 Episode 11 Recap – “Alley” / “Headless Statue”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: January 19, 2023
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Junji Ito Maniac Season 1 Episode 11 Recap - "Alley" / "Headless Statue"


An interesting pair of episodes provide two very different experiences.

This recap of the Netflix anime anthology Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre Season 1 Episode 11, “Alley” / “Headless Statue”, contains spoilers.

“Alley”, essentially a murder mystery with a supernatural slant, is adapted from Back Alley, the fifth chapter of The Bully from Horror World of Junji Ito. For Ito it’s an unlikely picture of restraint since it really revolves around not seeing anything macabre until the final twist, instead relying on the unknown and a creeping sense of dread stemming from it to build tension and mystery. “Headless Statue”, meanwhile, adapted from Headless Sculptures in Flesh-Colored Horror, is much more on-trend, returning once again to Ito’s fascination with heads, especially if they’re grotesquely enlarged, missing, or stuck on something they shouldn’t be.

Junji Ito Maniac Season 1 Episode 11 Recap

In “Alley”, a young man named Ishida rents a room from a kindly woman and her daughter, Shinobu. It’s a humble domicile and Ishida quite likes it there, but at night he hears the sound of children laughing and playing from a closed-off alleyway outside his window. The entrances are sealed by high, barbed-wire-topped walls, and the alley is dark, but the sounds seem unmistakable.

Ishida doesn’t think too much of it. He doesn’t immediately assume ghosts, although we obviously do. It isn’t until he’s randomly confronted by a former tenant of the room that he even thinks to explore the alley with more purpose. However, he’s told that it hides a very dark secret, so he’s compelled to have a look around.

I like the reveal here, which is that Shinobu killed the three kids who were constantly playing and making noise in the alley outside her room, locking them in an underground hatch in the alleyway to expire. She wanted to preserve the space for herself, and once she realized that she could get away with such things, she added a few more bodies to the total, including that of her own father, who had built the wall sealing the place off to protect her secret.

But something strange happened. The shadows of the dead kids appeared on the wall of the alley, and at night, their ghosts would emerge from the wall, the shadows given form. They play every night and try to lure Shinobu down there, but she knows better. However, when Ishida ends up stuck down there, he expires from his injuries, but when Shinobu descends the rope to address his corpse, it snaps, leaving her at the mercy of the vengeful spirits.

“Headless Statue” is much more overt, relying on the creepy visuals of heads being stuck on living statues and the creepy, herky-jerky movement of those statues to deliver more intense and energetic horror. You’d have a hard time trying to arrange the narrative particulars here, to figure out precisely who’s who and why whatever is happening is actually happening, but that’s fine — it’s a simple, visceral tale that relies on its intensity and imagery.

For this reason, the two stories pair pretty well together, with “Headless Statue” feeling a little like the payoff for how much “Alley” doesn’t show or do. I wasn’t completely taken in with either story, but they make for a decent double-bill.

You can stream the Netflix anime anthology Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre Season 1 Episode 11, “Alley” / “Headless Statue” exclusively on Netflix.

Additional reading:

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