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How this manga genius inspired the video game

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Maybe you have already heard of Junji Ito, aka “the master of horror” according to some fans. At 58, the phlegmatic-looking mangaka has managed the feat of establishing himself as an essential reference for anyone interested in manga and horror.


With his stories devoid of morality, his intrigues defying logic and his emblematic characters, Junji Ito quickly earned a place of choice in the list of the most exported authors internationally, capitalizing on the singularity of his stories.

Some of his works such as Tomie or The Spiral (Uzumaki) marked pop culture. Distributed on social networks, trendy image hosts or even in TV series (cf. A girl from nowhere), cosplays/inspirations drawn from his anti-heroes accumulate.

How this manga genius inspired the video game

Nanno from “A girl from nowhere” vs “Tomie” by Junji Ito

Inevitably, at the sight of this introduction one could wonder what is the relationship between a mangaka and the field of video games. Yet more than once the manga has imposed itself as the main source of inspiration for this medium (when they are not quite simply a direct adaptation).

And games that pay homage to the work of Junji Ito, there have been. Few of course, but they have the merit of existing. We can already speak of direct and explicit references such as Next door.


How this manga genius inspired the video game

From the news “The woman next door”, the game is intended to be as long as the reading of the story, i.e. about ten minutes of gameplay during which you will play a woman named Mimi. Mimi is a young girl who has just moved into a new building. Annoyed by her neighbor’s death metal music, she goes to see him to ask him to turn off the sound. On her return, she discovers a strange woman, dressed in black from head to toe. From then on, a chase sets in with hide and seek.

How this manga genius inspired the video game

The gameplay is basic but it’s dark corners that you will have to be wary of because it is from these pixelated interstices that the strange creature will come to attack you.

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Another game stands out in this regard: World of Horror.

How this manga genius inspired the video game

Released in early access in 2020, World of Horror takes us to the 80s to the heart of multiple investigations, each more mysterious than the next. Between disturbed obsessions and macabre unions, the various monstrosities presented share a whole singular artistic direction in the service of an independent creation that goes beyond the framework of the simple visual novel.

How this manga genius inspired the video game

In short, the game is intended as a direct inspiration from the work of Junji Ito but also from his universe, going in particular to Lovecraft, a major referent of the famous mangaka. And it is not insignificant since both share a macabre fascination for cosmic horror, otherwise known as cosmicism.
Cosmicism recalls the insignificance of humans on the scale of the universe. Associated with the fear of the absence of control and the absence of any morality in the face of the laws of nature, it confronts us with primary fears, those which cannot be resolved by flight or confrontation.

“The human race will disappear. Other races appear and have died out in their turn. The sky will become cold and empty, shot through by the dim light of dying stars. This in turn disappears. Everything will disappear. And what do people have no sense of the random movement of elementary particles. (HP Lovecraft



It is this philosophy that permeates one of the last works of its Japanese successor: Sensor.

How this manga genius inspired the video game

Sensor tells the story of Kyôko Byakuya who, for some reason that escapes her, joins a village invaded by golden volcanic filaments. The inhabitants, all dedicated to a cult, can communicate with each other thanks to these filaments. From then on, the curse begins after the eruption of the volcano, giving way to mystical events going beyond the supernatural. As in the now classic Tomie of 1987, the bewitching beauty of the heroine remains a source of fascination which contributes to the strangeness of the story. In this work, Junji Ito approaches the universe of Lovecraft like never before. Appealing to fears far from being universal (trypophobia, dysmorphophobia, fear of spirals…) he refers here to an ancestral and fundamental fear, that of the unknown.

“Humanity’s oldest and strongest emotion is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown.” HP Lovecraft


If the Japanese horror manga is often based on local folklore, we can here forget the yokai, yurei or other Japanese demons. Junji Ito remains deeply inspired by Caucasian creations in his work, even if all of his stories take place in Japan. Like his contemporary Haruki Murakami, prolific author of best-selling novels, it is undoubtedly thanks to this deeply Western vision that he owes his international success.

How this manga genius inspired the video game

In this sense, if there is a game that could most closely resemble the mangaka’s universe without being directly inspired by it, it would undoubtedly be Silent Hill 2. With an extremely rich narration and a open end that leaves room for reflection, the game takes up themes similar to those of the works of Junji Ito: a unique atmosphere, the dualism between beauty and the sordid, but above all the overrepresentation of body horror.

What is body horror?

Body horror is an artistic movement which, as its name suggests, is based on the deformation of the body. If we had to cite an emblematic work, it would undoubtedly be the film Society which, for obvious reasons, will not be shown in images in this article.

The author’s obsession with body horror is not trivial. He claims himself that she allows him to convey emotions of disgust and fascination through simple planks.where the cinema can boast of going through other channels such as sound, light, image animation… that is all that has managed to do Silent Hill 2creating that inimitable feeling of fear that still marks the players of the time.

It’s not for nothing that a few years ago Hideo Kojimathen still at Konami, had approached the master of horror in order to involve him in the creation of Silent Hills which we had a brief glimpse of in the playable teaser shortly after the release of the PS4.

How this manga genius inspired the video game

PTof its code name, brought together the best in terms of horror games: first-person view, immersive sound design and paranoid puzzles ; everything was in place to integrate the famous author into the plans for the game. Unfortunately, Junji Ito, who confided that he had discussed it with Kojima during a drunken dinner, had no further wind of the project.

The latter had the sad fate that we know today. However, the rumor still runs about the association between the two men around a unique horror game that would push the boundaries of terror.

“Drawing fear is the best way to explore the human race” Junji Ito

You can now find Sensor and the complete Tomié at Mangetsu editions. Spirale and Gyo as well as the 3 volumes of “La déchée d’un homme” are published by Delcourt/Tonkam.

For a few months also “The masterpieces of Junji Ito Tome 2” have been available and constitute a collection of more than twenty short stories still at Mangetsu.

Finally, many news are available on Kobo in English version.