Junji Ito Collection

3 out of 5

Directed by: Shinobu Tagashira

This scrapes by as passable entertainment solely due to its source material.  The cheap animation – and rather rigid decision to explicitly follow the manga – wouldn’t fly for most series, but because Junji Ito’s material is so often rivetingly weird and creepy, you hang on for another episode to see how whichever adaptation looks on screen.

Junji Ito Collection is an anthology of Ito’s horror (and comedy horror) shorts, anime-d.  The voice actors across the episodes are pretty game, and Studio Deen rather accurately captures some still shots in Ito’s fine-lined style; the series absolutely recreates the manga it intends to.  However, in doing so, the show overlooks one of the points of an adaptation: of migrating something from one form of media to another, and morphing it so that it works better in that new media.  Combined with what we’ll assume was some budget constraints, we get a lot of abbreviated animation – still figures with moving mouths; talking from off-screen while we show static scenery – and when there is a requirement for some more emotive animation, like running, it’s jerky as all get out.  And that fine-lined Ito thing only applies to key close-ups: most of the figures and settings are pretty bare.

That said, this, eh, minimalism kind of works when the stories themselves are quiet and minimal; that is: when doing book-to-screen really doesn’t require much movement from the characters, it translates.  And a fair amount of Junji’s stuff falls into that category.  The rest of it, though, requires some tolerance for the cheap look; this isn’t so bad, because it’s Junji’s stories, and because each story is only half an episode long.  It’s also nice that the show didn’t case aside the more humorous stuff (like Souichi’s tales), breaking up the tone nicely… even if it was an odd decision to start the series like that.

So despite all of these visual roadblocks – which are notable, given that this is a damned visual medium – I didn’t hate my time with Junji Ito Collection, and was rewarded with some truly creepy moments, re-creeping me out from the replicated originals.