Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre summary and endings explained

Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre features peculiar and horrifying stories by the horror manga artist Junji Ito. The anime series is now streaming on Netflix.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

“The Strange Hikizuri Siblings” (Episode 1):

The five younger Hikizuri respect their older brother, Kazuya, who is the sole breadwinner in the family. However, Kazuya does not actually have a job. 

He lies to his siblings about going to work because he wants to set a good example for them. The Hikizuri family’s inheritance is enough to feed them all. 

One day, when he is resting under a tree, he meets Sachiyo, a spirit photographer. He offers to take her to his mansion, where he believes she will capture several spirits in her photographs, and she agrees to go with him. 

To invite her over again, he decides to summon the spirits of his dead parents. Sachiyo shows up with her boyfriend, much to Kazuya’s displeasure. His younger brother, Shigaro, who was scolded by him earlier, gets possessed by their father’s spirit.

Their father humiliates Kazuya and commands Shigaro to take over Kazuya’s position as the head of the family. He pukes out what is assumed to be ectoplasm. 

Once Shigaro takes over as the head of the family, he mistreats his siblings, especially his youngest brother, Hitoshi. Kazuya meets Sachiyo, and he finds out that Shigaro puked flour, not ectoplasm, and he was never possessed by their father. 

At home, when he fights with Shigaro, Hitoshi pukes their father’s spirit, which chases the siblings out of the house and buries itself in their father’s grave, scaring the siblings and leaving behind a clueless Hitoshi.

“The Story of the Mysterious Tunnel” “Ice Cream Truck” (Episode 2):

Years after Goro’s mother dies by suicide, Goro visits the creepy tunnel with his friends where his mother met her end. When his friends run away out of fear, he finds his sister, Mari, there and takes her home. She does not remember how she got there. 

The next day, she is nowhere to be found. Their father goes to the tunnel looking for her but never returns. Goro comes across the Cosmic Ray Observatory in the tunnel when he goes looking for his father and Mari, who is with the researchers of the observatory. 

Their father is still missing, and Mari keeps going to the tunnel, but she does not know why she does it. The researchers decide to close down the observatory when, in a photograph, they find strange beings that pass through humans like Xray.

The researchers find themselves drawn to the tunnel even after that. They can now see the beings. They get absorbed into the walls and the ground. Goro watches everyone die before being dragged underground.

The second story in this episode follows Sonohara and his son, Tomoki. When they move to a new neighborhood, they see an ice cream bus that visits every Saturday; the ice cream man takes the children around the town on the bus.

Sonohara allows Tomoki to join the other children on the bus, and he comes back home looking extremely happy after having eaten loads of strawberry ice cream with the other children. It soon becomes a routine.

When Sonohara asks the man if he could join the children on the bus, the man refuses, and Sonohara catches a glimpse of the children collectively licking a huge lump. 

One day, Sonohara comes home to find Tomoki licking his friends, who have melted into lumps of ice cream. When Sonohara tries to stop him, Tomoki dies. A decapitated Tomoki melts into a similar lump.

“Hanging Balloons” (Episode 3):

Kazuko locks herself in a room and refuses to come out. A month ago, her friend Terumi, who was a celebrity, hanged herself. Weeks after her death, people started hanging themselves, and her ghost was also spotted by others.

Terumi’s boyfriend, Shiraishi, calls Kazuko when he sights her ghost. When Kazuko reaches there, she witnesses Terumi’s giant head floating in the air, along with Shiraishi’s head, which has a noose around it.

She watches the noose get wrapped around Shiraishi, killing him. The next day, four giant heads with nooses around them chase Kazuko and her friends. A man tries to help them by shooting a head, but that causes Kazuko’s friend’s body to shrivel up.

Five days before the present day, giant heads are seen looming over the whole country and killing people. Kazuko watches her father getting killed by his head, and a few days later, her mother is killed in a similar fashion. 

In the present day, voices try to lure Kazuko out. She finally hears her brother’s voice; he had gone out to get supplies. Believing him to be alive, she opens her window, only to see his dead body. Kazuko’s floating head wraps a noose around her head and kills her.

“Four x Four Walls” “The Sandman’s Lair” (Episode 4):

Koichi’s troublesome brother, Soichi, does not let him study in peace. As a result, their parents call a carpenter to make his room soundproof. The carpenter takes a liking to Soichi, who starts working with him on the project.

The carpenter builds four walls and doors inside Koichi’s room, which makes the room extremely cramped. Soichi gets between the walls and finds a way to disturb Koichi, who chases him through secret doors between the walls.

An exhausted Koichi gives up on the chase when he realizes that this is exactly what Soichi wants. Soichi keeps screaming between the walls and eventually falls down from exhaustion.

The second story is based on Yuji, who does not let himself sleep because he believes his dream-world self wants to come out of his body and is waiting for him to fall asleep. He asks his friend, Mari, to tape his limbs and watch over him as he sleeps.

Not believing him, Mari cuts the tape once he is asleep. She then witnesses an arm coming out of Yuji’s mouth, but Yuji wakes up and puts it back inside. Yuji’s body is hollow inside, and his dream self is his flip side; it wants to come out because it wants Mari.

A tired Yuji wants to give up and let it flip his body inside out. Mari, who does not want to lose him, tapes their hands together. When Yuji’s dream self comes out into this world, Mari also gets absorbed into Yuji’s body and enters the dream world with Yuji.

“Intruder” “Long Hair in the Attic” (Episode 5):

Oshikiri is a loner and does not have friends. When he is reading alone in the library, a group of friends approaches him to take a look at the book he is reading. As they are all interested in theories about the alternate dimension, they invite him to eat with them.

Oshikiri, who lives alone, tells them about hearing footsteps in his house, and they accompany him to his house to witness the same. They see Oshikiri’s alternate self from another dimension in the house. 

They realize he must have a way to travel between dimensions. This Oshikiri murdered the group of friends that accompanied Oshikiri to his house in the alternate dimension and brought their bodies to this dimension to bury them. The friends choose to forget about it as the two Oshikiris are not the same.

The second story sees Chiemi’s long-term boyfriend breaking up with her because she tries too hard to please him. A heartbroken Chiemi decides to cut the long hair that she grew for him. However, before she could do it, she is found decapitated in her room.

Long after her death, her ex-boyfriend gets a frightening phone call at night that reminds him of her. The persistent rat problem in the attic causes Chiemi’s father to go to the attic. When he does not come down, her sister goes there to check up on him.

She finds her father dead, and Chiemi’s moving head right in front of him. The head is being directed by the long hair. The hair leaves the attic to kill Chiemi’s ex-boyfriend.

“Mold” “Library Vision” (Episode 6):

Akasaka reluctantly agrees to rent his brand new house to his old homeroom teacher, Mr. Rogi, as he has to go out of the country. When he comes back to Japan, he finds his house in ruins. The house is covered in thick layers of mold.

He cannot get a hold of Mr. Rogi, and he cannot get his brother, Seiju, to answer his questions either. Seiju finally tells him that he once saw Mr. Rogi’s baby, who was made of the same mold that covers the house now. The baby infected Mr. Rogi’s daughter also.

Akasaka agrees to leave the house with Seiju. However, he scratches his face with his hands covered in mold. He discovers the bodies of Mr. Rogi’s family buried deep within the layers of the mold. Akasaka’s skin turns to mold, and he is seen sitting surrounded by it.

In the second story in this episode, Goro is a man who meticulously maintains his library. Even his wife, Koko, is not allowed to touch his books. One day, when his mother’s favorite book, “Renée of the Winter Wind”, goes missing, he is visited by the ghost of the book. 

His father’s most cherished book, “Hell of Thorns”, had also gone missing; it is the most horrifying book in the world. At night, he is visited by the monster of the book. Koko watches him get slashed, but he wins the fight by reciting the novel.

He decides to memorize every novel in his huge library and eventually loses his own memories. He hears Koko calling out his name one day, and the library catches fire, killing Goro.

A man named Shogo Shirasaki is seen escaping his confined room in a facility. “Renée of the Winter Wind”, “Hell of Thorns”, and “Koko’s Maple Leaves” are spotted on his bed.

“Tomb Town” (Episode 7):

Tsuyoshi is driving his sister, Kaoru, to another town to visit her friend, Izumi. He hits a young girl with his car, who dies immediately. He hides the body in the trunk of the car and proceeds to drive to Izumi’s town.

Her town is scattered with tombstones. The siblings find out that people in this town turn to tombstones in the exact place where they die. They also come to know that the girl they killed was Izumi’s sister, Ayumi.

They help Izumi’s family look for Ayumi. When the police find evidence that suggests Ayumi was hit by a car, Izumi tells them that if her body was taken away from the place where she died, she would not be able to turn into a tombstone.

The siblings decide to leave the town, but not before visiting the shrine well, which is so deep that its bottom is not visible. They throw Ayumi’s body, which has started transforming into something strange, into the well. Tsuyoshi cuts his hand in the process.

Izumi finds Ayumi’s bracelet near the well and realizes that her sister is dead. She kills herself with her parents in their house. 

Meanwhile, Tsuyoshi’s body turns into something that resembles the state of Ayumi’s body when they got rid of it. A guilt-ridden Kaoru cries beside her brother’s transformed body.

“Layers of Terror” “The Thing that Drifted Ashore” (Episode 8):

In 1996, a child’s skull is excavated by a group of men. In 2017, Reimi and Narumi get in a car accident with their mother. Reimi, who was always coddled by their obsessive mother, loses half of her face.

The doctor tells them that Reimi’s body is made up of layers of skin. Narumi, who has always been neglected, comes to the conclusion that their family is cursed, as Narumi discovers she is also made up of layers of skin. 

Their father excavated that child’s skull years ago, and the picture of it resembled Reimi’s MRI; Reimi was born a year after that event. 

When Reimi blames their mother for everything, their mother calls out to a younger version of Reimi, believing she is buried within layers of Reimi’s skin. She wants to raise and coddle Reimi all over again. 

When a two-year-old Reimi answers her call, she starts peeling away layers of Reimi’s skin to reach her. However, she just finds her face beneath the layers; her body is tall and extremely strange. 

She decides to peel back her own skin with a knife to get to her younger self in order to give birth to Reimi again. However, she discovers that her body is not made of layers like her daughters’ bodies. 

Narumi is left to take care of her sister’s younger version as well as her mother whose face is wrapped in bandages.

In the second story, a gigantic fish gets washed up to the shore. It draws the attention of scientists and people alike as it is an unknown species. 

In the crowd that has gathered there, a woman, Mie, who lost her fiancé years ago is also present. Seven years ago, a ferry sank, and all the passengers aboard disappeared after the accident. 

The scientists find humans in the fish’s intestines, as they were never digested. When they cut up the fish, several humans, who have turned white, crawl out of it. Mie recognizes her fiancé among them. 

These humans have turned into parasites after ingesting the creature’s nutrients to stay alive. As they are no longer humans, they crawl back to the sea.

“Tomie: Photo” (Episode 9):

Tsukiko is a member of her school’s photo club. She takes pictures of boys and sells them to girls in school. Tomie, who is on the disciplinary committee, confiscates Tsukiko’s pictures. 

Yamazaki, a boy Tsukiko likes, requests her to take Tomie’s pictures for him. Tomie catches her sneakily snapping her pictures and allows her to freely take more pictures of her. Tsukiko continues, not knowing that Tomie has asked a teacher to come there.

Tsukiko gets caught by the teacher and has to leave the club. When she sees another head protruding out of Tomie’s head in the pictures, she scatters the pictures around the school to get her revenge. 

As a result, Tomie sends her henchmen to kill her, including Yamazaki, who was in love with Tomie. Tsukiko manages to escape and gets suspended from school.

When she is alone at home, Tomie visits her. Tsukiko calls her a monster, which enrages her, causing the other head to protrude. Tomie’s henchmen enter the house after hearing her screams. 

They tie Tsukiko to her desk, and on Tomie’s command, start chopping the protruding head. They accidentally behead Tomie, but her head still orders them to carry it outside and get rid of the protrusion.

Tomie’s body also rushes out of the house later, and Tsukiko decides to clean up her room. 

“Unendurable Labyrinth” “The Bully” (Episode 10):

When Noriko and Sayako get lost in the mountains, a monk offers them a place to stay. He tells them about his religion and then asks them to join other devotees and meditate with them for a few days.

They agree to stay and are given a room. Their roommate, Aya, tells them that she joined this religion to find her missing brother who joined it years ago. 

When they see the monks going out in large numbers for a ceremony that involves self-mummification, the three of them decide to follow them.

They discover an underground room filled with the dead bodies of hundreds of monks. Aya finds her brother and decides to mourn his death alone for a few minutes. 

On their way out, Noriko and Sayako feel several eyes on them. They watch the eyes of the dead monks moving, and the two scream in terror.

The second story follows Kuriko, a woman who used to bully a younger boy named Nao when she was a child. No matter how cruel she was to him, he still clung to her.

She meets him years later, and he holds no grudges against her. They fall in love, get married, and have a son together. Nao abandons the two, and Kuriko believes he finally got his revenge.

She sees his image in their son and starts bullying him. One night, a crazy Kuriko wears the clothes she used to wear as a child and takes her son to the playground where she used to bully Nao.

“Alley” “Headless Statue” (Episode 11):

Ishida moves into a boarding house where he meets Shinobu, who used to occupy his room before he moved in. 

At night, Ishida hears the noises of children playing and a man calling out Shinobu’s name from the alley right beside the house; the alley has been closed off with a fenced wall. 

An old boarder warns Ishida that there are dead bodies hidden in an underground area in the alley. Initially, he does not believe him, but when he finds a window hidden behind a bookcase in his room, he climbs down to investigate the alley.

When he tries to climb back up, Shinobu cuts the rope and reveals that she killed six people, including her father, in the alley; their bodies are still there. Anyone who dies there becomes a spot on the wall that comes to life at night. The ghosts curse her at night.

Ishida passes out, and Shinobu also goes down. However, she realizes she cannot return as the rope has been cut. She gets trapped there, and the ghosts come to life at night, seeking revenge.

In the second story, Mr. Okabe, an art teacher who sculpts headless sculptures, gets murdered. Rumi, a student, had seen her friend, Shimada, with him the night of the murder. She goes to Shimada’s house, and he tells her that their teacher is still alive.

He takes her to the old campus building, where he tries to kill her. Rumi soon realizes that it is the headless statues that have been beheading people and putting their severed heads on their bodies; Shimada is also one of them. 

Shimada, Mr. Okabe, and two other students have been killed by the statues that now chase Rumi to behead her. She finds herself trapped from all sides, with the statues fighting over her head.

“Whispering Woman” “Soichi’s Beloved Pet” (Episode 12):

Mayumi is a girl who needs to receive orders to perform even the smallest of actions to prevent her from getting hysterical. Her father hires a mysterious woman named Mitsu to look after her.

Mitsu is extremely efficient at her job. Mayumi’s father finds out that she lives with her abusive partner, who takes away her earnings, but he takes no action, as he wants her to be desperate enough to work for him.

Mitsu is soon found dead in her apartment, but Mayumi continues to function calmly. She is still receiving orders from Mitsu, who had promised to never leave her side. On her orders, Mayumi finds Mitsu’s partner and stabs him to death.

The second story follows a house cat that gets adopted by two siblings, Sayuri and Koichi. They name it Coron. Their mischievous younger brother, Soichi, torments the cat. 

When Sayuri and Koichi yell at him, he decides to curse the cat. Coron soon turns into a wild cat, hunting all sorts of strange animals and tearing apart the house. 

The two siblings find Coron with Soichi. When Koichi tries to take Coron away, it electrocutes Soichi. As the charge grows, the whole family rushes out of the house.

Soichi ends up in the hospital, while Sayuri and Koichi think Coron has gone back to being their innocent pet. However, they are wrong, as Coron is seen screeching wildly.

The post-credits scene tells the story of a man in a mental facility. The man starts writing on the wall with his blood, thinking his blood is ink and the walls are the pages for him to write. 

He believes the letters to be strange insects, and he thinks he is taking orders from them. The man has been drilling through the wall of the room with the bones of his fingers in an attempt to escape the confined room.

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