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Junji Ito: Find out everything about the mangaka and his best books

tomie junji ito manga

Manga and comic book fans alike have come to Junji Ito is a master of horror manga, whose chilling stories and dark, detailed drawings have captured readers’ fear and imagination for decades.

Despite having his work long relegated to fanmade translations on shady manga sites, readers, gamers, and moviegoers are all likely familiar with Ito’s work. His stories and art have inspired countless pieces of media, earning both overt homages and subtle nods.

Junji Ito The Thing That Drifted Ashore
Bloodborne fans may get flashbacks seeing this Junji Ito panel.

In the late 2010s, Ito himself started maintaining a higher profile. This was particularly true in the West, as he started appearing at conventions, made contributions to Magic: The Gathering, and popped up as an NPC in Death Stranding. Many are still playing catch-up on the author, however, which makes it worth looking over his work from the beginning.

Who is Junji Ito?

Junji Ito is a prolific horror manga artist, known for series including Uzumaki, Tomie, and Gyo.

His works draw upon multiple genres of horror, including body, cosmic, and supernatural horror, and are known for the dark, grotesque, and highly detailed imagery that fill their pages. He made his manga debut in 1987, when he won an honorable mention in Monthly Halloween’s Kazuo Umezu Prize. That story was later serialized as Tomie, a series about a mysterious woman whose beauty drives people to obsessive, violent madness.

Ito has also won several awards and nominations, starting with an Eisner Award nomination for Uzumaki in 2003 and 2009. In 2019, Junji Ito’s manga adaptation of the classic horror book Frankenstein won the Eisner Award for “Best Adaptation from Another Medium,” then in 2021, he received two more Eisner Awards for Remina and Venus in the Blind Spot.

How many Junji Ito books are there?

24 Junji Ito books have been officially translated into English and made available in markets outside Japan. The lineup includes both story collections and individual series. These titles include:

  • Alley: Junji Ito Story Collection
  • Black Paradox
  • Deserter: Junji Ito Story Collection
  • Dissolving Classroom
  • Fragments of Horror
  • Frankenstein: Junji Ito Story Collection
  • Gyo
  • Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu
  • Lovesickness: Junji Ito Story Collection
  • Mimi’s Tales of Terror
  • No Longer Human
  • Remina
  • Sensor
  • Shiver: Junji Ito Selected Stories
  • Smashed: Junji Ito Story Collection
  • Soichi: Junji Ito Story Collection
  • Stitches
  • The Art of Junji Ito: Twisted Visions
  • The Liminal Zone
  • Tombs: Junji Ito Story Collection
  • Tomie
  • Uncanny: The Origins of Fear
  • Uzumaki
  • Venus in the Blind Spot

There are also two adult coloring books featuring Junji Ito’s artwork, for those who enjoy relaxing by adding a bit of color to their body horror books.

What is Junji Ito’s best book?

Uzumaki is often the highest-rated Junji Ito book.

Personal preferences may vary, of course, but Uzumaki is frequently regarded as Junji Ito’s magnum opus, and is among his most recognizable works. The story is set in the town of Kurouzu-cho, which is plagued by strange, supernatural occurrences. All of these are somehow connected to spirals.

Uzumaki The Labyrinth

It follows teenage protagonist Kirie Goshima and her boyfriend Shuichi and her family, as the “spiral curse” impacts those around them in increasingly grotesque and deadly ways. Uzumaki was adapted into a live-action film in 2000, and an anime adaptation was announced in 2019. The Uzumaki anime has become notorious for being repeatedly delayed.

Junji Ito also won 2021’s Eisner Award for best writer, an achievement held by famed comic book writers such as Alan Moore and Frank Miller. He received those honors for Remina and Venus in the Blind Spot, a six-chapter cosmic horror story and compilation of one-shots, repsectively.

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Written by Robert Pleasant

Robert Pleasant is a self-admitted nerd whose love of gaming began in the 90s with Pokemon Blue. From there, his interests expanded to include games including the Legend of Zelda series, BlazBlue, and Overwatch, as well as his latest obsession, Baldur's Gate 3. Robbie has written for several nerd culture and entertainment websites, including G33k-HQ and Multiversity Comics. He regularly covers comics and TV shows, conventions, and generally reports on the latest in nerdy news. He's also an avid player of board and tabletop games, and has written and self-published several modules for Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League, including the 2019 Ennie Award-winning "Where Can She Be?" He can be found on Twitter / X at @R_Pleasant.

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