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The hauntingly memorable story in the anthology is crowned by an efficiently terrifying short film.
This summary of The Netflix anime anthology Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre Season 1 Episode 8, “Layers of Terror” / “The Thing That Drifted Ashore” contains spoilers.
Oh god, that’s a strange thing.
There’s a reason this is the most terrifying and imaginative episode of Junji Ito madman until now. Adapted from a one-shot celebrating Ito’s 30th birthday, Layers of Fear is my pick for the most imaginative and disturbing story in the entire collection. And The Thing That Drifted Ashore, adapted from a short story snail girlis a short but effective coda that provides a really memorable picture, just to round things off.
Junji Ito Maniac Season 1 Episode 8 Summary
However, most of this episode is devoted to the first story, and it’s an absolute sucker. It begins in 1996 with a brief scene in which a team of archaeologists unearth a long-buried skull, but we don’t learn the significance of this until later, having met Reimi, her sister Narumi, and her mother in the present day.
Reimi was a child television star and received preferential treatment her entire life, with her mother not being remotely subtle about it, even before Narumi. Reimi’s mother is obsessed as she was as a baby and longs to return to her life at two years old. As luck would have it, she gets the chance, but not in a way that anyone other than Junji Ito would ever imagine.
In a car accident, Reimi loses half her face, and what the doctors discover underneath is… another face. Reimi consists entirely of layers of skin, representing each year of her life, like the rings in a tree stump. Her past literally lives within her.
It’s all related to that skull, and Narumi, afflicted with the same disease, believes they were cursed by it. However, her mother sees this as an opportunity. She is obsessed with Reimi and hears her two year old self screaming for her from the inside out. Frantically, she begins tearing off layer by layer of Reimi’s skin, enlisting Narumi’s help in the process, eventually leaving only a skin skeleton and internal organs with a baby’s wailing head.
Reimi’s mother, assuming she must be cursed too, decides to slough off her own layers of skin until she reveals the 38-year-old version of herself so that she can give birth to Reimi again. However, she is not cursed and instead simply cuts off her own face with a box cutter. Really terrible stuff.
And it doesn’t get much happier in The Thing That Washed Ashore, a very short story that actually permeates quite a wide range of emotions and ideas in a very tight running time. Essentially, a giant sea creature washes up on a beach, drawing a huge crowd including the fiancé of a man who disappeared into the sea seven years ago. But the sea monster’s transparent skin reveals a fate worse than death for the passengers of this doomed ship. They have all been living in the gut of the fish for years and have mutated into scurrying parasites that scurry across the beach.
This story has some terrifying images conjured up The human centipede for me, and it’s one of the few stories in this collection that’s actually better because it’s very short.
You can stream the Netflix anime anthology Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre Season 1 Episode 8 “Layers of Terror” / “The Thing That Drifted Ashore” exclusively on Netflix.
https://readysteadycut.com/2023/01/19/junji-ito-maniac-season-1-episode-8-recap/ Junji Ito Maniac Season 1 Episode 8 Summary