spiral into horror - UZUMAKI - a film by Higunchinsky

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About Japanese Horror

Interviews > Junji Ito

Q: Both Tomie and Uzumaki seem to be about the power of obsession. Does it require a certain level of obsession to draw these kinds of serial manga?

JI: I find that odd, because I've never heard anyone refer to my manga as being about “the power of obsession.” However, when I create my manga, I'm consciously aware of things such as “self-consciousness” and jiko kenjiyoku (the urge or desire to show off). So I think the power of obsession is greatly related. In particular, I suffered from being overly self-conscious when I was younger. That's why “self-consciousness” is a theme that I'm very interested in when I create manga.

However, there's a limit to the amount of material that comes from within yourself, so I do things like read a great deal. In terms of power, people who have a twisted psyches are interested in the past when they used to have power. Or, they're afraid of people who might wield such power in the future.

Q: In my mind, "Tomie" is an unusually powerful and memorable character. How did you come up with the idea for her and how did she evolve as you were drawing the strip?

JI: At first, my concept was to depict the strangeness of a girl nonchalantly going to school, although she was actually dead. The girl is neither a ghost nor a zombie, but just goes to school in her own body, even though she's definitely dead. In developing the story, the character was also developed. The girl was established as an unpopular girl because I thought the story would be more interesting if it featured someone that wasn't likeable.

Tomie's character essentially didn't change. If anything, it was my drawings that developed — they became more beautiful. In changing the personality, it's fine if there's improvement, but there's also the case where the result is worse off because of the change. So it's very difficult to depict different aspects of a character, and there's also the danger of the character become clichéd.

Q: What do you make of the sudden interest in adapting your manga into film and the current craze for horror movies, manga, novels, video games, etc.? Can you explain it?

JI: They say that a horror boom comes to Japan every ten years. There was a horror boom at about the time that I made my debut. I think that the Ring movies, including the novels they were adapted from, are a major factor in the current horror boom. The movie adaptations of my manga also take after the Ring. The origin of a boom lies in the existence of a creator who holds power. This is true even for The Exorcist. I believe this is true for any field. The end of the millennium is also another factor for the horror fad. It makes you have feelings about the end, or at least have feelings of anxiety.

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