In the world of manga, there is no better master storyteller of horror than Junji Ito.
Whether you’re new to horror manga or want some new horror to read, we’ve compiled a list of ten of Junji Ito’s best books.
Junji Ito’s works have been praised over the years, and there have been numerous film and anime adaptations of his work.
He’s won four Eisner Awards for his works, as his horror has resonated with fans worldwide.
His works regularly feature body and cosmic horror, with themes ranging from obsession, the loss of humanity, and predator versus prey.
Seeing these influences, he is not solely a horror artist. Over the years, he has written other work that uses horror to create a sense of comedy instead.
10 Of Junji Ito’s Best Books
To help you find your next read, I’ve compiled a list of the ten best Junji Ito books.
Whether you’re looking for a longer or shorter series, you’ll find plenty to choose from in my selection of Junji Ito’s work.
One of Ito’s most famous works is Uzumaki, which tells the story of two teenagers living in the coastal town of Kurouzu-cho. Kirie Goshima worries about her boyfriend, Shuichi Saito, whose father is the first to become obsessed with Uzumaki, a hypnotic spiral that steadily influences the foggy town.
Combined with Lovecraftian influence and body horror, Uzumaki has been classed as a perfect horror manga by many of its fans.
This Eisner-nominated manga is composed of three volumes of the manga.
Adapted into a live-action film, and two Bandai WonderSwan games in 2000, it has continued to be a popular adaptation with an anime announced in 2019.
- Adapted to both a live-action film and anime.
- Despite its simple concept, it has created a way to use a simple shape found everywhere to inspire terror.
- It was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2003 for “Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material”.
- Initially, it was serialized in a seinen horror magazine, so some readers may not enjoy the serialized format.
- Many readers have mixed feelings about the ending, but overall, it is subject to personal preference.
Junji Ito’s first horror manga is Tomie, which focuses on the eponymous character: Tomie Kawakami.
A femme fatale with long black hair and a beauty mark just under her left eye.
She is a seductress who can drive them to murder, but she is often the victim.
In this story, one lover wants to keep her for himself, while the other is terrified of the immortal succubus. But they quickly learn that no one is free from Tomie.
Tomie was Junji Ito’s first work that was serialized in a magazine, and since its inception, it has been adapted into a nine-film horror series.
When it was published, it won the 1989 Kazuo Umezu Prize, a prize for Japanese horror manga in the magazine Monthly Halloween.
- Adapted into a nine-film horror series from 1999 to 2011.
- Winner of the 1989 Kazuo Umezu Prize.
- The concept behind Tomie’s abilities is horrifying and offers a unique twist on regenerative powers.
- As it was written in a serialized format, it does offer a different victim in each chapter, which some readers do not enjoy.
- Compared to Ito’s later works, Tomie is more controversial when read in a modern light. However, it does present how much he has honed his craft in the years following Tomie.
Compared to Ito’s other works, Junji Ito’s Cat Diary sticks out. While Ito’s other works are horror, Junji Ito’s Cat Diary is an autobiographical comedy horror.
When his fiancé moves in with her two cats, Ito must grow accustomed to them, despite being a dog person.
As a comedy, some would argue that Junji Ito’s Cat Diary has a niche audience. However, its comedy is relatable to all cat owners.
Junji Ito’s Cat Diary debuted on The New York Times’s weekly list of best-selling manga.
Due to being autobiographical, these stories serve as diary entries and a compilation of comedies.
- Debuted on The New York Times’s list of ten best-selling manga volumes.
- An original concept that combines horror realism with a relatable comedy that all cat owners can understand.
- It offers a different perspective from Ito’s usual work, which shows Ito’s comedic ability.
- Junji Ito’s Cat Diary revolves around the humor of both owning cats and knowledge of Ito’s previous works. It does make it a little bit more niche than his other manga.
- It’s more of a compilation of stories related to each other than a series so some readers might be disappointed with the lack of content.
Sensor is one of Junji Ito’s more experimental works, as he wanted to write a character-driven narrative.
Due to this, Sensor was born. When a young woman was walking alone at the foot of Mount Sengoku, she was approached by a man who had been waiting for her.
He brings her to a village covered in hair-like volcanic glass fibers.
When it becomes night, countless flying objects rain upon them, and they must face horrors they couldn’t imagine.
Due to being one of Ito’s more experimental works, some readers have noticed that there wasn’t a plan.
However, that hasn’t stopped it from debuting on The New York Times Best Seller list for manga and graphic novels or being nominated for an award at the Angouleme International Comics Festival.
- Nominated for an award at the Angouleme International Comics Festival and debuted on The New York Times Best Seller list for manga and graphic novels.
- It presents a fresh tale of character-driven cosmic horror that offers a different direction from his previous works.
- The sensor is a more experimental piece of writing than some of Ito’s other works, which shows in the plot’s direction.
- Like Ito’s other serialized works, Sensor is a collection of different stories that, while related, may not be popular among all readers.
The scientist Dr. Oguro discovers an unknown planet that emerged from inside a wormhole, which he names after his daughter.
Everyone celebrates the newly-discovered Remina, and even his daughter finds herself becoming more famous.
However, when the planet picks up speed and starts heading towards the Earth, no one’s certain if the girl is the true cause of Remina’s deadly journey.
- Nominated for the Harvey Award and winner of the Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia.
- It combines science fiction with horror in a new way that differentiates itself from some of Ito’s other works.
- It’s a new genre from the usual Ito, but not everyone will appreciate the pulp fiction atmosphere of this graphic novel.
- Compared to Ito’s other works, the characters didn’t have as much agency as they do in his other works.
Junji Ito has written numerous short works over his career, and some of his best are printed in Venus in the Blind Spot.
Including adaptations of Rampo Edogawa’s “Human Chair” and the fan favorite “The Enigma of Amigara Fault,” this collection includes ten stories overall.
The Venus in the Blind Spot contains some of Ito’s best work and even caught him the Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist.
These stories are all unique and offer something for all Junji Ito fans.
However, this may mean that some stories aren’t going to be popular among all fans, and some may also be frustrated with the repeat of “The Enigma of Amigara Fault”.
- Won the Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist.
- Venus in the Blind Spot is a short story collection of some of Junji Ito’s best short fiction throughout his career.
- Includes numerous unique concepts and adaptations that make each story different.
- Not all stories will be to everyone’s tastes, as each short story has its own style.
- Some fans may be disappointed to read a repeat of some of his more famous works.
A collection of short stories focusing on a pair of siblings. Yuuma is a young man obsessed with the devil, and Chizumi is one of the worst little sisters in history.
Wherever they go, terrifying and tragic events occur, so they must start anew in a new school each time.
Of all of Junji Ito’s works, Dissolving Classroom is one of his most divisive.
However, it offers some of his most chilling artworks that offer a more unique sense of horror than his other work.
Overall, it is an excellent introduction to new fans of Junji Ito, but some stories may feel repetitive.
- The artwork is praised for being legitimately disturbing, with beautiful and horrific images.
- It offers a unique sense of horror that is distinct from Ito’s work, with some citing it as a perfect introduction to his work.
- The stories may feel repetitive, as they were initially in a serialized format with only self-contained works.
- It is a hit-and-miss among Junji Ito fans, as many have divisive opinions about it.
Shiver is a collection that contains some of Junji Ito’s works.
There are nine stories altogether, with the short story “Long Dream” adapted into a one-hour-long TV drama by the director of Uzumaki.
“The Hanging Balloons” were also adapted for the Netflix series “Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre.”
While each story is unique and independent from the others, they all have a different level of quality.
No two stories will be the same, but all have the same level of beautiful and horrific artwork.
However, it could be argued that these stories aren’t his best, despite being labeled as such.
- Some short stories have been adapted for live-action dramas and anime.
- Each story is unique and independent from one another, offering a different experience for each one.
- The artwork for each story is beautiful. However, there is some horrific imagery that will disturb some readers.
- Not all the stories have the same level of quality due to originating from an anthology of work.
- Not all of these short stories are his best, with some serving to add to the anthology.
Fragments of Horror is a collection of short stories from Junji Ito, that contains eight short stories altogether.
Many of these short stories have been adapted into the anime anthology series “Junji Ito Collection”.
Fragments of Horror offers a selection of short stories that work as an introduction to Ito’s work.
Although the characterization is limited, with Ito relying on stereotypes more than he does with other works, each story has a different level of quality in this anthology.
- Several short stories were adapted into the anime anthology series: “Junji Ito Collection.”
- It takes inspiration from a host of different stories and artwork, as can be seen on the cover.
- It offers a great selection of Ito’s short stories that serve as a good introduction to Ito’s short fiction.
- Not all short stories have the same level of quality, but all are unique and differ from one another.
- The characters aren’t quite as memorably written as they could be, with some stories relying on stereotypes compared to other works.
With the scent of death hanging over the island, it’s revealed that the cause of the stench belongs to the strange, legged fish that are making an appearance.
Tadashi and Kaori are horrified by the dead fish emerging from the water, but even when they leave Okinawa to return home, the scent of death follows them.
Gyo is a significantly gross horror that is still fun to read.
It was nominated for an award at the Angouleme International Comics Festival and was even adapted into an Original Video Animation.
The artwork is gross enough to disgust readers, while the writing is weaker than some of his other works.
- Nominated for an award at the Angouleme International Comics Festival.
- Adapted into an Original Video Animation that premiered at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival.
- The artwork is legitimately horrifying and is enough to disgust most readers.
- Admittedly, this horror graphic novel feels more gross-out horror than scary.
- The writing of this series is weaker than others, and ultimately, the plot doesn’t seem to make much sense.
To help you find the right Junji Ito book for you, I looked at each book’s strengths and weaknesses.
Not all of Junji Ito’s work contains the same concepts, but some are executed better than others.
If the concept was significant to the book’s popularity, I included it. However, not all books have a unique concept, but if it offers a fresh twist, they will still be a success.
While this wasn’t mentioned as a feature in all of the books, there were times when it had to be included.
Not all of Ito’s strength lies in his writing, but there is no denying that his artwork is phenomenal.
I felt I didn’t have to mention the artwork for some stories due to how good the story itself was.
Unfortunately, not all characters can be written well. However, in other works, the characters are written incredibly.
There have been circumstances where the characters of Ito’s work aren’t memorable, which is especially true in short story collections.
Keep in mind that all these stories are horror, and I would also argue that characterization isn’t too much of a driving force in this genre.
Ultimately, some of these stories aren’t reviewed well because of the original format that Ito wrote them in.
Uzumaki, Tomie, and Gyo are all examples of Ito’s serialized manga, and because of that, they often have self-contained chapters that introduce new elements to the story.
Ultimately, one of the biggest concerns when reviewing Junji Ito and his works is the critical acclaim it has received and how the fans have too.
Not all fans will have the same love for some of his works as others.
Junji Ito is classed as the master of horror for a reason. Over the years, he has won several awards, and his work has debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list.
Even if he has not won an award, other works have also been nominated, so these works should be mentioned.
Some of Ito’s works have become known for their adaptations.
Including film, anime, and dramas, some of Ito’s works have been well-received in other mediums, so these had to be mentioned when going through a selection of his work.
These are the ten best Junji Ito books, according to my research.
While you may disagree with my list, this should be a great way to judge each Junji Ito book based on what you enjoy.
Hopefully, with the help of my guide, you’ll be able to find the best book to introduce you to the master of macabre himself.
Check out these books to get started if you’re interested in more of Junji Ito’s work and appreciate his horrifying yet beautiful artwork.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Junji Ito’s Most Famous Work?
Uzumaki is widely regarded as Junji Ito’s most famous book. It has been classified as a perfect horror manga and is undoubtedly his best serialization.
In What Order Should I Read Junji Ito?
The best part of Junji Ito’s works is that they’re all separate, and you can read them in any order. The same can also be said for his anthology collections.
How Did Junji Ito Become Famous?
Ito’s career began in the ‘80s when he submitted the short story version of Tomie to a horror magazine. Tomie grew in popularity and even spawned nine feature-length films.
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