Layers Of Terror / The Thing That Drifted Ashore
Layers Of Terror
Episode 8 of Junji Ito Maniac starts in 1996 at the Ajim Shell mound site. Professor Soya leads an excavation team as they study the nearby rock and mud, trying to work out what may have caused such a strange disruption. It’s not spirals this time but instead layers of rock that echo out from the skull of a young boy, looking very similar to that of the rings on a tree or onion. This is a huge discovery, and the group decide they need to investigate this further to find out exactly what’s happened here.
Professor Soya takes the skull and looks set to leave. As he does, we cut forward to 2017 and follow Reimi as she heads to the doctors with her mother and sister. It seems like there’s a problem. Reimi happens to have layers of skin echoing out from the center like rings.
Each ring appears to be the layers of her extra years. Narumi is convinced they’re all cursed, evidenced by the fact their father (Professor Soya) was obsessed with the skull and it appears whatever this curse is, it’s passed onto them now.
Reimi’s mother is desperate to try and get the innocence back from little 2 year old Reimi, and when her daughter is asleep asleep, her mother is entranced and absolutely insane, peeling off the layers of skin from her daughter’s face to reach the 2 year old version of her, who’s still there and inexplicably talking.
Reimi’s mother works tirelessly to take all the skin off but there’s a problem. There’s nothing rto it but for her mother to take off her skin, believing to be cursed too and wanting to go back in time to her 38 year old self. Narumi watches in horror as she realizes she’s not cursed after al and she peels off a layer of her skin.
Eventually, the disfigured, twisted version of Reimi is left in a room, with her mother the other side sporting bandages wrapped round her face. Narumi is left to look after them both.
The Thing That Drifted Ashore
The second tale here follows a guy who heads onto shore and finds a strange sea creature has washed up before them all. It’s the discovery of a lifetime, with this bizarre creature the focus of a lot of the scientists in the area. They’re unsure jus what this thing is, but Mr Shiota notices that inside its stomach happen to be numerous deceased humans. They haven’t been digested and they’re just lying there. As a result, they decide to cut it open and let the bodies flow out.
These bodies are still alive and white as a ghost. Among them is a guy called Tadashi, who happens to be a woman’s fiancé who vanished off the coast of Izu 7 years earlier. It would appear that all of these bodies are actually from that fateful voyage we learned about earlier, and they inexplicably begin acting like parasites, scurrying across the ground and seemingly having fed off the creature from the inside out all these years.
The Episode Review
The second story here isn’t anywhere near as good as the first, which preys on those ideas of beauty and vanity wrapped around the desperation to return to one’s innocence. As a parent, seeing your children grow up is an amazing thing but also incredibly poignant too, especially as they no longer need you as much and become more independent. This idea is beautifully illustrated in this horrific tale, especially with the gore toward the end.
By contrast though, the second tale sports a very simple story and a pretty perfunctory premise overall. It’s not necessarily bad, but it’s another example of why the longer episodes work much more effectively.
You can read our full season review for Junji Ito: Maniac here!