Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 2 -|Review Score – 5/5
Episode 3 -|Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 4 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 -|Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 8 -|Review Score – 5/5
Episode 9 -|Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 10 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 11 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 12 -|Review Score – 4.5/5
Junji Ito is well known for his twisted and unique slant of horror manga. His books have captivated audiences the world over and whether it be something as simple as spirals or as thematical as a murderous woman hell-bent on revenge, these stories are usually accompanied by gripping art-work.
Netflix, never one to miss a trick, host Junji Ito’s latest collection, aptly titled Maniac: Tales of the Japanese Macabre. Through the 12 episodes, 20 of Ito’s tales are brought to life with varying degrees of success. Of course, given some of the original tales end abruptly or in a disappointing manner, its perhaps not surprising to find the same here.
Maniac is a bit of a mixed bag in that respect, as some episodes have two tales lumped together which messes up the tone and pacing. Some of the blame can also be attributed to the musical score too, which sometimes adopts a humorous or slice of life tone that undermines the horror being shown. It’s a small point but one that becomes more noticeable the longer the series wears on for. It’s yet another example of just how important music is in this medium.
Ironically, the episodes that do the best here are the ones given the full 22 minute length to explore their own themes. ‘Tomb Town’ is a great example of this, with a slow-burn dread building up over time to a really solid and well written ending. By comparison, episodes like ‘Ice Cream Man’ or ‘Four X Four Walls’ are crying out for more time to explore their themes.
The art style across the board is fantastic though and with the exception of a few wonky bits of CGI and darker outlines against really thin lines (the car in Tomb Town for example stands out for all the wrong reasons) on the whole, everything looks great and seeing Junji Ito’s work in colour is always a treat.
Maniac is far from perfect, especially given the weird tone some of these episodes adopt. However, there’s enough good here to outweigh the bad. There’s a lot of thematic weight to this collection, evidenced by the theme of teen suicide running in ‘Hanging Balloons’. While it doesn’t always hit the heights of horror greatness, if you’re unfamiliar with Ito’s work, this is a good enough place to start.
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Verdict - 7/10