How did Uzumaki Junji Ito manage to become an anime? (Topic)

World Of Topics » Anime » How did Uzumaki Junji Ito manage to become an anime?

How did Uzumaki Junji Ito manage to become an anime?


Spirals - spirals are everywhere. They are painted on trees, appear on people's bodies, and people themselves curl up, like their city. This is the world of the famous horror mangaka Junji Ito in Uzumaki, a tale of cursed spirals that occupy a small Japanese seaside town and turn people into monsters. This is the most famous work of the author, which never received an anime adaptation, despite the fact that more than 20 years have passed since its publication. At Crunchyroll 2019, Ito announced that his manga would be adapted into a four-part miniseries for Adult Swim.

There have always been problems with adapting Junji Ito's work, since his signature style, based on the demonstration of detailed, disgusting characters and "wow effect", is very difficult to convey live. This requires more than just animating these very images. When Spiral was announced, we did not touch on this topic, but let's talk now, how did Uzumaki Junji Ito manage to become an anime?

Master of Shocking Images

First, about the author himself. We wrote about Junji Ito and his work last year, so you can read in detail about the mangaka and why he is so famous here. Now, in brief. Ito has been writing horror manga since the late 1990s, drawing terrifying black and white images that defy explanation and deform the human body. Although he has written several long stories such as Tomie, Gyo, and Uzumaki, most of his work consists of short stories, combined into volumes called Junji Ito's Horror Collection. The most famous are, for example, "Glyceride", which has managed to make acne scary; "Fashion Model", about a specific cannibal model and "Governer Soiti", about an abnormal child sucking nails.

Ito's work has been disgusting and surprising readers for decades, but Uzumaki is the most famous of them all.


"Uzumaki" is set in the fictional city of Kurozu, where strange, supernatural things begin to happen. Spirals appear in the city, first in nature, then in houses and on people's bodies. The curse that befell Kurozu is somewhat similar to Lovecraft's motives: the boy turns into a huge snail, the girls' hair comes to life and curls, etc. A special case - the father of the main character was so distraught with the fascination with spirals that he broke his bones and curled himself up. The main character Kirie Goshima and her boyfriend Shuichi Shuichi must work together to find out how to save their city from destruction, and also try to remove the curse of the spiral.


Ito's story of this cosmic horror quickly gained popularity. The manga was translated into English by Viz Media in 2001 and then reissued as a hardcover collection in 2016. In general, Ito's popularity swept around the world. The 752 page manga was adapted into a 90-minute live action film in 2000, and it was actually pretty good. However, this is a movie, not an anime, and as already mentioned, not all works have been so successfully translated to the screen.

Unsuccessful adaptations

His second hit work, Tomye, has also been adapted in both film and anime to reach different audiences of fans. In addition, Crunchyroll adapted Junji Ito's Horror Collection and turned it into a collection of his most famous stories, which was met with controversy.

Back in production, fans knew that taking Ito's black and white work and adding color would remove the beautiful simplicity of his horrors. And so it happened. This is the main problem of anime - without a corporate identity, it looks faded and mediocre, trying to scare us with tricks that can only work in manga. If in the original work the author expects that you will examine his images in detail, albeit with a little disgust, the anime gives too little time for this. But even if you pause the scary moment, you will realize that the drawing is soapy and not detailed.


Regarding the Tomie film [but also partly a film based on Uzumaki], Ito said that in principle it is difficult to reproduce his work in such an adaptation: “Manga uses images, camera angles and feelings that are difficult to create in the real world. I think it is difficult to reproduce the general atmosphere of the manga in the film, because the film must have real actors and actresses who do not quite match my original work. ”

Balance between horror and beauty

Due to the difficulty with Ito's adaptations, he abandoned any further attempts to adapt Uzumaki and other works. However, when he found out that Hiroshi Nagahama was a potential anime director for Uzumaki, he changed his mind. The fact is that Nagahama directed the animated adaptations of Mushishi and The Flowers of Evil, each of which is known for its special beauty.


Mushishi is the story of Ginkgo, a man destined to protect humanity from the nature spirits known as mushi. In every episode, Ginkgo helps to heal the needy, be it a little boy who has grown horns, or a child who has lost his hearing due to a fungus that has settled in his ear. Although the basic premise revolves around the mystical world, it is contrasted with struggles with survival, family, love and loss, themes that also dominate Ito's work.

The Flowers of Evil shows the horrors that kids are capable of, especially when it comes to obsession. The story tells of a high school student Takao Kasuga, whom the girl Sawa Nakamura catches stealing the sports uniform of the school's most popular student and signs a contract with him. This contract leads to a series of devastating events that revolve around a strange love triangle.


The adaptation of The Flowers of Evil has been described as a piece that strikes a balance between animation and eerie realism. This is a style that doesn't fit into the simple form of anime. Its uniqueness stems from the fact that Flowers of Evil was the first anime to exclusively use rotoscoping, a technique that uses live recordings to create animation.

Nagahama has expertly crafted each story, trying to preserve its core themes while translating stories to screen. He uses skillful animation styles and techniques that make his work feel unique and new, striking a balance between horror and beauty, showing captivating stories that captivate and terrify. This is why Ito accepted the offer to adapt his most famous manga under his direction.


It is important to note that Uzumaki will be fully animated in black and white, while maintaining Ito's simple and powerful style and avoiding the problems encountered in previous anime adaptations of his work.

Despite Ito's tumultuous past with adaptations of his work, Adult Swim has assembled a powerful team to finally bring Ito's Spiral to life.

The Topic of Article: How did Uzumaki Junji Ito manage to become an anime?.
Author: Jake Pinkman