Skip to content

Junji Ito: Your Reading Order to the Japanese horror manga artist

  • by

Welcome to Junji Ito’s World of Horror! Junji Ito, one of the best horror mangakas, has established himself as a renowned manga artist and gained a cult following for his works, which include Tomie, Uzumaki, Gyo, and The Enigma of Amigara Fault.

Reading Junji Ito is entering an unforgiving and irrational world that is dominated by phobias, obsessions, fears, and paranoia, with the every day turning bizarre. Junji Ito, influenced by artists such as Hidesho Hino, Shinichi Koga, and the Father of Cosmic Horror, H.P. Lovecraft, frequently has his characters deal with malevolent supernatural circumstances for no obvious reason or suffer excessive punishment for small offenses. He evokes beauty and terror and a sense of dread with powerful imagery.

Previously published by Dark Horse in America, Junji Ito’s works are now released by Viz Media, under the Viz Signature Imprint. Let’s enter the Ito-Verse!

Where to Start with Junji Ito?

Let’s start by pointing out there is no specific correct order to read Junji Ito’s Manga Collection. Most of them tell a self-contained story and can all be read in any order. The best way to proceed is to choose what seems most intriguing to you and go from there. With that being said, here’s a classic selection of his most famous works that established him as a giant of manga horror to help you start if you are new to his horror world:

  • Uzumaki – This is Junji Ito’s most famous work and a classic entry point for new readers. Kurouzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. The town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people’s bodies. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurouu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!
  • Shiver – What better way to discover Ito than by a selection of his best short stories? This is what offers Shiver, a volume that includes nine short stories selected by the author himself and presented here with accompanying notes and commentary.
  • Tomie – Tomie was Junji Ito’s first story, released in 1987 in Monthly Halloween, a shojo Magazine. He won the Kazuo Umezu award for the story and Tomie proceeds to come back regurlary for many more stories afterward. Tomie is a femme fatale who can seduce nearly any man and drive them to murder, even though the victim is often Tomie herself…
  • Gyo – Junji’s second long-format story is also part of his most famous works. Inspired by Jaws (the movie), the story centers on a couple, Tadashi and Kaori as they fight to survive strange, legged undead fish.

Junji Ito Manga Collection, a Reading Guide

The summaries are adapted or come from the publisher, Viz Media.

Junji Ito’s long-format

  • Tomie: Complete Deluxe Edition
    Collects the previously released three trade paperbacks (20 chapters). Tomie Kawakami is a femme fatale with long black hair and a beauty mark just under her left eye. She can seduce nearly any man, and drive them to murder as well, even though the victim is often Tomie herself. While one lover seeks to keep her for himself, another grows terrified of the immortal succubus. But soon they realize that no matter how many times they kill her, the world will never be free of Tomie.
  • Uzumaki 3-in-1 Deluxe Edition
    Previously published as three trade paperbacks (19 chapters) and now available in this single hardcover collection. Kurouzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people’s bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi’s father and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurouu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return! 
  • Gyo 2-in-1 Deluxe Edition
    Previously released in two trade paperback volumes (19 chapters), now available in this single hardcover collection. Also contains the two short stories The Sad Tale of the Principal Post and The Enigma of Amigara Fault (one of Ito’s personal best stories). The floating smell of death hangs over the island. What is it? A strange, legged fish appears on the scene… So begins Tadashi and Kaori’s spiral into the horror and stench of the sea.
  • Remina
    A 2005 science-fiction horror tale that began with the emergence of an unknown planet from inside a wormhole. Its discoverer, Dr. Oguro, christens the body “Remina” after his own daughter. His finding is met with great fanfare, and Remina herself rises to fame. However, the object picks up speed as it moves along in its curious course, eliminating planets and stars one after another, until finally Earth itself faces extinction… Is the girl Remina the true cause of the catastrophe?
  • Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu Collector’s Edition 
    Take a break from all this horror and become more familiar with the writer’s best companion in life: his cats! Follow Junji Ito as he presents a series of hysterical tales chronicling his real-life trials and tribulations of becoming a cat owner. Junji Ito, as J-kun, has recently built a new house and has invited his financée, A-ko, to live with him. Little did he know…his blushing bride-to-be has some unexpected company in tow—Yon, a ghastly-looking family cat, and Mu, an adorable Norwegian forest cat. Despite being a dog person, J-kun finds himself purrsuaded by their odd cuteness and thus begins his comedic struggle to gain the affection of his new feline friends. 10 Chapters.
  • Black Paradox
    Released in 2009. Four people intent on killing themselves meet through the suicide website Black Paradox: Maruso, a nurse who despairs about the future; Taburo, a man who is tortured by his doppelganger; Pii-tan, an engineer with his own robot clone; and Baracchi, a girl who agonizes about the birthmark on her face.
  • Dissolving Classroom Collector’s Edition
    A pair of twisted siblings—Yuuma, a young man obsessed with the devil, and Chizumi, the worst little sister in recorded history—cause all sorts of tragic and terrifying things to happen wherever they go. At the heart of the ills lies a culture, both foreign and all too close to home, of excessive apologetics… Collects Dissolving Classroom, Dissolving Beauty, Dissolving Apartment, Chizumi in Love, Interview with the Devil, The Return, Children of the Earth.
  • No Longer Human
    No Longer Human is a manga adaptation of Osamu Dazai’s novel of the same name.  Plagued by a maddening anxiety, the terrible disconnect between his own concept of happiness and the joy of the rest of the world, Yozo Oba plays the clown in his dissolute life, holding up a mask for those around him as he spirals ever downward, locked arm-in-arm with death. 24 chapters.
  • Sensor
    originally published as Travelogue of the Succubus. A woman walks alone at the foot of Mount Sengoku. A man appears, saying he’s been waiting for her, and invites her to a nearby village. Surprisingly, the village is covered in hairlike volcanic glass fibers, and all of it shines a bright gold. At night, when the villagers perform their custom of gazing up at the starry sky, countless unidentified flying objects come raining down on them, the opening act for the terror about to occur. 7 Chapters.

Junji Ito’s Horror Anthologies, From Frankenstein to Fragments of Horror

  • Deserter: Junji Ito Story Collection
    A collection of Junji Ito’s earliest works. Includes Bio House, Face Thief, Where the Sandman Lives, The Devil’s Logic, The Long Hair in the Attic, Scripted Love, The Reanimator’s Sword, A Father’s Love, Unendurable Labyrinth, Village of the Siren, Bullied, Deserter
  • Shiver: Junji Ito Selected Stories
    A best-of story selection by the master of horror manga.Short story collection collecting Used Record, Shiver, Fashion Model, Hanging Balloons, Marionette Mansion, Painter, Long Dream, Honored Ancestors, Glyceride, Fashion Model: Cursed Frame. Stories published in the nineties (with the exception from Fashion Model, released in 2015).
  • Frankenstein: Junji Ito Story Collection
    Junji Ito meets Mary Shelley with an adaptation of Frankenstein. Also includes six tales of Oshikiri—a high school student who lives in a decaying mansion connected to a haunted parallel world (Hallucinations, Bog of the Living Dead, Penpal, Intruder, Further Tales of Oshikiri, Further Tales of Oshikiri: Walls); and the adventures of Non-non Ito, an adorable Maltese, the Ito family dog (Dog Diary – Lulu’s Close Bond With Her Owner, Dog Diary – Hide and Seek). Stories published between 89 and 98.
  • Soichi: Junji Ito Story Collection
    Soichi is a collection of stories originally published in Japan between 1991-1995 featuring the titular character. Includes A Happy Summer Vacation, A Happy Winter Vacation, Soichi’s Happy Diary, Soichi’s Home Visit, Teacher of Cloth, Soichi’s Birthday, Soichi’s Petty Curses, Four-Layered Room, Coffin, Rumors. Three other stories featuring Soichi have been published in Smashed (The Mystery of the Haunted House, The Mystery of the Haunted House: Soichi’s Version, and Soichi’s Beloved Pet).
  • Tombs: Junji Ito Story Collection
    Recently released by Viz, collects tales originally released between 1994 and 1997: Tombs, Clubhouse, Slug Girl, The Window Next Door, Washed Ashore, The Strange Tale of the Tunnel, Bronze Statue, Floaters, The Bloody Story of Shirosuna
  • Lovesickness: Junji Ito Story Collection
    Collection of Short stories originally released in the mid-1990s. Includes The Beautiful Boy at the Crossroads, A Woman in Distress, Shadow, Screams in the Night, The Boy in White, Narumi’s Boyfriend, The Seance, The Mansion of Phantom Pain, The Rib Woman, Memories of Real Poop.
  • Smashed: Junji Ito Story Collection
    Collection of Short stories originally released in the noughties. Includes Bloodsucking Darkness, Ghosts of Prime Time, Roar, Earthbound, Death Row Doorbell, The Mystery of the Haunted House, The Mystery of the Haunted House: Soichi’s Version, Soichi’s Beloved Pet, In Mirror Valley, I Don’t Want to Be a Ghost, Library Vision, Splendid Shadow Song, Smashed
  • Venus in the Blind Spot
    A Collection of short works presented as a “best-of” by the editor. Features an adaptation of Rampo Edogawa’s classic horror story “Human Chair” as well as Billions Alone, An Unearthly Love, Venus in the Blind Spot, The Licking Woman, Master Umezz and Me, How Love Came to Professor Kirida, Keepsake. Already part of the Gyo collection, The Enigma of Amigara Fault and The Sad Tale of the Principal Post are reprinted here too.
  • Fragments of Horror
    A collection of eight one-shots mostly released in 2013-2014: Futon, Haunted Wood Mansion, Tomio: Red Turtleneck, Lingering Farewell, Dissection Girl, Black Bird, Nanakuse Magami and Whispering Woman (the only story dating back from 2009).
  • The Liminal Zone
    Four (longer) tales from Ito that were originally published throughout 2020 in Japan: The Weeping Woman Way, Madonna, The Spirit Flow of Aokigahara, Slumber.

Coming Soon

  • Mimi’s Tales of Terror
    Originally published in serialized form between 2002 and 2003.Nine scary stories that really happened, drawn from the famed collection of urban legends Shin Mimibukuro (New Earmuffs), and adapted into manga by Junji Ito.

Other Books

  • The Art of Junji Ito: Twisted Visions
    A first-ever collection of Junji Ito’s artworks, featuring over 130 images from his bestselling manga titles along with rare works. This sublime collection includes all of Ito’s unforgettable illustrations in both black-and-white and color, from Tomie‘s dreadful beauty to the inhuman spirals of Uzumaki. Includes an interview focused on Ito’s art technique as well as commentary from the artist on each work.
  • Uzumaki Coloring Book
    The bizarre masterpiece of horror manga, Uzumaki by Junji Ito, has been transformed into coloring book format. Color in each detail of the spirals and you may fall into a whirlpool of terror, never to escape!
  • Junji Ito Collection: A Horror Coloring Book
    This officially licensed compendium features dozens of terrifying scenes from Junji Ito Collection to color, showcasing Ito’s uniquely twisted brand of horror. Ghosts, demons, monsters and more await your pencils inside!

Last Updated on February 18, 2024.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *