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[Translated mainly from Italian subtitles]
Interview with Junji Ito The king of horror manga
Your works range from supernatural to splatter. Which kind of horror do you rather create?
I’m strongly drawn to paranormal phenomena,
to all the things that cannot happen in the real world, like extrasensory powers, ghostly apparitions and so on.
They’re not exactly “horror”, but I really like these things who are detached from reality.
What’s easier, or, at least, what I prefer to put in a manga between the two, is definitely the supernatural theme.
About splatter, it’s not pleasant to draw grotesque scenes like guts coming out or flowing rivers of blood.
So I’d say that I prefer supernatural subjects,
and I believe that striking fear by triggering the psyche is the best.
You have always stated that you admire Lovecraft. What draws you to him?
Talking about Lovecraft, what could i say?
Even though there are scary monsters appearing in his works
what really has always captivated me is the mood that the author is able to set,
the process by which he leads to the scary scenes.
For example, when he describes the townscape where a story is set,
he also tells of a dark and sinister church that can be seen in the distance,
and one immediately wonders what lurks in there.
These elements, the way of telling such details cloathed with mistery..
I’ve been strongly influenced by them after all.
Lovecraft’s influence is particularly clear in Uzumaki.
For example, the Lovecraftian influence is clear in the scene where we see a black lighthouse near the coast.
Lovecraft inspired me a lot in the creation of environments and scenarios.
Do you consider yourself as a practical person or do you believe there’s something that goes beyond our comprehension, like in your stories?
When I was a kid I believed anything. Anything, really!
Growing up, though, I stopped being so superstitious.
I’m someone who considers sightings of ghosts or flying objects as optical illusions, or something in the eye. At least, i think so.
But since I was so gullible as a kid, the passion for this genre stuck with me.
Which works are you most proud of?
“The Enigma of Amigara Fault”, “Long Dream” and “The Hanging Balloons”.
These are the works I’m particularly fond of. I’m satisfied with how they turned out.
I’m struggling to find new ideas lately,
and drawing new works when lacking ideas is pretty difficult.
I could say that my most recent works are the ones that made me struggle a lot.
You often set your stories in small and sinister towns. Are you perhaps afraid of the rural life and its inhabitant?
Ha, sure! I grew up in one of these small country towns too.
It was a place where the houses had been built next to each other,
so you always felt the neighbourhood’s eyes on you.
Was it scary? Well, it’s not like the people wanted to mind other people’s business,
but anything happening was there for all to see.
Growing up in a place like that, even if it was my hometown,
didn’t allow me to feel at ease, so probably i have always been scared of it.
This is certainly reflected in my works.
In spite of your approach, you can often be seen in a self-mocking guise. How come you sometimes feel to leave the horror pattern?
Frankly, I believe it would be better not to include elements of this kind.
Nevertheless, I often find some ideas suitable for jokes among the ones that come to my mind.
So, since I don’t want to waste these ideas, I find myself including some jokes even if I think it’s wrong.
It’s as if I try to include them without breaking the mood.
The result is that some readers enjoy these funny elements,
so I guess that’s fine, in the end.
However, I’m not including many jokes lately.
You have depicted every nuance of the human soul. Which is the behaviour that sickens you the most?
Bullying. Recently it’s becoming a social problem.
Going after the weak ones, picking on them because they’re considered to be like that…
I don’t like this kind of behaviour. For me, it’s unacceptable.
I’d love to see a world without bullying.
Director David Cronenberg claims that artists are drawn to what’s forbidden. Have you ever refrained from including specific themes in your stories?
I refrained from creating erotic scenes for a long time,
but while working on “No Longer Human” I put myself to the test and I broke my taboo.
Then there’s discrimination, discriminating with arrogance.
I would never put this in one of my works, I don’t feel like doing it.
Actually, talking about horror, I have a feeling that excellent works could come out of this theme.
But it’s not for me.
We’re living in very uncertain times. Is there something about today’s world that scares you?
I get the impression that there’s a tendency to accept even the most blatant lies.
How is it possible to lie so easily?
Let’s say that what really scares me is not only the psychology of the ones telling lies like it’s nothing,
but also the social tendency to tolerate it.
I wonder if it would be possible to live in a more sincere world.