Is Junji Ito just "gross" horror?
Underrated or Overrated?
I happened to purusing through YouTube to find some Junji Ito stories to read, and I found this video about how overrated Junji Ito was, I was fair and I watched the video on his stance. The main point was that his work was just "gross". I could understand the fact because of most of Junji Ito's work does involve some uncomfortable moments of what happens to someone, a terrifying transformation, or an unfathomable demise to a character. As a fan of Junji Ito's I immediately was on the fence about this argumentative fact, but I am a neutral person, I see this from both sides.
I can understand where the argument comes from, considering exaggerated details the stories like Slug Girl, The Window Next Door, Dissolving Classroom, and the one prime example I can say does provide as evidence for the argumentative side of the statement is Glyceride. That is the most uncomfortable short story I have ever read. If you aren't familiar with it, I'll sum it up, it follows a young girl and the unhealthy environment of a live-in restaurant that she lives in with her family, slowly the family starts losing their sanity from the grease and living conditions. I won't mention what makes it an uncomfortable experience to read because I will leave that up to your own discretion.
Body horror is a tricky tactic in terror. Some fans scale body horror as a low point in interest whereas others praise it for showing something we didn't expect, it's a gamble when it come to gore. Realistically, people have their own preference, so there is always going to be someone that won't like something and like the other part of the latter. Understandable, but if there is a dislike then just leave it alone. I'm neutral in the aspect, I've disliked something in horror but I've never gone out of my way to say that I hate it because there is something that I haven't seen from someone else's viewpoint, so I leave that open for understanding. So as a fan, seeing that there is a criticism on Junji Ito, I will be stern, but fair to see the other's stance on the criticism opinion. But I will say for body horror, it needs to be visual burn in your brain. It'll contradict the concept of visually striking if it's not.
But then again on the stance of the argument that I'll provide, it's not just Junji Ito, most creators do partake in gross horror. One example I'll elaborate on for that use of gross horror is the movie, The Perfection. I had heard that the movie does border on heavy uses of gross horror of what will happen to the characters. It's very hard movie to watch with the various psychological factors it brings with physical parts to endure of what horrific fate falls to these characters. But there was a balance within the movie, when something gross happened, it made sense, it wasn't cheap tricks to terrify. If something "gross" does happen in a book, TV series, or movie, there has to be a payoff. Not many stories can have that balance, The Perfection had that, and so does the entirety of Junji Ito's stories.
With those macabre moments, after everything I mentioned. Besides the uncomfortable parts of the series with gross moments, there is an intelligence behind the shock value. Every one of Junji Ito's stories has a shocking reveal, a commentary on society, and the way he has changed the spectrum of horror. He's made stories about someone stalking someone within a chair, a commentary about celebrity suicides using balloons that torture a town, bats being the main subject within an anorexic story. All interesting and unique plot concepts to horror.
In conclusion, I do agree that there are indeed gross moments in Junji Ito's short stories that have made me a bit queezy. But he has that balance, having a grotesque nature and a point to produce for the endgame of the story. He's not overrated, nor underrated, he's a creator that has pleased an audience for a taste for terror in different ways, even if that means making something that was unthinkable. Everyone does a have a point to make in an argument, but make it neutral, not condescending.