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Junji Ito : Long Dream

Japanese Horror: Contains elements of horror that may be unsettling for some readers

By Mika OkaPublished 10 months ago 3 min read

Dr. Kuroda, a renowned neurosurgeon, initially doubts the validity of Tetsuro Mukoda's peculiar condition. Mukoda complains of increasingly lengthy dreams, while Dr. Yamauchi, Kuroda's assistant, believes there may be truth to his claims. Another patient, Mami Takeshima, experiences a deep fear of death and has a distressing encounter with Mukoda, who roams the hospital halls, afraid to sleep.

Despite his skepticism, Dr. Kuroda decides to admit Mukoda for further study. Through the use of an EEG machine, Kuroda discovers that Mukoda enters rapid eye movement sleep for mere seconds at a time, during which his brainwaves become erratic.

The duration of Mukoda's dreams seems to lengthen with each passing night, progressing from months to years, then decades, and even centuries.

These dreams are often filled with distressing experiences, and upon waking, Mukoda suffers from amnesia, requiring Kuroda's reminders about his admission.

As time progresses, Mukoda's physical appearance deteriorates, becoming pale and gaunt. His mannerisms and speech change, as if he embodies a person from a different era. His condition worsens, leading to extreme physical mutations as his dreams extend to millennia within his mind. Mukoda's psychological state deteriorates as well, and he becomes unable to differentiate between dreams and reality. In his distorted perception, Mukoda believes Takeshima to be his wife from the dream world, resulting in confrontations with Kuroda and accusations of interference in their "relationship."

Mukoda's mutations intensify, and he transforms into something barely recognizable as a human. One fateful night, during another episode of REM sleep, he finally experiences an eternal dream. Dr. Kuroda, exhausted from his studies, falls asleep as well and witnesses the outcome.

Mukoda's spirit seemingly leaves his body, disintegrating into dust and leaving behind peculiar red crystals.

Shortly after, Takeshima confides in Dr. Yamauchi, revealing her diminishing fear of death but also her own experiences with lengthy dreams. Yamauchi speculates that Mukoda's condition might be contagious and consults Kuroda, who confesses to using the crystals on Takeshima secretly.

Kuroda believes these crystals hold the key to eternal dreaming, arguing that humanity would no longer fear death if given the choice to dream endlessly.

However, Yamauchi is horrified by Kuroda's actions, viewing it as a desecration of the dying souls. He discovers Kuroda's dark intentions and secrets, including his desire to reunite with the spirit of his deceased lover, Kana Sakurai. Kuroda had inadvertently caused Kana's death with an accidental overdose during her treatment years ago. He has been using the crystals on himself, hoping to enter the dream world where he can be with Kana again.

Yamauchi confronts Kuroda in his office, shocked by the revelation. Kuroda, driven to madness, explains that he wished to eradicate the fear of death. Yamauchi disagrees vehemently, stating that it would disrespect the spirits of the dying. Overwhelmed by emotions, Kuroda violently attacks Yamauchi, leading to his death. In a twisted turn of events, Kuroda realizes that his actions were captured on surveillance cameras, showcasing his descent into madness.

Haunted by delusions and hallucinations, Kuroda's mind crumbles further. In a bizarre moment, he wakes up in a hospital bed to find Yamauchi and three other doctors observing him. His hands mutated like Mukoda's, Kuroda weeps uncontrollably, succumbing to complete insanity, mirroring the fate of the patient he once doubted.

My Interpretative Reflection

Dr. Kuroda's relentless quest to conquer the terror of death by enabling eternal dreaming brings to the forefront society's deeply rooted apprehension and evasion of mortality. This compels us to grapple with the ethical quandaries entwined with such pursuits, prompting us to consider the fallout of attempting to harness or control the core facets of human existence.

Kuroda's unwavering fixation on reuniting with his departed love, Kana Sakurai, through the enigmatic red crystals, lays bare the profound chasms of sorrow and the extraordinary lengths individuals may traverse to evade the agony of loss. It serves as a poignant commentary on the human inclination to confront the inexorable reality of death while harboring an unquenchable thirst for immortality and ceaseless connections.

The narrative accentuates the latent hazards lurking within unchecked scientific experimentation, spotlighting the ethical quandaries that emerge when personal aspirations and ambitions collide with the broader implications for humanity. Kuroda's descent into madness and the abyss of violence serves as a sobering parable, underscoring the consequences that materialize when unbridled scientific pursuits eclipse ethical considerations.

"Long Dream" ultimately beckons us to scrutinize the nebulous boundaries delineating life and death, the ethical conundrums that enshroud mortality, and the potential repercussions arising from tampering with the innate course of human existence. It functions as an unvarnished reminder of the fragile human psyche and the intricate moral labyrinth that accompanies the relentless quest for eternal life.

I'm just a humble fan who loves all things Japanese and hopes to bring a little bit of that love to you. Arigatou gozaimasu!



Previously published on Medium


About the Creator

Mika Oka

Sharing her unique perspective on the world as a hearing-impaired autistic person with bipolar disorder despite the challenges.


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Comments (2)

  • Antoinette L Brey10 months ago

    good job. i watched the cartoons as well

  • Jordan Flynn10 months ago

    Well done, love the illustrations you used in the story :)

Mika OkaWritten by Mika Oka

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