When people think of “cosmic horror,” if they think about it at all, it’s usually in the same breath as H.P. Lovecraft. Certainly, Lovecraft is the father of that kind of horror; a focus on unexplained, metaphysical nightmares that are neither explained nor described. But ol’ H.P.’s been dead for over 80 years. Who is taking on the mantle of cosmic horror and bringing it to new heights? For my money, it’s manga writer and artist Junji Ito. His books are bizarre and unsettling, and often downright repulsive in their visuals. While anime adaptations exist, Adult Swim’s new mini-series
The series’ first chapter ends with a boy’s father—utterly obsessed with spirals—cramming himself into a cylindrical container, rolling himself into a spiral. As with most of Ito’s best scares, it’s a huge splash page, forcing the reader to actively scare themselves through the act of flipping forward. The book contains some of Ito’s most indelibly terrifying images and as the world becomes a mass of spirals, twisting into a vortex of oblivion, the true nature of the cosmic horror comes full… well, circle.
Crunchyroll adapted several of Ito’s short stories into an anthology anime in 2018. Critics and fans weren’t particularly kind to it, saying the images lack the startling sparseness of Ito’s art. But the teaser for