Things coming to life that shouldn’t in any way is a common trope in horror stories, especially if infamous horror manga artist Junji Ito has written it. In the 11th episode of Netflix’s “Japanese Tales of the Macabre,” we get to see that revenge is indeed a dish best served cold and that you need to be wary around things that resemble humans because chances are, they might suddenly want to become humans. So, let’s see what happens in this episode.
What Happens In ‘Alley’?
After renting a room in a boarding house, a young student named Ishida discovers a very tall, cemented fence with barbed wire on top, hiding the alley next to the house. At dinner, Ishida meets the landlady’s middle-schooler daughter, Shinobu, who doesn’t seem very chatty. That night, after reading a book named “Hell of Thorns” (interesting call-back to the “Library Vision” story), Ishida is just about to sleep when he hears the voices of children coming from the sealed alleyway, and he shouts, but the children keep playing. Trying to get a look at the noisy children, he tries climbing the fence but almost falls. Barely hanging on to the fence’s rails, he’s about to ask the kids to pipe down when he finds the alley is empty. The next day, while Shinobu suddenly drops by to help him arrange his books, Ishida shares the weird event that happened last night. She says that the area has a lot of alleys so it might sound like it’s nearby, and that she too would hear these noises. When she realizes that he had jumped from the window to the fence to look inside the alley but saw nothing because of the darkness, she requests him to never try that again and says that human life is very precious. At night, he once again hears the children’s laughter, which is silenced after deep growling noises start. This voice, that feels like it is coming from the other side of the wall, calls out Shinobu’s name, and this freaks Ishida out.
While going out of the house one morning, a strange man approaches Ishida and wants to speak. He reveals that he was a boarder at the landlady, Mrs. Uchiyama’s board house a decade ago, and despite wanting to keep the matter under wraps, he can’t anymore and that he has nightmares about it every day. He confirms that Ishida has noticed the unusually large fence and then says that a murder happened on the closed-off side of that alley. The man further adds that on the alley’s corner, a manhole leads to an underground chamber, and upon opening the manhole, he had discovered the decomposing bodies of three children. Moreover, on the wall behind the lid, he spotted three stains that resembled children and that each day after sunset, the children step out of the stains and play inside the alley. The man says that he used to see these happen from the window of his room, but Ishida says that the room has no windows. The man, trembling in fear, grabs Ishida and requests him to inspect the room because the window must be there. The tenant shakes off the crazy person and leaves.
Inside his room, Ishida decides to inspect the room, and upon removing the bookshelf, he finds that indeed there is a window with a roll of rope at the window’s foot. Peering out of the window that looks out to the alley, he sees an iron lid and three stains on the wall, exactly as the man had described them, so he climbs down to the alley for a better look. There are actually six stains upon closer inspection: three are of little children, two are of older kids, and one is of a man, with violent explicit things scratched on the walls. He breaks the lock of the lid and lifts it to spot the body of a decomposing body of a young man and the skeleton of a girl. He lets go of the lid that falls with a resounding clang and tries climbing up the rope when he’s stabbed at, and the rope is pulled back in. Shinobu peers out and chides Ishida for discovering her secret window. She then proceeds to narrate how she once trapped three bullies in the underground area because they had overtaken the alley, which was special to her.
A week later, the stains appeared on the wall because the children had died, and her father closed the alley soon after discovering the bodies because he realized his daughter was behind the crimes. She continues how boarders would escape after hearing the children’s laughter, and she had to move back to this room. She used the alley as her personal execution ground because she brought two classmates she hated into this alley and killed them, as well as her father, who used to keep nagging her. However, even after death, they linger on as stains on the wall and curse Shinobu, who has made it a point to never enter the alley after dark, so she’s safe. While talking, she notices that Ishida has passed out, so she climbs down to kill him when the rope snaps. Her mother, who was humming and chopping vegetables in the kitchen until that point, is nowhere to be seen. The sun sets, the stains start taking shapes, and vengeance is visible in their shadowed eyes as Shinobu trembles in fear of the upcoming comeuppance that was due for a murderer like her.
What Happens In ‘Headless Statue’?
In a school’s art department, students Shimada and Rumi are helping their teacher Mr. Okabe, who’s renowned as a sculptor of headless statues because he has an exhibition of these statues. He asks the students to go home, but Shimada insists on staying and helping his teacher. Okabe theorizes that by removing the faces from his sculptures, he can present several possibilities and that faces serve no real purpose to artwork, so he has removed heads altogether.
The next morning, the schoolyard is full of students and policemen, and when Rumi arrives, her classmates Sanae and Masami inform her that Okabe was murdered the previous night. Upon learning that Okabe’s headless corpse was discovered inside the art room, Rumi thinks back to the previous night, where Shimada asked her not to tell anyone that he’d be staying back in the campus, and asks if they have seen Shimada. The girls say they haven’t, so after school, Rumi goes to meet Shimada, who answers the intercom, and while she’s expressing her shock over the murder, he comes out wearing a mask and expressionless eyes and questions her if she suspects of him being the killer. She says that he’s acting strange, so he makes it weirder by saying that people act that way when in love, before adding that Rumi is very beautiful. He continues that seeing her would always increase his heartbeat and that he used to await her at the art room before inviting her to take a walk together. Meanwhile, Sanae and Masami arrive at the art room because the latter had left her English study guide in the art room. While discussing the horrific way Okabe was murdered, Sanami is looking for her study guide when they hear thumping noises coming from the other room. They spot someone standing on the other side, and as the door opens, they spot, to their utmost horror, the dismembered head of Okabe, frozen in terror, with his jaw open and glasses askew.
Elsewhere, the masked Shimada tells Rumi that not only is Okabe there, but he’s hiding inside the school building, and he’s supposed to meet with Shimada in the evening. Rumi enters the art room and is hit by a stench of rotting meat. and even spots that all statues except one are missing. Only the pedestals remain. Shimada proceeds to lock the door and takes his mask off to reveal his face, with blood trickling down the lips and his eyes looking glassy. He speaks, but his mouth doesn’t move. Rumi becomes concerned and starts asking where Okabe is, so the structure pretending to be Shimada removes the cloth from a female statue to reveal Okabe’s head on it. He takes Okabe’s head out and drops it to the floor, and starts advancing towards Rumi, who slaps him. The head spins around and drops to the floor, and Rumi screams in terror.
The headless body keeps approaching her while calling her name until she hits it with a stool, then it shatters to reveal its but a plaster statue. She’s fumbling with the key to open the door when she spots the female statue advancing towards her with a machete at hand. She manages to escape the art room at the last moment, only to find another headless statue waiting for her near the exit, while the machete-wielding statue advances. She runs upstairs into a class and finds the headless corpses of Shimada, Masami, and Sanae and several statues fighting with one another to put a head on their bodies. Two statues spot Rumi and chase after her to claim her face as she backs up against the door. The machete-wielder from downstairs arrives and reaches her after smashing the glass. Three statues reach for her head as Rumi continues screaming.
‘Junji Ito Maniac’ Episode 11: Ending Explained
While the first story in this episode is about retribution, the second is about anthropomorphizing anything that can be remotely scary. The first story features how a murderous girl who hides her age gets trapped in a place where she’d kill the people she disliked. Shinobu was a petty girl who murdered three of her bullies, and when her father chose to cover up her crime instead of alerting the authorities, he wrote his own death sentence. Soon after, Shinobu killed two of her classmates and then her father. She’d have done the same with the tenant Shimada because he had learnt her secret, but luck wasn’t on her side. The rope tore, and she got trapped inside the closed-off alley as the spirits started appearing. It’s highly possible that after that night, the wall gained another stain in the shape of Shinobu.
In the second story, the headless statues that Okabe used to create came to life and realized their lack of heads. Thus, they started by chopping off the heads of whoever they could find and fit it on their necks to appear pretty. Despite being plaster statues, they acted like human beings who wanted to look pretty, but they resorted to murder for that. The statues could talk, even without having heads, and that’s because they didn’t need heads to speak, only to appear beautiful. They killed Okabe, Shimada, Sanae, Masami, and most likely Rumi, because there’s no way she escaped those murderous and armed statues with her head intact.