‘Junji Ito Maniac’ Episode 4: Four X Four Walls And The Sandman’s Lair – Recap And Ending, Explained

Ito is known to bring back some characters in his short stories because of how entertaining some of them prove to be. “Entertaining,” in Ito’s terms, means too creepy and disturbing to limit the characters to just one short story. The fourth episode in Netflix’s adaptation of Junji Ito’s horror manga features one such recurring character and another story about a man too scared to sleep. The main antagonist of the first story, Soichi, returns in another episode in this series towards the end, and if you’ve read the “Secrets of the Haunted Mansion” manga, you’ll know that Soichi grows up to be pure evil who entraps his entire family. If you haven’t yet, you need to check the manga out, but for starters, check out what happens in this episode.

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Spoilers Ahead


What Happens In ‘Four X Four Walls’?

The episode begins with someone walking in a forest with a voodoo doll at hand and picking a beetle off a tree. The gap-toothed person has nails sticking out of his mouth, and he’s chewing on them like toothpicks. Immediately we know this isn’t a sane human being. It’s nighttime, and a young man named Koichi is trying to study but is constantly distracted by the thumping noises coming from the attic. He rushes to the living room to complain about his brother Soichi to his father, but sees Soichi watching TV. Soichi has massive eye bags and is chewing on nails when he acts innocent of all that his brother accuses him of. Koichi’s family chides him for blaming his brother always. Later, while he’s studying, Soichi can be heard wishing ill on his brother, and he chases Soichi downstairs. The freaky kid was apparently on his way to the toilet, but when Koichi pinned him down, Soichi wet himself. Later, Soichi says it’s the work of poltergeists who are annoying his elder brother for disrespecting the spirits. In Koichi’s room, suddenly every object starts floating, and he’s initially suspicious that it’s the work of a poltergeist until he notices all the items tied by thin strings and being controlled from inside the closet.

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The next morning, Koichi demands of his father to get a grip on this psychotic child, but the father instead suggests that he’ll get a carpenter to soundproof Koichi’s room. When Koichi returns home, his mother says that the carpenter has started working on his room, and he’s quickly taken aback after one look at the man. The carpenter named Tagaisu looks more like a monster, with grey pupils, red and blue eyebrows, and a raspy voice. Anyone will feel deeply uneasy upon taking one look at the freak that’s hammering nails in Koichi’s room. Tagaisu says that he’ll use the latest technology to soundproof the room – by quadrupling the doors to block out every noise. He relates quadrupling with death and says quadrupling the doors will make sure all sounds die. Who let this carpenter in? Soichi tries hammering nails inside the walls, and when Koichi tries stopping him, the carpenter praises Soichi’s handiwork.

That night, Koichi expresses his doubts about the carpenter but gets ignored. He finds his room’s window boarded up in the morning, and on his way inside, he finds Tagaisu leaving, and he informs him that he’s done with his work. Upon taking a look at his room, Koichi finds four doors that progressively keep getting smaller until his room is just his desk. It’s excessively cramped, and movement is virtually impossible, but at least he can focus on his studies without any sound distracting him. Suddenly, weird growling noises start, and Koichi knows it’s his brother at it again. Koichi embarks on a chase through the insides of the house, going through multiple passages, until he finally finds Soichi hanging against one of the quadruple walls and making weird noises. He chases his freak show of a brother through the crevices of the house until he realizes it is futile chasing someone as insane as Soichi. He gives up and returns to his studies, as Soichi keeps at his childish pranks until he runs out of breath and falls to the floor.

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What Happens In ‘The Sandman’s Lair’?

A gaunt man named Yuji smokes a cigarette in a restaurant while telling a girl named Mari that he hasn’t slept in three days. Mari asks if it’s because of something Yuji is writing, but he says it’s because he doesn’t want his alter ego from his dream to come out when he goes to sleep. Taken aback, Mari asks Yuji to see a doctor, which irritates him, and he leaves. Mari runs after him and apologizes, so Yuji asks her to watch over him. When Mari arrives at his apartment, he’s listening to music while a switched-on TV is kept beside the radio. Before going to sleep, he tasks her with tying his arms and legs with tape, and she follows his instructions here. After he has fallen asleep, Mari cuts the tape, and both of them are sleeping. Hours have passed when Mari is jolted awake by the sight of a hand popping out of Yuji’s mouth and grabbing her leg. She shakes Yuji awake, who’s terrified, by pushing the hand inside, while one of his hands has been sucked inside. The more he pushes that phantom hand in, the more his own hand returns to its original shape, and Mari helps pull his fingers out.

Later, Yuji explains that this hand belongs to his alter ego from his dream, which is trying to climb out because it desires Mari. Mari says it’s impossible for humans to have hollow bodies which can be turned inside out like a pair of gloves. Apparently, Yuji wanted to fly since he was a child, but he never could, despite having a hollow body. Therefore, he thought he could at least fly in his dreams. Yuji is exhausted and gives up trying to fight the thing inside him and goes to sleep. Mari binds her own hand to his with tape, and soon her hand also starts getting sucked in. With half of her body inside Yuji’s, a freak with two hands is seen popping out of his mouth. Later, two detectives arrive to investigate Mari’s disappearance, when a naked man, whose body resembles Yuji’s but is a lot healthier, says that she has become his organs. The detectives question if he has eaten her, but Yuji says she’s not on this plane anymore. A white bird flies inside the TV.

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‘Junji Ito Maniac’ Episode 4: Ending Explained

The two tales in this episode are quite different. While one is of a pesky younger brother who has some deep-seated evils, the other is about an entity from the dream world wanting to break through into the world of the living. The first story features Soichi, a recurring character in Ito’s stories, who’s often seen chewing on nails. The story’s feeling of unease comes from the way Soichi pushes his brother Koichi to the limits by irritating him. It has tropes of claustrophobia with the severely cramped room, which can make any person with claustrophobia very uneasy while watching it. Koichi’s repeated attempts to get his father to deal with the insane younger brother are ignored, and in turn, Koichi is viewed as the crazy kid. The creepy carpenter Tagaisu is the reason for a deep feeling of unease for the viewers, although he doesn’t particularly do anything other than reduce Koichi’s room into a 4×4 prison cell. The story ends with Soichi passing out from lack of breath, and it’s clearly not the last we’ll see of this nail-chewing insomniac freak.

The second story shows the power of dreams. Yuji’s dream self-got strong enough to want to make its way out by flipping his body inside out. Sleep serves as the pathway between the two planes of reality and dreaming, and when one person sleeps, the other wakes and tries making their way out. The eponymous lair of the sandman is inside Yuji’s body, where the alter-ego resides. Once he goes to sleep, the sandman pushes out of Yuji’s mouth, sending Yuji to the dream world and replacing him in this plane of reality. Mari also gets sucked in, and her body becomes a part of Yuji’s alter-ego while her consciousness is transferred to the dream world to be with Yuji. The TV is the representation of the dreams, and the flying bird is Yuji finally realizing his dreams of being a bird and spreading his wings in the land of dreams.


Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

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