‘Junji Ito Maniac’ Episode 8: Layers Of Terror And The Thing That Drifted Ashore – Recap And Ending, Explained

The eighth episode in the Netflix series “Japanese Tales of the Macabre,” based on the horror manga by Junji Ito, is one of the most disturbing in the series because it presents two concepts. The first story is of grotesque body horror, and the second is an exploration of the deep sea. While the first talks about the negative sides of parental obsession, the second devolves humans into a stage that’s pretty much unimaginable. But then again, this is Ito we’re talking about, so unimaginable is his playground. Full of jaw-dropping and grotesque moments, here’s a recap of Episode 8.

Spoilers Ahead

What Happens In ‘Layers Of Terror’?

In 1996, a team of geologists was studying the layers in a rock structure when the professor’s assistant spotted a strange sedimentation that seemed to have been formed to look like a person lying down. The professor discovers a baby’s skull at the base of the sedimentation and theorizes it’s a burial ritual where layers and layers of dirt would be used on a body until it resembled a giant doll. It suddenly starts raining, and to protect the skull from being damaged, the professor picks it up.

Twenty-one years later, in a car, a mother and her two daughters are driving to the girls’ father’s memorial ceremony. The mother is doting on her younger daughter, Reimi, who sits beside her, while Narumi, the elder daughter, drives the car. Reimi is obviously beautiful, and the mother makes no bones in hiding the fact that she loves the former television star Reimi for her cuteness and looks over the elder Narumi and her comparatively duller features. The mother remembers how Reimi would ask for hugs as a toddler, but the girl says that she’s no longer a child. Narumi complains that the mother never paid much attention to her, and an argument breaks out when the car loses balance and goes into a ditch. Narumi regains consciousness to find a street sign crashed inside and half of Reimi’s face hanging from the sign.

Inside the hospital, the mother and Narumi are weeping, with the mother’s biggest concern being that Reimi’s pretty face has been destroyed, and she immediately blames Narumi for this. The doctor arrives and announces that Reimi is conscious, but something very strange is noticed—inside the room, the doctor shows that under the piece of Reimi’s skin that was destroyed, there’s an exactly identical layer of skin. He then shows the girl’s MRI scans and states that Reimi has none of the bones, muscles, or organs of a human body; instead, her body is made up of multiple epidermis layers. He continues that her layers of skin resemble those of a tree trunk, and counting each layer will give an idea about her exact age. The mother learns that underneath all those layers, there’s one of Reimi as a baby, and refuses any further tests to be conducted. Outside, Narumi says that they’ve been cursed by that skull that their father excavated 21 years ago and that she can’t stop thinking about how the sedimentation layers are freakishly similar to Reimi’s MRI scan. She recounts how that skull’s discovery changed her father and surmises that although her father died nine years following the discovery, the curse of the skull has struck Reimi, who was born only a year after her father’s return. To substantiate her claim, Narumi opens her mouth to show multiple layers of teeth and demonstrate that she, too, is made of layers.

At home, the mother is babying Reimi when Narumi suggests having a funeral for that skull to undo the curse. The mother flatly refuses, but Reimi wants to go through with it to release their family from the curse. The mother says it’s not a curse but a disease, one that she’ll help heal. Reimi is annoyed at the constant patronizing and shouts at her mother and pushes her off, saying she’s not that baby anymore. To make matters worse, she blames her mother for the crash because she instigated the argument to irritate Narumi. That night, the mother talks to the sleeping Reimi, addressing the baby inside, and almost gives up hope when there’s no response until a child’s voice from inside Reimi’s body calls out to her. The child asks for a hug and requests to be let out, and the mother starts panicking, thinking of a way to let her baby Reimi out until her finger slips inside the partial layer of the uppermost skin on Reimi’s face, and she pulls on it. Narumi hears a scream and rushes into Reimi’s room to see the mother peeling off skin with a box cutter. In her obsessed and crazed logic, the mother has to keep peeling the bad skin off until her 2-year-old daughter Reimi is revealed. Narumi tries protesting until she hears the baby’s voice coming from inside. The mother keeps peeling layers upon layers of her daughter’s face to reach the baby until she finds the talking baby, the 2-year-old Reimi, who asks for a hug. 

Now, the mother demands Narumi’s help in peeling off the rest of Reimi’s body to reveal the baby’s actual body. They keep ripping skin until they dig to the final layer of a stick figure that looks like the wooden framework of a statue on which ceramic is loaded. As Reimi and the child’s body keep laughing gleefully, Narumi says this is the fullest extent of the curse. The mother picks up the box cutter and blankly slices her skin as Narumi demands what she’s doing, to which the mother responds with her brilliant plan where she intends to peel off her skin as well until she’s a 38-year-old woman and give birth to Reimi once again. Then she proceeds to flay her skin to expose the blood and muscles underneath, falling to the floor in a blood-curdling scream of unimaginable pain. Narumi is seen walking to the room with a tray of food and placing some beside a woman hunched on the floor with bandages all around her face. She then approaches a stick figure with long hair, but the face is hidden. The stick figure has lines on it like the rings on a tree, and it keeps asking for hugs from the mother. Narumi places the food and leaves.

What Happens In ‘The Thing That Drifted Ashore’?

The second story begins with a dream-like sequence where multiple aquariums house sea-dwelling creatures that range from a crab on the sand to shark-like fishes and an angler fish that can only be found thousands of feet below sea level where the sunlight doesn’t reach. The voiceover narrates a dream where the person is floating in an ocean until they discover a fish that’s so humongous and so ancient that it has gone beyond death – one that’s been forgotten by the world, but it still exists. 

A beach is crowded with people causing a commotion over a creature that has washed ashore—a behemoth of a sea creature that’s even bigger than a blue whale. The creature has strange protrusions on its body that a team of researchers gathered to study the discovery classify as organs that aid in creating luminescence for the creature, like in an angler fish. In the sweltering heat, one of the onlookers almost faints, so a man helps her to a shade. In a shaded area, the woman, who had almost lost consciousness, says that she came to see the discovery because she was very curious. The man adds that he, too, had the urge to come, though he despises the ocean because he’s scared of fish. The woman says that she’s not a fan of the ocean either because she lost her fiancé seven years back when a ferry went missing off the Izu coast.

The researchers recognize the creature as a legendary discovery and immediately get to work because the corpse is rotting. While studying the fish, one of them spots piles upon piles of humans stored inside the creature that should have been digested by all rights but are where the creature’s intestines are supposed to be. They cut the fish’s belly open to release the dead, and scores of humans flood out, white as paper. These humanoid things are alive, and they have webbed fingers and long nails. The woman identifies one of the humanoid creatures frothing at its mouth as her fiancé, Tadashi, who went missing near the Izu coast. While the researchers debate if the passengers on board the ferry can stay alive inside the creature’s stomach for seven years, Mie, the woman, tries talking to the humanoid she calls Tadashi when it snaps at her. The man who had helped Mie takes her away from the creatures and says that Tadashi isn’t human anymore, just when the creatures start marching on all fours. The man identifies it as parasitic behavior and says that the people survived inside the creature’s intestine by drawing nutrients from it. The researchers wonder if it’s possible for humans to become parasites and stay alive by absorbing nutrients from a host’s body. A scene presents the floor of the sea, where undiscovered, nameless creatures roam, and the gigantic fish that washed ashore is seen swimming through the waters with the white humanoid creatures in its stomach.

‘Junji Ito Maniac’ Episode 8: Ending Explained 

The 8th episode in Netflix’s anime adaptation of Ito’s horror stories might be among the best adaptations in the series, especially because of the tone of the two stories. While the first is a disturbing body horror that’ll make you cringe, the other is a look inside what remains a source of mystery for humanity—the bottom of the sea. In the first story, when the geologist carries the skull home, he unleashes the curse that the burial ritual had tried to keep hidden from his family. One year after he brought the skull home, Reimi was born, and judging by the structure of the skull and her face; it’s highly possible that the skull manifested itself as Reimi, and the layers upon layers of skin resemble the pattern the burial ritual followed. Even so, the daughters could go on to live normally, and the curse might have been lifted if the mother had taken Narumi’s suggestion of holding a funeral ceremony for the skull to help it find peace. However, the mother’s obsession ruined the life of Reimi and her own. Her obsession with getting her sweet baby back made her hack through her daughter’s face to reveal the baby, but the rest of her body was like the thin branches of a tree. This is because the geologist discovered only the skull, so the head has been formed, but the body is just the structure of a stick figure. After the mother rips her flesh off and is horribly disfigured, Reimi’s body has turned into a grotesque mass of skin while she keeps asking for hugs. Her face can’t be seen, probably because it’s more of a disturbing image than her mother exposing the flesh under her face. The story serves as an important lesson as to what excessive obsession leads to and why parents need to stop treating their children like kids when they’re full-grown adults.

The second story presents a scenario where a host of people drowned in the ocean but found a monstrous sea creature nested inside its stomach. The humanoid creatures in this episode closely resemble tapeworms or any other similar parasite that’s found inside the human intestine. By presenting humans as similar parasites, Ito reverses the situation and exhibits what happens when humans aren’t the hosts but parasites drawing nutrition from a bigger creature. By sucking nutrition from the creature’s intestine, the humans stay alive, but they’re no longer human and are as mindless as tapeworms that only stay alive to eat. When the creature has been sucked dry by the parasites inside, it dies and washes ashore, and the parasites march away, looking for a new host. In this story, although the sea creature is presented as the monster based on how it looks, it turns out to be a victim of parasites that were human once upon a time.

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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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