Note: Normally this review runs on Sundays, and will be back on time again next week… Sadly not all sick time comes with a side of anime!
In a town prone to heavy fog, schoolgirls have become obsessed with intersection fortune telling. All a person has to do is stand at a corner of an intersection, and ask the first person coming by to give them a fortune. Ryuusuke, returning to town for the first time since he was young, doesn’t like the sound of this game – it turns out he had his own experience with intersection fortune telling ten years ago that ended in tragedy.
Intersection fortune telling seems like a cute game, but girls keep killing themselves while playing – often after running into an otherworldly, beautiful boy that appears during times of thick fog.
At school, Ryuusuke reconnects with Midori – a girl he used to go to school with. It’s clear there’s something between them, and Midori’s friend Reishi encourages them to pursue each other. When Ryuusuke realizes his own bad experience with intersection fortune telling is related to a tragedy experienced by Midori’s family, he tries to pull away. Concerned for her friend’s relationship, Reishi attempts to get a fortune told on behalf of Midori. Unfortunately, it’s the intersection pretty boy that comes across her first and tells her to worry about her own love life.
Afterwards, Reishi becomes obsessed with Ryuusuke, who she claims to have fallen in love with. She wastes away trying to get his attention, and soon commits suicide as well. Ryuusuke soon becomes obsessed with trying to find the intersection pretty boy, and wandering the crossroads answering fortunes. But soon he realizes that ghosts still wander the streets, lamenting their love lives…
This installment covers the first chapter of Lovesick Dead, ending on a… kind of… happy note? However, there’s quite a bit more story after this, and I’m wondering if they’ll explore the next chapter in the next episode, or leave it disjointed.
At the end, there’s a short story of a girl whose deep fear of slugs becomes a nightmare when her tongue turns into one. Slug Girl is another one of Ito’s small snippets that never really comes with much of an explanation. Admittedly, I was less impressed with it in animation than I was in its original format. Slug Girl was never a very deep or unsettling story – just bizarre. I could accept this bizarreness as presented by Junji Ito, but it doesn’t carry quite the same feeling in the show. I was, however, pretty fond of the beginning of the story, which felt rather grave and serious, despite what was to come.
As a story, the adaptation itself was pretty thorough. However… this was the episode that made me reconsider my art style comments in the last couple of reviews. I’m not sure if it just didn’t bother me until now, or if my excitement for the series made me less critical… either way, I was disappointed in the art quality this time around. Especially after being inspired to go back and reread the original Lovesick Dead manga. Unrefined character shapes, shoddy animation quality, derpy expressions that stayed in place for a full 30 seconds at a time… there is sometimes a roughness and a discomfort to Ito’s art, but it’s never been bad.
Without Ito’s art, this episode just didn’t carry the same feeling as the original. Of course, story is the most important feature at the end of the day, but many of us watch anime adaptations to see something brought to life, and art and animation go a long way toward making that happen. Junji Ito Collection makes an attempt to borrow Ito’s style, but never with the same polish and care. It’s certainly something I’d like to see improve.
See Junji Ito Collection on CrunchyRoll, Fridays at 10:30!