Episode 4 – Shiver/House of Puppets
In Shiver, Yuuji lives next to Rina, who has apparently been sick all her life. From behind closed windows, he sees and hears her panicking about bugs that she claims are all over. One day, she reaches out the window and he notices holes all over her body.
As a child, Yuuji witnessed his dead grandfather in a similar state – full of holes, and even attended by the same doctor that he’s seen going into his neighbor’s house. Of course, his parents responded to the disturbing scene by telling him that he imagined it – something Yuuji now knows isn’t true. His friend, Hideo, reveals that when Rina was born, she couldn’t breathe. Soon, holes began to open in her skin and it appeared she was breathing through them.
After some sleuthing, Hideo and Yuuji discover that Yuuji’s grandfather found a jade statue shortly before suffering from holes in his body, which bugs poured out from. He threw the statue into the neighboring garden, where Rina now lives.
Soon, Yuuji is visited by Hideo, who became a little too curious about the jade statue…
In House of Puppets, Haruhiko is part of a traveling family of puppeteers. They rarely stay in one place long, but on one stop, he finds a friend in Kinuko – a female classmate who’s interested in his life and puppets.
When Haruhiko’s father gets sick, the family’s traveling lifestyle comes to an end. Haruhiko’s brother runs away with his puppet, Jean-Pierre, and soon Haruhiko’s father passes away – leaving Haruhiko and his younger sister Natsumi on their own.
Years later, Haruhiko and Kinuko cross paths again, and begin dating. Not long after, Haruhiko receives an invitation from his brother, who apparently lives in the same town. Haruhiko and Natsumi are surprised when they arrive at Yukihiko’s house and find he and his family strung up to the ceiling, like living puppets.
Yukihiko tells Haruhiko that they are being moved by hired workers above the ceiling, and that they love living that way. Yukihiko even still owns Jean-Pierre, who also is connected to the ceiling and moving around as if he’s a real person.
Natsumi decides to move in and be strung up as well, while Haruhiko is disturbed by the entire situation and returns home upset. He refuses to tell Kinuko about the situation, not wanting her to go there. Instead, he lies about where he is going, and she follows him. Seeing him in the window next to a puppet, she assumes he’s cheating on her and prepares to confront him. But before she has a chance to knock, Jean-Pierre appears at the door…
These two stories definitely are good choices for the series – all of Ito’s signature lack of explanation and reason, without quite the same level of weirdness as stories such as slug girl. The end result is a more accessible set of short stories for Junji Ito Collection.
While still nowhere near polished, the art and animation in this episode were a little better than the previous episodes – slightly more detail and fewer moments of ridiculously drawn expressions that stayed for half a minute at a time. Hopefully this trend will continue into the next episode. I’d love to see an uptick in the quality of Junji Ito Collection, for sure.
The voice acting continues to be well-done, and I’ve found the music/sound of the episodes to fit in fairly well, but I’m still hoping for the series to become a little more engaging.