In Window Next Door, a family has just moved to a new neighborhood. The teenage son, Hiroshi, is unnerved by the home next to theirs – a seemingly empty place with only one window, which faces right into his own. A neighbor confides to them that someone does still live there. She hasn’t seen her outside, but she sees a figure in the window at night so she knows that someone is home.
On his first night, Hiroshi hears a woman calling out for him, asking how his day was and to come to the window. When he obliges, he finds the neighbor’s window open and a hideous woman waiting there. She invites him to her house, telling him the door will be unlocked all day. When he doesn’t show up, she decides to take matters into her own hands, trying to cross the gap with a laundry pole.
Eventually, Hiroshi realizes that he may not be safe in his new home…
Gentle Goodbye is definitely different from the stories that we’ve seen so far – and admittedly, was new for me as well.
The story follows a young woman named Riko, who frequently has terrible nightmares about her father dying. At the start of the story, Riko has recently married into a family that doesn’t approve of her. Her husband, Makoto, treats her lovingly, as does his little sister. His parents, however, are always cold.
Makoto takes Riko through the huge family house to meet his great grandmother and grandfather, who are kind, but quiet. One day, Riko sees what she believes to be a ghost and panics. Makoto explains to her that after the death of a family member, his family performs a ritual in which they imagine the person until they manage to create what’s called an “after image.” An after image is not a spirit – it’s the manifestation of everyone’s memories of them. For around ten to twenty years, they continue to exist in the household, responding to conversations and letting their loved ones come to terms with the loss over time. Eventually, they will fade away and finally disappear.
Riko askes Makoto if an after image can be created of her father once he dies, but his parents shut down the suggestion immediately.
For the next ten years, Riko does her duties as a wife unfailingly, even though Makoto’s family never warms up to her. However, everything changes when she discovers that her husband is seeing another woman…
Window Next Door is a rather typical Ito short story, and it delivers a quick, creepy feeling, for sure. There were some details (including a little bit of the ending) that were left out – nothing crucial, however.
But really, Gentle Goodbye is the standout story so far this season. Considering that I tune in every week for horror and have gotten annoyed before at the humour deviation of Shuichi stories, it kind of surprises me to say that about this one. However, it was a beautiful story and certainly unexpected – and also one I want to avoid saying too much about, because it’s very much worth experiencing even if you aren’t a fan of the horror genre.This is definitely an episode I highly recommend.
Check out Junji Ito Collection on Crunchyroll, Fridays at 10:30!