Breaking down if The Enigma of Amigara fault by Junji Ito his scariest work yet: How true is its reputation?

Owaki in The Enigma of amigara fault by Junji Ito

Junji Ito, the sensei of psychological horror manga, is popularly known for his disturbing imagery and creative artstyle and character designs. But even within his chilling collections, one of his works stands out as a potential contender for his most terrifying work โ€” The Enigma of Amigara Fault. So, is this reputation justified? Let’s break down the story and its elements to see if it truly is his most horrifying work ever.

Elements in Enigma that makes it so scary

This is my hole meme
This is my hole meme | Courtesy of Junji Ito

Enigma heavily relies on psychological horror: Enigma highly focuses on its psychological horror aspect, unlike Ito’s other stories overflowing with monstrous beings. The story’s central focus is about certain mysterious human-shaped holes found in a mountain face. These holes are so perfectly shaped that people, including the protagonist, feel a strong, irresistible urge to enter them. Ito has masterfully created a sense of claustrophobia and feelings of intense discomfort through his artwork and dream sequences, leaving most of the readers in feelings of discomfort and confusion about the storytelling.

A sense of fear rather than explicit horror: Ito is no stranger into making his characters’ bodies distorted. But in ‘Enigma’, we see a much vague and subtler approach to the story. The true horror lies not in what’s explicitly shown but in what the reader imagines happens to those who enter the holes and the reason why it’s so tempting to enter the holes. One such example would be when, at the end of the story, a character is seen contorted and crawling into a hole far too small for his body. This leaves a lasting image of creepiness since the characters voluntarily enter the holes.

byu/kinkyonthe_loki69 injunjiito

Existential Dread: Maybe the most upsetting aspect of this particular horror manga is the lack of explanation of what happened to those who entered the holes, the why’s, and what’s in them were more likely either open to interpretation or simply just left unexplained in order to make it more intimidating, since humans have a fear of the unknown. And so, the origin and purpose of the holes remain unknown.

Also Read: Top 5 Best Horror Anime Series โ€“ 2023 (Ranked)

Interpreting the Layers of the Manga

a distorted image of a person in The Enigma of the Amigara Fault by Junji Ito
A scene from The Enigma of the Amigara Fault by Junji Ito | Courtesy of Junji Ito

A lot of Junji Ito’s manga is based on some form of human trait, Junji himself has even said that some of his manga was inspired by his own fears from his childhood. One way we could interpret this story is that it’s an exploration of human traits. The holes symbolize humanity’s insatiable need for exploration and discovering. It tells us about the dangers of morbid curiosity and the potential consequences of indulging into unsettling mysteries.

As, mentioned earlier, the discomfort arises not from any form of explicit horror, but from the mystery of the holes. Another interpretation given by some fans suggests that the holes represent the pre-defined roles or behaviours society expects us to fit into. The irresistible urge to enter them signifies the pressure to obey the rules of the society, even if it’s ultimately suffocating and leads to stagnation.

The Enigma of Amigara Fault stands tall as Ito’s Psychological Freak

A Scene from The Enigma of Amigara fault by Junji Ito
A Scene from The Enigma of Amigara fault by Junji Ito | Courtesy of Junji Ito

While the manga undeniably delivers chills, we could call it the most psychologically disturbing manga by Ito as of now. Some might find the more visceral body horror of ‘Uzumaki’ or the relentless stalking of ‘Tomie’ more disturbing, but this is only manga that explores psychological fears and human traits such subtlety and not by showing explicit horror but still delivering the fear.

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