Junji Ito Month – Snow White

Today, we’re reading Junji Ito’s own horrifying (but surprisingly faithful to the source material) variant of this classic fairy tale story!

Junji Ito's Snow White Chapter 0 : [Oneshot] page 1 - MangaNelo.com

Spoiler Free Section

Snow White, like most stories of its kinds, have been adapted, re-imagined and told for hundreds of years since its existence. In fact, the original Snow White story is about as macabre as Junji Ito’s version.

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In the 1812 version, Snow White is a 16 year old girl and was FORCED to work by the dwarves in exchange for shelter. Not only that, but it’s not an evil stepmother that tries to get her killed, but her real biological mother. In the 1857 version of the story, instead of a heart like in the Disney cartoon, the evil queen asks for her lungs and liver instead. While the hunter tricks the queen with the lungs and liver of a boar, she then reveals that her intent was to boil them in salt and eat them. In every incarnation of the story, the queen tries to kill her three times, and on the third time, the queen always gets her comeuppance. The dwarves force the queen to wear scalding iron shoes and dance in them, until they eventually just set her on fire.

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Who hurt you, Grimm Brothers?

A scholar by the name of Eckhard Sandler even theorizes that Snow White was based on a real person. Margarete von Waldeck (1533-1554) was a young countess who was rumored to be the paramour of Phillip II of Spain. She died at an early age and many believe she was poisoned by her aunt for political reasons. The “dwarves” in her story are likely because her father owned copper mines. Copper mines use children as labor, and most of them don’t get past 20. Constant labor and darkness, as well as general poverty, also left their growth stunted. Hence, the “dwarves” are born.

In all honesty, Junji Ito could have adapted any of these Snow White stories directly and it would still work as a horror story. Snow White was always a weird one because of how emphasized her almost dying is in every story. Of the classic princesses, it seems like Snow White is the one who has the most attempts on her life.

Junji Ito gives us a creative take on the tried-and-true classic story. In this version of the story, we see a lot more from the queen’s perspective.

Junji Ito's Snow White Chapter 0 : [Oneshot] page 2 - MangaNelo.com
Also, the mirror talks like a creep.

From here, the story is standard. The queen spends every morning asking the mirror who is the most beautiful of them all, mirror says “the queen”, and she gets an ego boost. One day, the mirror starts talking about her foster daughter being the fairest of them all.

Junji Ito's Snow White Chapter 0 : [Oneshot] page 5 - MangaNelo.com
And apparently her secret is branded cosmetics.

As we’ve come to expect, the queen commands that she be murdered. From here on out, it’s spoiler town, so go ahead and read it!

Unfortunately, I haven’t found a trustworthy scanlation site to link you guys, so just search the high seas for the story, yo ho ho. However, be sure to give the original scanlators, Slug Chicks, a follow. The Snow White link on their site is dead, though 😦

Spoiler Town

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In a twist on the Snow White story, the queen succeeds in getting her killed.

Junji Ito's Snow White Chapter 0 : [Oneshot] page 7 - MangaNelo.com

To her confusion however, the mirror starts spouting about Snow White being the most beautiful person in the land again. Furious, she goes to the dungeon to check how her minions messed up, but was greeted by a horrible sight.

Junji Ito's Snow White Chapter 0 : [Oneshot] page 9 - MangaNelo.com
Lips of rose, indeed

In this version of the story, the seven “dwarves” are spirits of gnomes that died in the dungeons. Out of pity for the young lady, they brought her back to life to preserve her beauty. The lips of red are thanks to her blood seeping to her mouth. The skin as white as snow is her body being white from death. It’s a strange form of undeath. We’re never really sure if she’s alive, or the spirits are just speaking through her.

The second time the queen tries to kill her, she cuts her face several times with a blade to disfigure her, but that doesn’t stop the mirror from calling her the most beautiful in the land. The third time, she attempts to burn her, and the spirits, angered at the queen, gives her the comeuppance she deserves. In a beautiful twist of the burning iron shoes, the queen is forced to dance in the flames as she perishes in truly beautiful panel.

Junji Ito's Snow White Chapter 0 : [Oneshot] page 15 - MangaNelo.com

I really enjoyed Junji Ito’s version of the story. It stays faithful to the source material while having a unique identity. Ito’s illustrations definitely elevate this adaptation. Minor additions like the mirror being a bit of a creep and Snow White’s secret being make-up is also darkly hilarious. Maybe if the queen had also used SK-II, she’d be the most beautiful in the land too.

That’s all for today. See you guys tomorrow!

3 thoughts on “Junji Ito Month – Snow White

  1. That looks like a great adaptation and certainly looks better than the Disney version. I know about the original story and how messed up it is. Seriously, a ton of these fairy tales are straight up disturbing and I wouldn’t be surprised if they traumatized children hundreds of years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

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