Junji Ito month continues! Let’s not waste any time and just get straight to our next story:
I haven’t bothered to post any trigger warnings before this story, but the topic is a bit too sensitive to leave without it, so TRIGGER WARNINGS if you are uncomfortable with talking about suicide.
Suicide pacts are, unfortunately, a real thing that happens in Japan. As early as the year 2000, group suicides have been found in the same kinds of mountains that our characters are going to. Most people believe suicide pacts happen because even until the end, nobody wants to be lonely.
In general, Japan has a notorious history in regards to suicide. In history, committing seppuku when one has been dishonored was a way for them to regain their honor in death. The tolerance for suicide is borderline normal, because Japan views it as a “morally responsible” thing to do. Not only that, but the toxic work culture, general loneliness, and heavy conformity in Japan has made suicide rates rise every year.
Junji Ito is no stranger to tackling suicide in his works, but this is the first time he’s focusing on the suicide aspect.
Or does he? Let’s start.
We are introduced to our characters, all in black, meeting for their group suicide. They all share their handles, and get on a car to go to the mountains. During the car ride, they all share their experiences and reasons for wanting to die. A common theme, noticed by all of them, was that their reasons involved “another” them.
“Marusou” says that she had a premonition of herself dying a painful death, and so she intends to kill herself peacefully before then.
“Taburou” has a literal case. He saw a person that looked exactly like him, except with eyes with the intent to kill. This is the usual story of the doppleganger in urban legends.
“Piitan” is a scientist who ends up being the model of the world’s most advanced robot. The knowledge of a “him” that’s better in every way made him feel unnecessary in the world.
Lastly, “Baracchi” feels that there’s “something” inside the mirror that is slowly taking over her body.
With humor, Taburou notes how strange it is that they all have a “theme” for the suicide. At this point, Marusou looks out the window and sees something that shocks her.
Before we get into spoilers, let’s talk about how Junji Ito attacks us through our sense of self. What exactly makes us “us”? If somebody looked exactly like us, is there a point to having two of the same person exist? Not only that, but the fear of these dopplegangers taking over our lives with nobody knowing is a terrifying prospect. Be it a demon, a vengeful phantom, or and android, it doesn’t matter. Knowing another you exists is not a great thing to know.
Now, it’s time to get into spoiler town, so please read the story “Group Suicide by Junji Ito” by following this link.
The thing Marusou sees outside the car is another car. Another car that houses another them.
At this point, she starts to notice strange things about her present company. While Taburou just waves her vision away as nerves, she notices that the Baracchi from the other car had her hair on the opposite side. Almost like a mirror.
Oh yeah, this is what she looks like with her hair parted.
They get out of the car and prepare to kill themselves via carbon monoxide poisoning. Taburou brings Marisou aside and tells her he thinks that the Piitan with them is the robot. Marusou then says that the Baracchi with them has no reflection.
Logically, they start running the moment this becomes apparent. The two “others” start chasing them, and Marusou manages to shatter the mirror lady with a rock. The robot, meanwhile, catches Taburou and stabs him in the face. As it turns out, Taburou wasn’t the real one either, but a phantom. The robot then turns its attention to Marusou, who runs until she reaches the car full of the “other” thems, but she realizes that only she was missing from the car. The real group had left without her and was just about to kill themselves. The robot then turns tail and runs into the forest upon seeing the real Piitan. The group is understandably freaked out when Marusou explains the situation and calls off the suicide attempt.
This was a really fun story. I was a bit unsettled at the idea of another self at first, but the story took off in a more action-packed path than I originally thought. The moment their identities were in question, the “others” just gunned for the one real person with them. It’s actually kind of fun seeing the different ways they died. Honestly, this story is more like a fun urban legend to tell around the campfire as opposed to one that’s supposed to scare you. I mean, it’s kind of like a supernatural joke. A robot, a demon and a doppleganger walk into a car.
I’d say this is one of Ito’s least scary work, but it’s also one of the most fascinating.
That’s all for today! Tune in tomorrow for more Junji Ito!