Don't worry! Everyone gets a chance to be sucked up by Junji Ito's human swirls!

Mr. Qoo

This is not creepy at all.

This is not creepy at all.

This is not creepy at all.

I was telling myself this as I read the creepy manga called Uzumaki(うずまき)by horror mangaka Junji Ito(伊藤潤二). Since then, I have become paranoid about swirls. See a swirl in my drink? Hair standing on end. See a snail? Walk away. See a body become a swirl? Hell no. I am out. I quit living.

And damn, Junji Ito is now having an exhibition in Hong Kong. This is the time I should overcome my fear.

Before I got in, I saw no swirls but The Hanging Balloons(首吊り気球)and some pictures of Ito’s other works. I was relieved despite the fact that I shouldn’t. After all, I was there for some freaking swirls.

Once I got in, I was faced with a room full of terrifying faces.

What’s more terrifying is that: all pictures (around 15 of them) in this room can be viewed using the exhibition’s official AR app that all visitors must download beforehand. Visitors are given a headset for putting their phones inside, and it makes the experience feel like a VR one.

This is a scan of Ito’s original panel from one of the Tomie(富江)series .

But using the AR headset makes it ten times scarier.

This fancy experience made up for the fact they are just scans but not original artwork (which I expected). Actions in a series of manga panels are usually not vivid in our imaginations, now that I understand how every eye pops out, how every head regenerates and how the protagonist gets swallowed by monsters in Ito’s manga.

And the AR journey ended here. How disappointing… they should’ve made all those pictures available for AR!

The part dedicated to Tomie features a few colour illustrations and a life-sized figure of her. Yet, the most crucial part is a video of Ito explaining the idea behind this manga.

Surprisingly, behind this self-regenerating girl is a simple idea. Ito was absolutely shocked when one of his friends passed away suddenly one day. He thought it was unreal, and thought what if it wasn’t real, and that his friend showed up the next day as if nothing happened. This is why Tomie was born.

The part dedicated to Souichi (双一) from the Souichi series is even more interesting, because it solves one of the greatest mysteries in Ito’s work – why Souichi is the strange kid he is!

Souichi is actually a reflection of Ito, who used to be a troublesome kid. Ito liked pranks, so does Souichi. I don’t know how misbehaving exactly Ito is, but according to the exhibition, he described himself as "having committed some excessively misconducts".

And then there is my biggest fear – Uzumaki. Among all life-sized figures, this one is the most eye-catching – I mean disgusting.

From what I read there, Ito said a spiral was a metaphor for obsession. When a person is too obsessed with something, he/she becomes an obsession his/herself and suck others up into this never ending desire.

After a long part where there was no activities for visitors (again, a bit disappointing), here came one under the theme of the Hanging Balloons. This is a photobooth where visitors can put their faces up on a balloon!

The merchandises are nicer than I expected. Unlike most art exhibitions, this one actually has some cute (or creepy) and useful stuff.

Details of Aesthetics of Horror: Junji Ito’s Exhibition in Hong Kong

Date: 6th – 26th February, 2017
Time: 10 am – 9 pm
Address: No.35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong

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