The Enigma of Amigara Fault

I recently read a short story written by a Japanese author known as Junji Ito called, The Enigma of Amigara Fault. This story followed the mysterious journey of a man named Owaki and a woman named Yoshida. The two meet at a mountain range that has recently been split in two by an earthquake that struck Japan. The real mystery, however, is that within the middle of the mountain there are holes in the shape of people. These holes have begun drawing people to them by some unknown compelling force, which is the main driver of the element of horror. This story has a lot of ways it could be interpreted and that really intrigued me from the beginning. I think that there is a lot to unpack with not only this story but the way in which this author perceives and interprets horror throughout all of his other pieces of writing and literature.

I really thought that this story was very powerful and brought the horror genre a fresh new take. Junji Ito as an author uses a lot of elements that most do not. He does this by utilizing a fear that we all have….. the fear of the unknown. As H.P Lovecraft once stated, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”, and Ito definitely uses this fear to his advantage. By not explaining the reasons for these human shapes holes or the people’s motivation towards them it leaves a lot of it to the imagination and allows a different type of fear and suspense to envelop the readers. He also uses a type of plot development we don’t usually see as he focuses more so on building a sense of fear and questioning of the mysterious craters rather than building a sense of connection with the characters. This may seem like it would ruin the story however, it really adds to it as we are less focused on our characters and more so on the mystery surrounding them. Also, the way he never actually explains the reasons for people being compelled to enter the fault allows us as readers to try and draw our own conclusions for it. Is it paradise, completion? We will never know the true reasoning and this is what makes it such a powerful piece of literature. Although we are shown the fate of those who entered the fault we will never truly know why they wanted to enter it in the first place which is where the true psychological horror lies

Another thing I would like to discuss this story if it’s the use of symbolism. I feel like this story was very well done and had many amazing elements to it. With that, I can go into more detail about its use of symbolism. Although it is not blatantly stated this story essentially symbolizes the act of compulsion. We are shown throughout the story all the citizens unexplainable urge you to enter the fault. This is compulsion, the fact that the holes were “made for them” makes them want to enter even though they know that it will result in their demise. Psychologists describe this type of compulsion as the “death drive” and is essentially the drive to destroy oneself despite the known consequences. This really drives the physiological horror of the story as it is by their free will that they enter these holes with the knowledge of there fate, that being inevitable death. And when you begin to look further you also see that every character throughout the story was in some type of emotional distress when they entered their hole. Such as Owaki’s pain over losing his friend and Yoshida’s immense loneliness. This hints that the fault itself was preying on people who were in a sense of emotional turmoil and using it to draw them to their almost inevitable demise. This also brings up the question of the origin of the fault. As this question is never we are left with the notion of helplessness as if we are not in control of our fate. This notion is one that Ito uses very commonly and utilizes to give his readers a sense of distress and fear that is carried well after the pages are finished.

When I think horror as a genre I don’t think of jump scares or spooky masks as those are just cliques. I think that true horror is storytelling that is carried with us and can not only strike you with fear but also with unease. True fear is not that of jumps but of a deeper more animal instinct. The fear of the unknown is a primitive and vital fear for out human safety, and when you use this to captivate and alarm an audience it affects down to the core and plays with their emotions more than any jump scare ever could. This is why I feel like Junji Ito’s stories are so effective. It is not what we know that alarms us, it is what we can’t explain.

With that, I believe that the works of Ito are beautifully crated from their storytelling to their illustrations. I personally am not a very avid reader of the manga literature technique. However, this author has opened me up to an entire world of writing I wasn’t even aware of. I am a fan of the horror genre but particularly the phycological subgenre and think that the mixture of pictures with the story really help to drive the overall fear and suspense. Overall I feel as though this author always seems to recognized for his deeply affecting storylines and beautifully constructed imagery and uses this to really mess with his readers psyche and emotions. Which is really, at its core, what horror is intended to do.

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