The second episode of Junji Ito Maniac adapts two of Ito’s stories, The Story of the Mysterious Tunnel and Ice Cream Bus. The first story follows Goro, a teenager who revisits a tunnel with a group of friends where years before his mother had walked into and died. While in the tunnel he finds his sister wandering about with no recollection of how she got there.
It’s a pretty decent story, that has some really good moments in it. Straight away this story is engaging and unsettling. Spirits in a haunted tunnel is always going to be scary. It builds suspense really well. There’s a really neat moment early on where one of Goro’s friends has water drip on them from the tunnel ceiling and later Goro has the same thing happen, except it’s blood. He wipes it away, not freaking out like his friend, thinking it’s just water like what happened to his friend. As the audience, you know things about to get freaky. Sadly, the story is just a little too short, and doesn’t really have a good ending. Just as the story gets going it ends and then we’re onto the next one. It’s quite a disappointing end.
Ice Cream Bus is also quite short, but it works a lot better for this story. It’s about Tomoki and his father who move into a new building and outside an ice cream bus (not truck, a literal bus) turns up and starts handing out ice cream, and giving the children in the building a tour. Tomoki wants to get ice cream, and his father gives in and lets him get one and go on the tour. It’s a really weird story and it keeps you guessing all the way through about what’s going to happen. The final scene is brilliant and is a great pay off.
Both stories are creepy and entertaining by themselves. However it’s jarring to watch them together, as they really don’t blend well. Other than featuring children and parents there’s no connections. When you get to the end of the first story it’s a hard cut into the second one. It makes the first one feel really rushed, as it’s not really given an ending and you want to know what happens next, but instead, you have to settle into a whole new story. Since these were released on Netflix, surely they could have been split up into different shorter episodes.
Overall the second episode is stronger than the first, but that’s purely because the writing of the original story is stronger. The ideas are a bit more wackier and unique, especially the Ice Cream Bus. Neither story gets that close to actually being scary, but they’re both entertaining and the twenty or so minutes fly by very quickly.