Department or Program

Asian Studies


In consuming horror fiction, the experience of horror is directly related to the medium through which it is presented. Therefore, in order to properly examine what comprises the genre of “horror manga,” is it critical to examine precisely how manga conveys horror. This thesis performs a media studies “deep-dive” into the works of Japanese horror manga artist, Itō Junji. Itō’s works have received notoriety worldwide for their uncanny ability to incite a truly visceral reaction in the reader. This is caused in part by the illustrative style of cartooning in manga. Conceptual representation in the panels of manga allows for distinct and incompatible ideas to be brought together. When these concepts create a dissonance (such as relating the figure of “father” to “cannibal”) left unresolved within the narrative, the fictional horror becomes an unbounded “paranoid horror.” The gaps between panels of manga also require readers to mentally “fill in” the space between moments through closure. This leads to a “co-creation” of horrific narratives through audience participation—one which ultimately implicates viewers in the terrifying content which Itō composes. The personalized paranoid horror of Itō Junji’s manga is distinctly lacking in film adaptations of his works, showcasing that much of what terrifies us is, in fact, “medium-bound.”

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

First Advisor

Wiesinger, Justine

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages



Available to Bates community via local IP address or Bates login.