The sixth episode of “Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales Of The Macabre” begins with Akasaka, a young man who had gone abroad for a year due to his work returning home to find his house in a filthy state. As he explores the inside of his home, he comes across a trashed living room and a moldy fridge with rotten food and a vicious stench. He goes toward his bathroom, where the mold is floating on the bathtub. Akasaka had been pressured into renting his lovely house to his high school teacher, Shimao Rogi, and his family. They had presumably lost their house and material possessions in a fire and somehow got to know that Akasaka had bought a home that was going to be left empty for a year due to his project overseas. They contacted Seiji, Akasaka’s brother, to pressure Akasaka into renting them his brand-new house because they had no place else to live. Akasaka, after seeing the dilapidated sight of his house, was furious, and when Seiji came to visit, he charged at him. He asked Seiji why the house was in this condition and said that it must be because Rogi had harbored a grudge against him, to which Seiji replied by assuming responsibility for the mess before quickly exiting.
What the anime did not show is that Akasaka was actually a month early; his work had finished earlier than expected, and so he’d returned home, and he had called Makiko, Seiji’s wife, to get a hold of Seiji and also a spare key because he had lost his keys. However, he came home to even more terrible news as Seiji informed him that his dog had escaped. He was quite furious because the only reason why he had conceded to their request to stay was that they would take care of his dog. After the call, with Seiji telling him that he would be there soon, Akasaka found the tenant’s key under the mat, and as he entered the house, he was more repulsed due to the lights being cut off. The anime starts again after he tries to switch on the lights. After his interaction with Seiji, he set about cleaning his bathtub so that he could take a hot bath. He retired to his room to sleep off the exhaustion.
Akasaka woke up to the smell of the mold and found his house in a worse state than it was yesterday. As he walked around inspecting the condition, he discovered his house covered in more mold and a room with a locked door. Seiji came around to visit yet again at a later date as they recalled how creepy Rogi, and his family were. The children of the family also seemed quite old and decayed. Seiji, after Akasaka prodded him into telling him why this happened to his house, recalled noticing both the children were covered in mold and had developed flaky skin when he had visited them earlier.
Akasaka also inquired about the whereabouts of the family so that he could hold them responsible to which Seiji replied that they were actually nowhere to be found and there was no new house being reconstructed that they could shift into. As Akasaka asked Seiji to let him live with him as the state of his house worsened to the point that it was inhabitable, Seiji said okay but quickly left the place. Akasaka was snubbed as he thought Seiji would not want him to stay at his house because Akasaka was already infested with mold, and Seiji would not want him to infect his family too. Akasaka then inspected his house again, and he opened the locked door as it had been destroyed by the mold. As he entered the room, he idly scratched himself, and what he found in the room left him aghast. He discovered the decayed and almost decomposed bodies of the Rogi family, as they had become the breeding ground for the mold to develop further. The story ends with Akasaka scratching himself and sitting in his mold-infested house as he waits for his death to come.
The story, “Mold” could be a take on obsessive compulsive disorder, which Akasaka might be having. OCD patients show symptoms of being extremely agitated and also being terribly itchy when their things are used by somebody else. Akasaka, after returning home to a filthy house, may have overwhelmed his senses to the point of going mad and becoming a threat to himself. However, if we do not consider this point for a while, we can also see the possibility that Rogi, due to his love for mold and fungus, had punished Akasaka for allegedly destroying his top shelf that held his specimens in high school, had actually experimented on his own family and himself with the mold, as per the manga. Like a mad scientist, Rogi must have kept on experimenting until he ultimately lost his own life to his precious creations. The locked room could very well have been his laboratory, where he and his family had perished after his experiments went out of hand. Seiji is also quite a problematic character, as he does not exactly take responsibility for the chaos his actions have caused and also refuses to save his own brother from the chaos. He ended up running away and leaving his brother to perish in the mold, just like the Rogi family did. However, this story would be a hellish experience for anybody with tendencies of OCD or who does not like dirty places at all to watch.
The introductory scene of the second story, “Library Vision” or “Library of Illusions” shows a young boy witnessing an apparition in the window of the Library he is in. The story then begins in earnest with the adult version of the little boy, who is now introduced as Goro Shirasaki. Here, Goro is sitting on a chair and reading a book while enjoying the peaceful autumn breeze. Goro is brought back to reality by his wife, Koko, as she asks about what he’s reading. Here’s a little background of the Library, which the anime completely glossed over. Goro Shirasaki had inherited this Library from his father, who had to be admitted to the psychiatric hospital. The Library had around 150,000 books and was a safe haven for Goro. As his wife recounts in the manga, Goro had finished reading all of the books in the Library at least three times. His intelligence is what attracted Koko to him in the first place. Back to the anime, it seems that Koko taking a book out of Giro’s prized Library had triggered his obsession and made it worse. Koko had taken out “Renée of the Winter Wind” by Michelle Lanne to read, and Goro almost lost his cool when he couldn’t find that book in its place as it was his mother’s favorite. He reprimanded Koko for taking his book and made her return it to its place. Later, while he was in a better mood, he journaled his day as he had done everyday since he was 4. Koko asks him to come to bed after he is done.
The couple falls asleep; however, Goro wakes up mid-dream as he frantically rushes to check on his books because, in his dream, he saw some books missing from their shelves. Even after Koko asked him to check in the morning, Goro refused to sleep until he made sure that all of the books were in place. He discovered that “Renée of the Winter Wind” by Michelle Lanne and Tanio Akasabi’s “Hell of Thorns” were missing from their spots. Goro tried his best to find them as he became obsessed with the Library. It was almost as if the Library was a curse he couldn’t escape from. Koko, on the other hand, to understand her husband more, read his journals and found out that his mother had read him “Renée of the Winter Wind” because it was her favorite book and little Goro had loved it. However, she ended up leaving with another man, and thus Goro became obsessed with that book as it was the only thing he had of his mother. Koko also found out that Goro’s father, Shogo, had been the reason for his nightmares, as he made sure to recite the scariest novels, chief among them “Hell of Thorns,” which was rumored to be one of the scariest novels ever written, to little Goro, and that took a toll on his psyche.
Similar to the symptoms present in Goro now, his father had also lost his sanity and had ended up committing the entire Library to memory and had to be institutionalized after he started reciting it word by word. Goro’s traumatic experiences led him to visually hallucinate that “Renée of the Winter Wind” and “Hell of Thorns” had returned and caused him to commit their recitations as they recited every word of the story to him. After he had it etched in his memory, the books left him, which is why Goro started compulsively committing every book in the Library to his memory to the point where he lost all of his other memories due to his brain reaching full capacity. While he lies there amongst his books, he accidentally sets off a fire, and the entire cursed Library burns down with him. In the other town, Shogo Shirasaki recited the books constantly as well because he was affected by the same disorder as Goro. The books had changed him physically, and thus he was portrayed as the demon who stole the books to trigger Goro’s obsession as well. As he jumps out the window along with the books he stole, which is the “Renée of the Winter Wind” and “Hell of Thorns,” there is yet another book, “Koko’s Maple Trees,” which points at the fact that Koko was simply a figment of Goro’s imagination.
Here is where the manga is a little different from the anime: Koko was a lot more animated than the detached version shown in the anime. Her moving the book “Renée of the Winter Wind” did trigger Goro’s obsession; however, she had tried countless times to stop her husband from spiraling further; in fact, in the manga, Koko admits to setting the cursed Library on fire, and that it was too late to save her husband from that fire; leaving her the sole survivor of the Shirasaki family. Meanwhile, Shogo is still confined to the mental hospital, and he sits and mutters book after book to himself as he has clearly lost his sanity and cannot move much. The anime, however, did provide a reason behind the disappearance of the books and also explained the detached behavior Koko displayed in the anime.
The story, similar to the inner meaning of the previous story, “Mold,” also had the themes of the disorder OCD. Goro simply spiraled further and further into the disorder as it reached its last stage. There can be various types of OCD; Akasaka could have the OCD that triggers the obsession with cleaning, whereas Goro had the OCD where he was obsessed with order. The trauma that he faced because of his mother leaving him and his father scaring a little Goro in the Library had damaged his psyche a lot, which was the reason why, even though his wife had tried to save him, he simply spiraled further and further into the depths of despair. His mind did not allow him any peace as it was already broken due to the trauma. The stories are presented in a weird and haunted way, which, even though it is an output describing a nightmare, somehow makes sense when anybody really ponders about the stories.