The seventh episode of “Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre,” titled “Tomb Town” or “Street of Gravestones,” better known as “Gravetown,” is a story about a pair of siblings going to a town to visit their friend Izumi. In the manga, Kaoru Yoshikawa is introduced as a young girl who has just received a letter from her friend Izumi, who changed schools last year after she moved to a new town. Izumi, in that letter, invited Kaoru over for a visit to her new town, which is “amazing.” Kaoru has a discussion about her visit with her elder brother, Tsuyoshi Yoshikawa, and asks if he could drive her down there during the holidays as he had just received his license. The anime picks up when the two buckle up and head over to Izumi’s town in their car.
During the journey, Kaoru teases her brother over his visible crush on Izumi, and he diverts the topic in embarrassment as he retorts that he is simply tagging along with her as he is worried for her safety. The siblings teased each other during the ride, and as Kaoru was looking at the map for directions, Tsuyoshi quickly took the map from her, underestimating the empty road. He noticed the other person a little too late and thus hit a girl after not stepping on the brake soon enough. As he hit the girl, both of the siblings rushed out of their car to check on her; however, the bruising on her body and her swollen face made it impossible for them to recognize her. Kaoru checked on her to see if she could find a pulse; however, to their dismay, Kaoru had to pronounce her dead after a while. Tsuyoshi’s first thought, after their plan to take the girl to the hospital had failed, was to bury the girl among the mountains and hide all of the evidence. Tsuyoshi sets off to find a way, and they stumble across a grave right in the middle of the road. The Yoshikawa siblings stop as one of the graves is hit by the car when Tsuyoshi has to take a u-turn to leave.
Due to the car hitting the gravestone in the middle of the street, Tsuyoshi has to get out to make sure everything is okay. This is when the townsfolk approach him and help with the situation, as they explain to him that all of the folks who have died on the road have had their gravestones erected wherever they die to make sure their soul lives on peacefully. Tsuyoshi behaves suspiciously as he hands them the tools, but they are so focused on how to help him out of the situation that they do not notice the dead body in the trunk as he hands them the tools from inside the trunk. As the townsfolk helped him get the broken grave away from the rear wheels, Izumi arrived at the scene. She goes over to Kaoru and gives her a warm welcome as she invites them to come along with her. Tsuyoshi then presses Kaoru to give in to his whims and simply keep quiet about what had happened so that they could bury her among the mountains and leave. Izumi took them to her home and also offered them time to cool down. She later took them on tour in town as she explained to them the significance of not touching the dead once they had died, to make sure the dead souls rest in peace. She also told them that once any living dying, a gravestone is erected right where they took their last breath. She took them to a hospital and showed them how the hospital rushed a dying person outside to give him the space to die, which seemed cruel at first but was simply a ritual and necessary as it was better that they died outside than inside.
Things took a turn for the worse when it turned out that Izumi’s sister, Ayumi, had been missing for quite some time. As she hasn’t returned home for quite a while, a tense Izumi converses with her family as her father begins to conduct a search through the forests and everywhere else for Ayumi. This is when the siblings realize that the one they killed was none other than Ayumi, and they join the search for Ayumi the next day, as Tsuyoshi, yet again, refuses to allow Kaoru to confess anything at this point.
As the search finished, yielding no results, Izumi was informed about the skid marks, paint of the car, and blood stains that they had found on the scene. When the siblings arrive after witnessing the magic of the town as the old man who had died outside on the hospital grounds literally started metamorphosing into a gravestone, they see Izumi peeking into their car. They approached her to ask her why she was doing so when she informed them about what the police had found on the scene. She then asked them if they knew anything but later backed off and left them there. Kaoru then noticed the blood stains on the back seat, which was what Izumi was peeking at, and she broke down in tears as she insisted on confessing. Tsuyoshi, of course, emerged as the victor in their argument and told her not to say anything. They returned to Izumi’s home, where a distraught Izumi gave them another chance to confess everything. However, as Kaoru is about to give in, Tsuyoshi does not let her, and a distraught Izumi becomes worried that her sister’s soul will not be able to rest easily. Tsuyoshi then smoothly tells Izumi that they have come at a terrible time for the family, and they leave their house.
Before exiting the town, they rush toward the well that was constructed in the town to dump the bodies that were unable to turn into gravestones and that the siblings were given a tour of while they were looking for Izumi. Tsuyoshi opened his trunk to discover the distressed soul of Ayumi had crystallized in a lot of places, presenting him with a grotesque sight. Tsuyoshi forced Kaoru to help him dispose of her crystallized body in the well, and while dropping her into the well, he accidentally cut himself on the crystallization, leading to a hallucination then and there as he begins to hallucinate Ayumi rising with the other restless bodies of the ancestors and pointing at Tsuyoshi, accusing him of murder. He screams at Kaoru to run and is appalled by the sight when Kaoru finally shakes him out of it as she realizes the consequences of their actions and how they would have to carry the guilt forever. They drive back to their home, and Tsuyoshi’s condition deteriorates to the point where he crystallizes as well due to the injury and is unable to form a grave as the town’s curse hits him with full force. Meanwhile, Izumi finds Ayumi’s bracelet, which had fallen off when the siblings dumped her, and she returns home to inform her parents about her sister’s tragic death. The family, unable to take the pain, commits suicide together as they turn into gravestones right in the living room, with the sleeping pills and their wills placed right in front of their graves.
The ending was a little anticlimactic in the anime, as although Tsuyoshi got what he deserved, as he ultimately turned into a crystallized form on his bed, while Kaoru constantly apologized, it still did not excuse them for the actions they committed. In the manga, however, it did not go down like this; rather, Tsuyoshi’s condition worsened, and the infection from the injury spread so fast that it killed him. He died very young, and at his funeral, when his relatives tried to see him one last time, they found only a bizarre matter that burst out and also destroyed his grave. He could not rest easy either due to the curse of the town, while Kaoru had thought of turning herself in after Izumi had sent her a letter telling her how Ayumi’s death had destroyed her entire family and her father had fallen into a depressive state and had been bed-ridden. Kaoru immediately rushes over to confess everything and also turns herself in after receiving that letter. However, she only finds their graves at home along with the sleeping pills and their suicide letter as she is left alone with immense guilt and nightmares as she will be unable to rid himself of the torment inside herself.
A few minutes into the story, Tsuyoshi proves himself to be the douchebag of the century as he forces his sister to go along with his plans. Instead of turning themselves in like Kaoru suggested, he refused to go ahead with anything except the plan he had thought of. Even after witnessing the town’s abilities and also the townsfolk turning into gravestones, and without realizing the consequences of his actions, he went ahead with his plans anyway, dragging his unwilling sister into his plans too.
“Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre” Episode 7 really talks about the guilt and the repercussions haunting the siblings as it kills them inside. This story focuses on the nightmare and the burden of accidentally killing a girl, and even if nobody knows that they killed her, they will always know about it and also blame themselves for a state of insanity. Tsuyoshi was hit with the worst onslaught of nightmares due to his actions because, deep down, he blamed himself for everything, to the point of losing his sanity and succumbing to the infection as he could not take the pain and torture that his hallucinations put him through. He lost his life after not being able to bear the guilt anymore. Kaoru, on the other hand, was mentally tortured to the point of exhaustion as well; however, when she makes her way back to the town to gain a little solace, she is turned away because even though she was unwilling to go along with her brother’s plans, she still did not speak up even after being given so many chances, and thus that made her equally guilty as well.