Month: July 2020

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    Human Chair

    …but I have a feeling that there really was a man living in the chair… and he leaves the chair every night…

    Is Yoshiko’s paranoia getting the better of her?

    What is The Human Chair about?

    When a lady author speaks with a furniture maker about getting a new chair, he goes on to tell her the story of an author from long ago, Togawa Yoshiko. Yoshiko had a large, soft writing chair bought for her by her husband — similar to the one that the Young Lady is being shown today.

    Yoshiko would often receive letters from new authors in the hope of guidance and / or exposure into the arts. One such letter details the story of a chair maker who decided to build secret compartments into the lining of his chairs — places for him to sit beneath those sat on the chairs.

    Yoshiko’s paranoia gets the better of her, and she becomes convinced that her own chair is the one spoken of in the letter. Whether that is the case or not, I will leave you to discover through reading The Human Chair for yourself. What I can say though, is that Yoshiko’s story has a direct effect on the lady author from the start of the manga.

    Whether that is good or bad, I will leave you to discover for yourself…

    Based on a short story of the same name

    In 1925, the short story “The Human Chair” was published in Kuraku literature magazine by Edogawa Ranpo. In Junji Ito’s manga adaptation, he has used the narrative of that short story as his backstory. It is very much a sequel to that original story.

    The chair’s history is actually described in more detail in the original short story, I believe. However, in the context of Ito’s interpretation, this isn’t as important. Instead he uses the basis of that original story as a spring board from which to explore the darker recesses of the tale.

    Apologies if I am wrong here, but I think I am right in saying that Ito seems to create his own additions to the end of Yoshiko’s legend. The original ends at the point at which the chair-maker’s confession letter turns out to be a short story manuscript from an aspiring writer. However, Junji Ito takes us further into Yoshiko’s paranoia and the horror that may just be hidden beneath her chair’s soft upholstery.

    Perhaps the original story was left ambiguous for the reader to formulate those possibilities in their own minds. Here we get to see how Ito interpreted that story, and just how he imagines it moving forwards.

    Horror in plain sight

    Once again, Junji Ito brings us a slice of horror that would have perhaps never been considered — chairs. Yes it was based on a previous work, but he obviously saw something interesting and creepy in that story that he wished to bring into his own world of Horror Manga, before sharing it with us — his fans.

    Although most of Human Chair is telling the back story of Yoshiko — it is an adaptation after all, I found the present day story interesting too. The unnamed modern-day lady author and the creepy chair maker / salesman. If I’m honest though, I’d liked to have seen a bit more story around the two of them.

    I myself have a history with chairs and horror, ever since I saw Ghostbusters when I was young. That scene with Dana Barrett in her chair… and those arms… damn still creeps me out to this day.

    Since then I can not really sit in a room with space and a door behind me. For fear of someone grabbing me from behind — especially when watching or reading horror. In fact I’d not even considered this to be an actual fear of mine until writing this post. ๐Ÿ˜•

    Perhaps this is a fear more common than I thought. Maybe that is what drew Ito to it for working on his adaptation.

    In Summary

    Human Chair is a story I will find myself revisiting now and again. I love how Junji Ito manages to find horror in the everyday things. Like with his own cats in ‘Yon and Mu’ or everyday shapes, such as the spiral in Uzumaki. Chairs are such ubiquitous things that to consider them as places of horror is perhaps not often considered.

    But Junji Ito considered it. And not only that, he has created a mystery that uses a classic Japanese short story as a basis from which to explore his themes of paranoia and a yearning for love.

    His artwork in it is just as great as I have come to expect too — detailed and demanding to be read multiple times. It’s a pity that the only versions I can currently find are small scans that have been roughly translated into English online. I would really love to own this story as part of an original collection.

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    The Umbilical Cord (Uzumaki part 11)

    So it’s been born. I wonder what it looks like. A baby gorged with human blood…

    Kirie is curious about the newly born

    Some time after the bloody events of Uzumaki’s tenth chapter, Mosquitoes, Kirie is faced once again with the insidious spiral that seems to haunt her. The pregnant women who she saw feeding on human blood are about to give birth to their little bundles of joy. But what sorts of monsters will be born from such horrific actions?

    As it turns out, the baby’s are born and are all perfectly normal — the cutest baby’s ever, some would say. But you can trust that these baby’s are going to be very far from normal. In fact, each of them is hiding a gross deformity and a very strange desire to return to the womb.

    Of course, Kirie is alone in her suspicions and is still doubted about the events of the hospital massacre. But by the time this chapter reaches its own bloody conclusion, you can bet that there will be no room to doubt Kirie on the events that unfold.

    Some spoilers below

    The Source of Life

    The umbilical cord is the source of life for humans as their grow within their mother’s womb. What the mother feeds on has an effect on the kinds of nutrients that the baby will ultimately be absorbing. So is it any wonder that the feeding on human blood did strange things to them?

    The introduction of the mushrooms in the hospital food was equally inventive as it was disgusting. Our first feeding as humans comes from the umbilical cord so it was interesting how the patients were attracted to this strange new food without knowing its origin.

    I have heard of people actually eating their own placenta after giving birth. And whilst I would never dream of doing such a thing, I wont say bad things about those that choose to. I just love how Junji Ito, once again, takes this occurrence in real life and delves deeper into his strange imagination of “What ifs”.

    A Yearning to return

    Who has dreamed about just being able to return to the womb? To just leave all the cares of the world and struggles of life and just be taken care of once again. Many of us, myself included, even occasionally sleep in the fetal position — it’s a feeling of comfort very deeply rooted in the psychology of us humans.

    I love how Ito took this and had us witness these babies literally wanting to return back to their mother’s womb. With a deranged doctor willing to carry out the surgery!

    This led me to imagine this omnipresent spiral presence, the Uzumaki, in control of all of this — the spiral patterns in the regrown placentas no doubt being used to hypnotise him into carrying out this force’s will.

    Coming back to the spiral

    Let’s imagine for a second that we humans are all metaphorical spirals that begin at the moment of our conception. We grow into our fetal positions, almost as if we are trying to wrap around ourselves.

    Then we are born. If we are lucky we are soon held closely by our mother, who will hold us the tightest that they ever will, metaphorically speaking. And then, as we get older and older, we are held less and less. And even though the love is always there, for those of us who are fortunate enough, the gaps begin to form and we go out into the world on our own. Perhaps to start our own families.

    I can imagine this way of life, the growing apart yet still being connected, as the motions of the spiral as it continues round on its journey. Still connected to its origin yet moving further outwards into the world.

    The spiral really is all around, both in Junji Ito’s Uzumaki and our everyday lives.

    In Conclusion

    Umbilical Cord rounds off its three-chapter mini-arc nicely as it follows directly on from Mosquitoes and The Black Lighthouse. (The light burns Kirie received in The Black Lighthouse being the reason she was actually in the hospital as a patient).

    This chapter is also a daring one too, I would say, as it deals with the births of babies. And not just regular babies either — babies born after their mothers have been feeding on human blood. But Ito handles it with his expert pen as you would come to expect from him.

    Whilst I wouldn’t say there was too much in the way of violent horror in this one, there is a good dose of creepy body horror. Body horror that does a really good job in unsettling its readers. At least it did with me on my first time reading.

    I would probably not recommend this as a first time read for Ito’s work. Perhaps I would recommend reading Mosquitoes first followed by this one. But then again I would say that Uzumaki is worth it from start to finish.

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    Crash being creepy

    I came across this online and his face made me chuckle.

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    Junji Ito might be working on a Horror Game with Hideo Kojima

    P.T. was one of the biggest teases to horror game fans. Revealed as being a teaser for a then-upcoming reboot of the Silent Hill franchise, it was soon after cancelled and the demo removed from the PlayStation store ๐Ÿ™

    Fans of both Hideo Kojima and Junji Ito were left to wonder what could have been…

    …but we may just get our dream horror game yet!

    It’s still all speculation

    From what I can gather, Junji Ito himself has mentioned that he has been in contact with Kojima about a possible horror game. Just the mere thought of this was enough to get me salivating.

    On top of this, Kojima has mentioned a couple of times that his next game could be a horror game.

    The board is set… the pieces are moving… ๐Ÿ˜€

    Just what could we even imagine from the minds of these two incredible creative people!?

    I’m going to be doing my best to keep on top of this project as best I can for not only my own obsession, but to keep you all in the loop too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    They’ve worked together before

    Anybody who has played past the first few hours or so of Kojima’s latest masterpiece game, Death Stranding, may have noticed Ito actually appearing as a character within the game: The Engineer.

    Although the voice is not his own, his appearance at least was scanned into the game, which made a welcome surprise for Horror Manga fans the world over.

    With some of the themes of dead fish on the beaches (ALA Gyo) in some of the games scenes made people even believe that Ito was a creative voice behind Death Stranding. I’m not sure this was true, but Kojima is obviously a fan of Ito’s — it stands to reason that he would take at least some inspiration from the master of Horror Manga.

    I can’t wait to see what Junji Ito can bring to the world of gaming.

    I have found that Hideo Hojima’s games often tend to have a healthy dose of horror sprinkled in — especially with his most recent Death Stranding.

    The moments when encountering the B.T’s of the game were some truly incredible moments of gameplay. They were, for me, instantly iconic — and often damn scary. I had never seen such mechanics in play before with a consistent feeling of dread at some encounters.

    Just the thought of Junji Ito working with him, whether that be in just the concept art or with some kind of game direction, I can only imagine into what realms of horror they can take us as players and consumers of these stories.

    Where we not only get a sprinkling of horror from a Kojima game, but a full on assault of the senses. ๐Ÿ˜€

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    Updating PHP versions in Ubuntu 20.04

    For an older PHP project, I needed to install an older version of PHP. This is what I did to set that up.

    Installing a different PHP version

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install -y php7.1

    Rebinding php to required version

    Some of these binds are probably not need. I think the main ones, at least for my use case, were php and phar.

    sudo update-alternatives --set php /usr/bin/php7.1
    sudo update-alternatives --set phar /usr/bin/phar7.1
    sudo update-alternatives --set phar.phar /usr/bin/phar.phar7.1
    sudo update-alternatives --set phpize /usr/bin/phpize7.1
    sudo update-alternatives --set php-config /usr/bin/php-config7.1

    For some reason the --set flag stopped working, so I had to use:

    sudo update-alternatives --config php
    sudo update-alternatives --config phar
    etc. And update each one with the terminal prompt options for each.

    p.s. If using PHP-FPM, you could also set up different server conf files and point the FPM path to the version you need. My need was just because I was using the command line in the older project.