What is Fashion Model by Junji Ito about?
Iwasaki is a screenwriter, who is currently working on a script for his film-making friends. In a chance reading of a fashion magazine he comes across the portrait photo of the creepiest looking model you could ever hope to see. After this brief encounter with her visage, Iwasaki is unable to get her face out of his mind. Everywhere he looks; every time he tries to sleep – there she is, in his mind’s eye. And every time he imagines it, she becomes more and more distorted and demonic.
After some success with their film, Iwasaki and his friends begin casting calls for the lead in their next feature. And guess who’s profile picture comes up in the three envelopes they open? Yep – you guessed it – that creepy model whose name, they discover, is Fuchi. Fuchi is not picked for the lead, but is instead chosen for another part, in the hope that her professional model prestige will help elevate their own status.
Fuchi seems immediately fond of Iwasaki and spends most of her time gazing across at him. During filming of this new feature they all head up into the mountains for filming and Fuchi is pretty much the butt of their jokes. Not just that, but she is shunned to the side in favour of the lead actress. But it isn’t long before Fuchi takes matters into her own hands and lashes out at those who shun and mock her.
Sometimes monsters need love too
Fashion Model introduced me to a sort of recurring character of Ito’s – the horrifying-looking model, Fuchi. She had previously featured in one of the stories in Souichi’s Diary of Curses: ‘Rumours’. then later she appears in a bonus short manga at the end of the Shiver Selected Stories collection in ‘Fashion Model: Cursed Frame’.
Fuchi towers over all other people around her, and somehow manages to keep it secret about how she is in fact a flesh-eating monster. It’s not until they are driving up to the mountains and Fuchi, trying to fit in with the others, begins laughing along with them. It is here that they all notice her huge set of layered teeth in her mouth.
Despite knowing where this story ends up, and what Fuchi ends up doing, I still can’t help but feel sorry for her. Just because of her looks, she is teased and critiqued behind her back. They just can’t believe how she has managed to become a model. And all because she doesn’t fit in with their typical ideal image of a model.
It’s because of other people’s attitudes towards her that I can’t help but root for Fuchi. The horrific things she ends up doing towards the end seem to be out of an unrequited love for Iwasaki.
What I find most interesting with this horror manga is not the story itself, but rather the character of Fuchi. I actually feel as though Fuchi is the main character and not Iwasaki, as it first seems. It would be interesting to see more stories about her – or even have her mentioned, or ‘pass through’, future manga volumes by Junji Ito.
This was an enjoyable story from the Shiver Selected Stories book, which you can buy today.