What is The Human Chair about?
The human chair begins with a lady asking a furniture salesman about buying a chair for herself. After a passionate talk about the importance of a good chair, he takes her into a back room to show her one particular chair.
He then goes on to tell her the story of an author, Togawa Yoshiko. Yoshiko had a large, soft writing chair bought for her by her husband. Soon after she received a manuscript amongst her letters, telling about a carpenter who would hide himself inside peoples chairs he had crafted. The manuscript is later followed up with a letter, declaring the story to in fact be false.
But as the story continues, the author’s paranoia gets the better of her, eventually uncovering a frightening truth about her writing chair. But the discovery is too late, however, as the chair had plans for itself and its owner all along.
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 adaption, we only learn of the chair’s rough history. About how it was once part of an inn but later bought by the Lady’s husband in a sale. The chair’s history is actually described a bit further in the original short story. However, in the context of Ito’s interpretation, this isn’t as important. Instead he uses the basis of the original as a spring board from which to explore darker realms of the tale.
Like all of Junji Ito’s one-shot stories, The Human Chair is short – at just 29 pages – and to the point. The story moves along nicely at a good pace and ramps up quickly in the last 8 or 9 pages. Sometimes a short horror manga is all you need and this one is definitely one of my favourite go-to stories.
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 spirals in Uzumaki.
His artwork in Human Chair is just as great as I have come to expect – detailed and demanding of multiple read-throughs. And although the dimensions of the chair don’t seem to allow for some of the story’s actions to be possible, I’m happy to suspend belief for the pleasure of being creeped out by one of my favourite authors.