Animating Halloween – Yami Shibai Episodes 1 and 2 Review

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Episode 1 – The Talisman Woman

Plot: A man moves into a new apartment when he notices his strange neighbor staring at him from her apartment across the street. He gets more and more unsettled from her staring as time goes on, and he’s even more frightened when o-fuda keep making their way into his house.

Breakdown: You didn’t think I’d forget about anime during my Halloween special, did ya? While it’s true that there really aren’t many Halloween specials or movies out there for anime, there is no shortage of horror anime, so let’s see what I can dig up this month.

Yami Shibai is a collection of shorts based on rumors and urban myths about monsters and ghosts animated in a style close to kamishibai, which is a public theater motif where paper dolls and scrolls are used to put on a puppet show. And I gotta say, the art is one of the reasons this caught my eye. I first caught wind of this show after looking for a new background pic for October, which you can see on the left sidebar. The rough hand-painted look just makes the freaky imagery hit home. It’s fantastic.

These entries won’t be entirely long since the stories themselves are merely a few minutes long, so I’ve decided to bulk them up a bit by reviewing two episodes per entry. This episode was pretty damn creepy in its own right. The neighbor looks and acts much like any creepy neighbor in a horror film would act, and the one jump scare here actually got me a little, but I have to admit that I predicted the twist at the end.

If you know what o-fuda are meant to do and take just a minute out to think of a semi-logical reason the neighbor would be putting so much attention on this place, you can see it coming when the second o-fuda is found. I also would’ve liked to have built a bit more on the ending, mostly on what the backstory is behind the apartment for such a thing to happen. Decent enough short, but somewhat predictable.

Music wise, I really enjoyed the ED. It’s very fitting for this type of show. It’s a somewhat typical upbeat anime ED, though the lyrics are just weird and the audio is purposely screwed with to create an uncomfortable feeling.

Episode 2 – Zanbai

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Plot: A man on a business trip to a strange village suddenly wakes up in a hospital with a broken foot without remembering how he got there. The other patients are acting strange around him. What do they want?

Breakdown: This episode was a little confusing. I mean, like the problem with the previous story, the stories are just so short that you have no clue why this stuff is happening. The zanbai thing is pretty clever since you are somewhat mislead into believing that the men are doing the banzai cheer, just in an odd way. It’s not until the last second that you learn it wasn’t a cheer at all, and it’s not until you look up what the kanji in the term zanbai means (since I don’t think that’s a legit Japanese term. Every search I’ve done on it has come up with Yami Shibai links.) that you truly understand.

However, we don’t know what this village is about or why they’re so set on not letting outsiders leave. And if they really wanted him to stay, why not kidnap him or imprison him?

It was still a bit creepy, and the shot of zanbai was beautifully and creepily done.

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