Episode 9 – The Fourth Man
Plot: A teenage girl overhears some classmates talking about the latest urban legend; the handshake man. According to the story, there are four handshake men. You have to shake the hands of the first three men when they ask. Refusal will get you crushed up into a meatball. If you shake hands, though, you’ll be safe. The hitch is to watch out for the fourth handshake man. If you shake the fourth man’s hand, he’ll bite your hand off. The girl’s little sister asks to go back to the school in the middle of the night to get her notebook. She agrees, but she has to watch out for the handshake men.
Breakdown: This one is incredibly cut and dry. They explain everything about the handshake men full out, and you know that the girl in question is going to come into contact with them. Plus, if the title is any indication, you know that the fourth one in particular will be the one to get her.
The only facets of suspense are wondering if her little sister will also be attacked and how the fourth man will actually get her.
And I have to say, the way he got her was incredibly cheap. It sounds like the whole business with the handshake is a complete choice. If you accept, you’re golden, if you refuse, you’re a meatball sandwich. Except, of course, for the fourth man who bites your hand off if you accept and…I have no idea what he does if you refuse him. Does he crush you into a meatball too? Or is the rejection his ‘leave them alone’ option. Because, I have to say, outside of the cheap way he seems to work, that would be an incredibly easy monster to avoid. Shake, shake, shake, no shake. You’re free.
The cheap way the fourth man worked? Instead of asking the girl to shake his hand and letting her make the decision, he just grabs her hand after sneaking up on her. Cheater.
They could’ve easily made it so that the fourth man could create the illusion that it was her little sister, and since they were holding hands the whole time, she could reach her hand out and say ‘grab my hand’ (which could also mean ‘shake my hand’) and then, boom, the illusion fades and she realizes she’s holding the fourth man’s hand and then decides to go to the pirate store for a nifty hook.
Really, the fourth man would also be more threatening if the other three didn’t have higher stakes. Gee, would I rather get my hand bitten off or be violently crushed to death and mushed into a ball? Decisions, decisions.
In the end, this episode is predictable, not scary and pretty cheap in the end. She was being smart about her every move and the fourth man gets her on technicality…
Episode 10 – Merry-Go-Round
Plot: Satomi and Shinichi are a young couple at a nostalgic mall carnival when Satomi is approached by a clown who gives her a red balloon. As the mall is about to close, she decides to ride on the Merry-Go-Round for old times’ sake. Round and round she goes, where she stops…..
Yami Shibai 3: Episode 5 Review – “Taxidermy?! Now you’re really cheating, Yami Shibai. What’s next; clowns?”
I was friggin’ kidding!
So, yeah, clowns! That’s not cheating for free creeps. Totally.
Honestly, though, this episode was a bit odd. On one hand, the story and atmosphere is genuinely creepy, and the first few passes on the Merry-Go-Round did succeed in freaking me out a bit. However, there are several goofy shots that ruin the ambiance and really make you laugh a little.
Especially the ending. Now, I don’t exactly know an ending that would’ve been fitting for this episode, maybe just having her vanish or end up dead, impaled through the Merry-Go-Round pole or something. Maybe she’d go so crazy that she’d somehow kill herself on the ride? Nope. Instead we get….Okay, I’m not gonna spoil it. Let’s just this would be a really dark episode of My Little Pony.
Episode 11 – Cuckoo Clock
Plot: A young girl named Rumi is fascinated by her grandmother’s cuckoo clock. And it’s glad to finally have a friend.
Breakdown: This one is another that has good ambiance and what could be a pretty creepy premise, but ends up just being silly. I guess this girl ends up under the spell of the cuckoo clock, which spurs this whole thing, but why does it never affect the grandma if the clock is magical and malicious?
I think they could’ve done a lot better with this story than they ended up doing. They built it up fairly well and just ended up making a silly ending. It’s not really predictable, but it’s a bad unpredictable in that ‘it’s so goofy, no one would expect it’ kind of way.
And while clocks can be effectively made into spooky story fodder, why choose a cuckoo clock? Has anyone ever been afraid of a cuckoo clock?
Episode 12 – Water
Plot: Tooru is a the star member of his swim team, and the pressure’s on him to help them win a big meet coming up. In an effort to prepare, he sneaks into school to use the pool for practice. But he’s not alone….
Breakdown: Eh, this one’s just stupid. They spent a good minute of the four minute runtime on setting up why Tooru was out there, and in the end he just gets attacked because there’s a monster in the pool for some reason. I don’t think it was because he was set on winning or anything, he just gets randomly attacked by a monster.
While the traditional mermaid stories can be seen as scary, this one is probably not even a mermaid, and it’s not scary. The visuals for the thing are actually pretty laughable.
As a horror movie lover, I love pointing out those stupid ‘Horror movie character’ moments. You know, those special moments of dumb where they could easily escape danger but decide to do something stupid instead? He only notices that there’s something in the pool when he has completed one run, meaning he’s at the edge of the pool. When he freaks out, he decides to, instead of immediately climbing out on the side he was on, to swim to the other side of the pool to get out and run away.
Episode 13 FINALE – Drawings
Plot: A new teacher from Tokyo finds life in suburbia to be very nice, but she’s continuously weirded out by a boy in her class who is very cold and anti-social. He just draws a lot by himself. But no one ever sees his drawings. What’s in that sketchpad of his?
Breakdown: I am happy to announce that the comments section for this episode was filled with people saying that this finale more than made up for what they considered to be a lackluster season. And I wholeheartedly agree.
While I definitely don’t think season three is the massive crap fest so many people seem to make it out to be, I will say that this finale made up for those entries that seemed either blah or just stupid.
First things first, remember that little boy I mentioned at the start of season three? The one who replaced the narrator? Allow me to flesh out more of what he’s been in the series up until this point. He opens each episode by singing to himself on a slide while drawing a picture. As he leans the sketchbook forward and reveals his eyes for a second, we get the title card.
After the episode ends, we see that he was drawing a mish-mash of the imagery from the episode before we see a mask or numerous masks rapping words that are fed into his head. As each episode goes by, more masks join the ending. IE, there’s one mask in episode one, two in two, three in three etc.
While I missed the regular openings with the kamishibai format and the narrator, I was really hoping they’d explain what this kid was about before the series was over, and lo and behold they did.
The twist for this episode is one I don’t want to reveal because it is incredibly clever and freaky in its own right. I won’t spoil anything but I will reveal that the narrator does indeed make a return and the boy is kinda within a Yami Shibai story within a Yami Shibai story.
This is definitely my favorite episode of the entire series so far because I really think they knocked it out of the park with this finale. If they had given a lackluster ending to this boy’s story and failed to explain the whereabouts of the narrator, people definitely would write off this season as being a total fail in comparison to the other seasons. It would be unwarranted in my opinion, but they would do it.
I’m even happy to report that the ED did indeed grow on me after a few episodes. Rap may not be my favorite thing, but I found myself unable to resist tapping my feet and trying to sing along when it came on.
This season was released this year, so there’s hope for more Yami Shibai in the future. For now, however, it’s going to have to be the end. The curtain is drawn on Yami Shibai’s stage.
And that’s it for my first ever Animating Halloween! I hope everyone enjoyed this year’s Halloween and horror-themed reviews! Happy Halloween!
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