Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 5 Episode 1 and 2

Episode 1: Wrong Number

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Plot: A woman married a high-level salaryman to live an easy life with plenty of money to spare. However, she soon comes to hate her life. She despises that she has to care for their son, Hiro, and she is no longer enjoying her marriage. He’s gone all the time, and they never connect when he is home. One day, she starts getting mysterious messages coming from a woman who keeps thanking her for helping her out, but says she can’t leave yet. Confused and increasingly irritated as the calls keep coming, the woman keeps telling the caller that she has the wrong number, but maybe it’s she who has the wrong life.

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Before the episode even starts, the intro is already creeping me out. Each Yami Shibai in the past, barring season three, has started with the narrator starting the show in front of a group of kids at the park. Now the narrator looks noticeably disheveled and the kids are all blacked out in a sketch style and seemingly hanging from the ceiling or shakily floating in mid-air…..Okay. Keep this up, season five. We’re doing good so far.

How’s the actual episode fare? Pretty damn well. It’s not often that Yami Shibai has a story that stars a character who actually deserves the horrors they face. In this circumstance, even moreso because of the theories involved in the person on the other line.

Spoilers! It’s not entirely clear, but from what you can gather, the woman on the other end of the phone is Hiro’s actual mother. It’s implied that the woman killed Hiro’s mother to get with his father so she could live an easy life with a fairly successful husband. Why it took her so long to come back, I dunno, but this was Hell Girl levels of sweet justice.

The art style in this episode is back to the old classic style that the earlier seasons had, but the editing is a bit different. They add grainy film effects (not the lines but the dust specks), color filters and glares to add to the atmosphere, and while I would prefer atmosphere be achieved with direction and not effects, they are not invasive and do add to the creepiness quite a bit.

The end theme is alright, and I really like the various silhouette cards they have going on. The ending is still a bit light-hearted, but not as much as the previous season.

You’ve got good momentum, season five. Let’s keep it up.

Episode 2 – Give it to Me

YS5EP2

Plot: A woman is walking through a park on her way home from work one day when she meets a little girl. The girl admires her butterfly broach and repeatedly asks if she can have it. Unable to resist her pleas, the woman gives the girl her broach and happily goes home. It’s nice to make kids happy, but sometimes greed can get the better of you.

Breakdown: This season is still showing to be much different and better than season four. This story is pretty creative. Though, sadly, it’s another story where a perfectly kind person is trapped in the horror.

Not only do they present you with a realistic scenario that anyone might fall into, but they make the little girl and the visuals very creepy, especially at the end. This is one of those stories where I don’t really care about knowing the backstory of the creature – I’m entertained enough, and the story works fine without it.

Seriously, though, it’s nice to be….well, nice, but if a little brat is sitting there going ‘hey, give it to me!’ over and over and over, no matter how cute they are, don’t do it. 1) Their parents might not want them taking stuff from strangers, 2) They should really learn to not take stuff from strangers, and 3) it just instills spoiled behaviors. Want something? Be an annoying little piss until you get it. Come on, who would give up a brooch to a whiny kid who keeps begging for it, anyway?

All in all, though, a very solid and creepy story, and I’m looking forward to what else YS5 has to offer. Being honest, I also appreciate that they seem to be using open endings less and less, and they seem to be getting a little less reliant on the narrators.