Plot: A high school girl treasures her beautiful hair, and she’s constantly getting praise, adoration and even awards for its beauty. Like many vain people, she is constantly looking in the mirror. There only needs to be one prettiest girl. Just one.
Breakdown: Maybe I didn’t think the victim problem through. Yeah, it sucks to watch bad things happen to good people, but watching them happen to jerks just gives you a sense of catharsis when they finally meet their fate instead of rightfully giving you the feeling of horror for them. I have failed to apply my long-standing horror movie credo to horror anime. If we hate the main character, the scares are significantly diminished. I am shamed.
That being said, yeah, the scares in this one are diminished fairly badly because the main character is just a straight up narcissistic bitch that you really wouldn’t mind seeing get her just desserts. Still, the plot twist was clever and damn it all to hell I do have a thing about scissors. I have watched a lot of horror movies, anime and the like. I can stand a lot of terrible, horrific things when watching them, but I nope right the hell out when it comes to a few things. 1) Nails (Go to hell, Higurashi no naku ni), 2) scalping (Go to hell, Saw 3) and 3) friggin’ scissors. The sounds, the snipping people up just nope. Nope. Nopenopenope.
Episode 12 – The Last Bus
Plot: A woman barely manages to catch the last bus after a bad day at work. She’s fed up with her life at the moment and decides to get some rest on the ride home. When she awakens, she finds that the entire bus is now empty except her and an older woman who starts talking to herself. At first, she believes the woman is merely creepy, but is soon startled when she realizes that she’s telling a story that sounds suspiciously like what’s currently happening to her.
Breakdown: I found this entry to be pretty good, but not one of the strongest stories this season. It’s creepy because it’s a very real circumstance, and who doesn’t get slightly creeped out being on the last bus or walking around late at night? This whole episode had a very real nightmare type of feeling, even down to the fact that the colors and ambiance noticeably changed to something softer and dream-like when the woman woke up.
However, I do find the whole setup to be weird. Was she targeted just because the start of her story matched the one from the woman in the story or is it just the fact that she’s a woman on the last bus? The fact that her life at the moment was crappy seemed to have no connection to the actual horror aspect of the story, yet we hear it three times. She’s obviously not the same woman from the story since they look so different.
It just seems like this horrible thing happened to this random woman and nothing connected back to her besides the fact that she got on the last bus.
Episode 13 – Seductress
Plot: A private eye is investigating the disappearances of men at a local bar. In particular, there’s a woman who frequents the bar who piques his interest. What’s the secret behind Mantis Bar?
Breakdown: Horror….scratchy rough art style….film noir?….Yami Shibai, you’re trying to seduce me.
Mmmmmm……..Oh yeah, this episode’s silly. She’s really a praying mantis in a human suit who eats the guys she seduces. Get it? Because female praying mantises eat their mates? Also, get it? The bar is called Mantis Bar? Hurrr.
This is definitely the most disappointing entry of YS5, which is a shame because this episode had so much going for it, like I pointed out. The anticipation of horror, the amazing art style, the film friggin’ noir atmosphere. I am a total sucker for film noir. I paused and did an embarrassing ‘squee’ when I realized they were doing that. Why did they have to ruin it? I was even praising this season while waiting for the finale to be released, saying that every season so far has had at least one major flop of an episode. They’ve had slight ups and downs, but the season has been mostly consistent so far. Now we get this.
Being fair, this entry isn’t really a ‘flop’ per se. It’s just disappointing and slightly silly. I was freaked out when her arms fell off, but then I practically giggled when they were replaced with the praying mantis arms.
To be clear, the man who dies in this entry is not the private eye – it’s a completely unrelated man. Which leads us to the actual end of this episode.
Actual spoilers, though I already have spoiled a good chunk.
In order to tie up the series, I suppose, the episode ends with the private eye witnessing the man’s death. We fade out to a shadowed picture of the narrator’s mask and then cut to the private eye waking up on a bench in the park. He wonders what his case was really about when we see the Yami Shibai narrator walking away with his bicycle and stage. He says that the truth of the case was lost in the darkness as the opening music plays behind him and we get our title card (the intro was noticeably missing this week)
Soooo…..was that a dream? Was that a Yami Shibai show he fell asleep at? Was he stuck within a Yami Shibai play? It would’ve been more impacting and maybe made more sense if the private eye was someone we’ve known the whole time or at least someone from the first episode.
This episode does seem like it’s also tying into the observation that this season was focusing almost entirely on women. Either women were the victims or the monsters in each story. I still don’t know what the hell the season was trying to say about or explore about women if that’s the truth, though. This episode might’ve been a cautionary tale about not being promiscuous since this woman is obviously not picky about who she sleeps with and the guy basically yearns for her because she’s a hot woman who sleeps around. *shrug*
Full season Yami Shibai 5 review coming up!