Animating Halloween: The Amazing World of Gumball – Halloween

AHTAWOGH

Plot: Gumball, Darwin and Anais head to the cemetery to meet Carrie for a ghost party at a haunted house.

Breakdown: You know what sucks? Watching an episode of Gumball with headphones on. Jesus Christ, does everyone do their best to have their voices squeak whenever possible? It’s like every character has an old shopping cart lodged in their throats.

I still have a bit of an odd relationship with Gumball, but I think I’m warming up to it a little. While the characters are still largely irritating, I found this episode to be fun. It’s a bit of a step away from your usual Halloween fare, in a good way, though I really think this special suffers from the eleven minute restriction.

Like I’ve already mentioned before, it’s very difficult to make one of these specials be worth it if they don’t at least get the full 22 minutes of a complete episode. The party didn’t get to be as funny as it could’ve been and neither did Gumball and Darwin messing around as ghosts all because they tried to do so much in so little time.

And just to get this out of the way, Gumball and Darwin kill themselves in this episode. I don’t care how they subvert it or sugarcoat it, they turned into ghosts and left bodies behind – they died.

Despite all that, they still had several moments that made me crack a smile, but none that made me laugh. I kinda like the humor Gumball has sometimes, like when they’re more deadpan or when they tried to control the T-rex, but it’s overall style has a lot of difficulty staying with me through the whole episode and I still can’t bring myself to like the characters. I liked Carrie a lot, but that’s about it.

All in all, a fairly fun Halloween special but nothing really…’special.’

Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 8 – The Fake Hell Link

HGTM EP8

Plot: The students of a junior high school are constantly scolded by a strict teacher named Shoko Baba, though they’ve nicknamed her Make-Up Hag. As the grudges of the students grow, more of them receive emails by a mysterious person claiming to be Hell Girl with a fake Hell Link website. None of them can properly enter a grievance against her, however, since every attempt results in an error claiming they’re not filled with enough anger and vengeance.

Who is behind this fake Hell Link and why does it seem to be specifically targeting Shoko Baba?

Breakdown: One of the best episodes so far.

The premise, at first, didn’t intrigue me much at all. When I watched the next episode preview, I thought it’d be boring. A spam email claiming it’s Hell Link? Unless things are actually happening to the people being entered into the system, how could this possibly be interesting?

Surprisingly, quite a bit. The entire first half leaves you wondering who’s really behind this website, and even after it becomes quite clear who it is, you still wonder why they’re doing this and what beef they have with Shoko Baba.

In a previous episode, we saw the first time someone has outright refused Hell Girl’s services after hearing what the price is. This is the second time such a thing has happened.

When the, let’s call her a culprit, called Hell Girl, she refused to pull the string because she didn’t want to go to hell. She even got on her knees and begged Hell Girl to just take Baba without cursing her. This obviously didn’t work, so she decided she’d go on an insanely long mission to destroy her life, to the point where Baba’s husband divorced her and she became estranged to her son.

She became enraged when it seemed like that didn’t destroy her enough, so she concocted a plan to trick one of the students into using Hell Girl for her so she could send her to hell without damning her own soul.

This actually isn’t the first time we’ve seen someone try to send another person to hell by proxy, but this is the first time it nearly worked. Before, the proxy client didn’t take a level of vengeance into consideration. This time, the proxy client has used the website before and knows how Hell Girl works so she could game the system better.

Too bad Ai doesn’t put up with that shit. Laid down a trap for her like a boss.

It’s also amazing how they flipped the script on us. I won’t give away the final twist, but it was very bittersweet and somewhat touching.

What is wrong with the proxy client, though? I will admit, Baba’s a bit of a bitch, but what did she do besides give her somewhat poor marks in middle school that made her so hateful? She even blamed this woman on her own parents getting a divorce. Like, what? Get help, lady.

Rating: 9/10

Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 7 – Bonds

HGTM EP7

Plot: Emi’s brother, Tatsuya, died in a tragic motorcycle accident, and now her mother is obsessed with avenging his death by going after the city for a dangerous roadway. Her family is falling apart before her eyes. Despite her best efforts at keeping the family together, Emi is living in a house with no love or attention. Before his death, Tatsuya contacted Hell Girl and got the signature straw doll. Strangely, even though Tatsuya has died, the doll is seemingly passed down to Emi. Who is the doll’s target, and will Emi pull the string to restore happiness back to her family?

Breakdown: This episode certainly was interesting and incredibly tragic.

They depicted the impact of a death of a child in a family very realistically, almost to the point where you want to cry for nearly everyone involved. The dad is drinking all the time and ignoring the problems his wife is currently having, pretty much just letting her grieve in her own way.

Emi is doing everything in her power to keep it together. She’s taking care of her mother, doing all of the household chores and is keeping up activities at school.

Meanwhile, the mother has gone off the rails. She spends her days consumed with thoughts of Tatsuya. She’s gone on a warpath to attack the city for a road that she deems was so unsafe that it caused her son’s accident. It’s also created a massive media storm that…I find unrealistic to be honest. Some media attention, sure, but they are being attacked by mobs of journalists for this issue that’s not really all that news-worthy.

I know a lot of local roads that have issues and end up having a lot of accidents, fatalities included. It’s quite possible to lock the city into a lawsuit over safety issues resulting in a fatality, but it would hardly garner this level of media attention.

Plus, honestly, that road doesn’t look all that unsafe. It’s a sharp turn…with plenty of signs. It was extremely rainy out and he looked like he was speeding. It was an accident. Even Emi and her father agree it was just an accident.

Throughout the episode, Emi’s mother keeps slipping further and further from sanity. She pays Emi absolutely no mind and focuses her all into Tatsuya and getting vengeance for his death.

It’s made a mystery throughout most of the episode as to who Tatsuya was targeting when he called Hell Girl, but about halfway through the episode, considering no one else is really showing up, you come to realize it’s the mother.

Before his death, their mother was still focused entirely on Tatsuya. She never cared at all about Emi. She never paid her any attention or noticed her achievements. No matter how hard she tried, she could never get her mother’s attention because Tatsuya consumed it all.

Tatsuya hated the attention because their mother was always on his ass about every little thing. She was suffocating him and driving him insane. He believed that their family would be perfect if she weren’t around. However, he died before he was able to use the doll.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen a client die before using the doll. I always assumed the doll went back to normal if the client died before the contract could be made, but not only does it stick around, the power gets transferred to someone else without them accessing Hell Girl.

I had no idea you could do that. I could swear that accessing the website was necessary for any deal to start. The only reason I can think of for this happening is maybe, since Emi also had it out for their mother deep down, the feeling of vengeance and the pending contract already in play was enough to transfer it to her? I dunno. Sometimes, I feel like Hell Girl plays it fast and loose with the rules to get a plot going.

The third act is rather heart-breaking. Absolutely everything is falling apart in Emi’s family.

Her dad is becoming more of a drunk, who even seems like he quit his job near the end or got fired.

Her mother is completely insane now, spending her time cuddling a broken Buddha statue head that broke in the accident, acting like it’s somehow Tatsuya or a link to him, borrowing a ton of money for who knows where to get a book deal for Tatsuya’s story and, despite the city deciding to fix the road, they won’t admit responsibility for Tatsuya’s death, which makes her even more infuriated.

Emi is left with complete responsibility in the house and no one’s paying a lick of attention to her. Unable to take it any longer, Emi takes his earlier statement to heart. Maybe their family really would be better off without their mom. She pulls the string and her mother is sent to hell.

We get no hell torture this time around, but we do see her in the boat with Ai and Ren. They tell her she’s going to hell, and she asks if Tatsuya’s there. Even though Ren tells her it’s extremely unlikely, she gleefully yells out over and over that she’s going to see Tatsuya. I know she’s not right in the head, but why would she want to believe Tatsuya’s in hell, even if she’s going there too?

And it doesn’t stop there. Obviously, this doesn’t really fix the issue. Emi’s father believes her mother is merely missing and seemingly spends his days going out to look for her. Emi spends all her days alone and lives in a delusion of a happy family by setting up photos of everyone around the dinner table and pretending they’re the real thing.

God. Damn.

I can’t even really bring myself to say the mother deserved to go to hell. I have no idea how much of a bitch she was before Tatsuya died. From what Emi and Tatsuya said, her entire world was Tatsuya, and she was very neglectful of Emi, but I never got to see to what levels they’re talking about. A flashback or two in that regard would’ve been nice.

Even if she was that way, it’s hard to say that’s enough to warrant being damned to hell.

After the fact, it’s even harder to say she deserves it because she’s obviously spiraling in grief to the point of extremely mental illness. She won’t eat, she won’t pay attention to anything that doesn’t involve Tatsuya and she eventually gets so bad that she just sits on the floor clutching that Buddha head chanting ‘Tatsuya’ over and over.

I know Emi’s in a lot of pain and is frustrated at how her parents, particularly her mother, is acting, but while she may have meant to ignore her before Tatsuya died, I don’t think she’s meaning to do it now. It’s just how some people grieve. This is an extreme case, but it still counts.

Now Emi’s damned to hell too. It’s just a terrible situation on all sides.

Rating: 9/10

Yami Shibai 6 Review

Plot: The sixth installment of the horror anthology series, Yami Shibai.

Breakdown: This certainly was an interesting, but somewhat tame, season of Yami Shibai. There was definitely more of a focus on happier endings and sadder, tragic stories than there were actual horror, but that doesn’t mean they slipped too much in the horror department.

Like I’ve mentioned before, part of horror is creating a connection with the main characters and caring for them to the point where you worry for their safety, heightening the sense of horror that you get from the danger at hand. Problem is, some of these stories didn’t amount as much to horror as they did tragedy. I’m not sure how much of a problem that is because Yami Shibai is a theater of darkness, and tragedy and sadness are indeed dark feelings. I would say I come here for the horror, but I moreso come for the stories as a whole.

The good news is that, even when the stories were more sad or tragic than usual, and even if they had happy endings, the twists and horror elements were usually well-done, and I can’t think of any story this season that was notably bad.

Episode 1: Thunderous Visitor8/10: Starting off a little sad, but definitely creepy with some great pacing, Thunderous Visitor has a great twist and a lot of suspense.

Episode 2: Tomonashi Cave6.5/10: While the story is alright, the episode as a whole is very cliché, and you only really care about one of the characters. Some of the visuals were creepy, but it’s nothing to write home about.

Episode 3: The Wind’s Warning 8.5/10: The story manages to be creepy while having both a happy ending and a sad but sweet twist.

Episode 4: Swamp Offering7/10: Confusing ending, and I still don’t quite understand it even with several theories surrounding it. However, it’s a decent enough horror story with a cathartic ending.

Episode 5: The Dripping9/10: A really chilling and legitimately frightening tale that is only hindered by the setup that I can’t make heads or tails of.

Episode 6: Sakura 9/10: I really love this story, and it does have several creepy and eerie elements, but it could be dinged off for being more tragic and sad with a happy ending than providing full horror. That doesn’t really bother me, though. Also, how and why the tree was suddenly cut down is a bit too convenient and confusing.

Episode 7: Frog Eggs 8.5/10: The more I think about this episode, the creepier it gets. The story doesn’t make much sense to me no matter how I look at it, but I can’t deny that those damn dot eyes and the very ending make for very effective scares.

Episode 8: Sea Fortunes3/10: Weakest episode of the season by far. It’s not necessarily all that bad, it’s just boring and not scary to me. Not to mention that the story doesn’t even make much sense.

Episode 9: Mud Games10/10: Second of two 10/10 rating’s I’ve given a Yami Shibai episode. I would dock it off for being so ridiculously sad, but I can’t, in all good conscience, do that because it did emit a fairly strong emotional response in me. Plus, it does have a very good horror element to it amidst the sadness, so it’s not faltering in that area for the sake of tragedy.

Episode 10: Tree of Innocence9/10: I mentioned that this episode was sadder than Mud Games due to the current circumstances of one of the boys, but Mud Games still created a stronger emotional response in me as a whole, and the true sadness of his situation doesn’t sink until you’ve either watched the episode a couple of times or you’ve sat and ruminated over it, and the horror element in this one is pretty lackluster.

Episode 11: Frozen Memories7.5/10: Still going strong with the sadness, like the happy ending, but very very light on the horror and creepiness. I kinda liked that the…whatever that was outside the door was an unseen threat, but it just didn’t work very well.

Episode 12: Waterfall Drop9/10: One of the creepiest Yami Shibai entries, marred only by a slightly predictable setup and some craggy artwork.

Episode 13: Echoes 8/10: Definitely a creepy and legitimately disorienting episode with a decent enough twist at the end, but nothing that horrifying and slightly disappointing because this is the season finale so I expected more spice.

Rating: 8/10 (Averaged and Rounded up) – Here’s the thing, this is definitely the most consistent season of Yami Shibai yet in terms of quality in writing. There was only one ‘bad’ episode, and it wasn’t even really all that bad so much as uninteresting and confusing. I really enjoyed season six, but it did skimp on the horror several times.

I’m not against them going a different route when it comes to the ‘darkness’ aspect of the ‘Theater of Darkness’ Afterall, sadness and tragedy are two dark things, but after five seasons and a distinct theme of horror, you come to expect more in the actual horror department from Yami Shibai. Over half of the entries are aimed more towards sadness than scares. They can sometimes meld the two quite well, but it’s so strange that they decided to go down this route.

I can’t really mark them down for this, though, because I still think the quality of the stories was enough, and they always made an effort to include horror so it’s not like it was an afterthought.

Additional Information and Notes: Yami Shibai 6 was produced by ILCA and is currently licensed in the US by Sentai Filmworks.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2018

Recommended Audience: There is some gore, most notably in Frog Eggs, and even then you can’t see too much. While the season is slanted more towards sadness and tragedy, there are still plenty of scares and creepiness here. 12+

Animating Halloween: Monster House Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: DJ is obsessed with watching the house of his scary next-door neighbor, Mr. Nebbercracker. He goes insane with rage at everyone who dares set one foot on his yard or get anywhere near his house. When DJ accidentally ‘kills’ Mr. Nebbercracker, he believes his spirit went on to haunt his house, nabbing up anyone who gets near. DJ, his best friend, Chowder and a local girl named Jenny team up to stop the house, but the situation is far more complicated than they ever anticipated.

Breakdown: Making horror movies for kids is a tricky area. You can’t put in anything ‘too scary’ or else the parents will get up in arms. You can’t tone it down too much or else the movie will be boring, even for kids.

Gentle middlegrounds are hard to find, and this one hits the mark quite well.

I watch Monster House every year on Halloween, but it’s one of those movies that I mostly forget unless it’s the Halloween season. Sometimes, I even forget it until I randomly see it on TV for Halloween.

It was strange to me because I always enjoy this movie whenever I watch it, and it wasn’t until I watched it for the review that I realized why I probably let it slip my mind whenever it’s not Halloween – this movie has very irritating characters.

Granted, they are ‘realistic’ tweenagers, teenagers and adults, but there’s no one in this movie that’s even slightly likable until the last 15 minutes or so.

Let’s go down the line –

DJ is one of those kids who wants desperately to be treated as a mature adult, but still does a lot of immature things. He’s obsessed with Mr. Nebbercracker because of his harsh behavior and the creepy urban legend that he killed his wife and ate her. DJ is probably the least annoying, but that’s not saying much.

His parents, while only getting brief screentime, also don’t get a good light shed on them. They’re mostly harmless, but then we see that his father refuses to show DJ any affection, fighting his wife against telling him he loves him before he leaves on a trip or giving him a hug goodbye. Then we get a completely serious implication that his mother wouldn’t care if she accidentally killed him.

She believes she backed into DJ with the car and his father fully implies she wouldn’t care if it was.

Then we have Chowder, who is just obnoxious. He’s the typical comic relief immature best friend. Almost all of his scenes involve him being incredibly annoying in some way.

For good measure, we have Jenny or the obligatory love interest who is literally thrown into the story. She doesn’t even live in their neighborhood nor had the two boys met her before the story began. She’s an alright character, but not only is she clearly just meant to be a love interest for the boys (though obviously meant for DJ because since when does the sidekick get the girl?) she says stuff like ‘are you mentally challenged?…Because, if you are, I’m certified to teach you baseball!’ to them upon first meeting.

There’s Zee, who is the bitchy punk rocker babysitter who loves to torment DJ.

Then we have her boyfriend, Bones, who’s even more of a prick than she is. During his screentime, he does such charming things as getting drunk, ripping apart DJ’s stuffed bunny rabbit and getting pissy that Zee doesn’t want to fool around with him.

Following them, we have Skull, a local gamer who is about as typical as any depiction of a gamer since The Wizard. He’s obsessed with video games, is a complete jerk and is so into his games that he can play them without looking and talks smack to them.

After that, there’s the police. There’s the veteran cop who laughs at the kids claims of there being something wrong with the house, but eventually tries to arrest them for minor offenses toward a vacant house.

Then there’s his partner, a rookie cop who is one of those types who gets way too into it and is fully drunk on the power before he even gets his feet wet. It’s scary how he treats these kids, too. He’s gleefully happy to take them in, taunts them as if they’re adult criminals and will swing his gun around like it’s not even there.

The only characters left to address are Mr. Nebbercracker and his wife. Mr. Nebbercracker is meant to be a scary, mean old man, but in the last 20 minutes or so, you realize he wasn’t being this way to be a jerk. He was actually trying to protect everyone.

His wife was a bitch who only had a soft spot for him, but it’s understandable that she is so defensive given her backstory.

I won’t go any further to avoid spoilers, even though this movie is old enough to warrant them. I think the twist is a good chunk of the fun.

I will ask a couple of spoiler-y questions, though. Be warned until the list is over.

1 – Constance fell into the cement for the foundation……and…..Horace just built…over her? Why didn’t he dig her out? Why would he ever feel comfortable building a house on his wife’s remains?

2 – Considering how thin the cement was over Constance’s remains, I feel like that wouldn’t have even been enough to kill her. Certainly Horace should have been able to save her.

3 – The house was haunted by her spirit since her corpse was in the foundation, yet when the house actually uprooted itself and started traveling all over town, the spirit didn’t leave it. If it was detached from the foundation, I don’t really see why the house itself was still haunted.

4 – This is from earlier in the movie, but if you had a guy who was clearly not dead and was only suffering from a heart attack or something, why would you treat the guy like a corpse? They don’t give him medical attention or anything. The plop him on a gurney, don’t even put him in a body bag or cover him up, and let his arm dangle and drag the ground. Even if they thought he was dead, you don’t treat patients like that.

Outside of that, this is still a great horror movie for all ages. The scares are effective for kids and adults alike, and some of the visuals are wonderfully done.

The backstory was well-written, and I was legitimately happy for everyone in the end. I only wish they all, barring Nebbercracker for obvious reasons, could’ve been more likable from the start so I could really get emotionally invested.

The art and animation is where some people falter on this movie, and I can see why. It’s a strange amalgamation of motion capture and clay-like CGI animation. The heads are super big, the hair doesn’t move at all, and some of the movements are surreal when coupled with the animation. The movements of the arms and bodies will be fine, but then the heads will just seem strange.

The music was also nice. Even though nothing stood out as being fantastic, it was a very fitting soundtrack that melded well with the ambiance.

Monster House has been getting very positive reviews every since its release….but check out the reviews on Common Sense Media. Remember how I said horror movies for kids might get parents up in arms? These reviewers have their parental arms fully up.

They bitch about the littlest things like one character saying ‘I stole drugs for you!’ when the ‘drugs’ were bottles of cold medicine…meant to knock out a sentient house, or saying ‘kiss my butt’ or ‘moron.’ All of these reviews amount to a one-star rating.

One reviewer said this movie scared their two-year-old kid…..THEIR TWO-YEAR-OLD KID.

You let your two-friggin’-year-old kid watch a horror movie – I don’t give a crap if it’s meant for kids, it’s still a damn horror movie. And it’s rated PG, meaning it’s already meant for an older audience than friggin’ two-year-olds.

The icing on the cake – they complained about the fact that there was a creepy monster house that eats people………IT’S…..THE….ENTIRE….TITLE….OF….THE…..MOVIE.

MONSTER. HOUSE. It could not be clearer if they called it ‘Scary Goddamn Morphing Monster House That Eats People and Also a Movie Your Two-Year-Old Probably Shouldn’t Watch.’ I bet your two-year-old can read better than you.

It borderlines between PG and PG-13. I agree it probably could’ve garnered a PG-13 rating, but, honestly, PG also suits it just fine. Just talk to your kids about the questionable stuff, if necessary, and if they aren’t ready for horror movies, don’t let them watch it….hence the Parental Guidance suggested thing.

I believe people of all ages will get enjoyment out of this movie, especially around Halloween considering it’s both a great animated horror movie and it’s set around Halloween. I do applaud it for having realistic characters, but I just wish they had been more likable.

Also, just for the sake of the people on Common Sense Media, yes, people get gobbled up, but the ending assures us that they all lived. Dumbass Bones even got to keep his stupid kite.

Recommended Audience: I already basically went over this, but I’d say 10+

Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 6 – Where the Sun Shines

HGTM EP6

Plot: Souta is a lonely, bullied boy who spends his free time following and taking pictures of the only girl who’s ever shown him kindness, Kiwako. He has no ill intentions – he merely wants to watch her since he knows any advancement on his part would result in rejection. Besides, she’s dating a skeevy boy named Sugita. He knows he’s a bad person who is bound to somehow hurt Kiwako, but he can’t bring himself to fully contact Hell Girl. When she appears anyway, she rejects his request, stating she’s not a figure of justice. It’s up Souta to save her when things get really bad, but what can he do? What will he do?

Breakdown: I’m not sure how I feel about this episode. It’s kinda boring while leaning on depressing. This is the first time we’ve seen Hell Girl appear to someone and offer her services without the person in question pressing ‘enter’ on the website. I have no idea why she chose this client to do this for, but okay.

I also don’t understand her reasoning for rejecting him. No, she’s not a figure of justice, but this situation is very similar to Beloved Kei where the client did have motives for protecting someone in mind more than revenge and Ai was perfectly willing to help her. What’s the difference?

Most of the episode is just following around Kiwako and her skeevy boyfriend knowing that he’ll do something awful to her. And, of course, he does. He sets it up so his friend can rape her. I have no clue why he’d do that considering he gets nothing out of it.

Souta does nothing to warn her because he has such a lack of confidence that he believes she’d never believe him anyway and his actions wouldn’t stop it.

The ending is interesting because the script is flipped. The target deserved to go to hell, but the client switched to Kiwako, who wished revenge on Sugita. Souta, more enveloped in depression than ever, decides to murder the friend who did the raping, condemning his own soul to hell without Ai’s help, even though she’s perfectly willing to accept his request now. She even shows up at his house right before he’s about to do it, like an offering of taking the full burden off his shoulders.

It’s a bad situation, but the episode as a whole didn’t make me feel a whole lot of emotion. I didn’t even get a lot of catharsis because they skipped the hell torture today. We got to see him be a little tortured by some hands, but that’s old hat by now.

One cool thing I’ll note is that they were playing the theme song from Hell Girl’s first season in the bowling alley scene. That was pretty neat.

Rating: 6/10

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episodes 11, 12 & 13 (FINALE)

Episode 11: Frozen Memories

YS6EP11

Plot: A man is caught in a snowstorm on a mountain, mourning the death of his only child. He promised that, when he was well, he and his son would climb a mountain together, and now he’s doing so on his own in his son’s memory. He seeks shelter in a mountainside cabin meant for travelers and meets a man who won’t communicate with him, only shiver. When he finally does talk, the only thing he’ll say is that something has returned and begs him not to open the door no matter what until the blizzard passes. What lies beyond the door in the frigid mountain snow?

Breakdown: Sticking pretty fiercely to the tragic story theme, this one actually has a happy ending. While I liked the story, it truly wasn’t anything horrifying. We never learn what happened to the other people that strange man was with nor do we see what’s out there.

Truthfully, I think the latter is for the best because sometimes the best horror comes from the mystery of what’s in the darkness, and the tension of wondering whether or not he’ll open the door is decent enough, but it still wasn’t anything really scary at all.

I’m glad at the end, but also a bit confused. I have nothing against Yami Shibai trying new things, but they’ve been skimping on the horror for a while now. Also, the art in this episode is fairly subpar.

Episode 12: Waterfall Drop

YS6EP12

Plot: A group of teenagers head to a waterfall for some fun. They tease each other about how the spot is supposedly haunted by people who have committed suicide on the cliff before tricking one of the girls into following a path to the top of the waterfall.

Breakdown: Slow start but definitely one of the creepiest Yami Shibai entries. The kids were creepy, the way they kinda fake you out with the scare is well-done and when the shit finally goes down it is fantastic. The lighting, the reveal, it was all great.

It was a teeny, tiny bit predictable because you know her friends are trying to warn her of something, and the actual design of the creatures could be better, but it’s still very creepy and impacting.

Also, the art could be a little better for this one. The lines are really craggy, even for this show.

Episode 13: Echoes

YS6EP13

Plot: Two girls enjoy a hiking trip in the mountains when one of them decides to have some fun with the echoes. They hear a man’s voice responding to them, but get creeped out when he asks where they are. They decide to leave, but a sudden onset of fog traps them. It’s so bad that they can’t see each other despite being a few feet away. One of the girls is unable to hear her friend too and all she hears are the echoes getting closer and closer.

Breakdown: Strangely, despite being the season finale, there’s nothing that special about this episode. The narrator whispers in the start of this episode, for some reason, but that’s about it. Someone said that the figure in the fog at the end was the narrator, considering the intros for this season have been in a foggy area, but I’m not sure how much I buy that. If that’s what they were going for, they didn’t do a good job of conveying it.

As for the episode itself, I found it to be frightening in a disorienting way. There’s a strange, unseen figure in the fog, and it suddenly becomes numerous people, and they’re warning her about something else unseen. It’s a nice change of pace from the typical ‘Ahhh there are things in the dark!’ shtick.

This all culminates in a jump scare that seemingly leads into a happy ending, but then there’s a twist that legitimately took me off guard, and the voice acting for that one line made it very creepy.

A bit of an odd story to leave off on as it’s not terribly notable nor does it try to bookend the series as a whole, but it’s a good episode.

And that’s it for Yami Shibai 6! The full review of the entire season will be coming up soon!

Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 5 – Barreling Towards Hell

HGTM EP5

Plot: A teenager is constantly being tortured by a local loudmouth jerk named Leon. He keeps attempting to input his name into Hell Correspondence, but he can’t get up the guts to hit ‘Send.’ Leon himself has someone pissing him off – his gang leader. In a hive of scum and villainy, it’s a race to see who gets sent to Hell first.

Breakdown: This episode is very obviously designed to make you feel like all humanity is trash, and you have absolutely no sympathy for either the target or the client, barring the initial teenager client.

This is one of the more unpleasant episodes to watch, and it’s downright over the top with how they write these characters.

Hey, here’s Leon. He is about as big of an asshole as they come. He’s loud, obnoxious, a massive idiot, he beats people up, he robs people, and just to put some frosting on his awful cake, he tricked a starving stray dog into thinking he’d give him food and then BLEW FIRE IN HIS FACE WITH A LIGHTER. Boy, I sure hope he doesn’t end up pulling that string. What a treasure we’d lose.

The initial client, the aforementioned teenager, does successfully call Hell Girl, but he, surprisingly, is one of the few who outright refuses to use her services once he’s been told of the price. It’s just strange because we’ve seen people damn themselves to hell for much less than what this guy goes through on a daily basis, but I respect his resolve.

The target of Leon’s anger is his gang leader. He wants out of the gang if he can land the heart of a local girl who doesn’t even know he exists. In typical gang leader fashion, he doesn’t like this attitude. He not only beats Leon to a pulp for daring to say such a thing, but he decides to forcibly make this girl his to further torment him. Not only that, but he decides to rape her, film it and show it off.

It’s not just these two who are shown to be evil. They make a point to show practically everyone outside of them are terrible too. Wanyuudou basically goes on a ‘The world is already hell’ tangent right before finding Kikuri about to be kidnapped and molested/raped by some perverts.

He claims the only reason people are so terrible now is because they’ve forgotten that heaven and hell exist…..

Yeah, I’m getting pretty sick of this ‘back in my day’ malarkey people throw about. Is the world a little rotten? Sure. But look back through any period of history and you’ll see we as a species maintain a pretty good level of rottenness and evil throughout time and space, no matter if religion or simply believing in an afterlife is a factor or not.

Anyhoo, is it any surprise that Leon pulls the string? No. He was probably going to go to hell anyway, which, again, raises the question of ‘Why allow people destined for hell anyway to use Hell Girl’s services?’ Is it just because, as long as people are alive, they always have a chance for redemption, but when they use Hell Girl they don’t?

He also doesn’t seem like he cares. Despite being magically transported to the Realm of Eternal Twilight, having a conversation with a creepy girl with red eyes and seeing a man turn into a straw doll before his eyes, he still questions whether a hell even exists. He also thinks his curse mark looks cool.

The hell torture this time around is pretty tame for a guy who seems so comfortable with filming rape that you’re certain he’s done it before. Being a gang leader, he’s probably also killed people. It was a little cool with him sinking in the concrete and Ai about to run him over with his own car. The car, btw, is also obnoxious in its own right. Look at this damn thing.

HGTM EP5 screen1
I couldn’t get it in the shot, but it also has a pipe organ of massive exhaust pipes.

But it could’ve been better. I did really like Ai’s line to him when he was in the boat, though.

The big surprise comes at the end of the episode where we get two things.

The first is Leon dying. Yup. He dies. Not by Hell Girl’s hands – he dies because he was destined to die. It just so happens his time came a day after he got his revenge.

And how it happens is so cosmically sweet.

He’s riding his moped down the street when he sees the dog he burned walk into the road. He swerves to avoid him and then plows into a truck. The guys he tormented, including the previous client, saw it all happen and went to him, but they decided to walk away instead of help him. Kikuri even gives him a bit of shade before he bleeds to death.

This is the first time that we’ve seen a client die immediately after getting revenge. Technically, we have seen a client die before, but that was of old age decades after he pulled the string. It’s even more ironic because one of the reasons Leon didn’t care to pull the string was because he figured he would live a long time.

The second gives hope for humanity….in a way. The girl from before, Izumi, throws her empty cup into someone’s bicycle basket. Wanyuudou chastises her for it, reminding her that heaven and hell are watching and judging her, so she apologizes and picks up her trash.

This is….kinda nice, but 1) Littering? Really? That’s your crime of the century?

2) People really shouldn’t be forked into being good people by reminding them that they’ll either go to heaven or hell after they die….And this is coming from a Christian. You should be a good person because you want to be a good person – not because a higher power is judging you for your actions.

3) Is it really that impacting to see someone refrain from littering because of what you said? That gives you hope for humanity? Most people in her situation would just be embarrassed at being caught doing something bad. I don’t mean to be cynical, but you’re the ones who just jammed 20 minutes of ‘humanity is shit’ down our throats. Just because she gave a hoot and didn’t pollute doesn’t reverse really any of that.

Technically, she didn’t even really litter – she put her trash in a bicycle basket. Still a crappy thing to do, but still.

All in all, this episode was just alright. Its messages are not conveyed well, and the whole situation makes you root for nearly everyone to die. At the very least, I’m happy nothing happened to Izumi and the teenager client decided against using Hell Girl, but the whole story’s a mess when you can’t sympathize with anyone.

We’re not meant to sympathize with the target, that’s kinda the point, but I was rooting for Leon to die too. It’s not like Leon’s in love with Izumi either. He doesn’t even know her. He has a big crush on her and claims her as a possession. Even if he was in love with her, who cares? He’s a massive douchecanoe who burns dogs and beats people.

It’s an obnoxious episode to watch and, despite the glimmer of hope and the sweet ironic karma at the end, it made you feel like crap just for being human.

Rating: 6/10

Animating Halloween: Spongebob Squarepants – Scaredy Pants

AHSSSP

Plot: Spongebob’s sick of everyone scaring him on Halloween, so he decides to be the one who does the scaring.

Breakdown:……I can’t believe it took me 20 years to figure out that Spongebob was wearing wooden shoes as The Flying Dutchman….because wooden shoes are a Dutch thing…..I am….so stupid.

Oh yeah the episode.

Who doesn’t love a heaping dose of classic Spongebob? This is no laugh out loud riot or anything but several moments had me smiling, and I think the twist at the end still stands up to this day. It’s just enough ‘graphic’ horror for both kids and adults to be a little creeped out, and it does take you off-guard when they reveal it.

I think I should also point out that, essentially, Patrick mutilated his friend for a Halloween prank. Spongebob asked for it, and he said it’d grow back, but still, that’s kinda messed up how his body can just be literally shaved away like that.

This episode is sat at an awkward point because you can tell they don’t quite have all the characters or tone down to their sweet spot yet, but it works well enough. I like remembering when Spongebob and Patrick would have harmless fun adventures instead of having Patrick be a horrible person like he is now.

Squidward was also pretty cool here. He just pulled a harmless prank on Spongebob and had a rare funny back and forth with Sandy. He isn’t being used as a punching bag or being overly grumpy.

This isn’t one of my favorite Spongebob episodes, but it’s a solid Halloween special, albeit short.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episodes 9 and 10

Episode 9: Mud Games

YS6EP9

Plot: A mother picks up her daughter from daycare in a rain storm when she starts telling her a strange story of what happened when she was playing in the sand box.

Breakdown: Well, we’re back to incredibly sad again.

I didn’t see the twist of this one coming, and it did have one or two very unsettling moments, but the whole story is a bomb of sadness. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s like they came up with the bare-bones plot and asked themselves ‘Hm, what’s the most depressing route we could take this story?’

It’s not a bad story by any means, in fact it’s very good, it’s just incredibly sad.

Episode 10: Tree of Innocence

YS6EP10

Plot: Twin boys, Satoshi and Takeshi, decide to climb a big tree. When Takeshi steps on a rickety tree branch and begs his brother for help, their mother arrives and pleads for them to come down….Well…one of them anyway.

Breakdown: This is so similar to episode 9 it’s weird. Starts off normally, leads into creepy, revelation that one of the characters is dead, leads to the death of the loved one of the initial person who died.

The only major differences are the situation and the absolute ending, and it somehow makes the entire situation even more tragic than episode 9.

When Satoshi tries to save Takeshi, his mother begs Satoshi to get out of the tree because Takeshi recently died from falling out of that same tree. Satoshi was lured into the tree by Takeshi’s restless spirit. He caused Satoshi to fall, and when he did, Takeshi took over his body and walked home with their mother.

Dying is one thing, but having your dead brother take your body and leave you as a spirit in a tree with no one mourning you because they believe you’re still alive is heartbreaking.

I have no clue why the comments were so lenient on this one when they weren’t on episode 9. Tons of people were saying ‘finally a good episode!’ when every other episode has been either mixed or littered with ‘this isn’t scary.’ This one’s even sadder, and, in my opinion, it’s less frightening. Ghost Takeshi is a little unsettling, but he’s a lot easier to watch than that scene with the toddler in the previous episode.