Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai Episodes 3 and 4 Review

Episode 3: The Reception Room


Plot: An elderly couple who has never been able to have kids before get a beautifully made custom doll to be the next best thing.

Breakdown: Me about five minutes ago: “Oh boy, let’s see what Yami Shibai has in store for me now.”

Narrator: “An elderly couple who lived a long life together…”

Me: “Oh god, this is a sadness over horror episode!”

*One watch later*

Yup, sufficiently sad over horror episode, but it didn’t go the way I predicted. In fact, this episode is basically entirely sadness with no horror. Obviously, the aspect of the doll brings a creepiness factor, and it does come alive, but not in the way you’d think. I really thought this would be a cut and dry ‘doll comes to life and kills the couple’ story, but it’s actually quite sad and beautiful. In fact, the doll coming to life really caps off the whole story very nicely. I’d even say I felt bad for the doll in the end.

SPOILERS It is hinted that maybe the doll was sucking away the energy of the elderly couple and was slowly becoming human as a result, but I’m not entirely convinced of that. They were already showing signs of illness before the doll came into the picture, and they were getting up in years. It is possible that the doll was speeding up the process, but that would mean that the tears we see at the end, when the mother dies, are both sadness from her dying and remorse that she was partially the cause of it, which is even more tragic.

I can’t even get all that mad at the doll either because the mother wished she could be reunited with her husband after he passed away, so she kinda granted her wish. The more you think about it, the sadder this becomes. END OF SPOILERS

Times like these, you have to remember that Yami Shibai isn’t technically all about horror. It’s a theater of darkness, and tragedy and loneliness are part of the darkness.

I absolutely loved this story. Even though it did make me very sad, it also made me happy in a bittersweet way near the end.

Episode 4: Paintings


Plot: A young man gets a free ticket to an art exhibit, but is weirded out by all of the creepy paintings and the equally creepy hostess. He decides to take some pictures of the artwork to upload to social media, but photos are against the rules for a reason.

Breakdown: This episode is simultaneously creepy and pretty goofy.

A while back, they had an episode where an art thief was tormented because art theft is shitty, don’t do it. This is kinda the same concept just with paintings and a slightly more modern spin on the whole deal.

It is becoming more commonplace for people to share art on social media that isn’t theirs to soak up internet points. It’s always a sad state of affairs when a social media post from someone who isn’t the artist posts the artwork and they end up with exponentially more likes and comments than the initial post from the real artist does.

This isn’t even that, though, it’s a guy taking pictures in an art exhibit and sharing them online for likes and whatnot. He makes off like he’s in the right here because every artist in the exhibit is ‘unknown’ and he’s giving them ‘exposure’ anyway, but it’s obviously not.

The creepy woman tending to the exhibit warns him to not take pictures (and there are numerous reasons you shouldn’t take pictures in a museum or art exhibit that are outside of art theft) but once she walks away, he goes back to what he was doing.

Obviously, this leads to some not-so-nice repercussions for the young man.

This episode is a little too on-the-nose about the supposed scare factor. The curator is clearly creepy, all of the paintings are creepy, he points both of these things out, and you know something terrible is going to happen to him, especially considering that he’s acting like a dick. Once you see all of the paintings, it’s pretty clear what will happen to him.

Overall, it’s not bad, but it’s not that good either. It’s very much middle of the road.

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