Animating Halloween (Finale) | Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 12 – Midsummer Graph Review

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Plot: Nobuo Nomura is an aspiring mangaka who spends his days getting irritated by pretty much everyone around him. It’s gotten so bad that he’s created a graph charting the various people who annoy him. When a specific person’s annoyance level reaches the goal point, he’ll use Hell Girl to send them to hell.

Breakdown: Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo……..I’m very sorry we’re ending this year’s Animating Halloween with this pile of garbage episode.

It seems like Three Vessels has a habit of following up every good episode with a dumpster fire because my god this episode was a stupid salad from start to finish.

First off, Nobuo is not a likable client at all. There have been much worse clients, but he’s quite creepy, cringey, perverted and just an overall sourpuss to be around.

That graph I mentioned? It’s actually a poster of a girl in a bikini. And the measurements he uses are little stickers he makes with caricatures of everyone who annoys him throughout the day. Starting from the foot, he adds more stickers up the length of the girl’s body until he reaches his ‘goal’ which is, of course, her chesticles. And he gets a nosebleed when he gets close to putting a sticker on her Bermuda Triangle.

His motives don’t even really make sense. Even if he did send one of these annoying people to hell, what would that do? He’s obviously annoyed by numerous people. Sending one person to hell would only get rid of about 1/8 of his problems.

Being completely fair, Nobuo does experience a decent amount of crap. He’s harassed by rude people a lot and doesn’t seem to have any real friends outside of Yuzuki’s friend, Nozomi, who works with him, and referring to her as a friend is a bit of a stretch.

However, even if you can claim he’s a good guy, just a bit on the weird and cringey side, the argument falls apart because, when things start going his way, and by that I mean he wins a manga award that is even announced in a magazine and he works up the courage to ask Nozomi out, and she accepts, he still decides that he wants to send someone to hell once they annoy him enough.

Not to mention that he spends a lot of time drawing comics in which he sends his enemies to various hells and wins the affection of the bespectacled big-bouncy-boobed maid girl, who is drawn to look like Nozomi.

Secondly, the tone of this episode is mostly comedy. Some of the shots in this episode are just ridiculous. He’ll cheer in front of a real live-action tiger picture, he’ll be framed with flowers and pink lights when he’s thinking of his crush, Kokoro, and he flips his hair dramatically with sparkles all around him when he’s happily drawing….And lest we forget the typical feature of the shy anime dude who is secretly a pervert – he gets nosebleeds all the time when thinking of girls.

Hell Girl is perfectly allowed to have comedic moments, but when it tries to do comedic episodes it just doesn’t work. Unless you’re doing those little chibi yonkoma things in manga, it’s hard to make funny stories of a show where the premise of nearly every episode is sending other people to hell and damning your own soul to hell.

This issue is only highlighted more when a character tries to commit suicide later….

Third, the ending is ridiculously stupid. Grab a seat and let me tell you about the dumbest, most ungrateful girl in the world – Kokoro.

Nobuo knew Kokoro from around school, and she was fairly friendly with him. They weren’t friends, but they were on good terms. He had a crush on her, but she never knew it.

One of the people annoying Nobuo the most was Ryuu, who was Kokoro’s boyfriend. He wasn’t really doing anything outside of being affectionate with Kokoro, but it was obviously pissing off Nobuo greatly.

As Nobuo is getting his life together, he spots Kokoro about to jump off a bridge. Nobuo rushes over and saves her from committing suicide. She tells him that Ryuu was cheating on her with three girls, but Nobuo talks her down and cheers her up before walking her home.

However, Nobuo cannot forgive Ryuu. Yes, you guessed it. Ryuu reached the titties…..by reaching for other girls’ titties.

Hell time is nigh!

But wait! It seems that Nobuo can’t access Hell Correspondence. Well, golly, that’s strange. Wonder why. Hey, Ai, who is hovering behind Nobuo for some reason also we didn’t get a transformation sequence with Yuzuki this week, do you know what’s going on?

*gasp* NOBUO’S being targeted for hell!?

Who is sending him to hell and why?

The who is Kokoro.

The why is a black hole of dumb.

Kokoro regretted opening up to someone like Nobuo and believed he would spread what happened to everyone and embarrass her, even though he’s given no indication that he’d ever do that…..so…yeah, yeet to hell. Don’t send that cheating asshat of a boyfriend to hell. Oh no. Send the guy who saved your life, gave you a shoulder to cry on, gave you some inspiring words and walked you home to hell instead.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, while his hell torture is by far the most creative and cool hell torture we’ve ever had in Hell Girl, it’s also, sadly, by far, one of the most brutal. Because he’s a mangaka, the hell torture is performed as a paper doll ‘animation.’ I say ‘animation’ but it’s mostly paper doll puppetry with some camera editing tricks to ensure we never see the hands.

While this is absolutely cool to look at, poor Nobuo gets cut up into pieces with scissors, boiled alive, burned alive, skewered with staples and folded up into a paper airplane. There have been such terrible people who deserved hell tortures of this capacity that barely got a slap on the wrist, yet Nobuo gets the worst of it. I get that they probably had more freedom with the paper puppets, but still. Forgive the pun, but what the hell?

After Nobuo is sent to hell, Nozomi mourns him. And apparently her friends are mean enough to suggest he ran away from home because he didn’t want to date her? Huh? Nozomi doesn’t believe he’d do such a thing, though.

With Kokoro, she’s already got some new asshole to date. He tells her to wear a bikini instead of the one-piece she’s wearing, so she goes off to change, but is conflicted because the new black curse mark on her chest will be revealed if she wears it. #FirstWorldBitchProblems

And that’s it.

There’s not much more to say about this stupid episode other than, holy shit, guys, LOOK AT THIS POSTER.

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TATANIC!! DIRECTED BY HIROSHI WATANAHE! WHAT. IS. THIS?! Do they even have the right to use that image? Because that is very obviously a watered down version of the real poster and those are very obviously images of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

This doesn’t even make sense as a joke. This series came out in 2008. Titanic came out in 1997. I don’t understand.

Hiroshi WatanaBE directed Three Vessels, but I still fail to make the connection as to what’s happening here. Is it an in-joke? Am I missing something? What’s going on?

Rating: 2/10 Score purely for the cool hell torture.


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Animating Halloween | Corpse Party: Tortured Souls Review

Rating: 5.5/10

Plot: Nine people from Kisaragi Academy High School perform a friendship ritual on a dark and stormy night since one of their friends, Mayu, is moving away the following day. Once the ritual is done, what seems like an earthquake hits the school and all of them end up in a strange different school called Heavenly Host Elementary – a site where grisly murders happened several decades prior. What is the mystery behind this school? And can they return to their world before the tormented spirits within the school kill them first?

Breakdown: It’s been a hot minute since I reviewed the manga Corpse Party: Blood Covered and it’s been even longer since I played any of the Corpse Party games. I was excited to sit down and finally watch an anime adaptation in this franchise since I have enjoyed everything to this point.

However, when I was finally able to check it out, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

Let me put something into perspective. Corpse Party: Blood Covered is ten volumes long and covers the same story.

Corpse Party: Tortured Souls is four 30 minute episodes long.

Do you see where the problems are already starting?

This simply isn’t a long enough time frame to flesh out each character, of which there are NINE, explore the individual stories of each group, truly care about whether or not they live or die and properly execute the story.

They gave it a decent shot, but in the end it was all just too rushed and smushed together, and as a result the anime just comes off as an unbridled gore fest. Granted, yes, Corpse Party is, of course, quite gory by default, but this anime was damn near sickening at parts. I tend to handle gore and stuff just fine (Saw is one of my favorite horror movies – Dead Space is my favorite horror game etc.) but there were some scenes in this anime where I legitimately wanted to skip over them because they were just torture porn.

I’m going to cover each individual group’s story before convening them all into the ending.

Naomi and Seiko

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Yeah and we’ll always hang out together……..That was a terrible joke. I am sorry.

Originally, Seiko loved Naomi and Naomi loved Satoshi, so Seiko never told her how she felt. She did have a habit of “play” flirting with her and playfully groping her whenever possible, but Naomi just took it as Seiko being goofy.

Naomi was always very secretive about her feelings for Satoshi, but she still stewed in jealousy when it came to other female characters getting close to him, especially when the school started influencing her. In Tortured Souls, the same is basically in place but there’s not enough time to actually explore that so it’s very much just subtext.

Naomi and Seiko are just the best of friends, and Seiko has become increasingly concerned about Naomi leaving her side one day. Naomi’s jealousy is all but removed entirely.

Once the school’s influence starts affecting them, it leads to the untimely demise of Seiko, who seemingly hangs herself after Naomi snapped at her in anger. Naomi spends the rest of the series in a state of deep regret and guilt for Seiko killing herself.

However, I should note that the scene in which Naomi tries to ‘save’ her is rather stupid. Seiko is actually not quite dead yet when Naomi finds her hanging body. Naomi yanks DOWN on her, TWICE, and instead of getting underneath her and allowing her to climb on her shoulders to get the noose off and come down, Naomi runs to get a bucket, which means Seiko dies in the interim.

It’s a shame because I liked Seiko in the original series too. She was a bit overbearing, but she did love Naomi so much that she encouraged her to pursue Satoshi because she knew Naomi loved him. She didn’t want to ruin their friendship and she wanted Naomi to be happy.

Satoshi and Yuka

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Depicted Above: The World’s Biggest Idiot. Recently beat out the last record holder who was, coincidentally, Satoshi Mochida.

While I am happy that they pretty much entirely omitted the part about Yuka loving Satoshi in a romantic sense, they left in the incredibly stupid part of the Blood Covered manga that I previously ranted about on Twitter.

Satoshi is in the middle of a school covered in corpses and ghosts. They are currently being lead over a field of corpses by a ghost. Yuka needs to pee, so Satoshi, with a smile even, happily leaves Yuka alone in this outdoor walkway WITH THE GHOST while he goes into the next building and SHUTS THE DOOR. Shock beyond shocks, this causes them to get separated and is ultimately the event that leads to Yuka’s untimely death in this version. Yes, believe it or not, the anime managed to make this scene even stupider than it was originally by having Sachiko, the main murderous spirit, escort Yuka as she goes off to pee and Satoshi’s just like ‘Lol enjoy ur p! Baiiii!’

Yuka’s still a pretty annoying character, but she was sweet to bring Satoshi his umbrella at the start. After that, though, it’s pretty much non-stop saying she has to pee and screaming until she dies. And let me tell you something right now, even if you have found Yuka to be the most annoying character in the franchise, she did not deserve the death she got. That was just overly brutal.

Satoshi continues to be the unsalted cracker he has always been. I’m still confused as to why so many girls love him, but in this version it’s not nearly as much of an issue because only Naomi’s crush still seems to be a real thing and even that’s toned down quite a bit. Ayumi’s love of Satoshi does seem to exist, but we’ll get to that later.

Mayu and Morishige

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These two aren’t really together-together, they just happened to enter the same dimensional plane. (For those not familiar with the games, each group is separated not only by space but also by dimensions. IE they could be in the exact same spot in the school but not see or interact with each other because they’re on different dimensional versions of the school. This doesn’t really matter much in the anime, though, since once the ghosts start being appeased the dimensions merge.)

We don’t really see Mayu doing anything before the school starts influencing her (outside of her back at regular school where she’s basically just a nice girl). She gets mind-controlled into being the friend of two of the main ghosts in the school, but when their teacher, Yui, finds her, they kill Mayu in one of the most gruesome ways they could. The manner in which it’s done is canon, but damn it’s still incredibly gruesome. At least she went quick, is all I can say.

Morishige continues to be the creepy sadist psycho he was before, practically getting off from taking pictures of corpses and eventually starting to kill people himself. It’s still unclear whether he was screwed up from the get-go and the school just made it worse or if this is just the way he is. The only thing he really cares about legitimately is Mayu, and he suffers from a final psychological break when he realizes that the giant splatter of person he took a picture of earlier, that was his favorite corpse, was actually Mayu’s remains. His death is not the same as it was in Blood Covered, where he committed suicide out of guilt when Mayu’s spirit tells him to not look at her insides as he was gazing at the photo. Instead, he just becomes ultra psychotic, tries to murder Yuka, he dies via neck stabbage by a character who had never even met him at that point.

I think it was a mistake not having Morishige kill himself instead. That was the one thing that kinda redeemed his character, as terrible as that is to say. Otherwise, it’s impossible to sympathize with him even a little.

Yoshiki and Ayumi

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Yoshiki was my favorite character from both the games and Blood Covered. He’s abrasive, somewhat cold and jealous, yeah, but he’s a pretty good guy. He’s much more interesting than Satoshi and way more likable than Morishige, and you can really tell how much he loves Ayumi, even if it’s difficult for him to come to grips with his feelings himself.

Complicating their relationship even further is the fact that not only is Ayumi completely oblivious to his feelings, but she’s also in love with Satoshi. However, this love really isn’t given proper focus or explored at all in Tortured Souls. When she and Yoshiki have returned to their world and are given the chance to go back to Heavenly Host to sate the spirits, save their friends and destroy the place, she suddenly started prattling off about how Satoshi would go back to save everyone and how they ahve to save Satoshi and the others.

Yoshiki comes off as a gigantic coward and a bit of a jerk in their story. He doesn’t do anything to help until his big moment at the end. Before that, he refuses to go back and try to save their friends even though nothing happened to him to warrant this vehement refusal. Without spoiling too much of Blood Covered, let me say that, while he also doesn’t want to return to Heavenly Host in that story, he still did a lot to help and he went through A LOT while he was there. Not to mention that the task of finding the other items and appeasing the rest of the ghosts as well as finding Sachiko and helping her pass on was a huge venture. The task itself really wasn’t difficult, but pulling it off while staying alive was an entirely different story. It was perfectly justified for him to want to stay behind. Even with all of that on his head, he still went back with her and helped end everything.

In this version, Yoshiki just has a big temper tantrum. Despite only the bare basics of spooky ghosts and seeing corpses happening to him, AND them already appeasing all of the murdered children’s ghosts beforehand quickly and off-screen, meaning they only have to do one thing when they go back to Heavenly Host, he comes off like he gives zero shits about their friends. And then he acts like Ayumi only wants to go back to save her beloved Satoshi. He actually lets her leave without him in this version.

Granted, he does – somehow – return to Heavenly Host later and tries to save Yuka, to no avail, and also kinda saves Ayumi, which is his character’s only saving grace before he’s viciously murdered while trying to confess his love of Ayumi. He has one of the worst deaths in the series, and while I didn’t much care for this version of Yoshiki (it’s at least way better than he’s portrayed in Musume from all I’ve heard about it….) he didn’t deserve to go out like that. Also, considering how few people survive in this version and how he was mercilessly murdered immediately after returning, it just kinda makes it look like Yoshiki was right to not want to come back.

Yui

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I agree. The way they treated your character was sick.

Yui is the only character mostly left to her own devices. She starts out on the same dimensional plane as Mayu and Morishige, but that doesn’t matter much. Yui is definitely the most shafted out of the entire cast. She doesn’t even get an arc. She gets nothing to do. All she does is see Mayu get murdered then she seemingly spends the rest of the series in shock, sitting on the floor of a nearby classroom.

In the games and the manga, she gets a very emotional arc. One of the ghosts pins her under a large cabinet. She has glass and sharp instruments stabbing her in the back and her right arm is crushed under the weight. She has a back and forth with the ghost who keeps trying to convince her that she’s selfish and doesn’t actually care about her students. After a lengthy and very painful ordeal, she manages to convince the ghost of how much she loves her students. The ghost lets her go, but she’s still very wounded. She dies in both the games and the manga via self-sacrifice to save her students, just in different manners.

The last time we see her in the anime is after Ayumi returns to the school. Yui has somehow snapped out of her shock and has a discussion with Ayumi. She alerts her to Mayu’s death, tells her that Mayu wouldn’t want her to feel guilty about it…..and then immediately gets beheaded by falling debris…..

I sat through Yuka’s torture porn death.

I stomached Yoshiki’s unceremonious murder.

I had to pause the video when Yui was killed because I was just THAT insulted.

Why even have her in the anime version at all if you’re not going to give her anything to do? She barely interacts with anyone or anything, we get no insight into her character and then she’s just killed in a goofy fashion for shock value. Yui deserved way better than that. She was a great, tough and loving character who beat the odds and died on her own terms to save others. Fuck this.

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AH! ANATOMICAL MODEL! GO AWAY YOU UNFAIR FRUSTRATING PAIN IN MY ASS!…Oh sorry…game flashbacks…

In terms of the overall story being rushed, you can probably tell from what I’ve already written on how much stuff was omitted or changed from the Blood Covered manga and the games to fit the four episode format. Character deaths are just sorta glossed over without any of them, barring Seiko, being given proper weight. No one’s continuously affected by Mayu and Morishige’s deaths outside of Yui, but who cares, Yui’s death might as well be a footnote, and all that carried through after Yoshiki died was Ayumi asking him to watch over them as they geared up to stop Sachiko. Even when Yuka dies, Satoshi breaks down during the death, but the next episode he’s perfectly fine and barely even mentions her. We don’t even know where he left her body….

While it is even worse than what I’ve already conveyed in regards to condensation and omission, it does manage to hit the necessary beats and tell the entire story of Heavenly Host and Sachiko in a relatively satisfactory manner in the time frame that it was allowed.

They do skip over the appeasement of most of the ghosts, choosing to return their items to them off-screen, but they showed their suffering, at least one of the ghosts passed on to heaven on-screen, and Yuki was still the one who helped them out. In the end, the main story and conflict is about Sachiko and appeasing her, which they did just fine, so it’s not too bad.

I stupidly believed they might have actually been headed in a good ending direction. The Corpse Party games have numerous endings depending on your actions, and the manga ended in a relatively good manner. This is, afterall, the only version I can recall that has Heavenly Host being destroyed without implying that the school, somehow, recreates itself and still perpetuates the rituals and killings without the ghosts around…..But uh….nope.

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In the very end, only Ayumi, Naomi and Satoshi remain. Yes. Only three people managed to survive, which is worse than even the worst ends of Corpse Party, barring ones in which they all seemingly die.

After Sachiko is appeased, the school starts falling apart. They have one opportunity to get back home by doing a reversal of the friendship ritual that brought them there, Sachiko Ever After. Problem is, you need to have the paper slip (from a ripped paper doll) that you originally obtained in the first ritual in order for it to work. Naomi lost her slip but took one from a random corpse, leading to concerns that something might happen to her during the ritual.

To fix this….Satoshi gives her his slip….??? Satoshi says it’s okay because he has Yuka’s slip……????? Yeah, this doesn’t make any sense. In Blood Covered (In the games too, I think) all they needed was A slip from the paper doll. They didn’t specifically need their own slip. In the end of the manga, Naomi also lost her slip, so Satoshi offered his, but she refused. Ayumi reveals that the slip she had was Naomi’s, so she gives it back to her, but then reveals that she also lost her slip. Yui, choosing to stay behind in the collapsing school, gives Ayumi her slip so she can save all of her beloved students.

The anime just makes no sense whatsoever. Satoshi giving her his slip means both of them won’t be using their original slips, unnecessarily putting both of them in danger. He would’ve been better off just giving her Yuka’s slip because maybe having two slips would decrease their chances of something bad happening.

But that’s still not the end.

They perform the reversal ritual and return home….Only to find that Ayumi and Naomi are holding the severed arms of Satoshi – the only parts of him that made it through the portal…

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You girls need a hand? Pbthahahahaha!….Ahh….again, I’m sorry.

Satoshi didn’t use Yuka’s slip. He actually used Yuuya’s slip, which he found and for some reason kept earlier. Yuuya is a student from another school who also ended up in Heavenly Host. He’s a psycho who eventually, somehow, becomes the bane of my existence – the anatomical model. Speaking of that, I guess that’s another point for Yoshiki in this version since he killed that bastard.

Why he kept Yuuya’s slip but didn’t have Yuka’s, I have no idea. Also, why he lied about this I don’t know either. Maybe if he knew it was risky to use a paper slip that wasn’t a part of the original doll so he lied to ease Naomi’s fears, that’d make more sense. However, that was never established. It was just that you needed your original piece.

I honestly don’t know why they wouldn’t have made more of an effort to retrieve the other doll pieces from their friends if they knew this. They knew where all of their bodies were and having more slips would probably greatly increase their chances of surviving the ride back home. Satoshi picked up the slip of some random dude he never met, but didn’t pick up the slips of his dead friends. Logic is fun.

It’s possible that Satoshi just didn’t realize he grabbed Yuuya’s slip out of his pocket instead of Yuka’s, which is just kinda dumb.

The ending is actually framed in a funny manner because we just see Naomi and Ayumi reacting to the disembodied arms (without saying anything or even screaming) and then the credits roll.

In a post-credits sequence, we see Naomi’s mother frantically calling the doctor because of Naomi’s terrible psychological state in which she keeps muttering about imaginary friends, which is mirroring something that may or may not happen in the games. In keeping with the Corpse Party way of doing things, if a person dies in Heavenly Host, they never existed in the real world (eh, kinda. It depends on the ending.), yet things are somehow still identical to the way they were before. The only people who remember those who were lost are the other surviving party members. Losing Satoshi and Seiko and realizing that no one even remembers everyone else, barring Ayumi, must’ve been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

As for Ayumi, we never learn what became of her after she came back home….nor how they explained the two severed arms thing to other people. It’s actually kinda funny that one of the people who is canonically dead in several of the endings to the games is one of the few who survives here.

This is one of those situations where I found my opinions of the anime souring after I sat down and actually wrote out my feelings on it. When I started writing, I felt like giving it a 6 or a 6.5 but I dropped it down to a 5.5.

Don’t get me wrong, I still had a decent amount of fun with the ride. While the atmosphere is diminished because of how rushed everything is, there was still a pretty high scare factor, especially considering that it’s very clear that no one’s safe in this situation. But I have to step back and wonder if I was worried about these characters more because I’m already invested in the franchise and know a decent amount of their other stories…. The answer is ‘maybe.’

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I can imagine someone completely new to Corpse Party as a whole would be incredibly confused and uninvested in these characters, and pretty much the only reason they’d really be scared for them is because of how gory and graphic everything is. The characters are still likable, but it’s hard to really get attached to any of them in this version.

Some of the visuals on their own are fairly scary even without gore, but the gore-less horror shots are few and far between.

Also, while it doesn’t happen that often, this series has a habit of putting gratuitous panty shots in the middle of scary scenes. Like when Naomi is paralyzed on the bed and some spirit is invading her body, the spirit pulls up her skirt so we can see her panties. It’s no alluding to rape or anything – it’s just boop look at my panties. Oh look, Mayu is about to become a stain on the wall, better make one of her last shots as a non-splatter of a human being holding her upside down and shoving the camera right in her crotch.

Bottomline: I realize I keep skewing into trashing this show, but it did manage to hold my attention throughout the entire story, and it provided me with a decent actual horror title to watch for this year’s Animating Halloween. Most of the material this year has been very vanilla, but this provided me with some actual blood, ghosts and psychological terror. The characters, while not being given nearly enough time to be fleshed out, are still mostly good characters, barring the ones who weren’t good to begin with like Morishige.

The voice acting was also extremely good. One of the reasons the more torturous scenes actually got to me was because the actors were able to deliver extremely believable and gut-wrenching screams. When they were drowning in sorrow, you felt it. And when they had a moment of hope, you believed it might be okay. Even the ghosts provided good performances when they spoke.

The music was also pretty good. Nothing that really stuck with me that much, but fitting enough for the series’ tone and nice enough to listen to. The absolute ending of the OP is a bit too high-spirited, though, considering that the series is just not positive at all and the picture they’re holding on is alluding to something tragic and horrific, despite the people depicted smiling in it.

Overall, while this is a fine enough watch for Halloween or for anyone who wants a bite of gritty gore and horror in their anime while having a cast that isn’t obnoxious. While it has some glaring problems as a standalone, many of my complaints come from how bad it was in comparison to the games and the Blood Covered manga, which I loved.

I really think they should re-do this series as a 13 episode run instead of four. That would be the perfect length in my eyes to create strong atmosphere, flesh out the characters, strengthen the relationships and allow the story to breathe while also not overstaying its welcome given the level of gore in this title. Not sure if we’ll ever get another Corpse Party anime. I’d assume it’d be based on Book of Shadows if they did anything in that regard, but I don’t know if it would ever happen.

Additional Information and Notes: Corpse Party: Tortured Souls was directed by Akira Iwanaga, and it was written by Shoichi Sato. The OVA was produced by Asread, a company that hasn’t really fallen on my radar as of yet but has produced Shuffle!, Ga-Rei: Zero and Mirai Nikki. Corpse Party: Tortured Souls has, to date, never been licensed in North America nor is an English dub available.

Episodes: 4

Year: 2013

Recommended Audience: No nudity or sex, though rape/sexual assault is suggested in one scene. The obvious hitch here is gore galore. They do NOT hold back on the blood and gore here. They basically revel in it. It’s one of the goriest anime titles I’ve ever come across, and that’s saying something. 17+


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Animating Halloween | Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 11 – Blotted Page Review

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Plot: Kamisaka has recently found a surge of popularity in his novel, Skyscraper’s Shadow, but not for good reasons. People are connecting the story in his book to the circumstances of a string of recent murders. The tides turn when the murderer, a teenage boy, is caught and directly blames the book for inspiring him. Kamisaka’s life spirals after that. What could possibly help things now?

Breakdown: This episode is incredibly on-point and adds a new spin to Hell Girl’s formula – There isn’t just one client/target today. There are FOUR.

But before we discuss that aspect, let’s talk about the topic of focus today. Yes, we’re exploring that fun, fun subject of ‘I’m not to blame for my actions. The media is. Damn TV shows, movies, comics, books and video games!’

While the plot of Kamisaka’s book is never really explained, we can surmise from the title and some excerpts that it has some part that involves a person being killed by having a weight tied to their ankles and then them being forcibly pulled off of the building as the weight is dropped off the side. That’s what the real murderer does, anyway.

Kamisaka’s book isn’t the only thing given blame as horror movies, violent video games and aggressive manga were also noted as being found in the murderer’s home, but the book is the main thing being given focus. In fact, a character later notes that, apparently, the murderer, Hiroto, said that if he blamed the book his sentence would be less severe. I’m not sure if someone told him that or if that’s just his personal belief, but there it is.

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I would say there’s obviously no truth to that, but I know the world I live in….Can we get a tally on how many times video games and the like have been blamed for turning people into rapists and murderers or is the number simply too high? Likewise, can we get a tally on how many times people have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they DON’T DO THAT? Oh that number’s too high too? Rats.

Kamisaka’s life is damaged quite a bit by these allegations. He loses his movie deal, his coworkers start giving him a hard time, he can’t go home because his house is swarmed with press and one publication even frames his words from an interview like he condones violence and seemingly has no problem with what the murderer did in his book’s name.

He seemingly takes some responsibility for what happened, which is why he resigns himself to using Hell Correspondence near the end, but he usually stuck by what he was saying the entire episode which was that he was just writing what he wanted to write and the murderer was just doing what he wanted to do.

Client #2 is a reporter named Sumi Asaba. She interviewed Kamisaka about the incidents and intended on writing a fair article about what he said. However, her editor in chief had different ideas and created the slanderous article I mentioned before. She feels deeply guilty about what happened and is enraged by her boss.

Client #3 is Yui Michio, the sister of the first victim. She wants to learn who the proper target of her hatred should be, so she went to Tokyo to speak with the murderer and Kamisaka to make her decision. Whoever she settled on would be the person she’d enter into Hell Correspondence. After speaking with both Kamisaka and Sumi, she feels Kamisaka is innocent and Hiroto needs to die.

After the three of them meet, they basically create a hell pact. All three of them will send three people in relation to this whole mess to hell. They’ll enter the names at the same time and pull the strings at the same time.

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Yui gets the ‘honor’ of targeting Hiroto since she has the strongest vendetta against him.

Sumi targets her editor, also claiming that doing so will bring the newspaper’s company down since it can’t seem to survive without him. That’s a bit extreme to note, considering you’d be ruining dozens or hundreds of lives from making them lose their jobs but okay.

So, who’s left for Kamisaka to target? His nameless friend whose only real sin was turning his back on him after shit started turning bad. The Wiki page for this episode even only describes him as Kamisaka’s fair-weather friend. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the guy is a bit of a prick, but I feel like they should have written a more deserving target for who was essentially the main character here.

In a bit of a cool moment we see all three of them simultaneously entering the names, getting the dolls, pulling the strings and watching the three dolls all vanish and tell them their grievances shall be avenged.

The hell torture this time around is basically the same for all of them – being thrown off of a skyscraper in various ways. Hiroto gets his big moment of irony in being forced over by having a barbell tied to his ankles and then the barbell is thrown off. The editor guy has acid painted on his feet, forcing him to accidentally jump. Finally, the fair-weather friend is forced off by Ai.

After the deed is done, the trio decide to have a drink together. As Kamisaka goes to grab the beverages, he suddenly vanishes. He’s been sent to hell by Hell Girl client #4.

As Kamisaka is riding in the ferry, he learns that Hiroto’s mother banished him because she blamed him for turning her son into a murderer. He asks what will change from banishing him and Ai mentions that his friend asked the same question when Kamisaka sent him to hell. Additionally, Yuzuki who is also here existing, said something very similar when she was watching the trio get their dolls.

In a very unique shot, we see four candles being lit in the end screen as opposed to the singular one we almost always get, and Kamisaka’s flame is snuffed out.

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This entire episode was very well done. The motives were good, for three of the clients at least (I can forgive the mother. She’s grieving and needs someone to blame. However, I really don’t think Kamisaka had nearly enough reason to send ‘fair-weather friend’ to hell.) the story was believable and it had an overall good message for this entire series, which is kinda what Hajime was trying to convey the whole time in season one.

Nothing is really gained or lost in a lot of Hell Girl stories. Sure, many times the string pull saves the client’s life or someone else’s or it at least stops the target from tormenting anyone else, but just as many times it’s only because they had it coming to them. Pulling the string doesn’t fix anything in these circumstances, it just makes the clients feel better.

I feel bad for all of the clients, and I felt especially bad for Kamisaka…until the very end. It’s hard to feel bad for him when he sent a guy to hell just for being an unreliable friend. It’s not even like they were BFFs or anything. He just seemed like a friendly coworker who made a few iffy comments about Kamisaka regarding the situation after his book was directly blamed. Like I mentioned, he has so little presence that he doesn’t even get a name, yet he was sent to hell. Kamisaka kinda deserved that ferry ride after that.

Final note, and this may seem goofy to point out after all this, but what the hell was up with the glasses in this episode? Kamisaka had nonsensical glasses where the temples just…stopped. There were no earpieces. The temples just stopped about two inches from his ears. Also, the editor guy has weird glasses too where it looks like they have blinders but also gaps right by the lenses.

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Now that I think about it, literally everyone in this episode has glasses on. Kamisaka, Hiroto, Yui, Sumi, the editor, the fair-weather friend – the only person who didn’t have glasses on was the victim. Is it because books are involved in the plot? What is going on?

Rating: 8.5/10


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Animating Halloween | Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! Review

Plot: The Scooby gang enjoys Halloween while doing what they do best – solving mysteries. However, things get a little complicated when a local pumpkin patch turns into monstrous creatures bent on destroying the town of Crystal Cove and turning everyone into jack-o-lantern creatures.

Breakdown: Modern day Scooby-Doo is a weird area to venture into. I mean, granted, Scooby-Doo has always been kinda weird, but the way that the franchise has changed over the years, for better or worse, is both difficult to watch and kinda welcome at the same time.

Scooby-Doo tends to be very meta nowadays, and they’re constantly using self-referential humor. They also try to keep themselves modern as much as possible in their writing, which, again, sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

They also just tend to run with the idea that Scooby-Doo can crossover with pretty much anything. They’ve had crossover events with the WWE, Lego, Batman, Supernatural (I still can’t believe they pulled that off) and even, I’m not lying, an entire movie with Bobby Flay as a main character called Scooby-Doo! And the Gourmet Ghost….

Speaking of Batman, I really forget sometimes that actual Batman is a part of the Scooby-Doo universe, and what better way to remind me of that fact than by having the villain of the opening scene being Scarecrow….in his Scarecrow outfit….while wearing a different Scarecrow costume on top of that?

And this isn’t just a flippant fly-by cameo either. He’s a significant part of the entire movie….So are Bill Nye and Elvira, but that’s besides the point.

Now, I’m not saying them upping the weird ante is bad. Sometimes, the dialogue is a little cringey, but I actually tend to enjoy myself a lot whenever I watch a modern Scooby-Doo production, whether it be TV shows or movies….although I did hear Scoob! sucked……Anyway, they always tend to have snappy writing, good jokes, fun moments, good character interactions (And I like how they’ve changed the characters over time.), decent animation, good music, and even legitimate scares. All of those apply in Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo!

Even if most of the movie is a big chase scene, it’s a fun and exciting chase scene that seems to have real stakes.

Although, I do have to say that the ending reveal didn’t make a lot of sense.

I’m not going to mention who the culprit was to avoid total spoilers, but Velma was actually right. Despite seeing many real monsters and supernatural events over the years, she refused to believe the living jack-o-lanterns attacking the city were real. And they weren’t. They were just drones. How they never managed to find that out for themselves, I have no idea. They smashed so many of those jack-o-lanterns, there’s no way they didn’t discover a drone or parts within some of them. They just squish like any other pumpkin.

Also, unless the culprit managed to sneak a drone in every pumpkin and jack-o-lantern in town, there’s no way they should have been shown turning into the jack-o-lantern creatures. The pumpkins literally carved themselves and the jack-o-lanterns just sprang to life.

Secondly, she says the way that the ‘alpha’ jack-o-lantern could drain the power from electronic devices when it got close to them was because it had an EMP inside of it, which also doesn’t make any sense because some electronic devices were completely unaffected, most notably the other lesser jack-o-lantern drones.

I might just be splitting hairs there, but in a series meant to be about using logic to solve mysteries I think it’s appropriate to nitpick sometimes, even if it is Scooby-Doo.

Overall, this was a blast to watch, and it really got me into a Scooby mood and a Halloweeny mood. My biggest complaint is that, yeah, some of the dialogue and jokes, especially where Daphne is concerned, are kinda cringey. I mean ‘torch-splaining’? Using ‘Mary Sue’ as if it’s a compliment? Saying “friendship is OP.”? Come on.

If you’re a Scooby-Doo fan, this is a great watch around Halloween, and I really recommend it.

Rating: 8.5/10


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Animating Halloween | Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 10 – The Goldfish in the Mirror Review

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Plot: Kazuya’s parents are constantly at odds with each other. His mother is obsessed with being viewed as beautiful and is addicted to buying new elegant kimonos. His father is pretty much done with her. He detests that she’s constantly spending their money for clothing and usually ignores her or berates her whenever he’s home. Kazuya’s mother really only gets the adoration she desires from a kimono salesman named Saito who is taking advantage of her for profit.

Breakdown: I feel like this story shouldn’t have been a Hell Girl episode, but, on the other hand, if Hell Girl really existed, I could totally see something like this happening.

Kazuya’s family life is rather sad. He’s taken up a part-time job as a paper boy (apparently those still exist in Japan?) which is how Yuzuki, girl of a thousand nothings, knows him. He didn’t take this job to make extra money for himself, in fact his family is rather wealthy and he gets quite a lot whenever his father gives him money. The reason he’s taken the job is to help cover his mother’s kimono buying habit.

His parents have very obvious problems. His mother doesn’t tend to do much housework or mothering, choosing instead to spend her days fretting over her appearance and being buttered up by the kimono salesman, Saito. She still obviously loves her son and husband, but she’s off in her own little delusional world where everything is centered on her beauty and she seems painfully unaware that her husband doesn’t give a crap about her.

His father also seems to genuinely loves Kazuya, but he’s clearly fed up with his wife. Even though he definitely comes off like a bit of a prick, it’s hard not to sympathize with him. His wife acts like a doting housewife, but she neglects doing household chores because she’s too busy preening herself, and she won’t stop spending inordinate amounts of money on kimonos.

Kazuya believes all of the problems in his parents’ relationship stem from the kimono salesman, Saito, who is admittedly a prick but also obviously not the main problem here. Kazuya clearly doesn’t understand the complex issues involved with such severe marriage problems. Makes sense given he’s barely a teenager, but still. He’s a bit too naive, especially considering that he seems pretty mature for his age. He fully understands the weight of the decision resting on the string pull and spends quite a lot of time debating whether or not he should do it, yet he can’t see that sending his target to hell will likely do nothing.

He not only believes that Saito is the main problem in his parents’ relationship, but he also gives every bit of money he gets from his job and from his father to his mother by sneaking it into her pocketbook. She believes the money is from his father and that he’s discreetly trying to tell her to buy more kimonos…..

This being Hell Girl, of course he pulls the string, and, sadly but predictably enough, it fixes approximately nothing. No one even seems to notice the dude is gone, and another equally slimy kimono salesman starts buttering up Kazuya’s mother soon enough. The whole situation is very depressing because Kazuya just accepts his fate even though his actions didn’t help a damn thing. He even shows Hone Onna a book on hell and flippantly states that he’s going there someday.

I just don’t understand the point of this episode. All it is is sad and a little stupid. Nothing really happens….Nothing changes. Kazuya’s now set to hell and he didn’t even get anything out of the ordeal. Hell Girl simply couldn’t have helped in his situation. Saito wasn’t the problem, nor was sending him to hell cathartic, and sending either of his parents to hell would’ve probably just been damaging to his life, so…..why is this a Hell Girl episode?

Not even the hell torture is that interesting. It’s just the hell team parroting back Saito’s own skeevy manipulative words to him and assaulting him with goldfish. The only cool thing that happened was Ai riding a golden dragon….I realize I probably made that sound much more entertaining than it was – it wasn’t.

In another series, this setup would actually be pretty good. Maybe it would show the kid dealing with misplaced anger, trying to help them see their problems and try to fix them, and either helping them reach a healthier place together or accepting that it simply can’t work but also knowing that it’s not the end of the world.

But this isn’t another series, it’s Hell Girl.

Rating: 3/10


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Animating Halloween | Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie (+ Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh) Review

Plot: It’s Lumpy’s first ever Halloween, but he’s finding the occasion much too scary to enjoy. When Pooh eats all of the candy in the Hundred Acre Wood, Roo and Lumpy head out on a quest to find the legendary Gabloon, who can supposedly grant their wish of mounds of candy or turn them into “jaggedy lanterns.”

Breakdown:

Disney: “Hey there, Twix!”

Oh….Uhmmm….Hi there…Disney….???

Disney: “We heard you recently finished watching and reviewing all of the Disquels!”

Yeah, I did….

Disney: “Do you want a BONUS Disquel experience!?”

….What are you implying by that?

Disney: “Here’s Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie!”

That title is very awkward. Also, again, what did you mean by that? This is a Winnie the Pooh movie. It can’t be a Disquel.

Disney: “Watch it and seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!”

*sigh* There’s something seriously wrong with that guy.

Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..

I get it.

So yeah, this isn’t a Disquel. It was a direct-to-video movie made in 2005 that was a sequel to another direct-to-video movie, Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, which I’ve never seen. It WAS made by DisneyToon Studios, who were notorious for making the Disquels, so make of that what you will.

Why am I comparing it to a Disquel otherwise? Before I answer that, let me ask you a question. Why do you think Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh is lumped (haha, puns) in on the title?

That’s right, you guessed it! They pulled a total Disquel move. This movie includes the ENTIRETY of that special played off like a flashback. There is only a little more than a half hour of new animation in this hour long movie.

I mean, it is a little better than having three episodes of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (of which Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh is based from) stapled together with hardly any new animation, but still. Lazy, lazy, lazy pricks trying to get money for old rope while ripping off people who have already seen that special.

It’s really jarring, too. This movie came out in 2005 and has sharper animation as well as stronger lines and more saturated colors. Boo to You Too! came out in 1996 and has obviously lower quality than the movie we’re watching.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the fact that they shove in the entirety of Boo to You Too! as an example of how Lumpy can be brave and enjoy Halloween highlights the fact that….this entire movie is basically just a copy of that special….Like…nearly beat for beat.

Piglet/Lumpy is too scared to enjoy Halloween, which nearly causes him to ruin the holiday for everyone else. He’s encouraged by his best friend Pooh/Roo, but it takes Piglet/Lumpy mistakenly believing Pooh/Roo is in danger to get him to brave the scariness. Meanwhile, Pooh/Roo and friends mistakenly believe Piglet/Lumpy is in danger and try to save him. When Piglet/Lumpy believes he’s defeated the nonexistent threat, he finally enjoys Halloween with his friends by his side.

There’s another reason they would have been way better off if they had omitted the Boo to You Too! segment. I’ve never seen it, and I never would never have noticed it was a rip-off of that story if they hadn’t literally shoehorned it into this movie to force me to take notice of their plagiarism. Good job, DisneyToon. You never cease to disappoint.

On its own, it’s a pretty alright movie, same with Boo to You Too! Predictable, sure, but that’s pretty much to be expected with any Winnie the Pooh story. However, I can’t ignore how lazy and obtrusive it is to just chuck Boo to You Too! into this movie.

Give the TV Frankenstein’d Disquels some credit. At least they didn’t tend to ruin their entire movie’s structure by including stories from unaired or aired TV shows that had stories that were exactly the same as their new bookends. Imagine if, in The Little Mermaid 2, they had a scene where Ariel was talking to Melody in the middle of the movie and she went “This reminds me a lot of what I went through at your age.” and then they just played the entirety of The Little Mermaid before cutting back to the main movie.

I wouldn’t be AS bothered if it was just another random old Halloween special crammed in there. It’d still be intrusive and lazy, but it’d be adding some variety of content. Here, though, it’s very clear that this story is just a revamp of Boo to You Too! and they shove this fact in your face.

Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie is a perfectly fine Halloween watch, especially for little kids. It teaches good lessons, and by that I mean it teaches the same good lessons twice in a row, and there are some pretty entertaining and heartwarming moments. If you’ve seen Boo to You Too! though, it’s probably best to keep your finger on the fast forward button. Lumpy’s a very cute character, even if he is a bit too much like Piglet, and Roo was always one of my favorites.

The art and animation is pretty nice, especially for DisneyToon Studios. There was one moment that nearly made me barf though, and that was when they did a completely overly done slow motion cheer in the climax. Seriously, what the hell was that? Saving money by barely animating that part? The musical numbers are also pretty decent, although I can guarantee I’ll forget all of them by the time I’m done writing this review. I just really, really, REALLY wish they had chosen to make the entire movie original instead of putting in an old special to pad it out.

And as sad as it is to say this, I learned that this isn’t the only Winnie the Pooh movie they’ve done this with. They also did the exact same thing with A Very Merry Pooh Year by jamming in Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too in the middle of it…Guess I have something to look forward to this December….

Most of the same points can be said of Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh, barring the art and animation note, which takes a few hits because of the tighter budget and being nearly a decade older than our feature presentation, and, of course, the fact that it’s an entirely original story with nothing placed in the middle of it. It’s a cute Halloween story that people of all ages would enjoy this time of year.

Ratings:

Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh: 7/10

Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie: 4/10


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AniManga Clash! Yu-Gi-Oh! Season Zero Episode 6/Manga Chapters 15-20

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Plot: Shadi is desperate to draw out Yugi’s other personality from the Millennium Puzzle. Still having unfinished business with Yoshimori, who excavated the artifacts Shadi believes should have stayed in their resting places, Shadi decides to use him as a puppet to corner Yugi. Also utilizing Anzu as a puppet and risking her life in a twisted Shadow Game, Shadi gets his wish and Yami emerges. Will Shadi regret what he has wished for, or will Yami pay the price?

Breakdown: This lone episode covers SIX chapters of the manga, so prepare for a lot of cuts.

In the manga, Kanekura was murdered by Shadi. In the anime, he just loses consciousness. They’re attributing that to the pharaoh’s curse, but that’s hardly newsworthy.

In the manga, Shadi entered Yoshimori’s mind room and found it full of artifacts and other items connected to archaeology. He also has a photo of his family collecting dust off to the side, symbolizing his neglected family due to his work. The mind room at the moment is dark and gloomy, symbolizing anxiety and dread. However, there’s a spark of light amongst the darkness – Yugi and the others, who are coming to visit him to help comfort him after Kanekura’s death. (Likewise, there’s a scene at school where the kids read about Kanekura’s death and they all decide to visit Yoshimori to comfort him, though Yugi has a bad feeling about it.)

Shadi takes this opportunity to draw out Yugi’s other self and challenge him on a more level playing field than last time. Using the power of his Millennium Ankh, he reorganizes Yoshimori’s mind room to make him into a puppet. When Yugi and the others arrive, they’re tricked by the INSANELY CREEPILY DRAWN Yoshimori (I swear to god, the way Yoshimori is drawn here is scarier than a good chunk of horror manga) who claims he killed Kanekura and tries to attack them.

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He starts by strangling Jonouchi. However, Anzu knocks Yoshimori over the head with a globe, freeing Jonouchi from his grasp, and she leads him away from the others. Yoshimori will not stop no matter what, per Shadi’s orders and powers, so Jonouchi tries to lead Yoshimori away while everyone else scrambles. Realizing he needs more than one puppet, he targets Anzu’s mind next. Her mind room is filled with mirrors and items relating to dancing and New York, symbolizing her confidence and her dreams of becoming a dancer in New York.

Oh and there’s also this picture….

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I have no idea what the hell that is. It’s a faceless ripoff of Superman? What does the G stand for?

Also, take a look at Anzu’s interpretation of the Statue of Liberty. It’s holding a dancing shoe, has ribbons around it and is holding a drink.

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Shadi feels more guilty screwing around with Anzu’s mind room since it’s so innocent and full of light, so he decides to make Anzu into a silent puppet instead of a crazed zombie like Kanekura.

Did you guys get all that? Because hardly any of it is in the anime. In that version, all we see is Shadi approaching Yoshimori, him freaking out, the Millennium Ankh glowing and then, as Sugoroku arrives to visit his friend, he sees Yoshimori busting through the window and falling to the ground below.

His injuries aren’t fatal, but we never see his mind room (which means we lose out on learning more about him, even if it is small. It also makes the point to show that, while Yoshimori is obsessed, he’s not greedy and uncaring like Kanekura was) he never turns into a crazed zombie or has a really long chase scene with Jonouchi, and he spends the rest of the episode in the hospital. Yugi and the others visit him in the hospital when they find out what happened, which is when Shadi catches onto Yugi’s presence again.

The group’s talk on the way back from the hospital might as well be a replacement for the discussion at school in the manga, I suppose.

As they walk home, Shadi plans his rematch with Yugi by targeting Anzu, who has split off from the group to head home. Shadi enters Anzu’s mind room to turn her into a puppet. They actually mirror (hehe, get it?) her mind room pretty well, even if I think the room should be much brighter. They don’t make the same alterations to the picture of lady liberty, however, yet they nearly perfectly match the very confusing picture of the G-man with no face.

In the manga, Anzu doesn’t really do much as Shadi’s puppet. She follows him to where he needs to place her and puts her in the Shadow Game trap almost immediately, after telling Yugi about it to prod Yami to come out, of course. He does trigger the shift by claiming that he can make Anzu do anything, even die, if he so wills it.

In the anime, Shadi doesn’t make himself known to Yugi for quite some time. He has secretly taken over Anzu and is using her as a silent puppet at school to try and trick Yugi into shifting into Yami by putting his life at risk – nearly causing a bunch of pipes to fall on him, making him fall down the stairs by dropping a basketball down them as he ascends (??????) and finally trying to strangle him in the infirmary.

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THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP

Yugi is saved by Jonouchi and the rest of the group, and Anzu runs off. Everyone tries to find her, though they’re concerned she’s affected by the pharaoh’s curse and that any one of them could be next. They split up, and Yugi manages to spot Anzu. He follows her to the roof and we get the Shadow Game portion here.

(Side Note: Throughout all of this, Honda is taken over by Shadi and he basically takes Yoshimori’s place in the long chase scene. The only real difference is that now Miho is here. We also didn’t get to see Honda’s mind room, which is a shame….but I worry it might have been filled with pictures of Miho and rulebooks or something. Zombie!Honda is actually pretty frightening, but not as creepy as Yoshimori was. Miho is the one who sprays the zombie with the fire extinguisher whereas it was Jonouchi in the manga.)

Shadow Game

Anzu is on a plank over the edge of the roof. It is being held up by five ropes connected to the fence. Shadi holds her life and mind in his hands, and he will kill her if Yami doesn’t show up and play his game.

(The only real difference here is that the plank had a bunch of ancient Egyptian designs on it in the manga, but this didn’t transfer to the anime.)

Shadi’s ploy works – Yami emerges from the Puzzle to confront Shadi. Before he explains the rules, Shadi tells Yami that the Millennium Puzzle did not end up in his hands and was not solved by him through pure coincidence. He was chosen by the Puzzle after 3000 years of waiting. Shadi’s family was chosen by the Millennium Items as well. Yami doesn’t want to hear anymore, though, and just wants to know the rules. Shadi points out, however, that the game is well since underway.

The ropes connected to Anzu’s ‘bridge of life’ are connected to the fence through six items – five ushabti or ‘answerer’ figurines, four belonging to Yami and one belonging to Shadi, and Shadi’s Millennium Ankh.

One of the figurines suddenly breaks – this was due to Yami showing his inner fright over the powers of the Puzzle. Each ushabti will break whenever he has a weakness of heart. If all four of his statues break, Anzu will fall to her death.

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However, if Yami can somehow break Shadi’s lone ushabti, it will cause the Ankh to slide down the rope and into Anzu’s hands. The only thing that can break her trance without Shadi’s interference is by Anzu holding the Ankh.

The first proper trial starts. The ground breaks apart under Yami’s feet, revealing a slue of zombies grabbing for him. Shadi presents a riddle to Yami – “It crawls out of the earth and clings to a pillar – what am I?” After calming himself down, Yami correctly answers that it’s his shadow.

Yami passes the first test, which, logically, would mean he wins the whole thing because all three of those ushabti need to break in order for the platform to fall, but whatever.

In the anime, they skip ahead to the second test for the first test and completely omit the manga’s first test.

Everything about this test is kept the same, but the anime omits that the monster holding Yami, Amemit, might still be full from eating the soul of Kanekura since, in the anime, he was only left unconscious not killed.

This game has Yami being held in place by an alligator-like monster named Amemit. Before him is a shinkei suijaku game – a game where you turn over one tile at a time and try to find matches. However, this one is different. There are nine tiles, not eight, meaning the middle tile stands alone. Yugi only has one opportunity to guess at what the slates show. The only clue he gets is that the slates are mirrors that reflect Amemit.

Yami eventually figures it out – The slates reflect Amemit’s appearance, meaning it has several pairs on its body: eyes, nostrils, hands, ears, which account for eight slates, but the lone feature, the middle slate, reflects its mouth.

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He passes this test, and we move onto the final round, which, of course, puts all three ushabti at risk of breaking because Shadi’s a cheating dick.

The final round, which is only the second but still final round in the anime, involves an illusion of Bully!Jonouchi from Yugi’s memories. Shadi is pitting Yami against the illusion in a game to the death. The floor falls around them, leaving only a small section to stand on. Using the Millennium Puzzle as a pointer, each person will roll the Puzzle like a die. Whichever direction it points to is the direction in which the other will have to take two steps. If Yugi can make Jonouchi fall first, he wins the game. If Jonouchi makes Yugi fall, he loses the entire Shadow Game and Anzu will fall to her death.

Yugi, not Yami, is the one being more harshly tested here because not only does Yami/Yugi not really know for absolute certain that this is not the real Jonouchi under a spell, possibly putting his best friend in mortal danger, but the memory of his friend as his old bully is revealing weaknesses in Yugi.

Just one line of mocking from the fake Jonouchi is enough to make two of Yami/Yugi’s sshabti’s shatter, leaving one to hold Anzu.

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Also, for some reason, the Puzzle sounds like it’s made of hollow plastic in the anime.

Jonouchi rolls the Puzzle, making Yami step forward. It’s Yami/Yugi’s turn, but he refuses to play this game with Jonouchi. Taking Yami’s turn as passed, the fake Jonouchi rolls the Puzzle again, making Yami take two more steps. Once again, Yami refuses to take his turn.

Shadi asks him if he’s forfeiting the game. Afterall, this challenge is about facing his past, the bully Jonouchi, and overcoming it by destroying it. Refusing to play and letting this memory push him over the edge must be a declaration of defeat. Yami, however, corrects him. He’s not conceding defeat – he just believes in his friends too much. He trusts Jonouchi, whether he be real or not, to not kill him like this.

Scoffing at this ideal, Shadi points out that such a mindset is what makes him weak. In order to truly show strength in this ordeal, he needs to only believe in himself. However, he’s not giving Yami any leeway either way and commands the fake Jonouchi to roll the Puzzle one more time, which would surely send Yami over the edge and end the game.

The illusion, however, refuses and eventually smiles and fades away. Yami/Yugi’s faith in his friend and his trust that Jonouchi has become a changed man since his days as a bully showed Yami/Yugi’s true strength and allowed him to win the game.

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Another problem arises when the lone rope holding Anzu starts breaking. Yami panics, but finds Jonouchi, the real one, holding up the plank Anzu is standing on.

Shadi watches in confusion. He’s shocked that Yami/Yugi’s friends are supporting each other. Yami declares that true strength doesn’t come from standing on your own – it comes from believing in your friends.

This actually shatters Shadi’s ushabti, sending the Ankh down to Anzu’s hand and freeing her from the trance. Jonouchi and Yugi help Anzu back up, though Honda is climbing up Jonouchi. In the manga, Yami is still the dominant one in Yugi’s body through the rest of this finale, but in the anime he switches back to Yugi when Anzu starts falling.

In the manga, Yami directs Jonouchi to touch Yoshimori’s hand to the Ankh to free him. In the anime, the plank holding the Ankh just conveniently smacks Honda on the back of the head, freeing him.

Yami has one last confrontation with Shadi before he leaves in the manga. He says he finally understands the power of the Puzzle. It’s the power of unity. He was able to connect with his friends and overcome these illusions and challenges because his friends were connected with him through it. Suddenly, all of Yugi’s friends, Yoshimori and his grandpa appear beside him. Then Jonouchi tells Shadi to stay out of their territory, which in this case is Yugi/Yami’s heart and mind, though I’m not sure how Jonouchi knows Shadi was responsible for all of this.

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Shadi grabs his Ankh and leaves, telling Yami he’s happy to have found people like him in possession of more Millennium Items and even asks if he can ‘Open the door.’

Jonouchi and Anzu wonder why Yugi looked so different, but when he turns around he’s back to normal so they just brush it off. Yoshimori’s fine, barring some soreness and loss of teeth thanks to Anzu, and they all go off to get something to eat, which is silly to do considering the teeth thing.

In the anime, Shadi leaves without confronting Yami again, though he does explain in voiceover that they’ll meet again and now Yugi has the mission to draw out the true power of the Puzzle.

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Overall, I really liked this arc and episode, even if the finale was a tad on the cheesy side. The rematch with Shadi was really unfair since the odds were so highly stacked against Yami, but the challenges were pretty good and the stakes were high.

I’m not quite sure how much I care about Yoshimori literally being thrown out of this episode. Though, given the narrative they’ve made in the anime, I suppose it is more impacting to have Honda be the crazy zombie here. They pretty much left Yoshimori’s fate up in the air, though. For all we know, at this point, the poor guy will be in a coma forever like Kanekura.

They did match the creepiness factor of Zombie!Yoshimori pretty well, though. Not perfectly, but they did a good job.

I understand why they erased the first game, but at the same time I kinda don’t. If they had removed all of those parts with Anzu trying, in a really pathetic fashion barring the strangulation, to assault Yugi, they probably would have had time to include it. They were already pushing it, trying to include six chapters worth of material into one episode, why add filler?

Next chapter/episode, hey guys, remember Gigapets/Nanopets/Tamogotchi? Time to fly down a nostalgia hole within a nostalgia hole!


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Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon Episode 3: The Dream Butterfly Review (Spoilers!)

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Plot: Having entered the modern era, Setsuna and Moroha take their battle with Mistress Three-Eyes to the modern era. Towa breaks her sword trying to save Setsuna, but discovers that she can create a sword made out of demonic energy from the hilt. Together, they defeat Mistress Three-Eyes.

Towa tries to reunite with her long-lost sister, but Setsuna doesn’t remember her at all. Setsuna, angered at Towa’s implications and insistence, challenges her to a battle. Towa doesn’t want to participate, but is suddenly overtaken by the wooden demon, Hitokon.

Setsuna is not about to hold back in the battle, but the tides turn when Hitokon switches hosts to Towa’s little sister, Mei. Setsuna aims to cut the demon out of her face, but Towa vehemently defends Mei and refuses to let her face get scarred.

Choosing to back down, Setsuna puts them all to sleep and uses a special concoction made by her fellow demon slayers to remove the demon and kill it.

Later that night, Setsuna discusses her situation with Moroha. She cannot accept Towa’s claims so easily, even if they are both half-demons that smell of Sesshomaru. It’s not simply that she’s stubborn – she actually doesn’t remember Towa and she doesn’t respect Towa as her sister considering how leisurely and weak she seems.

Years ago, Setsuna was attacked by the dream butterfly – an entity which ate her dreams, memories of her past and made her unable to sleep or dream ever again.

Hearing her plight, Towa blames herself and confronts Setsuna.

Breakdown: Ladies and gentlemen things. Are. HAPPENING!

On the old cast/timeline side, we…kinda get confirmation on the timeline. Kaede said it’s been over 15 years since the well was closed, but we basically figured that out. I’m still erring on the side of around 20 years, but she probably would have said 20 years, so…eh.

We also get in-universe confirmation that Setsuna and Towa are Sesshomaru’s kids, though still no confirmation on who their mother is. (Rin is seemingly not still in Kaede’s village, though, at least as far as I see.) They also all but confirm that Moroha is Kagome and Inuyasha’s kid. (I remain confused about why her powers seemed dragon themed, though. Where do dragons come in with a half dog demon and a human priestess?)

The first episode’s story actually wasn’t a complete waste of time, kinda, because we learn that the demon Hitokon is a part of the Root Head demon that Inuyasha and the others fought at that time. It merged or gained powers from the Sacred Tree, which allowed it to open a portal to the modern era.

It’s dead now, though, so that’s a problem.

The first episode was still basically a waste of time, though, because we could have just gone over it in the B plot with Kohaku and Kaede talking about it.

Anyhoo, Sesshomaru seems to have somewhat abandoned his kids? Maybe? According to Setsuna, she started a ‘rite of courage and cowardice’ which Kaede explains as basically being a trial by fire – children are just thrust into the world on the their own to see if they survive. This makes me a little suspicious that Sesshomaru might have been responsible for the forest fire that drove Towa and Setsuna apart.

I can’t imagine Rin would’ve been cool with all of this, but she did mostly just do whatever Sesshomaru said.

I suppose this means Sesshomaru is still alive and around somewhere, but as for where literally everyone else is

It’s a bit suspect, because Setsuna’s fluffy boa literally does come right out of nowhere. Between the last time Kaede saw the twins as babies, the last time Towa saw Setsuna and when Setsuna had returned to Kaede’s village, she somehow managed to obtain one. I theorize that she was actually with Sesshomaru for a couple of years after the fire but then lost her memories via the dream butterfly. I just can’t see any other way she would have obtained it. Towa never got one, so it can’t be something they just get, right? Also, she says she doesn’t remember Sesshomaru but claimed she was on the rite of passage, so who sent her on this mission? Did she lose her memories after she came back to the village?

Got some cool battles going on here as well as some new abilities being put on display. I love that Towa basically has a Spirit Sword ala Yu Yu Hakusho (It even basically turns into the Spirit Flyswatter at one point) that she even discovers in the same way Kuwabara discovered his.

Moroha was a delight, again, though we still haven’t really delved into her character’s story at all. I can’t imagine Inuyasha and Kagome are pulling the same ‘rite of courage and cowardice’ thing that Sesshomaru is. I love how she’s goofy and high-spirited but also very knowledgeable about weapons and demon lore. Makes her a pretty unique character.

I feel like the reasoning behind Setsuna not remembering Towa is a little on the cheap side. I dunno, I’ve reached a point where any plotline involving lost memories just makes me roll my eyes.

However,

I finally give a crap about the actual story and characters now, not just the old cast.

I mean, there’s still not much to go on, but I am getting invested.

Golly, I’m actually excited about next week’s episode. I wonder what new things we’ll see–

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AH! NO! Please no! Why are you here?! Why is it implied that you’re part of the well or the tree of ages something!? Go be dead!

Alright, alright, I have to chill out. There’s obviously not going to be any love triangle stuff, Inuyasha and Kagome are nowhere to be seen, and I’d assume she’s not going to do anything bad.

…Although what was up with her saying “Daughters of Sesshomaru, I have a request for you.” Is she not addressing Moroha too? Does she not count? I wonder if she’ll be a little pissy towards her because she’s Inuyasha and Kagome’s kid. Hm.

Anyway, happy day, things are happening, the plot is getting in gear, kinda, and hopefully it will just keep going upwards from here.

Rating: 7.5/10


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Animating Halloween | Hell Girl: Three Vessels Episode 9 – Stray Inari Review

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Plot: Kaede Inao was a girl everyone overlooked until she took up the art of fortune-telling, claiming she was guided by a mystical fox called Gon-san. One day, she’s approached by a girl who wants Kaede to curse someone else for her. When the curse seemingly works, Kaede becomes quite popular in class since everyone has people they want to curse. However, some people want more malicious curses to be laid on their enemies….

Breakdown: This was quite the screwed up little episode, especially the ending.

I do feel a little bad for Kaede, but she’s kinda bringing all of this upon herself. It does suck to be overlooked and alone, but she believes she’s doing terrible things all to gain attention and she’s perfectly fine with it.

She does struggle a little bit more when someone straight up asks her to kill someone, but, honestly, she doesn’t have too much of an internal debate about this. She becomes so determined to kill her target that, when her cursing fails, she calls on Hell Girl to do the job for her. And she’s, surprisingly, one of the few who actually pulls the string immediately without even bothering to listen to Ai’s instructions or warning. She doesn’t even have a vendetta against this dude, which should make her exempt from Hell Girl’s services to begin with, but whatever.

What is her grand plan after this? She has to assume that once word gets out that she can curse people to death that at least a few others will want this too. Remember, this is the world of Hell Girl where you can guarantee one out of about three people wants someone dead. Hell Girl only works once. You’re on your own after that. Is she going to become a serial killer now?

The real reason this episode is messed up is the absolute ending. The girl who asked Kaede to kill someone claimed that the target was a stalker who was harassing her all the time. However, at the end, she reveals that this wasn’t true.

She just wanted him dead because, and I quote, he was ‘disgusting.’ We never knew anything about this guy besides his name and what he looked like. He looked like a rather normal college kid. This psycho bitch was so, so, SO vehement that Kaede kill this innocent guy for absolutely no reason that she blackmailed Kaede by saying she’d spread the word all over school of her being a fake if she didn’t do it. What. A. Bitch.

And she’s tickled pink that the dude was killed. No remorse whatsoever. She’s proud of what she caused. She’s even introducing Kaede to more people who want others killed, which I predicted. What a horrible person. I hope there’s a future episode where this bitch ends up being a target, but I doubt it.

It’s also interesting to note that this girl contacted Hell Girl about the guy before she went to Kaede, but she didn’t submit the request. Meaning she was able to access the site……She was able to access Hell Correspondence because she thought this guy was so disgusting for some reason that it made her hate him enough to allow her to see it….Wow…just…wow. Also, what a wuss. Do your own dirty work if you’re that evil. Geez.

All in all, this was a good episode with some glaring flaws, but I do agree with Hone Onna. Kaede was a bit too stupid for my tastes. Agreeing to cursing was bad enough, but agreeing to kill was another ballgame entirely. Sure, some people would like her for it, but 1) they’d only like her because of what she could do for them, 2) She’d never be able to do it again, unless she did just murder with her own two hands, and 3) a vast majority of people would be afraid of her, not like her. This is actually depicted when Akie suffers from a minor accident and she’s paralyzed with fear that Kaede cursed her. Lest we forget the power that those kinds of rumors have. Look what it did to poor Takuma – and he didn’t even do anything to deserve it.

….Oh yeah, Yuzuki’s in this episode too, but again she does nothing. We don’t even get the magical girl transformation today because Kaede pulled the string so quickly and there was no hell torture, thank god. It did make me question why Hell Girl is allowed to show up in the flesh when she’s giving the doll over, but when she’s executing the hell torture she needs to use Yuzuki’s body. It’s weird.

Rating: 7.5/10


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Animating Halloween | Mickey Mouse: Lonesome Ghosts (1937) Review

Plot: Mickey, Donald and Goofy have created a ghost-hunting business and their newest ‘clients’ happen to be a group of bored ghosts looking for some fun scares.

Breakdown: Ghostbusters 50 years before Ghostbusters. Instead of proton packs, they used a shotgun, a butterfly net and an axe. And instead of “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.” they said;

Goofy: “I’m brave!….but careful.”

This short is pretty entertaining, I smiled a few times and even laughed out loud a couple of times, particularly at Goofy. Not their best work, but it’s a nice watch for Halloween. I sometimes get nostalgic for Mickey’s old ‘dot eyes’ design.

I will say that the sound design on the ghosts is terrible. I get that this is the 1930s and they were going for a ghostly echoing voice, but it really just sounds like they recorded their lines in an airplane hangar on their lunch break.

Not much else to say about this short. It’s fun, it’s Halloweeny, it has some great animation, and I still don’t understand how you can fight ghosts with an axe. Supernatural has taught me that the shotgun might be loaded with salt rounds, and Fairly Odd Parents taught me that butterfly nets can catch supernatural beings, but the axe is just silly.


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