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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