Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 11, 12, 13 (Season Finale) + Special (Episode 0) Review

Episode 11: Dragon Palace

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Plot: An overworked man and his coworker go night fishing to relax. He soon realizes that his friend isn’t exactly fishing for fish….

Breakdown: Unrelated to the episode, but can I just take the time out to say, holy crap, how am I just now noticing that this season has a full zodiac motif and it isn’t just an opening sequence gimmick?

Every episode so far has had a title and theme that involved a zodiac animal. I feel like a fool.

Anyway, this episode is okay. Not the first time I’ve seen a story where someone who is overworked or lonely or something gets dragged away by some mysterious beautiful woman who just wants to suck the life force out of the men, but this version was done well enough. Not sure what any of this has to do with dragons, though. Is the woman meant to be a dragon?

Episode 12: Monkey Prayer

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Plot: The legend of the Monkey Prayer claims it will bring death to anyone of your choosing.

Breakdown: There’s nothing inherently wrong with this episode, but there’s not a lot to sink your teeth into in regards to unique aspects. I’ve never heard of the Monkey Prayer before, but there’s certainly no shortage of legends concerning curses that bring death upon someone. The background of the legend is that monkeys started mimicking humans in prayer during funerals, but they have a special way of praying, with their elbows touching when they put their hands together. It’s not really that unique.

The other aspect of this episode is not judging a book by its cover. There’s a creepy girl in class who first alerts Mei to this legend. At first, it seems like she’d be the one doing the cursing, but it turns out she’s not only innocent, she was also giving Mei information that could save her life. I’ve also seen this before. In fact, I feel like I’ve probably seen it in Yami Shibai several times.

The motive of the actual culprit is very vague. Someone theorized that she was jealous because she had a crush on Mei’s boyfriend, but it’s not really clear.

It’s fine, but it’s kinda sloppy and not enough is done to make it stand out much.

Episode 13: Year of the Cat

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Plot: A designer tells his coworker about the legend of the cat of the zodiac. The story goes that the rat tricked the cat when they were supposed to have a feast with god, causing him to miss the party. While this legend is a relatively well-known folktale, there’s an urban legend tied with the myth. Apparently, after that incident, the cat ate the rat, and god kicked the cat out of the zodiac as punishment. People are still born in the year of the cat to this day, and if god notices them he wipes them from existence.

Breakdown: Fruits Basket reference!

Now that that’s out of the way, this is a pretty clever horror twist on the legend of the cat of the zodiac, and it’s a great note to cap off the zodiac motif of this season. I’m not sure it’s all that scary, though. I suppose not many people would know whether or not they were born in the year of the cat, but the main lesson here seems to be to keep your ego in check. If you do that, then you’ll never receive the punishment from god.

I like how the episode mirrors the legend by having Mitsuki deceive the MC about the design contest their boss was holding. However, this time the rat’s the ‘good’ guy instead of being, well, a rat. He wasn’t really justified in what he did, though, so it’s hard to call him a good guy. The MC may have been an asshole, but he didn’t really seem bad enough to do that to him.

SPECIAL (Episode 0): The Old Well

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Plot: A woman is camping with friends when she accidentally falls down a well. Trapped, she has to find a way out on her own. However, she’s not really alone.

Breakdown: I can’t really get a lot of information on this special. From the way it’s formatted, I guess it was a….mobile exclusive episode that was released before season nine’s proper premiere as a way of promotion, but I can’t be sure. It does have an extremely weird vertical format, though.

This is, by far, the scariest episode of season nine, and probably one of the most legitimately scary episodes of Yami Shibai that I’ve ever seen. Granted, it’s not the most creative premise in the world, but it did manage to play on my biggest fear – drowning. And drowning in such a confined space as a well just makes it worse. I’m not claustrophobic, but in a circumstance of drowning, it would make me panic so much more.

The ending is simultaneously depressing and scary, which is kinda good for a horror story since it means I sympathize with the main character. Still, what an awful fate for that poor girl.

And that was all of Yami Shibai 9! I really hope we get season ten next year, but for now we’ll just head on to do the full Yami Shibai 9 review and kinda close out this year’s Animating Halloween!

Like I mentioned in my announcement at the start of the month, I knew I’d be very sparse on Halloween content this year due to personal matters, and I certainly was, so allow me to welcome you all to Animating Halloween: Noctober! Throughout November, I will be peppering in more Halloween reviews throughout my regular reviews of the month. While a good chunk of the hecticness has died down for me, it will start back up soon enough. I hope to be back to normal in time for A Very Animated Holiday Special, but we’ll have to see. Until then, thank you all for your patience, comments, likes and sticking with me through the spoooOOOOoooookiness.

👻 Have a Happy and Safe Halloween! 🎃


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 9 and 10 Review

Episode 9: Snake Celebration

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Plot: A woman who has recently married visits her in-laws for the first time in order to celebrate her brother-in-law’s birthday.

Breakdown: This episode had a lot of promise in the first half but really fell off in the latter half. This story does a good job at making you like the main character and the in-laws, and the noises made when the family were behind the paper doors were really creepy…..However…

I know people, myself included, sometimes have a problem with Yami Shibai choosing not to show enough of the ghost or monster or what have you, but this episode has the opposite problem in that it shows too much. I was so into it until the instant they showed what the snake monster looked like. They had a perfect thing going where were just seeing what was happening via silhouette behind the paper door, but then they made that pointless by outright showing us the creature full out for numerous seconds, and it’s really lame.

Spoiler alert, the in-laws are snake people, but in the lamest of terms. As in, when they shed their skin, they’re just scaly. That’s it. No creativity whatsoever just…scales. And of course the ending is the MC turning into a snake person too, but really just getting scales. They’re not killing her or anyone else, they’re simply making her scaly. And that’s only when she chooses to look that way. The family usually has regular human appearances, and it’s only when they shed this skin that they look this way. I wouldn’t want to become scaly, but it’s hardly the scariest horror story ending.

I will say that the art style is creepy enough. It’s a bit rough and ugly, but the faces are just subtle enough in their creepy stares and slightly wide eyes that it makes you uncomfortable.

Episode 10: Boar Meat

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Plot: A young girl named Nao, who has recently moved to the countryside, has a difficult time making friends until she meets another girl named Botan. A strong bond forms between them quickly as they care for peonies through the winter, but there’s something peculiar about Botan….

Breakdown: I was really loving this story for a while. The art, the water color-like coloring style, the characters, the story, the pacing – it was one of the most engaging Yami Shibai stories I’ve seen to date.

However, it’s also one of those episodes that makes absolutely no sense unless you know Japanese, and even once you learn the context it’s still a little confusing. Granted, the story isn’t confusing at all until the very ending.

A bullied new kid in town, Nao, befriends a really nice girl named Botan, and they live in their own little world simply caring for a peony plant on a hilltop in the woods. It’s obvious something is off about Botan, but her intentions with Nao never seem malicious.

I feel like I have to spoil this one to explain how confusing the ending is, so fair spoiler warning.

At the end of the episode, Botan hurts her leg on something unseen. In a panic, Nao rushes off to get help, despite Botan’s pleas to not leave her side. As we cut to black after the incident, we see Nao with a really haunted expression sitting quietly at the table as her mom talks to someone on the phone about making a hotpot for dinner with the boar meat they’re giving them…..the end.

It’s rare that I reach these levels of confusion, but there I was. The sub I watched didn’t have any notes about the context here, as usual, so I went to the comment section to find someone explaining the ending.

According to one of the commenters, Botan was actually a boar who could, for some reason and somehow, take the form of a young girl. But, to everyone else, Botan just looked like a boar. Case and point, one of Nao’s bullies started throwing rocks at them because he believed Nao was being attacked by the boar. During the attack, Botan’s eyes turned yellow, scaring the boy away.

When Botan hurt her leg, she actually got it caught in a trap meant to hunt boars. It’s unclear what would have happened had Nao stayed with her, but, supposedly, when Nao went to get help, she either returned to realize her friend was actually a boar, which had since been killed by the trappers, or the people she got to help were the trappers, who in turn killed Botan right in front of Nao – either of which would explain why she looks so horrified and grief-stricken near the end. I can only imagine she felt exponentially worse once her mother started talking about making a hotpot with the boar meat that was offered by the trappers who just killed her best friend.

You may be wondering how the heck we jumped from a little girl taking care of a flower to a boar. The thread holding all of this together is Botan’s name. Botan means ‘peony’, but there’s also a Japanese stew called Botan Nabe made with wild boar meat. It’s named as such because the pieces of boar meat are cut and arranged like the petals of a peony. Basically, the ending is a super dark joke on Botan’s name.

There was also a theory that Botan was merely caught in a trap and was later killed by a wild boar, but this theory doesn’t fit nearly as well as the other one, especially since the mother would be ridiculously nonchalant about the entire situation. “Oh a boar killed my daughter’s best friend? Oh sorry about the fuss. Sure, I’d love to make dinner out of the boar meat!”

Either way, holy crap, what a depressing end to this story. This poor girl is just lonely and bullied. She finally finds a friend, and not only does she realize she wasn’t an actual person the whole time, but she, at best, saw her dead body (I have no clue if she ever reverted to looking like a boar to Nao at any point. For all we know, she could have seen a young girl’s dead body.) or, at worst, witnessed her being slaughtered. And no matter which of those it was, she still has to deal with the fact that her best friend is for DINNER. What the actual hell?

In my opinion, as long as you know the context, this is a pretty good story, but that ending is way too depressing. Season nine’s really going heavy with the sad stories, eh?


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