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

Episode 11: Frozen Memories

YS6EP11

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

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

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

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

Episode 12: Waterfall Drop

YS6EP12

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

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

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

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

Episode 13: Echoes

YS6EP13

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

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

HGTM EP5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And how it happens is so cosmically sweet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 6/10

Animating Halloween: Spongebob Squarepants – Scaredy Pants

AHSSSP

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

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

Oh yeah the episode.

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

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

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

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

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

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episodes 9 and 10

Episode 9: Mud Games

YS6EP9

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

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

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

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

Episode 10: Tree of Innocence

YS6EP10

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

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

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

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

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

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

Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 4 – Secret

HGTM EP4

Plot: Yagisawa is doing everything in his power to get enough money to pay for his ailing wife’s medical treatments. He’s working hard, borrowing money from friends and even resorting to…less than legal means of acquiring funds. When these deeds lead to tragedy, Yagisawa is held under the thumb of one of his partners in crime.

Breakdown: Back to basics here, pretty much. The situation in this episode is very sad, but the target obviously deserves to go to hell. He forced Yagisawa into murdering a guy for him, blackmailing him with his share of the money they stole, then, even after he does the deed, he refuses to pay him. He knows he won’t go to the cops because that’d mean his wife would be without income and without him.

When Yagisawa threatens him by claiming he’ll go to the cops if he doesn’t get his money, already under Hell Girl’s contract, the target decides to go behind Yagisawa’s back, tell his wife what he did and then hold her life hostage in exchange for never approaching him again.

Plus, this time, you don’t feel entirely all that bad for the client because he did kill a man, but you still have quite a bit of leeway for that because he was forced into it and was doing it for his loved one.

Everything he’s done has been for his wife, Chinami, no matter the cost to him. He’s fully prepared to enter into the covenant with Hell Girl because he knows his deeds are going to send him to hell anyway. He’s fine with that, as long as Chinami is cared for as much as possible and this happens after he’s set to naturally die so she’s not without him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…..So….

Have I mentioned I hate Kikuri?

I haven’t mentioned Kikuri lately because, while she has been in each episode, her presence has moreso been a looming shadow over the story. This is the first episode where she takes an active role in the plot. It’s not much, but she is affecting the plot….in the worst of ways.

First of all, she’s an annoying little brat. Her voice can slice ear drums in half, she does annoying little brat stuff like dump her drink into a vase and beg to go to the potty (Which she doesn’t need to use because she’s not human), and, worse, Ai makes her a special marble bag, stitched by hand, and Kikuri spends zero seconds ripping it to shreds for absolutely no reason. No thank you, no nothing, just ‘it got torn up.’

Second of all, Kikuri somehow manipulated Chinami into believing she was her daughter…for whatever reason. Chinami has never had a daughter, just as a note. This in itself isn’t bad, it’s what happens at the very end that pisses me off.

While this could be the work of Chinami’s brain tumor or whatever that is, they never explicitly state, the ending has Chinami completely forgetting Yagisawa and only asking where her daughter is. Meaning Yagisawa has gone through all this pain and suffering and now his wife, by all means, is lost to him, searching for a daughter who doesn’t exist.

I fully believe Kikuri did this to her. It’s the only explanation that makes full sense to me. There’s no reason Kikuri approached this woman to begin with nor to make her believe she was her daughter. There’s also no reason she selectively forgot Yagisawa in his entirety and only remembered this non-existent daughter. Kikuri had to have done this somehow, which means she caused this guy and woman undue pain for no reason.

She also prevented Hone Onna from interfering in the target telling Chinami the truth about Yagisawa. Again, for no reason. It’s been a very long time since I first watched Two Mirrors, and, again, I know Kikuri is sorta, kinda possessed by the Master of Hell, but why is he/she interfering like this? Why is he/she causing more pain than is already bound to happen, other than to be a dick?

This episode could’ve had a mostly sweet, at worst bittersweet, ending, but she made it into a massively tragic ending. I hate that little bug-eyed shit.

Last thing to note is the hell torture, which was pretty cool. It has very creative imagery and I love what they did with Ai right before she took him.

Rating: 7/10

Animating Halloween: Unikitty – Scary Tales

AHUST

Plot: Unikitty and her friends tells scary stories on Halloween while trying to scare the seemingly unscareable Richard.

Breakdown: I’ll be frank – I barely know a thing about Unikitty besides it’s a show made by Lego and it’s based on the character from The Lego Movie.

No one’s ever really encouraged me to go and watch it. I haven’t heard really bad things about it, but I also haven’t heard anything all that great either.

That being said, this was a pretty enjoyable Halloween special. While the overarching storyline is cliché and the individual stories aren’t all that memorable, the little moments and jokes they had throughout the episode were usually pretty entertaining and funny.

I liked the handful of nods they gave to classic horror movies like Friday the Thirteenth and Scream. They also had two characters dress up like Pac-Man and a ghost, and I thought that was cool. Not sure how many kids today would get it, but still.

The show kinda goes at a breakneck speed for me, but it has fun with itself. I’d watch some more episodes if I caught it on TV.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episodes 7 and 8

Episode 7: Frog Legs

YS6EP7SCREEN1
What’s wrong with your face!?

Plot: A boy was terrified of having too many eyes on him back in the city, so his parents moved them to the country. He finds himself still having trouble adjusting and being terrified of the eyes of the townsfolk. When he finds a pile of frog eggs in the nearby stream, will his troubles be over?

Breakdown:…..What the hell is up with the art in this episode? It’s both bad, but also a million times creepier because it’s bad. The scratchiness of the line art and those small dead eyes are just haunting. Look at this wall of paintings and tell me this isn’t horrifying.

YS6EP7SCREEN2

This is a very good and unsettling episode, certainly creepy, but the story doesn’t make much sense to me.

A boy is so frightened by being around too many people or ‘having too many eyes on him’ that his parents are forced to relocate to the country where there are less people, instead of, ya know, getting him therapy or something.

The boy finds a weird pile of frog eggs in the stream and suffers from another panic attack after seeing the eyes of the townsfolk. In the middle of the night, he once again panics, this time believing the eyes of the paintings on the walls are staring at him.

He, for some reason, runs out to the stream to see the eggs and is happy they’re safe. He decides to move them so some rude kids from earlier won’t hurt them, and when he goes to do so one of them moves like an eyeball.

Cut to later where the boy is seemingly back to normal. He’s no longer scared of eyes on him, he’s willing to go out and do things, and he is happily watching something in a fish tank. When we see him from the front, he has the pile of eyeballs or eggs or whatever in the tank and we see that he has either gouged his own eyes out or the egg/eyeball thing has taken them from him.

This story is so weird and nonsensical. Does this mean this…thing has been tormenting the kid from afar all this time or was it the worst coincidence ever that he came to a village with a weird eyeball/egg monster thing when he has a paralyzing fear of eyes? What is this thing? Is it taking eyeballs? Why?

I almost feel like this story is a horrific narrative on mental illness and none of this is paranormal. The kid is so terrified of eyes that he believes the frog eggs are eyes then he gouged out his eyes in fright.

It’s also kinda strange that you can’t get a lock on if the ending is a bad one. Yes, it’s horrible that the kid lost his eyes, but he’s also oddly happy and is no longer living in fear of eyes on him.

Seriously, I truly believe this whole situation would’ve been avoided had his parents taken him to a counselor or something.

Episode 8: Sea Fortunes

YS6EP8S

Plot: A woman and her husband visit a small island for a vacation when she mysteriously disappears. She winds up on the beach in terrible shock, but all she did was a pull a fortune on the beach. Good luck can only be granted if something is sacrificed in return….

Breakdown: This story’s just lame. It’s very cut and dry (opposite pun?) while also being confusing. These fortunes grant good luck for fishermen but only if the person pulling the fortune is sacrificed? What? We’ve seen sacrifice plotlines before, but what’s the point of getting good luck if you have to die to get it?

Strangely, the woman didn’t die. Why, I don’t know. She tries to run after she’s chosen to be a sacrifice. Then she’s teleported onto a boat in the middle of the ocean, some weird monster baby attacks her then…nothing and she somehow arrives on shore. Then she passes on the sacrifice duty to someone else by carving the mark of the good luck fortune onto her arm and having some random guy grab her arm as she falls over.

Usually stories this milquetoast can be saved with creepy imagery, but outside of the slightly creepy baby, which is just a regular baby malformed a tiny bit, there was none.

Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 3 – Beloved Kei

HGTM EP3

Plot: Tae is deeply in love with her next-door neighbor and childhood friend, Kei, but he is ignorant to her feelings and is currently dating another girl, whom Tae hates. Despite this, Tae wouldn’t have their arrangement any other way. She’s fine with protecting him from a distance and keeping her feelings a secret from him. She believes all love ends in disaster, and this is the only way to ensure she’ll stay by his side for as long as possible. She might be right about one of those beliefs….

Breakdown: This is one depressing episode.

It’s not like Hell Girl is a particularly uplifting show, but this one tugs at all sorts of heartstrings.

Tae is a very sweet girl who loves Kei more than anything, and she’s so afraid that any attempt at admitting her feelings or starting a romantic relationship with him will end in suffering and them separating that she is more than willing to just love him from afar and protect him from the heartache that his personal romantic relationships will bring.

She even goes to the trouble of setting up her room for Kei to borrow so he can try to sleep with his girlfriend. When she shoots him down because she wants her ‘first time’ to be in Hawaii, Tae loans her emergency credit card to Kei so he can take her to Hawaii and have sex…..That is some sort of screwed up dedication right there.

Kei’s screwed up, too. He doesn’t want to take Tae’s money, she basically insists it upon him, but he was willing to get a job and save up for this trip..….just to bang his girlfriend.

Let me tell you something, folks, if your significant other has some sort of requirement for sleeping with you that involves superficiality, like jewelry or a vacation or something, they’re –

A) Likely screwing other people.

B) Using you for these things.

C) Not worth being with. If they’re willing to have sex at all, the only conditions should be things like the obvious of consent, but also emotional preparedness, love, comfort, safety etc. Not ‘I need my lei before you have a chance at getting laid.’

Kei is a very nice guy, but he’s a bit of a doormat if he’s willing to do that.

You might be wondering who the client and target are today. That’s a point of interest that kind of clashes with the previous episode. Whereas in that story the client only had feelings of guilt fueling her desire for revenge, Tae is preemptively using Hell Girl’s services because she knows that, at some point, Kei’s girlfriend will break his heart. When that happens, she’ll send his girlfriend to hell. It’s a feeling of protectiveness over Kei’s feelings that is driving her.

This thought is set on her own personal belief of love – that being that all love is finite and that no romantic relationship ends well, which is shockingly cynical for such a young, kind girl, and her knowledge that his girlfriend is a two-timing bitch.

I suppose you could say this is also a preemptive feeling of revenge since she knows she’s cheating on him, but it’s really strange. How could a feeling of guilt over a loved one’s murder not be strong enough to allow someone to access Hell Correspondence but someone’s preemptive feelings of anger towards someone maybe breaking their loved one’s heart is? Is it because, in the case of the former, the hatred is aimed inward whereas the latter’s main focus is someone else? Just seems weird to me. You’d think the former would still have plenty of feelings of anger towards the man responsible.

Like Ren had a particular interest in the last case, and Wanyuudou the one before, today Hone Onna is getting personally involved in the client. She doesn’t understand Tae’s feelings at all, especially once Tae and Kei suddenly make love once he finds out his girlfriend’s cheating on him. Tae is devastated that she let herself get too close to Kei and realizes that she’s ruined everything between them, so she has to distance herself as much as possible from him.

Hone Onna is baffled that she doesn’t take this opportunity to just enter into a romantic relationship with him. Since Tae believes all romantic relationships die, she can’t bring herself to do that. She even believes she’s getting too close to Hone Onna by being so honest with her.

Sadly, she shoots herself in the foot in the most tragic way.

The entire time they’ve known each other, they’d communicate by tapping on the other’s window through their bedrooms and talking to each other since their houses are so close. Kei realizes he has loved Tae all this time, so he tries to step between the windows to be with her, but Tae kept the window shut, desperately pleading for him to go away since she can’t let herself get too close to him. Kei doesn’t understand what she means and he suddenly slips from the window and falls to his death.

Yup. I thought he’d be badly injured, but nope, he died. Ironically, Tae’s desire to keep him at a distance to possibly salvage their relationship created the greatest distance of all between them.

Where does this leave the Hell Girl situation, though?

Kei’s bitch of a girlfriend, Yumie, feels nothing for his death. She denies that they were dating and claims she took pity on him for constantly being hassled by Tae. She even talks about him like he’s an idiot with her ‘number one’ boyfriend. Tae, unable to take anymore and blaming Kei’s death on Yumie partially, pulls the string.

The hell torture this time around is…kinda fun? I mean, it’d be terrifying, but watching the bed spin around and having Hone Onna throw knives at her as she spins, like a circus act, was kinda cool.

This whole episode just makes you feel terrible. You feel bad for Kei for getting his heartbroken and dying right as he realizes who he really loves. You feel bad for Tae because she inadvertently caused her beloved’s death by trying to protect him, and now she’s damned to hell on top of that so she can never reunite with him in heaven. You also feel really bad for Tae for having such a cynical view of romance even in spite of loving Kei with all her heart and soul.

At the very least, the ending throws her a bone. She moves away after that incident, for whatever reason, and her new next-door/window neighbor is someone who looks almost exactly like Kei. At least she won’t be lonely, but she might be setting herself up for more heartache and tragedy if her viewpoint hasn’t changed.

This is a really great episode, but it is depressing on so many levels.

Rating: 8.5/10

Animating Halloween: ALVINNN!! and the Chipmunks – Switch Witch

AHAATCSW

Plot: Alvin, Simon, Theodore, Brittany, Jeanette and Eleanor enjoy their Halloween until their candy is suddenly switched with fruit and books thanks to the evil Switch Witch.

Breakdown: Ooh yay! Another Alvin and the Chipmunks Halloween special! I don’t remember there being more, but let’s……Oh….Oh it’s from the latest reboot…

Look, I have nothing against ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks besides, holy hell, that name is dumb. I’ve watched a couple episodes before and it’s something I like to call a ‘coma show’ as in, when I watch it I feel as though I’ve entered into a coma. The time is gone, I might feel like I’ve heard things during it, but I don’t remember anything.

We get such gems like this:

Theodore: “I got a rock.” A failed, but appreciated, Charlie Brown reference, that they decide to ruin by doing this.

Theodore: “Oh no, it’s a candy bar that fell out of its wrapper.” *bite* “Ow…No it’s a rock.”

Any idiot could see that’s a rock. It’s not even a brown rock. Why would you think that’s a candy bar? I know Theodore’s a little dim, but he’s not Patrick from Spongebob stupid.

Granted, it’s not like Alvin and the Chipmunks ever had groundbreaking stories or anything, but they typically had some fun, memorable moments and good songs. This reboot is about as ‘meh’ as it gets. Even the animation is boring. I feel like I’m watching something made by the people who made the CGI Barbie movies. Everything’s so plastic. Who would’ve thought I’d long for the days when the boys basically wore nightgowns all day.

You want to know how benign this special is? You remember how Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman had the boys worried they might have to shoot their brother with a silver bullet? Or how the Frankenstein monster nearly got killed by an angry mob? And how both movies had fairly action-y climaxes?

Here, the ‘monster’ is someone called the Switch Witch.

She is a witch who steals your candy and replaces it with fruit and books.

That’s it. That’s all. She doesn’t attack you, she doesn’t kill you, she doesn’t turn you into a frog or something – she just steals your candy and replaces it with fruit and books.

There is absolutely no reason the kids should be even the least bit afraid of this woman, especially considering they believe she already stole their candy by the end of the first act. All tension is drained before we even realize the conflict.

And, gee, the chipmunks thinking their neighbor is a supernatural being and trying to trap them. I wonder where I’ve heard that before. At least in that movie they were right, and Mr. Talbot turned out to be a legitimate threat. This whole plot is so blindingly transparent.

By the by, who gives out candy canes for Halloween? This looks less like Halloween candy and more like someone mixed Valentines and Christmas candy together.

And, dear god, the size of those candy bars. I know the chipmunks are small, but Dave was eating one earlier and he might as well have been eating a brick. Damn King Size – that was like Galactus size.

AHAATCSW2

Oh, I’m gonna give you a second to notice what’s wrong with this shot of the kids setting up a trap for the Switch Witch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yup. They have a giant bowl filled with candy. They’re using this giant bowl of candy to lure out the Switch Witch…..so they can get their candy back………..They established earlier that none of them had a drop of candy, even Dave ate the leftovers from the Trick-Or-Treater bowl he had….but they have a bowl full of candy at the ready.

So….even this incredibly lame “conflict” isn’t the slightest bit a conflict because they do indeed have plenty of candy.

Wonderful writing, guys. Top notch, really.

This whole story seems like it’s leading up to a dose of karma to the chipmunks and chippettes, but they royally screw up the moral to the point where there is none anymore.

Why do they need a dose of karma, you may ask?

Well, they got a good deal of their haul by tricking the aforementioned neighbor, Ms. Crooner. She’s elderly and has memory problems so they just kept ringing the doorbell over and over and getting candy over and over because she didn’t remember them coming to the door. They kinda felt bad when they came home….well, the girls did a little, but even they literally said they didn’t feel bad enough about it to give up their candy. Then it’s just dropped…entirely.

Ms. Crooner dresses up in a cheap witch outfit and heads to a cabin in the woods. The kids follow her, because that’s always smart, supernatural being or otherwise, and she does a dumb ‘flashlight over the face to make it ‘scary’’ trick, has Dave hang upside down in a bat costume and then they immediately show them the massive load of candy they can now have.

Even when Ms. Crooner and Dave pull the prank on Alvin and the others, they don’t mention what they did to her. The kids don’t feel bad about it, the adults never point out that this prank was retaliation nor do they have the kids apologize – all Dave said was he was trying to make Halloween scarier for them like Alvin wanted.

In summary, they take advantage of an elderly woman’s memory problems, milk her of candy, don’t feel bad about it, at least not enough to give up the candy, don’t even think about apologizing, and what they get in return is a fun Halloween prank, a mountain of candy and a Halloween-themed cabin to spend the rest of the night in.

Good. Parenting. Dave.

All I’m getting from this episode is a vanilla Halloween story that already feels like it’s been done before, and much better (by its own franchise, even!), as well as a screwed up moral that basically says ‘take advantage of the elderly and you’ll have fun and lots of candy!’

Look, I know kids don’t want fruit and books on Halloween, but this special is also kinda saying ‘fruit and books are terrible. Suck down that candy!’ Even when Ms. Crooner tells the kids they’ll have even more fun by reading the books she left, in addition to eating the candy pile, the kids all basically just groan and roll their eyes.

They didn’t even set up the plot properly. Where did Theodore hear about this Switch Witch? In the Werewolf movie, Alvin was obsessed with supernatural creatures and his obsessions lead him into looking too much into Mr. Talbot, who, in all fairness, was a werewolf. Here, Theodore just knows about the Switch Witch from the start with no explanation as to where this story came from. If it came from Dave, they didn’t show it or imply it.

Also, apparently, there’s a new bully character in this show, at least that’s what I think they’re going for because he’s clearly made to be an idiot and calls them ‘losers.’ His name is Cheesy…..Kay. He’s very annoying, but he was only in one scene.

I would’ve easily written this off as a harmless and boring Halloween special, but that moral, if you can even call it that, was screwed up so badly I can’t give it such a pass. Not to mention that I don’t think 11 minute holiday specials work well from the starting gate. Their plot was way too thin to stretch further, but specials always feel a bit hollow when they’re basically half episodes.

The only shining spot of this special is the music number, which was good, but it only lasts about thirty seconds and the lyrics are strange. The song is playing during a scene where they’re setting up the trap for the witch, and the lyrics…..

Well, in context, it seems like they’re singing a romantic song to the Switch Witch….for some reason.

Out of context, this song couldn’t be more stalker-y if you tried.

Alvin:

Come out, come out, wherever you are

The Chipmunks:

Why do you run from me?

I just want you next to me

You got me chasin’ you ’round and ’round, yeah

I don’t know what to do

I just want to be with you

It’s got me huffin’ and a puffin’, yeah

Come out, come out

Come out, come out, come out

Wherever you are (wherever you are)

Come out, come out

Come out, come out

This has gone too far.

What the hell is this even? I couldn’t hear half the lyrics because the music drowns them out (Poor sound editing in Alvin and Chipmunks? Mr. Bagdasarian, please have words with your staff), but then I found the rest on the Wiki and was instantly creeped out. At least the melody has a really nice beat, but wow those lyrics.

This episode is flat out not good. The ending ruins what otherwise would’ve been a boring but passable Halloween special. Even the ‘Alvinnn!’ yell at the end was forced. Watch one of the other Alvin and the Chipmunks Halloween movies I’ve reviewed instead. At least those provide more story, fun, music and even some slightly dark moments.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episode 5 and 6

Episode 5: The Dripping

YS6EP5

Plot: A man spends too much time reading at a mini-mart after work. When he decides to walk home, he sees that it has started to rain. He spots an umbrella in a stand outside of the mini-mart and realizes it probably belongs to the creepy man who was reading next to him. He decides to take it anyway and starts to walk home. No matter the circumstances, you shouldn’t steal anything from others….

Breakdown: This has been one of the more chilling and legitimate scary entries of Yami Shibai in quite a while. There’s no jump scares, but there’s a great deal of build up, creepy moments and great horror shots. You sympathize with the protagonist enough to worry about his safety, but you also realize a tiny bit that he stole an umbrella, and that’s wrong….Not ‘you should die’ wrong, but still.

Only thing about this story is that I’m a little confused as to what’s happening. The creepy guy definitely seems to be the owner of the umbrella and he seems to know what happens to the people who steal it. Is he setting up this trap on purpose? For what reason? Who is this girl whose soul seems to be attached to the umbrella?

Despite that, this is certainly one of the scarier episodes of the series.

Episode 6: Sakura

YS6EP6

Plot: A man is hospitalized after a car accident. He hears children talking to him through the wall, asking to be his friend. He agrees and is happy to have some kind company as he recovers, but what happens when they want to meet him as the cherry blossoms fall outside?

Breakdown: This was certainly an eerie one. Starting off on an uncomfortable note is merely the fact that the man is hospitalized. He has a broken leg hung up in a sling, so he can’t really move to escape danger should it appear.

A majority of the episode goes on quite pleasantly. He’s just talking to these kids, enjoying the company, and then, one night, more voices join and they want to see him, though some of the voices, particularly the children, aren’t so keen on the idea.

The big twist of this episode is a strange one, but explains why it’s called Sakura. Apparently, the big bad of the episode was the cherry tree outside. It was, I guess, demonic and lured many patients into hanging themselves from the branches over the years. It was about to do the same to the man, but the nurse stopped him getting up in the middle of the night. The next day, the tree was mysteriously cut down.

And thus, the day was saved by a nameless, faceless lumberjack. And, possibly, the nurse because she seemed like she kinda knew what was going on.

This twist certainly caught me off guard, and, while it is weird, it was also creative and creepy. Some people in the comments were complaining about another story ending with a happy ending, but not all horror needs death. It just needs suspense, atmosphere, tension and a feeling of personal concern. Plus, it’s not like it’s all that happy – tons of people were lured to their death by a tree and possibly still haunt the stump. They found death in a horrible way and can’t seem to rest.