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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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 7 and 8 Review

Episode 7: Mr. Rooster

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Plot: A punk rock band gets a new bassist named Mr. Rooster, but he’s a bit…off.

Breakdown: Hmmm. This one is interesting. Not sure I’d go so far as to call it scary, especially since the supernatural aspect technically wasn’t malicious, but it was somewhat creative and the imagery made it a little creepy.

I don’t much care for the ‘It was all a dream….?’ ending, but eh.

Episode 8: Rocking Horse

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Plot: A man’s sister sends him his old rocking horse for his son to play with. His son loves the toy….but so does someone else.

Breakdown: Wow, this was probably one of the best episodes of Yami Shibai. Not reaching the peak of quality, but still fairly high on the list.

Rocking horses aren’t really one of those old toys that typically gets used as horror story props, but they took the idea and ran with it. The rocking horse on its own looks weird enough to seem both realistic as a toy and yet very creepy. The episode has some really eerie vibes to it, a really intriguing story and a frightening end.

My only real gripe with it is the fact that the story just stops. It sets up this mystery so well, but right as it starts getting really interesting, the episode ends. I am well familiar with Yami Shibai’s system. Their episodes are four minutes long at most, and that’s barely enough time to tell a coherent story from start to finish. Many times, this results in the episodes having very abrupt endings that, many times, also end in cliffhangers. But this was one of those episodes where I felt like it was more of a cliffhanger middle than a cliffhanger ending. This story definitely needs a part two, but they haven’t done that in Yami Shibai in a long, long time so I’ll probably never get proper resolution to it.

Great episode, but I really needed like one more minute to get a satisfying ending.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 5 and 6 Review

Episode 5: Paper Mache Tiger

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Plot: A man’s son dies in a tragic accident, leaving only the paper-mache tiger he helped him make as one of his only precious heirlooms.

Breakdown: Yami Shibai likes to delve into ghost stories that are purely sad sometimes, and this is one of those moments.

This episode is sad from start to finish, and there’s never a moment where you’re creeped out. In fact, if anything, the presence of the ghost makes you feel somewhat comforted. However, the story has an extremely bittersweet ending. The instant the head of the paper mache tiger starts shaking its head ‘no’ back and forth, you start panicking, but then when the head falls, you’re really hit with the full brunt of the grief of their situation. I won’t spoil the story for you, but I very much enjoyed it, no matter how sad it was. I’ll say this is now my favorite story of both season eight and nine.

Episode 6: Spirit Ox

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Plot: A man starts reliving the same day over and over.

Breakdown: I was gearing up to write this one off as just plain stupid, but it wound up being really sweet and wholesome. I had a feeling about the twist at the end about the ‘special occasion’ but I was so confused about the spirit ox aspect.

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just tell you to read up on the Japanese Bon festival before watching this.

Overall, this was a really sweet and lighthearted story that I really enjoyed.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 3 and 4 Review

Episode 3: The 44th Sheep

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Plot: A college student suffers from insomnia, but flies off the handle in a rage when his friend tells him to count sheep to get to sleep, muttering that the 44th sheep will come for him if he does. That night, the friend decides to see what he was talking about by counting sheep. When he gets to 44….

Breakdown: This one was a half goofy half creepy.

I never really thought you could make a scary story out of counting sheep, but if it was possible, they did as good a job as anyone.

While it does a good job at being creepy, especially using the limited animation to its benefit, you just can’t escape the goofiness of the concept. It can’t help but be marred a little on the subject matter alone.

Episode 4: Lapdog

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Plot: A woman takes a job as a petsitter for an old lady in a secluded town. The pay is good, the dog is adorable and it’s not too much of a hassle. However, no good deed goes unpunished.

Breakdown: This episode was frickin’ hilarious.

I don’t even want to spoil why it’s hilarious, just trust me. It is. And I don’t mean that in a manner of the episode being stupid. I just mean the story is good but goofy.

Also, in case you’re like me and hate stories with animal death, don’t worry, the cute little puppy doesn’t die. It has a depressing ending, but the puppy doesn’t die. Also, wait until you see the puppy in a raincoat. It’s adorable.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 1 and 2 Review

Episode 1: Rat’s Wedding

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Plot: A man gets a new job in a strange town that is currently practicing a tradition where a wedding and a funeral are held at the same time.

Breakdown: SEASON NINE, BABY! Let’s do this!

Our ninth season of Yami Shibai has the narrator presenting the stories to a demonic looking version of the zodiac characters, and that’s really damn neat.

As for our first episode of the season, this one was pretty entertaining, a little creepy, but not really scary. A man gets a well-paying job at a company that resides in a very small town. The town is currently holding a traditional event where they have a wedding and funeral at the same time. The tradition was started as a means to cheer up the bereaved. When the wedded couple have their first child, it’s supposedly the reincarnation of the one whose funeral was held on the wedding day.

This whole creepy cult-like small town is always a pretty unsettling concept to me, but it loses its footing near the end. First of all, this whole story doesn’t make much sense. The boss guy who is telling the new guy all of this information says that, due to the tradition, their town never experiences town growth or loss. But…does that mean no one ever dies unless there’s a wedding planned? Or is there a spontaneous wedding planned when someone dies suddenly?

The new guy ends up basically getting kidnapped by the townsfolk to act as the groom for the bride of the wedding, but he’s a new person, doesn’t that mean the population technically grew?

The reason the episode is called Rat Wedding is shown in the ending….I…guess the townsfolk were all rat demons or something? When the new guy saw the funeral procession, there were six coffins. When he wakes up to his new bride, she’s holding six babies, but they’re not in the town anymore, I don’t think, so did they leave? Doesn’t that mean the population went down?

I don’t get it.

It’s an entertaining little story, but not really enough to elicit any fear.

The ED for this season is quite nice as always. The background visuals are a series of masks on pendulums that slowly grow more and more grotesque.

Episode 2: The Man in the Rabbit Hutch

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Plot: An elementary school teacher starts reading a story written by one of her students when the story starts to get a little too real.

Breakdown: This was pretty cool and creepy story. They showed just enough of the man in the rabbit hutch for him to be creepy while not giving away so much as to make him goofy. Just the disgusting sounds of him chewing on carrots was enough to have me consistently creeped out by the thing.

The one bad spot about this story is that it’s a little too obvious what the ending will be once the kid says he needs to find the man a new place to live. However, it’s made up for a little bit by including that awful crunch sound in the end. Eugh.


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Reopening the Theater of Darkness | Yami Shibai Season 8 Review

Plot: Season 8 of the horror anthology series, Yami Shibai.

Breakdown: Yami Shibai’s crew took one Halloween off last year to work on a spin-off anthology series called Ninja Collection, but since that bombed and no one remembers it even exists, they came back early this year to give us more horror anthology goodness.

And it was fine.

Like all of the seasons prior, I’ll give a masterlist of my reviews on each episode. However, since I have abandoned numbered rating systems, I’ll just give my brief thoughts on each episode like normal and draw a conclusion.

Episode 1: Dropped Handkerchief – Silly hook attached to a lame and cliche premise. Decent ambiance, though.

Episode 2: Death Day – Much better, and pretty unique. Was both creepy and genuinely scary at the end.

Episode 3: Don’t Look Back – The base concept itself is rather frightening to me, but this episode is very cliché and a giant mess in regards to its own rules and logic.

Episode 4: Bean-Throwing – Quite possibly one of the worst episodes of Yami Shibai based purely on the editing/composition. It’s torture. It’s a shame because the story is fairly unique – not scary, but unique.

Episode 5: The Sound of Laughter – Got me a little in hindsight, but not in a scary way. More of an ‘oh, that’s clever’ way.

Episode 6: Catch of the Day – The only unsettling part of this stupid episode was the pained sounds of a baby crying, but that has no real bearing on the story.

Episode 7: Issun Boshi – Really unique premise and rather interesting manifestation of feelings of jealousy and vengeance, but also really silly.

Episode 8: Viewing – Another fairly unique story held down by its weak premise. I still can’t get over how anyone who has ever been a student before would believe a trio of teens would randomly get the day off of school and then they decide to go anyway, uniform and all, for a…joke?

Episode 9: Antlion Pit – Out of all of the season eight episodes, this one is probably the most memorable to me. Outside of being a cautionary tale of something that many people don’t really have much control over, there isn’t much in the ways of scares here, but I did enjoy it quite a bit.

Episode 10: Footprints in the Snow – Best episode of season eight in all categories, from art to scares to uniqueness to ambiance, BUT it’s also incredibly depressing.

Episode 11: Curse – I really liked this one, but I wish the ending was different. Kinda ruins everything they were going for with the curse.

Episode 12: String Telephone – Really sloppy art, really sloppy premise, bad execution, but if told differently, it’d make for a fine campfire ghost story.

Episode 13: Sleeptalking – Season eight’s finale is just okay. I do find the premise to be a little scary, but they didn’t set up the twist well enough, if at all.

I was pretty underwhelmed by season eight, but outside of getting really frustrated with Bean-Throwing, nothing left too bad a taste in my mouth. There are plenty of spurts of creativity here, but it’s like they have a bucket of good ideas and half-ass the execution most of the time. A few of the entries were legitimately really good, but I yearn for more. I didn’t sacrifice last Halloween just for a few good Yami Shibai episodes in return.

Sad to say, but I think the days of the bookends with the narrator being anything more than typical bookends ever again are long over. I still enjoy them, especially the ending theme sequences, but I wish more effort would be put into making even a slight linear storyline again. You don’t even have to make a big deal out of it. Just make it a cool Easter egg or something.

Onto season nine!


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 8 Episodes 11, 12 and 13 (SEASON FINALE) Review

Episode 11: Curse

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Plot: A teenager boy accidentally breaks a Jizo statue and everyone starts gossiping that he’ll soon wind up getting cursed.

Breakdown: I really liked this entry because it was a pretty good twist on the old “accidentally broke some sacred artifact and got cursed” story. The boy in this story doesn’t believe in curses at all, but he starts getting annoyed by everyone around him whispering and waiting for him to get cursed. At first, it’s just a general annoyance, but he starts seeing a strange man in a suit telling him to hurry up and get cursed already..

Soon, he starts hearing everyone around him waiting with smiles for him to get cursed and urging him to get cursed. Eventually, it’s all he sees and hears until the ending in which he falls down a flight of stairs and seemingly dies. The head of the Jizo statue rolls up next to him and starts cracking and glowing. The kid had indeed been cursed, but not in the way you’d expect.

The growing paranoia and the insensitivity of the people whispering around him made for a better scary experience than the typical bouts of bad luck or suddenly seeing ghosts experiences that most ‘cursed’ characters wind up with.

If I had one big criticism, it’d be that I think the story would have worked better if the guy went crazy and stayed that way instead of him going nuts for one day and then randomly dying. It just seems pointless to torment him for one day and then end it by killing him. There’d be a lot of irony/poetic justice, at least from the spirit’s perspective, in letting him be locked in a world where he never gets cursed, but everyone around him is eager for him to get cursed and thinks and says nothing but that around him.

Episode 12: String Telephone

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Plot: A man’s young daughter brings home a string telephone she made at school and wants to talk to him with it. However, they’re not the only people on the line.

Breakdown: This one has the makings of a decent campfire story, but execution is fairly sloppy.

First of all, the art is really messy. It’s like everything was hastily drawn with a ballpoint pen.

Second of all, I have no idea how things snowballed as badly as they did in the end. He went from going a little nuts at hearing this voice on the phone to suddenly having a time lapse where his wife and daughter leave him and his house fills with garbage because he’s going insane because of this string telephone that…I guess he can’t just throw away?

And then the ghost gets him? The end?

The voice on the phone seems to be of a woman with whom he was cheating on his wife. But I don’t know if she’s dead. The guy never says she’s dead, but she has to be if that’s her ghost on the other line, right?

Why would this lady wait until his daughter made a string phone before trying to contact him? He has a cell phone. Does that not work as well?

I guess, in the end, this was just a cautionary tale about cheating? Because if you do….and your daughter makes a string phone….your life will be ruined and you’ll die in a closet?

Like I said, the bare bones of the story works well enough as a campfire ghost story, it’s everything that was added as extra material that muddies the water too much.

Episode 13: Sleeptalking

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Plot: A college student becomes aware of his odd sleepwalking and sleeptalking habits where he frantically searches throughout his room for something.

Breakdown: Eh….Pbbbt.

Fairly lackluster season finale, if you ask me. It is kinda scary to think that you’re doing or saying strange things in your sleep without realizing it, and continuing to do the same weird actions over and over every night would be kinda creepy, but this story just didn’t have much to it.

After spending a fun night with his old childhood friend, a college student becomes aware of the fact that he wakes up every night searching his room for something. In order to figure out what’s happening, he films himself one night to watch video footage of it happening. He turns his room upside down searching for something when he finally finds what or, more to the point, who was missing.

I needed a third party to explain the ending to me, but apparently, and without any context clues beforehand, he and the childhood friend from before actually had a third best friend who went missing. The college student was searching for that friend in his sleep. The friend shows up, off screen, and says he found him, but now he’s missing and the third friend will search for him, implying that the third remaining friend will sleepwalk/talk as well until the day he vanishes and they’re all reunited in whatever purgatory world they’re vanishing off to.

I guess that’s kinda clever, but I wish it had been more properly set up is all.

And that was the final episode of season eight of Yami Shibai! My full review will be up soon, and then we’ll move on to season nine!


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 8 Episodes 5 and 6 Review

Episode 5: The Sound of Laughter

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Plot: A teenage boy is studying for his entrance exams when he starts hearing the sound of an old lady laughing wherever he goes.

Breakdown: This episode was funny, but I could see how it could be kinda spooky for a split second at the end.

The entire episode, I felt like laughing with the old lady, whom we never see by the way. And at the end, when the laughter spreads like laughing gas to the teen’s parents and they just can’t stop laughing no matter what, I was starting to laugh out loud.

Then you realize, ooh it’s spooky because the laughter spread to you. Clever, if you can get it to work, which it did for me, but that novelty wears off very quickly.

I still don’t understand what is up with this old lady. Why is she laughing and tormenting this family? What’s her story?

Episode 6: Catch of the Day

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Plot: A man brings home an odd fish after going fishing with a friend and starts acting very odd.

Breakdown: This episode was really stupid.

Guy caught a ‘fish’ that we never see, and he starts acting all weird because of it. In the middle of the night, his wife catches him cutting up the creature, which is…kinda blur censored or something? It’s clearly still alive and wailing like a baby as he chops it up. This made me very concerned that the ‘fish’ he ‘caught’ was actually a baby he kidnapped, which is why he desperately didn’t want his wife to see it…..

But nope.

It’s just a sea creature of some sort that makes the men turn into….I dunno, something after they eat it. The final shot is of the wife trying to pull off a blanket from her sleeping husband, implying he had turned into a monster, but they cut away before we see it. I guess it is slightly creative, but it’s definitely not scary and not all that interesting.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 8 Episodes 3 and 4 Review

Episode 3: Don’t Look Back

Plot: A young man finds himself lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood with a sign that says ‘From this point forward, don’t look back.’

Breakdown: This episode has the same cliché vibes as the first episode, even though it’s not quite as bad. However, like the first episode, there is also a problem in how the gimmick works.

In this episode, the obvious gimmick is that you can’t look back when you’re walking in this place or else you’ll disappear. The main character meets a young woman who also stumbled into this place. She used to be traveling with her boyfriend, but he looked back when he heard voices and vanished instantly. She has gone crazy desperately trying to not look back no matter what, and she’s trying to save the main character from suffering the same fate as her boyfriend.

Thing is, this place is also a purgatory of sorts. She states she’s been walking for so many days that she’s lost track, implying that no matter how much you walk you can’t escape from this place….so…why not look back? Sounds like you’re screwed either way.

This place also doesn’t follow its own rules. She says you can’t look back or else you’ll vanish, but then she also says she’s looked back several times, but she doesn’t explain what happened when she did. There’s just a closeup shot of a rock on the ground as she says it.

When you do look back and vanish, you’re just transported to the same location only a lot foggier and with ghosts hanging out in the windows of the houses. You’re still stuck in a loop either way. It’s never established that the ghosts will do anything to you, and it still seems like it’s pointless to not look back. If you’re trapped forever, you’re trapped forever.

Tell you the truth, the non-ghost neighborhood is really almost as bad. The ghosts are still technically in that area trying to trick travelers into looking behind them. They pretend to be your loved ones or kind strangers and they never leave you alone. The only difference is that you can’t see them. All the while, you try desperately to not look back and keep walking forward, knowing you’re not actually getting anywhere.

This story is actually pretty frightening to me, but, honestly, the ‘don’t look back’ stuff doesn’t have anything to do with it. The concept of just wandering into to some unknown area and being trapped forever without even realizing it seems like hell to me.

Episode 4: Bean-Throwing

Plot: A little boy is concerned that her mother has befriended a demon and is desperate to drive him out of their home.

Breakdown: Jeeezzzzz that episode was a nightmare to sit through…..Not because it was scary, though.

This episode was a total mess because of the dialogue. The little boy, Youta, is narrating throughout each second of this episode, but there is also regular dialogue going throughout the episode as well in the background. So, if you speak Japanese, you have to focus a lot to get both tracks of dialogue or stop and rewatch sections to focus on one track at a time. And if you don’t understand Japanese, you have to constantly pause the video to understand what’s being said in both tracks.

It totally took me out of whatever scary experience I would have had watching this episode.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Youta’s narration goes at a mile a minute because the episodes are so short. It’s like he chugged a case of Redbull before recording. So you not only have to pay attention to two tracks of dialogue most of the time, but you also have to keep pausing even more frequently just to read what Youta’s saying.

Once you manage to trudge through all of that, you find yourself with a fairly unique story, but also one that’s not that scary. Youta’s family used to be fairly happy, but things changed when his father suddenly left. He started hearing his mother having secret conversations at night with a shadowy figure that had red eyes. After having a weird existential crisis that seems way too heavy for his age, Youta felt like he had to get rid of the demon to protect his mother, but he didn’t know how to do it.

His school has a tradition every year of bean-throwing. People are meant to throw beans at demons once a year to keep them and the misfortune they bring away for a year. Why beans have this power, I don’t know.

Youta keeps a bag of beans from the event. That night, he sneaks to his mother’s room when she’s speaking with the demon, telling him she believes Youta’s starting to figure out their secret. He bursts in, breaking the light, and blindly throws beans everywhere to ensure the demon is gone.

When he’s done, he manages to find a light and turns it on. Both his mother and the demon are gone. He rubs his head and feels something odd. The end.

From what I gather, Youta and his parents must have been demons? That’s the only reason why his mother would have also vanished after the bean pelting. I think his father was either killed by a demon or could no longer maintain a non-demonic image anymore and had to stay hidden from Youta until he was old enough to know about his heritage.

I believe at the end Youta is feeling horns developing on his head?

This is interesting and all, but it’s not really scary. It’s mostly just sad because Youta, I guess, killed or banished his parents and now he has to grow up as a demon child without anyone to help him? Or is the talk about needing to do the bean throwing every year seemingly pointless because it means the demons return and indicate that his parents will be back next year?

I don’t know. And quite frankly I don’t want to keep analyzing this episode to figure out anymore. Even in the comments section people were like “I need a mangekyo sharingan to follow this episode.” This episode needed to be at least a couple minutes longer and have more breaks in the narration to not be so sloppy. It is ridiculous.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 8 Episodes 1 and 2 Review

Episode 1: Dropped Handkerchief

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Plot: Four teenagers go to an abandoned house in the middle of the night as a test of courage…..What could possibly go wrong?

Breakdown: Welcome one and all to 2021’s Animating Halloween! Yami Shibai is finally back after….*snicker* ghosting us last year, and they made up for the lack of season last year with two seasons premiering this year. Season nine is wrapping up right now, and we’ll be going over that this year as well to also make up for the lack of Yami Shibai in Animating Halloween last year.

I’m really excited…..buuuuuttttt…..

This episode was kinda lame, if you couldn’t tell from the plot alone. It’s so ridiculously cliché. It’s so disappointing that this is what we have to start out with. I mean, come on, four teenagers go to an abandoned house at night as a test of courage? Plus, the house has spooOOooooky backstory to it in that people just vanish when they’re in the house and the last residents were a family that also suddenly vanished?

Granted, the story itself has decent ambiance, but the only non-cliche hook is the aspect of the handkerchief, and that’s just boring in my opinion.

They very briefly show a shot of a drawing the kid from the missing family made where it depicts him playing the handkerchief game with what I assume is his family? The handkerchief game is almost exactly like Duck Duck Goose. A person who is ‘it’ walks behind a circle of people. They drop a handkerchief behind one of them, declaring them ‘it’ and that person has to pick up the handkerchief, chase the tagger and try to catch or kiss (?) them before they’re able to make a full lap around the circle and take the tagged person’s spot.

The teenagers all happen to sit in a circle when they visit the kid’s room, since that’s supposedly the most haunted room in the house. They want to party there, but one of them notices a handkerchief behind another person that wasn’t there before. The lights suddenly go out, and when they come back on the person who was nearest the handkerchief is shown to have vanished. The same repeats until everyone’s gone.

It happens so quickly that I just don’t see the point in even playing this game. It would be interesting if they showed one of them winning the game and escaping the house, but none of them can even try. The best that happens is one of them realizes the handkerchief is connected to the disappearances and throws it after they pick it up, but they still die. Even if you realized the game in time, there’s no one to chase or catch so how would you even win?

We have a new intro, this time being the narrator presenting his kamishibai show to a bunch of ghosts populating a dark foggy street. The ending has a new song, which is pretty darn good. The animation accompanying is has a girl made out of pencil scribbles running down a live-action street passing some fellow scribble people until she reaches the Yami Shibai narrator. It’s possible some of these people are references to the stories but I can’t be certain.

Episode 2: Death Day

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Plot: The Kunitake family has a tradition of always gathering in the family home and spending the day together on the anniversary of their mother’s death. It seems like an innocent enough tradition to Sachiko, who has recently married into the family, until she realizes that maybe the mother is celebrating this day as well.

Breakdown: Alright, this is more like it! A more original premise, pretty spooky ambiance and a genuinely surprising and scary twist at the end.

I am very thankful that they didn’t show what the ghost looked like in the end because that would have ruined the entire twist and the looming fear over what was in the room with them. Not sure why Sachiko could see the ghost when no one else could, but that’s an easily hand-waved detail.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. Wish this one had been the first episode of the season, but what can ya do?


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