Episode 5: The Last Customer
Plot: A frightening elderly woman is the last customer at a cafe. A young employee tries to politely request for her to leave since they’re closing up, but she has nowhere to go. Wherever could she go….
Breakdown: This episode got me immediately because it has one of the most effective art styles I’ve seen in the Yami Shibai franchise. The woman looks so creepy that I was legitimately unsettled by her appearance. She didn’t look so creepy that she didn’t seem human or anything, but the manner in which she was drawn in comparison to everyone else was definitely scary.
The art and animation as a whole as well as the direction for this episode were some of the best in the series.
The story was pretty good, but I think whatever aesop they were going for got muddled. The story goes that the old woman was the last customer in a cafe in which the main character worked. As he tried to politely ask her to leave since they were closing up, she wondered where she could go. She had no friends, no family, no home, no where to go. She suddenly asks in a very jarring manner if she could stay with him. He obviously doesn’t want to, but before he can even answer properly his boss interrupts and asks him what he’s doing. He explains that he’s trying to tend to a final customer, but he’s surprised to discover that she vanished while he was talking to his boss.
Not thinking much of it, the man returns home only to be shocked to see that the old woman is there having tea with his wife, who believes he invited the woman. The man is enraged and forcibly drags her outside, telling her to leave and that he’ll call the cops if she returns. She leaves, but not before telling him that he’ll end up just like her.
When he wakes up the next morning, his wife pulls a knife on him, demanding to know who he is. She doesn’t remember him at all nor does his boss or anyone else he knew. He wanders around confused as to what happened and doesn’t know where to go. He shriveles up like an old man, and he winds up being the last customer at the same cafe and does the same thing the old lady did to him to some other young employee.
I guess the message is to respect and be kinder to your elders, but this wasn’t really a good method of conveying that. It’s not like this was some sweet old lady who was asking for spare change or wondering where the nearest homeless shelter was or anything. She basically demanded that she stay at his house, didn’t even let him answer when she asked, lied to his wife about agreeing to the arrangement, which might as well be breaking into his house, then she cursed him as she was thrown out.
Could he have been nicer about the situation? Sure. Should you be kind to your elders? Yes. But if someone, no matter their age, basically forces their way into your home and expects to stay the night at least, no….no….NO. You don’t get to do that. That’s creepy and invasive as fuck. I don’t care if you’re homeless or a rich person, woman or man, young or old (okay, I might be a lot more lenient to a child) – you don’t get to basically say “I’m staying with you now.” and expect me to not kick you out. If you’re trying to teach a lesson about kindness or charity or something, maybe not do it with someone who is way more of a dick than the main character.
Someone was comparing this story to the backstory of Beauty and the Beast with the old woman who curses the prince at the start because he wouldn’t offer shelter from the storm. I guess that can be viewed as a parallel, but the situation isn’t exactly the same. A filthy rich prince with a huge mansion is not the same as a minimum wage cafe waiter who lives in a small apartment. A kindly old lady offering a rose in exchange for shelter from a storm that may very well kill her if she goes back out into it, especially considering his mansion is basically in the middle of the forest, is not the same as a rude and demanding woman who basically forces her way into a man’s home in the city when there are other temporary homing options to explore.
In the case of Beauty and the Beast, the prince was also a notorious asshole before any of this happened. His transformation into the Beast wasn’t just for that act but all of his selfish and cruel acts before that. (Granted, turning all of his employees into objects wasn’t at all fair, but that doesn’t apply here.) As far as I saw, the man in this story was just an innocent guy doing his job who didn’t want an intruder in his house. That’s fully understandable. He didn’t deserve that fate.
Overall, there was definitely a good scare level in this one, but the story/message was a tiny bit botched.
Episode 6: Trash Drop-Off
Plot: A woman has recently moved into a new neighborhood, and she’s confused by the odd trash pick-up practices of the area. A man informs her that, on the fifth Wednesday of the month, a special garbage truck comes by. You have to give the garbagemen your most prized possession otherwise it will vanish. The woman thinks it’s a prank, so she doesn’t do it. Will her most prized possession be taken from her?
Breakdown: Sadly, definitely the worst episode of the season so far. First of all, the premise is just silly. A special purple garbage truck that comes by on the fifth Wednesday of the month (that doesn’t even make sense. There are only four Wednesdays in a month) and you have to hand over your most prized possession otherwise it gets taken? Why?
Also, does this mean that you eventually have to give all of your possessions to this thing? Because there were a lot of people dropping off their things on that day, and they never specified if they’d get them back. It’s very weird and confusing. Do you give your possession over to the garbagemen, they take it and then it just suddenly appears back in your home? What would be the point of that?
The big twist is also weird and makes no sense. The twist comes when the woman wonders where her boyfriend is because she hasn’t heard from him in a while. They fight a lot, and he’s constantly wandering off, but he’s been gone for longer than usual. He’s not answering calls, and she’s starting to get worried. He calls her on the fifth Wednesday of the month from the inside of what I think is a trash compactor. He’s in a panic and suspects she knows what’s happening to him. She does. She knew he was her most prized possession and purposefully didn’t ‘give’ him to the purple garbage truck because she wanted him gone.
Absolutely none of that makes sense. It was established beforehand that it was POSSESSIONS not any people that you had to give up. Everyone in line for the purple garbage truck had THINGS not PEOPLE. The first guy she talks to about this brought his girlfriend’s kimono. Would he not bring his girlfriend instead?
If this woman’s most prized “possession” was her boyfriend, why did she rush to her closet to check up on something seemingly important after the first purple garbage truck day? Also, if her boyfriend was her most prized “possession” then why would she be actively trying to get rid of him? I’d think if you want your boyfriend dead he wouldn’t count as your most prized possession anymore. She even mentioned that they fight all the time, and he seemingly broke up with her in a flashback. The ending should have been that he was taken from her because she loved him most and mistakenly believed that whatever was in her closet was her most prized possession. That definitely would have been a much more depressing ending, and it still wouldn’t make much sense because people aren’t things, but it would work a lot better than this.
Hopefully, these are the lowest point of the season, because I’ve really been enjoying it to this point and I’d hate to see it nosedive and not recover.
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