Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 7 Episodes 11, 12 & 13 (FINALE) Review

Episode 11: Little Sister’s Room

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Plot: A teenage boy searches through his little sister’s room without her permission for something of his that she seemingly stole from him. He hides under the bed when he hears her and her friend enter the room, but they’re not the only ones there.

Breakdown: I liked the background tension this episode built with the shadowy figure hopping around behind the guy without drawing attention to itself. I also liked the design of the ghost or demon thing that was under the bed.

However, this episode is really odd because, even though Yami Shibai episodes are only four minutes long, this somehow felt really padded. He spends way too long reaching for the…thing (what was it? A book? A CD? I couldn’t figure it out) and we spend too long listening to the girls prattle on, spending half of their conversation making fun of fat people, whether it be overweight fans of a pop idol named Michi or her fat otaku brother that she also mocks for being perverted, even though we see no indication that he is as such.

I started really sympathizing with the brother because, even though they’re trying to make off like he’s a creepy otaku, he just seems like a typical guy who has an interest in anime/pop idols. She’s the one stealing his stuff, claiming she’s going to sell all of his merch and saying he’s so creepy he’d probably install a camera in her bedroom.

I was really waiting for him to burst out from under the bed to yell at her or maybe accidentally burst out a declaration while under the bed because of all the things she was saying about him, but then I realized he’s right to be highly concerned about being ousted. It’s not just a case of her brother being in her room, but he was hiding under her bed. If she told their parents later, I can bet he’d get in much more trouble for supposedly perverted behavior than she would for hearsay comments about him being creepy, especially when she’s saying that stuff while he’s hiding under the bed….We know the context, but they wouldn’t.

It’s so strange that, ultimately, I felt more tension wondering if they would catch him under the bed than I did of any supernatural being attacking any of them. The demon or ghost or whatever it was really felt like an afterthought, honestly. At the beginning, I thought we would find out their had another sibling who died or something and it was the ghost of that sibling or the room was kept the same after the younger sibling died and neither sibling was meant to be in there, but nope. Just a completely random spirit haunting the girl’s room for some reason – never attacking her for seemingly weeks or months, according to the psychic friend, because reasons.

And, of course, this is a lose-lose situation in regards to the attack. I sympathized too much with the brother to want him to die, and I hate the girl and her friend too much to not want them to die.

The art in this episode was also really poor. The shapes were wonky, especially the eyes, there was a severe lack of detailing, and there’s one shot where the girls have no faces for absolutely no reason. Usually, animators will opt not to draw a face on a character if they’re very far away, but the camera was way too close to warrant not drawing faces.

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Episode 12: Fitting Room

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Plot: A business woman relives her glory days in a cute little boutique that sells a lot of the outfits she used to wear when she was younger. It’s easy to get wrapped up in nostalgia and even easier to become consumed by it.

Breakdown: I really enjoyed this episode, even if it did have its flaws. For instance, there are a few too many old outfits of hers in this boutique for her to not feel even slightly creeped out. She doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that there are no employees in the building. And….was it my imagination or did she get killed because she brought in too many items to the fitting room? I only ask because there’s no reason they’d bring that up otherwise and the sign fell down after she got nabbed, so…….Also, why was there like closets filled with clothes in the fitting room if you’re only allowed to bring in one outfit?

Otherwise, mannequins can sure go to hell, eh?

This episode was interesting in that it focused more on psychological terror than the supernatural threat. This woman is taking a stroll down memory lane by wearing all of her old outfits. She’s mostly remembering people praising her for how good she looked, what good fashion sense she had, how good she was at piano or something. But then the memories turn sour. She starts hearing those same people say terrible things about her, which causes her to freak out.

I was wondering if her memories were really accurate. Because it seems like people either loved buttering her up or these memories were not right. I’m just having a hard time believing everyone around her doled out such unyielding praise to her at such….suck-up levels. Especially the part where she’s remembering what her friends were saying. I probably wouldn’t really have thought to ask but she also said she thinks she would have the courage to confess to a cute guy named Hashimoto now, as opposed to back then, and she said he was so nice to people, even to her.

He also, when shifted to a negative memory, claims she’s indecisive and hesitant. Where did that even come from? If the other negative memories of her were right and she was full of herself and needed compliments a lot, she wouldn’t be hesitant and indecisive.

Was this whole experience in the fitting room meant to expose or exploit some feelings of insecurity? Were her memories reliable at all? She’s so caught up in reliving her glory days, that I almost get the feeling like her current life isn’t all that great, which makes the ending that much sadder, if you ask me.

I wouldn’t say this episode is particularly scary, but I found it interesting at least. Sometimes, your own inner thoughts and concerns about yourself can be your deepest fears, and that’s pretty powerful if that’s what they were going for.

I won’t spoil the ending……but screw mannequins….and those creepy creaky noises they were making.

The art for this episode was done in a similar style to Manga Cafe, but the designs were quite a bit different, much more realistic and less cartoony, and even the animation wasn’t nearly as janky. I really liked it.

Episode 13: Refrigerator

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Plot: A refrigerator observes its family through the passage of time.

Breakdown: Okay!……Okay……Okay?…….

…..Ooo…kay?….

So…it…uh….there’s this fridge……..No, I should start somewhere else….Have you ever seen The Brave Little Toaster?

Ah, nevermind.

Alright, let’s just start at the very very beginning, which is simply the title. When I saw that title, I was very skeptical. It’s our season finale, and it’s about a fridge. It doesn’t help that the fridge talks. I really thought this would end up being one of stupidest episodes of Yami Shibai since that one about the toilet, but I didn’t hate it, honestly. It’s different, certainly, but it’s not bad different. It’s just….very….very confusing. And, sadly, no matter how many comments I read, really no one had a satisfactory theory on what happened to the little boy, so I’m going to share my thoughts.

Please note that my theory changed several times and this one might be kinda out there, but it makes sense to me.

The story starts out picturesque. A fridge is enjoying its life serving as a new addition to the kitchen in the home of a happy family. However, after a few years, the family gets increasingly miserable to the point where they’re always at each other’s throats. Less and less food would be put in the fridge, and they rarely ate together anymore.

After about a decade, it’s clear the family has gone nuts. There’s no food in the fridge anymore, it’s stained with blood and they’re very manic. They eventually load up the fridge with large packages of food, which makes the fridge very happy. However, the fridge notes that the food seems strange and smells very familiar. It also notes that the little boy is the only one of the family to not grow up. The father is notably not present, and the remaining family members chant that there wasn’t another way.

As we end the episode, the conclusion can be drawn that they killed the father, chopped up his body and put it in packages in the fridge either to hide or eat it maybe.

The end.

Right before I wrote this review, I had one theory that the father killed the little boy right after the shot of them acting all happy-go-lucky. Then they became miserable because of the boy’s death, and the boy was haunting the house afterward which is why we see him throughout. Then they went crazy and killed the father in an act of vengeance. I thought maybe they had hidden the boy’s body in the fridge at some point, which is why the fridge said it smelled familiar, but that didn’t make quite enough sense because we would’ve seen at least a hint of it at some point in the episode.

But then I noticed something. The boy never spoke. He never really moved much either. He mostly just stared at stuff. His shirt also never once changed. And then I noticed the most damning thing – from the very beginning, there was only four chairs at the dinner table but, if the boy was part of their family, there would be five (Mom, Dad, older brother, sister and younger brother). In addition, when the mom puts the cake in the fridge, there are only four slices.

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I can’t imagine he was part of the family and died before the start of the episode, so I came up with this theory. Again, it’s kinda out there and might not fully fit given some details, but I’m comfortable with it.

The fridge isn’t a new fridge. It’s just new to this family/house, right? I believe the fridge is a refurbished used fridge that belonged to someone else. The boy was killed, chopped up and stored in the fridge, which is why the fridge noted that the smell was familiar even though we never saw any body parts being put into the fridge over the years (and all of the food looked normal to me, but that might not mean anything.)

The boy now haunts the fridge and affects the family of the owner of the fridge.

As for why the family eventually went nuts and the father got killed and chopped up by them, I believe the boy’s father killed him and he wanted to kill the father of this family to get revenge by proxy, so he used his ghost powers to influence them, make them go insane and eventually do the deed. That’s why he looked so happy in the end and finally disappeared. The fridge also got blood stains as we neared the end because the ghost was causing the stains from his body to reemerge now that the killing had happened or was close to happening.

The only real hitch in this theory that I can’t get around is why the fridge doesn’t recognize the kid, but I guess it’s possible that it was a fridge in the basement or garage or something of the first owner and never really noticed the kid. Maybe the events were so horrible, it blocked it from its memory.

I dunno, maybe my entire theory is bunk. But if you just take the episode at face value it is ridiculously confusing. You pretty much have to make up your own story and overlay it on top to really get enough value, story-wise, from it. It is an entertaining episode if not just for the unique perspective, different storytelling technique and gradual buildup to the really dark stuff.

The fact that the story was being narrated by this admittedly adorable sounding refrigerator also added a unique aspect to this episode. It was a deep contrast to the dark feelings of the family and the grim vibe. I felt a tiny bit sad for the fridge at the end. (Well, that’s a sentence I said.)

It was a creepy episode, but it stops there. The story and atmosphere never become truly scary. It’s one of the better episodes of the season, but it’s also probably the most confusing one of the entire franchise. I know I liked it, but it would definitely be polarizing for most people.

Sad to say, this is another season that closed out without any special little ending or the narrator doing anything special. 😦

That being said, it’s fitting that the end of the newest season of Yami Shibai also closes out this year’s Animating Halloween. It went by way too fast, if you ask me, and I can only hope we get another season of Yami Shibai to visit next year. The full review of season seven is coming up soon, but for now have a happy and safe Halloween!

And be nice to your sentient fridge.


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Animating Halloween: Dead Space – Aftermath Review

Rating: 5.5/10

Plot: Three years before the events of Dead Space 2, the USG O’Bannon went to Aegis VII to collect shards of the marker that Isaac Clarke crashed into the surface. However, shortly after they were dispatched, the CEC also loses contact with the O’Bannon. When the Marines go to investigate, they find that, out of the 137 crew members of the O’Bannon, there are only four signs of life detected. Everyone else was slaughtered.

Aftermath chronicles the stories of each of the four remaining crew members – Isabel Cho, Nickolas Kuttner, Alejandro Borges and Nolan Stross – as they piece together what happened on the O’Bannon.

Breakdown: I’m going to bite my tongue for something I’ll definitely be addressing later, but let me just say this movie had me internally screaming (in a bad way) within the first three minutes and consistently remains a prevalent problem throughout the bookends.

Dead Space: Aftermath was meant to serve as a bridge between the video games Dead Space and Dead Space 2, and….it’s kinda that a little I guess. But since homework is poo, as I mentioned in the last Dead Space movie, Downfall, we’re going to be trying to take this at face value without concerning ourselves too much with continuity issues between the games.

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The USG O’Bannon has suddenly ceased communication with the CEC, so they send out a ‘rescue’ team of marines to see what happened. When they arrive, they see that the ship is littered with torn apart bodies. Only four life signs are detected on board out of the 137 listed crew. When they find them, one of them, Kuttner, goes berserk and kills one of the soldiers, so they’re stunned with high powered tasers and detained.

They start interrogating all of them individually to get their stories on what happened when they were deployed to Aegis VII.

The movie is separated into four flashbacks that are bookended by the continuing plot going on in the rescue ship, the USM Abraxis. Each flashback is drawn and animated in a different fashion. This is a creative and interesting way to both convey the story of what happened on the O’Bannon while also getting specific perspectives of the information through the eyes of each of our main characters. However, I do also have to ding it because it ultimately serves no point.

People were noting some changes in certain details that show differences in perspective, like Cho seemingly being made sluttier in Stross’ flashback while she’s very tall and well-built but also mature and responsible, barring the affair she was having with Stross, in her own flashback. In Kuttner’s flashback, he easily overpowered Noah and Alejandro, but in Alejandro’s flashback he gives a much better fight, even hurling him about 300 feet as he took a swipe at him near the end.

In any other story, these might be amusing changes, but in this circumstance, who cares about such petty discrepancies in perspective when over 100 people were brutally murdered? It’s no time for dick measuring contests and slut shaming.

The first one to be interrogated is Kuttner, who was the first one to have exposure to a fragment of the marker on Aegis VII. He went insane almost immediately after that, having constant hallucinations of his recently deceased young daughter, Vivian, leading him to have violent outbursts that set most of the events of the downfall of the O’Bannon into motion and created a slue of problems on the Abraxis.

The art style used for his segment is pretty good. It’s a sort of melding of Western and anime-styled art that is craggy but overall good. I did have a good laugh at Vivian’s face in one shot only because they made her eyes into sharp diamond shapes for no reason when they never look that way again after that.

Next up is Borges’ flashback, and uh…the art, but moreso the animation, for his segment is uh….stiff. Like, for several instances at the beginning, it seems like people are pivoting and turning like actual robots stiff. Outside of that, the art is much more in the realm of anime and is overall more detailed than Kuttner’s, but everyone keeps their suits on so it’s hard to tell for most of it.

Also, in case you somehow manage to forget because god knows they remind us enough times, Noah, who is part of Borges’ engineer crew, is his cousin. And as if we couldn’t already figure it out by the fact that he’s not a fellow survivor, Noah dies. Also, in case you somehow forget because, again, god knows they remind us enough times, Alejandro has a robot arm. He got it from trying to save his crew in a mining accident.

The robot arm is pretty cool, admittedly. Especially with the art in this segment.

Borges’ flashback continues further than Kuttner’s as it includes Noah’s death, their escape off of the exploding rig and the gratuitous death of several characters. Dead Space is no stranger to gruesome deaths, but yeesh.

Soooo….Halfway through the flashback, the only real views of actual faces have been either behind helmets that block nearly everything or Noah’s smashed up face. Once we get back to the main ship, we see the facial art and it’s not nearly as good as Kuttner’s flashback to say the least. The mouths are particularly ugly, being overly large (most notably on Borges) with nearly always-showing teeth, the oddly proportioned eyes, the heads are thin, and the stiff animation continues to bleed into it, particularly in the area of the horrible lip syncing.

They manage to return to the ship, and seem to be one of the only ships that made it back since the rest got destroyed in the debris of the planet as it was exploding. But the deaths aren’t over. The O’Bannon gets heavily damaged while trying to escape, and apparently they put TNT in the control panels because several of them blow up and kill crew members as they take damage.

Once the marker fragment has been given to the Captain, Borges demands to know why a rock was worth his cousin’s life, but gets little answer besides that it’s worth a lot of money.

Next up is, surprisingly, Nolan Stross. I say ‘surprisingly’ because Stross is the only character from Dead Space 2 who appears in this movie. I thought for sure they’d save his segment for last, but whatever.

By the way, they get all of the survivors to talk by tormenting them with hallucinations of their worst fears…….but 1) I don’t understand how they’re even doing that and 2) there’s no indication they wouldn’t have talked beforehand. It’s literally that they put them in the chair and then torture them without asking any questions.

Stross’ flashback is definitely the most anime-ish one so far. Outside of some eye designs that remind me of Reign: The Conquerer, it’s pretty darn good. I don’t exactly know why the Captain now has a collar so popped it’s covering his ears, though. Apparently, the marker fragment is making him think he’s in the 1980s.

Stross, being the head scientist on board the O’Bannon, is tasked with studying the fragment. He’s having marital problems as he struggles to maintain both his job and his family, including his precious infant son. Doesn’t help that his wife thinks he’s cheating on her with with Cho.

As Stross studies the fragment, he finds that it’s a blueprint for DNA and could completely revolutionize life as we know it…..But enough of that, time to prove his wife right by boinking Cho right in the research lab.

Later, Stross explains that the marker fragment has an odd effect on dead tissue. On contact, it reanimates it. When living beings touch or are around the marker for long periods of time, they have visions and nightmares at the start and eventually psychotic breaks – some being more susceptible to this effect than others. Kuttner was the one to break because he both touched the fragment (though, he was wearing gloves…) and was already on edge because it had only been weeks after losing his daughter.

Showcasing some pretty cool effects, we see that Stross is also slowly losing his sanity due to his exposure to the marker piece (And considering how he is in DS2, that’s no surprise.)

Well, it’s 45 minutes into this 80 minute long movie, so it has to be time for necromorphs to finally emerge, right? Right! And Stross actually manages to MAKE one.

He’s so interested in the powers of the marker, that he decides to grab a cadaver and test out its power of reanimation on it. Surprise, surprise, it turns into a necromorph and kills his colleague before going on a murder spree. It’s not long before the, this is probably the wrong term but let’s call it, infection starts spreading like wildfire and the entire ship is thrown into chaos.

Stross runs to save his family, only to be shocked to find that there are two creatures in the room that he swiftly kills. It doesn’t take much for the viewer to realize that the creatures he killed were actually his baby and wife, and that they most likely weren’t killed and reanimated as necromorphs – he just killed them in a psychotic fit, believing they were posing a threat to his family.

Our final flashback is Cho’s and….wow. Her segment has some crazy craggy art. It’s jagged af faces on top of weirdly proportioned bodies. It’s so weird. It’s like someone took the art from Akagi and made everyone super buff. Even Stross is completely cut, but he also a beak nose, so I’m really conflicted.

I’m also endlessly baffled at the fact that they will show some of the most graphic deaths they can but actually show a full-out sex scene? Oh dear god no! Children might see this! Now go twist another young girl’s neck ten times over until her head pops off. (See: Vivian)

Most of her flashback is stuff you can surmise from the others. She meets up with the other survivors as well as the Captain and some stragglers, all of which will obviously die because, again, this movie kinda has too much balls to believe it has the story strength to be able to work with showing us the only survivors at the BEGINNING of a horror movie. (And, dammit, that’s the same problem Downfall had!)

Some confusing deaths happen. One of the stragglers gets all of her head meat melted off by a necromorph throwing up in her face. I’m pretty sure that would be an insta-death, but they not only show her still standing several moments after her head has literally be reduced to a clean skull, but she can also hold her hands up to her head like she’s in pain. Can a doctor please tell me if any of that is plausible?

Other straggler dude dies because of a boring death, but then the Captain dies. There’s a hull breach and they try to shut the airlock doors, but the power is out so the captain sacrifices himself to shut them….since the manual lock…is outside of the door…..What purpose does it serve to have the only manual airlock mechanism…be outside of the airlock doors?

His death is actually pretty cool, though, because, realizing he won’t make it out, he grabs a grenade and launches himself into the group of necromorphs to take as many of them down as he can with him.

Now tasked with throwing the shard of the marker into the reactor core of the engine to stop the necromorphs, the survivors go and….well, do that.

Borges: “I am so fucking sick of these fucking things.” Did you try in terrible, terrible vain to make a Snakes on a Plane reference? Did copyright fright just completely wash the line of any actual reference?

Cho throws the shard into the reactor, the necromorphs all stop moving and we’re looped right back around to the start of the movie.

Catching up on what happened in the bookends, Kuttner accidentally gets himself killed by opening an airlock in an attempt to chase the hallucination of his daughter, Borges gets executed after they find out he didn’t touch the marker piece, thus he’s more of a liability than an asset now, Stross is put into a pod and kept in storage for experimentation on the effects of the marker, and Cho is lobotomized by the overseer after she refuses to help him create a coverup so they can blame her for the ‘terrorist’ attacks on the O’Bannon, the Ishimura and Aegis VII.

…..Which is…some sort of coverup story indeed. Who in their right mind would believe this spindly little doctor was the mastermind behind three of the worst ‘terrorist’ attacks in human history? By herself? She slaughtered everyone on the Ishimura and trashed the ship. She slaughtered everyone on the O’Bannon and destroyed the ship. She BLEW UP AEGIS VII. It’s ridiculous to think anyone’s accepting that.

The people who were interrogating the survivors are killed because I dunno. As we see Isaac’s pod right next to Stross’, our movie ends.

So, yeah, the events of this movie are largely inconsequential to the plots of either Dead Space 1 or 2. It mostly just explains how Stross came into contact with the marker and gives him a little more backstory.

The overall plot is at least a little more interesting than Downfall, even if they did go over the same information a couple times over. I like that they explored the concept of the much larger conspiracy regarding the unitologists here than they did with the few yahoos they had on Downfall. The characters were definitely given more exploration and personality than those in Downfall too. (Please note, however, that this is not a direct sequel to Downfall, as several reviewers were noting.)

The structure is interesting, and even though it doesn’t really serve much of a purpose here, I thought it was fun that they had different art and animation styles for each flashback, even if the art and animation quality of each varied a lot as well.

I also kinda liked the buildup to the necromorphs. Even though we waited quite a while for them to finally appear, there wasn’t a shortage of action in the meantime, and there was certainly a sense of foreboding as I realized Stross would try to use the marker piece on a dead body.

While the voices weren’t the best, I think most of the cast did a pretty good job, particularly Curt Cornelius as Stross (though, that might be cheating because that’s his game voice actor) and Graham McTavish as Captain Campbell.

Well, now. That sure is a lot of positive things I’m saying.

Allow me to ruin it all as I break out into raucous laughter in response to the art and animation of the bookends.

I have been holding that in for over an hour.

I wish I had taped myself reacting to the first few non-credit shots of this movie. I was in awe at the horrible. First, we see entrails flying by that look like the cheapest of cheap plastic toys.

This was when I started muttering “Oh! Oh…god, that’s…that’s not good.”

And then this motherfucker popped up on screen.

I had to pause the video just to process how terrible this looked. I was astounded. But then I took a step back and remembered that this is outside of the ship, so maybe the main scenes will look better.

Uhm.

Yeah.

I’m uhh…

I’m gonna go with a hard ‘no’ there.

How did they manage to make CGI that looks exponentially worse than the video games from which they were based? Isn’t that the bare minimum we’re meant to expect from modern day animated video game movies? This is from 2011!

This….is almost Food Fight levels of bad CGI and animation. Barring the lack of animation errors, it’s basically the same level. Complete lack of detailing, non-moving hair that looks like it was rendered on a Speak and Spell, really odd design choices, and everything simply looking like it wasn’t completed on time so they just said ‘fuck it’ and sent it out. I continued to be increasingly blown away by the lack of quality in the CGI spots. It was impressive it was so bad.

Some of my personal favorites were the doll-like representation of Kuttner’s bloodied daughter.

Looks more like raspberry jam.

Whatever default pose they left Kuttner’s character model in after his death.

These bowling ball spiders.

And even though I would never be able to get a good quality gif of it, the little animation of Cho they made to show her psychotically shooting up someplace that is literally her with her mouth agape and turning as if she were on a mechanical pivot joint swaying back and forth while laughing maniacally. That was the pinnacle of robot animation right there. I laughed out loud for a good minute. No regrets.

Something I should mention is that it wasn’t just different art styles being applied to these separate sections – it was also a slue of animation studios. The animation for the bookends was given to Digiart Productions. You may know them from such masterpieces as Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief, Garfield Gets Real, Bling and the Shark Tale ripoff, Shark Bait/The Reef.

Contrast that with Kuttner and Stross’ flashbacks who had a bit more quality and competence with DongWoo Animation, who produced Magi-Nation and did animation work on shows like Avengers Assemble, Justice League, Kodocha, Rurouni Kenshin and Steamboy.

Then we have Borges’ flashback, which was done by JM Animation. They did animation work on 32 episodes of Avatar the Last Airbender, Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic, and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights.

Finally, Cho’s flashback was done with JM Animation, but specifically Team Seed, whoever they are because I cannot find a single drop of information on them.

Either way, any of these studios and teams could’ve done a much MUCH better job on the bookended segments than Digiart, but nope. Technically the main part of our movie is the part they gave the people behind Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts (Lucky Goes to Hollywood!)

And just to give everyone fair shame, I’ll also list the main production studios who more prominently put their names on this – Starz Media, Pumpkin Studios, Film Roman and the bastards themselves – EA.

Bottomline: The differing art styles will either leave you impressed and refreshed with the variety or will leave you confused and put off because most of the segments look passable at best. Some people were saying Cho’s part was the best animated, but I’d have to disagree as I found Stross’ flashback to be quite a bit better.

The CGI bookend segments are, by far, the worst offenders. Put the flashbacks side and side and the transitions aren’t too jarring, but throw in the CGI bits and it’s like falling off a cliff at the beginning and end of each flashback.

At the very least, the CGI is so bad I got a good laugh out of it. Being fair, too, the shots of the ship in most of the versions look pretty okay, outside of Cho’s flashback where it looked a bit too fake and like it was moving out of sync with what was hitting it.

The voice work is pretty good, the music has quite a bit of tension to it and most of the time the direction and cinematography are nice enough.

This is largely a pointless movie, though, that hardly acts as the bridge between Dead Space 1 and 2 that it seemingly wants to be. While I do believe the story is a bit better than Downfall, the structure will definitely put some people off. There’s also no getting around the fact that all of the tension gets drained out of a horror movie when you show the only survivors at the start and tell the story through their eyes. The only tension left is who will be left alive in the bookend segments, and considering Stross is the only person we see or hear about from this story in Dead Space 2, most people can instantly infer that most will either die or otherwise be silenced.

It’s a perfectly fine movie. It’s fine. It’s very okay.

If you can survive a few vicious assaults on your eyeballs, it’s perfectly watchable for both Dead Space fans and people who just want an animated horror movie.

As you can tell by the rating, it’s, sadly, not as good as Downfall, despite some of my earlier notes. I was definitely more immersed in a horror environment with Downfall. The art, while not being fantastic, was far more consistent. And the pacing was much better because we didn’t have to go over some spots twice or more and we didn’t have to come to a near halt four times due to transitions between storytellers.

In the end, I feel like Aftermath is a movie they both put more work into but also cared significantly less, if that makes any sense.

Recommended Audience: It’s Dead Space, so….duh. If you don’t know Dead Space level gore, it’s really, really high. People get brutally crushed, their heads smashed in, head meat melting off, heads sliced in half, burned to death in lava, and even though it was masked as a necromorph at the time, there’s also a very brutal baby murder. Etc.

There’s also a few brief spots of nudity, all of which is contained to Cho’s segment. It’s also the only segment that includes sexual content, but it’s nothing porny. It’s mostly just a brief shot of movement, her sitting on him naked and then a couple suggestive shots.

We also have a bunch of swearing, if that bothers you in comparison to everything else. 17+


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Animating Halloween: Tiny Toon Adventures – Night Ghoulery Review

Plot: The Tiny Toons parody numerous horror movies and shows for their Halloween special.

Breakdown: Now that the Looney Tunes have had their shot at a Halloween special review this year and pretty much flopped, how did the Tiny Toons do?

Much better, I’m happy to report. And I was trying really hard not to be biased because I did watch this special a lot as a kid (I especially remember loving the parody of The Tell-Tale Heart.)

Instead of taking old existing cartoon shorts and sloppily taping them together to make a Halloween movie, Tiny Toons went all out and made a full 45 minute long special with all new shorts parodying a variety of horror based movies and TV shows.

The shorts are bookended by sequences where Babs is parodying the TV series, Night Gallery, which a horror anthology show hosted by Rod Sterling (with Babs doing a Rod Sterling impression throughout) that was akin to the Twilight Zone.

Some of the segments are almost confusingly short and are not bookended by the Babs Night Gallery scenes, which can sometimes make it difficult to know where and why a new short is starting, but it’s not nearly as bad as Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special.

Most of the shorts, however, are pretty entertaining. Not really busting a gut laughing, but I was laughing quietly to myself. It even started me off laughing since the special started with a parody of Nightmare Before Christmas. There were many moments that had me chuckling. Obviously, some of the shorts land harder than others, but they had their moments

I was baffled at how only one of them featured Buster at all. This special was covered in Plucky and Hamton, though, which is fine because I love those two, but it’s a little confusing why they were given so much focus. They, together, got two shorts to themselves, and Plucky even got another while partnered with Buster. Babs only got one short to herself, and Babs and Buster never had a short together.

I didn’t particularly care for the fact that two of these shorts had a character, both played by Plucky, that did the ol’ ‘There’s something scary!’ *tries to show other person* *There’s nothing there* *Character is treated like an idiot or crazy* trope twice in this special, especially considering that my least favorite part of Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special was the one where they did that same trope with Sylvester.

Also, Tiny Toons does prove to get a little dated at spots. Nothing cringe or eye-roll worthy, but there are still instances here and there where you can see its age. In addition, even as an adult, there are a ton of references I just don’t get.

I really appreciated that they made a custom theme song for the special. Not only is it an extended version of the regular song, but it’s animated and lyrically changed to fit the Halloween theme, which was awesome. They even ended the special on a different ending rendition of it.

Overall, this is a really great special for any Looney Tune or Tiny Toon fan around Halloween. It’s obviously not scary at all, it’s Tiny Toons so it’s not meant to be, but it’s a great bit of Halloween humor with a little something for everyone. Plus, we got to see Furrball dressed as a Ghostbuster, come on.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 7 Episodes 9 and 10 Review

Episode 9: The Woman in the Elevator

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Plot: A woman gets on an elevator with a fairly attractive man holding a trash bag when the elevator suddenly breaks down. When they contact the elevator company through the intercom, the man on the other line claims he sees three people – the two of them and a mysterious other woman.

Breakdown: I won’t be able to get through the rest of this review without getting this off my chest – the guy in this episode looks so much like Light from Death Note. The fact that he was an eerily calm murderer on top of that made this whole episode very surreal.

Anyhoo, I enjoyed this episode for what it was, even though this was probably one of the easiest stories to figure out in this show in a very long time. Yami Shibai has a habit of either being too in-your-face with its twists or being so subtle that, no matter how long you think about it, it makes no sense. This one was a like a mix.

Like, ooh, I’m so sure there’s nothing ominous in that trash bag. The focus on his wedding ring sure has no purpose unless they’re indicating that he killed his wife. They really lay it on thick at the end that his wife’s body is in that bag and he’s going to burn it. The balls on this guy to do all of this in broad daylight too.

A few things did confused me though – How did he know the lady behind them was his wife’s ghost and to not look at her? Why did the ghost do nothing besides cry at the trash bag? Perfect opportunity to kill the guy who killed you. He’s trapped in an elevator. You can’t get much better than that. Did she need someone to look at her for her…powers to work?

Some people are theorizing that it was her pet in that bag, not her, which is why it moved in the end….but we were given no indication of any animals, and that doesn’t explain why the woman is clearly a ghost. Unless they’re implying he got rid of her body long ago and only recently killed the pet, which doesn’t make any sense. I believe he definitely killed his wife and she’s in the bag, but it’s one of many bags that he’s trying to nonchalantly dispose of one at a time. The bag is moving because oooh ghosts. It’s not moving because of the body.

Overall, while this wasn’t the scariest episode, I did get tense while the ghost was present just because I thought for sure the (living) woman would look at the ghost and die, and I did have a spot of tension afterwards as well because I thought, if the ghost wasn’t going to kill her, surely Light would. But nope. He just goes about his body burning.

I did feel really bad for the woman, though. Either way, it’s horrible. She’s either mourning her own death and crying about the fact that she’s now a pile of parts in a garbage bag or she’s dead and now her pet is also dead, murdered by the same man who killed her.

It’s not top tier Yami Shibai material, but I enjoyed it well enough.

Episode 10: Manga Cafe

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Plot: An employee at a manga cafe keeps bumping into a creepy woman looking in vain for her lost earring. When the employee shares this information with his colleague, he shares a creepy story of a woman who was a regular at the cafe. But that’s impossible. She’s long since dead.

Breakdown: Another episode where the ‘twist’ is both obvious (the damn pachinko ball is the earring, dude.) but the ending threw me off for a while, and I’m not sure even the explanation I read from comments makes all that much sense.

The line that threw me off was the ghost claiming she paid for the earrings with her eyes….then an audio flashback to what the employee’s coworker told him was that woman died in an accident, but for some reason her eyes were missing from her corpse.

According to said comments, there’s either one of two explanations here. Either 1) she literally paid for her earrings by selling her eyes, which is more goofy than anything, if you ask me, or 2) she paid for the earrings with money she got from a loan shark, but she wasn’t able to pay them back so they killed her and gouged her eyes out as either part of her torment as they were killing her or symbolically. That explanation is much less goofy….but, I don’t know.

The story as a whole just didn’t grasp me. The woman wasn’t creepy enough. Only when she revealed her eyeless face does she get creepy and even then it’s not much. The plot didn’t have enough added to it to make it unique.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the art and animation for this episode just took me right out of everything too. The colors are ugly, the art is too cartoony, and even though I’m well aware this entire franchise is based on paper doll shows, no episode has seemed more paper-doll-ish than this one. I was half-expecting to see a popsicle stick taped to one of the characters.

I didn’t have a bad time watching this episode, but the horror aspect wasn’t there at all for me and the overall story was very average.


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Animating Halloween: A Recess Halloween Review

A Recess Halloween 1

Plot: 3rd Street School has a new fifth grade class – and TJ and the gang are in it! Yes, the infamous fourth graders have reached fifth grade. They’re growing older, changing, maturing. But when the familiar call of Halloween comes around, Spinelli finds herself unable to get into it after Lawson and his crew mock her for being too old for Halloween. Is Spinelli just in a Halloween funk or is the gang really too old for one of their favorite holidays?

Breakdown: We get to return to Recess this Halloween!

For the last time.

I don’t just mean that as in this is the second and last Halloween special that Recess ever made, I mean that as in this is a strange case of their Halloween special being the series finale.

Recess had completed their six season run and was ready to either make a seventh season or a spin-off series (which, if the latter is true, likely would’ve been a slightly more mature Recess taking place in fifth grade instead of fourth.) They had animated three episodes of this season/series before it was suddenly canceled for no given reason.

In order to make money from what was already animated, Disney released the episodes with some new bookended animation thrown in to make a direct-to-video movie – Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade. While Halloween is a theme in all of the bookends, it is only given focus in the final entry, A Recess Halloween…..which is a really lazy title that I can only imagine was a first draft that no one bothered to rework because the title cards wouldn’t appear in this movie anyway unlike the TV series where they were always on-screen.

What I find particularly odd about this is that the show was meant to end after season five and the movie, Recess: School’s Out, was released, but it garnered a sixth season because its performance was particularly high after that. So it was popular enough to rip from its relatively sound fate and give it another season, and then, in the middle of animating the seventh season/spin-off, they suddenly cancel it out of nowhere? Why?

Unlike the previous Halloween special, which was a series of short ‘scary’ stories told by Butch, this Halloween special involves Spinelli, who is usually the one in the group most excited about Halloween, feeling like she’s outgrown the holiday due to Lawson mocking her for making Jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treating. Unlike Lawson and his crew’s super mature Halloween festivities of….smashing pumpkins for no reason.

A Recess Halloween 2

Spinelli becomes very sullen after this and doesn’t partake in any Halloween festivities, even the ones they offer at school like singing Halloween songs and eating a special Halloween lunch.

Let me just share that, when I was in grade school, I was a complete wimp….I still am a complete wimp, but now I’m all about horror and Halloween. Back then, however, even though I liked Halloween, I hated horror. I hated scary things. I especially hated haunted houses and hay rides. Every year at my school, they’d have a haunted ‘house’ set up in the cafeteria, and it was someone’s bright idea to force everyone to go through it if they wanted the special Halloween bagged lunch. I didn’t want to go through because I hated haunted houses, and this one was one of haunted houses where they grab at you, and I wasn’t having any of that.

The moral of the story is, I stole special Halloween bagged lunches as a child….And now back to our program.

This isn’t so simple a case as bullies being bullies, however, because it ties into their new common theme of growing up and changing. When the gang talks about all the fun things they do on Halloween, Spinelli explains that the magic has been drained of it, no matter what Lawson told her. She truly believes she’s outgrown it.

The other kids aren’t so quick to believe her, though, and set off trick-or-treating. While they start off in strong spirits, they quickly start having the magic of Halloween lifted away from them as well.

The massive piles of candy they get from one house – sugarless.

The creepy cemetery at another? The gravestones are plywood.

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The creepy man sitting outside that same house that gives out candy? Animatronic. (And can I just add that the guy who owns that thing is extremely unreasonable? TJ lightly touches the animatronic man and the arm just falls off. Then the owner berates him for breaking it and tells him he has to fix it for all the kids who actually believe in that stuff….All he did was lightly touch it. What is your problem, dude?)

The creepy building they usually run from that they believe is a defunct prison haunted by inmates? It’s actually an old DMV.

It seems like the gang is doomed to sharing the same Halloween blues that Spinelli has.

Meanwhile, back with Spinelli, she has relegated herself to watching TV and handing out candy while her parents are out. When the diggers show up and tell her they’ll tell a nearby group of little kids to not visit the house because Spinelli’s such a sour grape, she decides to make a real effort to partake in the fun, if just for the sake of making those kids happy.

I really loved these brief scenes of Spinelli as she talks with the visiting kids. She gives them a fun scare and even gives another group tips on how to be scarier dinosaurs. It shows the audience that there are many ways to enjoy Halloween as you get older, and one of those ways is by creating the Halloween magic that you used to love (and might still love) for a new generation of kids.

A Recess Halloween 4

Miss Finster visits, hoping to invite Spinelli’s parents out for a Halloween party. Spinelli is surprised to see that Miss Finster, despite her advanced age, is as much into Halloween as any kid. Showing a true sign of maturity, Spinelli asks to have a talk with Miss Finster about her conflicting feelings on Halloween. She thinks she’s too old for it, but tonight has shown her that she feels like she’s missing out on a bunch of fun.

Lending an understanding ear, Miss Finster tells her that age has nothing to do with liking stuff such as Halloween. You either like it or you don’t. It’s what you feel in your heart that truly matters. And you shouldn’t let anyone tell you what you should and shouldn’t like.

I enjoyed this interaction with Spinelli and Miss Finster. Not only do I love when Ms. Finster shows her much nicer mentor side (Especially to Spinelli because it’s a nice touch of continuity that the two are friends through Finster’s friendship with Spinelli’s parents), but I also like when we get peaks into her non-school personality. She’s very much a fun-loving gal.

Spinelli then decides to make the best of the night and go join her friends on their trick-or-treating rounds. She comes across Hustler Kid….who is wearing a Nixon mask. I laughed for a good minute at his scene. I doubt any kid watching that would get the joke of his costume mixed with his character, but it was hilarious to me.

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Hustler Kids tells her the bad news that her attitude rubbed off on the other kids and now they’re having a terrible Halloween too. Spinelli feels incredibly guilty, but knows just what to do to make up for it.

She invites them out to their last usual stop, which is a house they believed was owned by vampires. The owners, however, moved out since the last Halloween, so Spinelli suggests that they, being super mature grown ups, go inside and look around.

Awaiting them is a slue of scares that she, Miss Finster, Miss Grotke, Principal Prickly and some of the other adults from town set up to scare the pants off of the gang. The plan works. They had a good scare and some great fun. Spinelli explains that they can grow up and mature while still enjoying everything they loved, like Halloween, if they still make the choice to like it, and they should never let anyone tell them otherwise.

This is a great message. It’s not about shedding something other people perceive as childish just to be more ‘grown up’ and it’s not about locking yourself in childhood nostalgia forever. It’s about letting yourself enjoy anything you want without allowing anyone to bully you into conforming to their view of what you should like or partake in, especially if it’s based on stupid qualifiers like age or gender. (And, hey, if I did that, I certainly wouldn’t be on this blog right now talking about cartoons and anime.)

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The kids get a heaping helping of (sugary) candy and they all enjoy their Halloween together.

The end.

———————————

I really loved this Halloween special, and I’m a bit miffed that it is so good since I never saw this when I was a kid. Because it was a direct-to-video movie, I just never owned it and thus never saw it. I did see Recess: School’s Out in theaters and later owned it on VHS (still have it) but when it came to the other direct-to-video movies and specials, I never was able to get them. I’m not sure if they ever aired on TV. I only remember a lot of advertisements for the VHS.

For some reason I have the oddest feeling of Deja Vu when watching another episode in this movie, The Fifth and Sixth Grader’s Club, but I honestly don’t know why. Maybe I’m confusing that episode for another.

I’m disappointed Recess ended the way it did. Even though this is, technically, also a pretty sound ending to the series, I feel like this is one of those shows where we should have at least gotten a peak into their adult lives as the series finale. What’s especially strange is that the following movie (Which is not regarded as the series finale because it’s a prequel), a movie called Recess: All Growed Down is basically the exact opposite of what I wanted or expected because it follows the exploits of the kids in kindergarten (and also retcons it so that the gang knew Gus briefly as small children when he was supposed to be a new kid at the start of series.)

….Does anyone else find it weird that they canceled the series while Taking the Fifth Grade’s episodes were in production, yet after that release they make another new movie?

Recess is still a show near and dear to me, and I’m honored to review their last Halloween special and series finale for everyone on this year’s Animating Halloween.

Final Note: I find it kinda funny that TJ goes on about Spinelli always has the best and creepiest costumes on Halloween, but the two times we see her dressed up in this special she just has regular clothes on with a relatively bland mask added.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 7 Episodes 7 and 8 Review

Episode 7: Public Phone

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Plot: A door to door insurance salesman, Chie, gets a frantic call from her sister late at night as she’s trying to get to an appointment. Her sister is calling from a payphone, not her cell phone, and begs Chie to come get her. She begrudgingly agrees. When she arrives, she finds the floor of the phone booth covered in broken cell phones and her sister is nowhere to be found. What is happening in this phone booth?

Breakdown: Dear god, this art is some of the worst the series has had. I don’t mind crayon-like lines and color work, but the character models are so off, and even the monster at the very end looks weird not scary.

As for the story itself, I give it points for creativity, maybe another point for the slightly creepy shots of the monster outside of booth, but that’s about it.

Chie is lured to this phone booth in the middle of the night as she makes her rounds selling insurance door to door. Her sister, Momoe, calls her in a panic begging her to come to the phone booth from which she’s calling to help her.

Chie, although annoyed, agrees and goes to the booth with about as much urgency as I have when I go to the eye doctor (For reference – super hate the eye doctor). She has zero concern and keeps thinking it’s a prank for some reason.

When she arrives, she finds the floor of the phone booth covered in broken cell phones. The public phone is off the hook, but Momoe’s voice can be heard from it. When she picks it up and talks with her for a bit, the door closes and locks her in. The air gets thin and she clears the glass to see some creepy humanoid monster outside.

She tries to call for help on her cell phone, but like the phones scattered on the floor, her screen cracks and is rendered useless. Momoe tells her that, in order to survive, she has to call someone with the phone card on top of the phone and hang up before the time runs out, otherwise, the monster will get her.

She calls who I assume is her boyfriend, Shouhei. When she hangs up, however, the timer keeps going down and Momoe apologizes. That ploy was never going to actually work. This is basically the MO of the monster. Someone gets caught by the monster, they call a loved one under this same trick, luring them down to the phone booth, but they get killed by the monster. The next person who arrives gets the same treatment. Wash, rinse, repeat for all eternity I suppose.

Chie gets eaten and, unsurprisingly, the episode ends with Shouhei about to enter the phone booth.

Sooo….does no one ever call the cops when they get caught by this thing? If it’s just a string of loved ones being called, wouldn’t someone have caught on before the floor was covered in phones? If your loved one called you in a panic from a payphone and when you arrived you found dozens of broken discarded cell phones scattered on the ground, including one she seemingly believes is her sister’s, would you not then call the cops? What happens if the person just decides to not go to the public phone? Is the monster screwed? Or does it just wait 6 months for someone to use the payphone because everyone has cell phones now?

It’s not too bad of an episode, but there’s enough wrong with it to be distracting to me and take me out of it entirely. The shot of the monster through the glass and its hand grabbing underneath the door were the only somewhat cool spots. Otherwise, it’s just okay bordering on bad.

Episode 8: Cough

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Plot: Takayuki lives in an apartment building where his neighbor is a crazy old man who is constantly complaining about the slightest noise he makes. Meanwhile, his ragged cough is enough to warrant alarm. When Takayuki hears a particularly bad coughing fit coming from his neighbor’s room, he struggles with calling 911 or just letting him suffer.

Breakdown: Here’s my play-by-play reaction to this episode.

– Wow, what a crazy old man.

– Is something going to burst from this guy? Is that why he coughs so much?

– Quite the moral struggle. I like it.

– As douchey as it is, I can’t entirely fault the guy for not calling an ambulance. The neighbor (who is related to their landlord) did threaten to get him evicted for so much as making slight noise, I can only imagine what he’d do if he felt he unnecessary called an ambulance for him.

– I don’t really think Takayuki can be blamed for the neighbor’s death, though. He seems to have died mere seconds after he put his phone down and refused to call an ambulance. Unless the paramedics have teleportation capabilities, he was dead either way.

– Oooh now shit’s going down!

– This sequence is actually pretty creepy.

– The suspense is good too!

-………………..PBBBBBBBBBBBBTTTTTHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! *laughs through the end credits*

What the hell was that ending meant to be if not hilarious? If this whole episode was a joke, bravo, but otherwise, what were they thinking?

The crazy neighbor who died comes back as a ghost milliseconds after he dies. He turns out the lights and starts slowly approaching Takayuki and his girlfriend through a weird dark tunnel thing. The sequence is pretty effective because he looks creepy and it’s paced pretty well. As he gets right up to them……he yells….YOUR TV’S TOO DAMN LOUD!

End!

What. The. Hell.

I’m conflicted even further because I didn’t want this crazy bastard to get the last laugh, I didn’t want Takayuki to die (which I assume he did) and his girlfriend was a completely innocent party I also didn’t want dead because she was insistent on calling for help. So now not only do I have a ruined ‘scary’ story, but I also feel a bit pissed that the jackass character got to win out and the likable characters died over something stupid that wasn’t even their fault.

It may have been silly, but I think my initial thought of this guy having some creature in his body that is causing his cough (and maybe causes him pain when he hears too much sound?) would’ve been better than nagging old man ghost. He might as well have yelled out ‘You damned kids, get offa mah lawn!’


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Animating Halloween: Casper’s Halloween Special Review

Plot: Casper and a group of orphaned children try to enjoy their night out on Halloween, but Casper’s fellow ghosts, Hairy Scarey, Winifred Witch and Screech Ghost are looking to strike up scares and tricks that are ruining their fun.

Breakdown: I never saw the Hanna-Barbera Casper cartoon of which this is based from. I know Casper as a character is much older than that, but my exposure to Casper is very much limited to the live-action movies that came out in the 90s/early 00s. As much as I liked those movies, Casper was never a character I yearned to seek out in other media. He’s just not….interesting enough?

Still, this Halloween special is a perfectly nice watch. I liked the songs (Barring the singing in the first one), some of the moments were pretty funny, and it was Halloween-y enough to satisfy me.

I can’t help but think Casper’s being a bit too unreasonable about what the other three ghosts are doing, at least initially. Obviously, as ghosts, they love scaring people, and Halloween’s a time when they’re free to go around and scare everyone. They see no harm in it either. Afterall, part of Halloween is tricks and scares.

However, Casper feels that Halloween is only about kids going out, dressing up, having fun and getting candy, apples and cookies (There was a time when kids were excited about getting apples when they were trick-or-treating? Also, during a montage of Halloween goodies later, one kid imagines someone handing out nuts. Who are these Halloweirdos?) Halloween’s not about getting scared or playing pranks. He chastises them for thinking such and consistently tries to stop them from doing anything.

Initially, I think Casper’s in the wrong here. Halloween’s about all of those things. It’d be hollow if it were just about dressing up and getting candy, and it’d be mean to have it just be about pranks and scaring people (I know April Fool’s Day exists – doesn’t mean I particularly like it.) Even the orphans are shown trying to scare people, and they did it by popping up in some random person’s window, which, in my opinion, is worse than most of the stuff the ghosts do.

After a while, the other three ghosts decide to spend the entire night playing harmful tricks on this group of orphans who are so poor they can only barely afford cheap plain black masks and paper bags.

They essentially stop scaring people entirely and just frame these poor kids for a slue of pranks, which always gets whatever candy they were about to get taken away from them. These ghosts are literally stalking these kids to only play pranks on them and them alone. This might be because they’re trying to press Casper’s buttons as he befriended them, but there’s also the fact that there are barely any other kids out trick-or-treating.

We see two small groups, but that’s purely for the sake of showing kids with money getting candy from houses in nice neighborhoods – ones that subsequently snub them when they ask for candy just because they’re poor orphans. The only house that gives a reason says it’s because they’re not from that neighborhood, but 1) that shouldn’t matter and 2) there’s no way he knows that. One house might have actually gotten in their car, left and shut the gate when they saw poor kids coming. Like, what?

Still, there are other kids out there to mess with, but we have to ensure they’re the bad guys by having them pick on poor little orphans. One of these orphans is so ridiculously….I’m going to make up a word here, and I’m going to assume you know what I’m talking about and that I don’t mean this in bad faith to real orphans – She’s ridiculously over-orphaned. She’s at maximum orphan. She’s insanely sweet, speaks in this saccharine manner where she sounds super shy and kinda weak, but somehow managing to sound greatly happy when the slightest good thing happens and deeply sad when a setback happens, and she wears clearly oversized ratty clothing. The only things she’s missing are a dirty face and coughing every now and then.

I liked her character, she was really adorable, but I couldn’t help but shake my head at how stereotypically they made her character.

After that, Casper is clearly the good guy who can’t catch a break in trying to get the other ghosts to stop. It takes Hairy Scarey realizing how negatively impacted the kids were to realize that what they were doing wasn’t fun, it was mean. The kids, Hairy, the orphanage director Mr. Dunham, and a woman they pranked give Winifred and Screech a taste of their own medicine, which sends them packing.

The woman who got pranked, despite being so pissed at the kids for appearing to try to steal her candy as she handed it to them and for putting a sheet over her head that she called their orphanage to complain was so nice in the end she not only agreed to helping them prank ghosts that she’s totally cool with knowing exists for some reason, but she also goes out and buys all of the kids and Casper actual costumes. That lady sure is something.

All of them are happy and even welcome Casper into their family, which I guess is why the title of the special is technically ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost: He Ain’t Scary, He’s Our Brother.’ (Another alt is Casper Saves Halloween)

Overall, this is a very cute and fun Halloween special for kids and anyone who enjoys classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 7 Episodes 5 and 6 Review

Episode 5: Notice of Termination of Service

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Plot: A salaryman visits a small town where funerals seem to be happening all over. He checks into a cheap hotel…but….The time has come to say goodbye.

Breakdown: It’s not often Yami Shibai leaves me with little to nothing to say. I’m not saying this episode is boring or anything. In fact, this is a very good entry. It’s creepy, has a pretty unique and creative story and is one of those episodes where you don’t really need everything explained to you because the story delivered the scary atmosphere enough for me to not really care. It is confusing, but I think I’m just thinking about it too hard and it’s a rather simple case of the town being a murder town.

Episode 6: The Veranda

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Plot: A young woman keeps hearing strange scratching noises on her veranda, but when she goes to see what’s causing the sound, it stops. She asks her boyfriend to help investigate. What is causing the strange sounds?

Breakdown: Every time someone mentions a veranda, I think of The Golden Girls….

Uh, anyway, this episode is very, very meh. It is probably one of the most overused tropes in horror to go ‘Ahh! Scary sounds!….Oh nothing’s there.’ ‘Other character! Scary sounds!’ OC – ‘There’s nothing there, idiot.’ Both – ‘OMG ACTUAL SCARY THING!’ *dead* It definitely has to be an additional trope for the scary thing to be a creepy woman with super long black hair and spindly fingers with long nails.

I don’t even really understand this story very much, and unlike the previous entry, this story makes me care about how little sense it makes. The woman had been followed by this creepy demon thing before? When? Why? Was the demon woman thing also killing those women on the news? If so, why?

I will give them some props for animating the demon woman’s fingers more than 98% of anything typically seen in Yami Shibai, but that’s about it.


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Animating Halloween: Higanjima Volume 2 (Manga) Review

Plot: Akira and the others have barely managed to escape from the vampire with their lives intact. The mysterious woman, named Rei Aoyama, helped them escape by using herself as bait. While Ken was bitten, the effects of vampirism don’t spread unless some of the vampire’s blood gets into the victim’s system; leaving him weak but alive and human.

Rei explains later that she came on a mission to save her mother and sister. The village she hails from is filled with monsters. She tried to recruit a team of people from the mainland to help kill them all and save her two sisters, but they were a small group and inevitably failed. As an example, Rei’s second sister was crucified.

Now, she seeks to recruit Akira and even bigger group to take them down and save her sister.

Ken is infuriated and itching to kill the monsters, so he agrees to go. Akira wants to save his brother, who is likely still alive on the island, so he agrees. Yuki wants to protect Ken, so she goes, and everyone else decides to follow in order to help Akira find his brother. The group also decides to recruit as many people from school to help them, under the guise of a graduation trip.

They have about 30 people altogether, but are split into two groups when they reach the boat. Can they survive the monsters on Higanjima, and can Akira find his brother once more?

Breakdown: This was very much a volume to segue us into the main story of what’s happening on Higanjima. Outside of Ken getting bitten, them killing a vampire and Akira seemingly have prophetic visions maybe, the rest is backstory and preparing for the trip.

Rei is quite the interesting character. She does seem at least partway genuine, and I’m rooting for her to really be a good guy, but the fog is far from being lifted around her.

Ken becomes even more abrasive and violent after he gets bitten. He’s not turning into a vampire, he’s just angry that he got bit in front of everyone (and peed his pants in process) so he’s being extra pushy about everything.

Akira doesn’t do much this volume besides have a vision/hallucination that was only a little helpful and he guides us through detecting when Rei is lying, at least much as her tells can offer.

Yuki is still fairly useless, but she does adamantly insist on going to the island and even brings her archery gear to help kill the monsters. Ken even literally kicked her off the bus and she still insisted on going. Good for her. Bad Ken, but good for her.

Not much else left to say about this volume, so let’s see what the island has in store for us next time.

Rating: 7.5/10


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Animating Halloween: Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special Review

Plot: A series of Halloween themed shorts featuring your favorite Looney Tunes characters.

Breakdown: It should come as no surprise to anyone that I love Looney Tunes. In fact, my sense of humor was probably molded by untold amounts of Looney Tunes shorts. So, naturally, when a Bugs Bunny Halloween special landed on my watch list this for Animating Halloween, I was stoked.

And was then disappointed.

I am so baffled by how disjointed this special is. It’s a collection of shorts centered around spooky-ish stories they’ve done before, particularly ones that involve Witch Hazel, but they don’t properly introduce or end nearly any of the segments. They just fade to black and then start another.

I was so confused about halfway into the special until I looked up exactly what this special was. It’s not just that these are a collection of unrelated shorts, but some of them were created nearly a decade apart from each other. And, here’s the kicker, they seemingly edited it this way on purpose to try to force a narrative since some of the shorts are interwoven to seemingly build on what was there when it didn’t.

When pasted together to make a special, especially when you’re not acknowledging when one short starts and another ends, these shorts create a giant mess. So many of these scenes just…stop. They don’t wrap up the story or even the scene sometimes, they just stop. The first story has Daffy’s nephew getting freaked out by Witch Hazel. Daffy goes to her house to prove him wrong and just vanished until the last third of the movie where he spontaneously shows up in Speedy Gonzales’ segment. Then he runs from Witch Hazel when she says she wants to eat him and she doesn’t give chase, it just ends.

This same ending happened earlier when she tried to eat Bugs. He just ran away and she let him.

Sylvester is basically spying on Bugs interacting with Dr. Jekyl as he keeps transforming into Mr. Hyde, then in the middle he has a dream about Tweety drinking the Mr. Hyde serum and trying to eat him. That was the only short that seemed like it had a legitimate beginning, middle and end, even if it was weird being spliced in with the Bugs stuff that also didn’t really get resolved outside of the Mr. Hyde serum playing a part in a couple other shorts.

Then we had another short that seemed to have a story with Sylvester and Porky visiting a hotel in the middle of a quiet nowhere town and doing the shtick of (character) seeming scary stuff, irritating (other character) when they freak out but, of course, nothing’s there when they look. The short ends with Sylvester running away out of town. The weird thing about this short is that it’s bookended by Bugs and Witch Hazel seemingly just watching all of this happening from a mile away?

Bugs breaks into her house to tell her she sucks at magic, then they both watch out the window. They see Sylvester and Porky drive by and, I guess, Witch Hazel was responsible for the mice doing all of that stuff to Sylvester, and, I guess, this impressed Bugs?

Also, the short ends with Bugs turning Witch Hazel into a girl bunny and they go off to have a date, which is a little weird.

Even though the structure was more broken than a skydiving mirror without a parachute over a mountain range, I did smile at some points…but that was about it. These shorts are definitely not the Looney Tunes’ A-game. I couldn’t even enjoy the animation because it was really subpar in some of the shorts. Also, I know they were reusing clips from various time periods in their series, but it was really distracting that Witch Hazel’s skin kept changing colors from green to white.

Overall, if you love Looney Tunes and have the Wiki guide to the order of the shorts and where they begin and end in hand, this might be a decent watch for Halloween, but I’d just as soon skip it. You’re not missing out on anything, honestly.

Luckily, this isn’t the only Halloween special the Looney Tunes have released, so I could see if Bugs Bunny’s Creature Features holds up better. However, I do believe the adults had their turn this year, so maybe I’ll hold off on that for now. It’s time for Tiny Toons to take their shot.


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