Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek Review

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Rating: 8/10

Plot: There’s a rumor going around that, late at night, in a certain part of the city, you can follow mysterious lit signs that read o-to-ko-yo. One sign for each symbol, leading children through the streets to play a game of hide and seek. Six children gather at the designated area wearing fox masks and start the game. Some say demons appear to take the children away, and some kids have indeed disappeared. In this game of hide and seek, who is ‘It’?

Breakdown: I’ll admit, this is an Animating Halloween leftover. I started watching it for the series and just never got around to watching the rest until now.

Shame, because this is a pretty interesting little horror anime. It’s not the scariest thing in the world, but it’s fairly creepy and has numerous creative aspects to it.

The movie itself is merely a 26 minute long short, including credits, so there’s not a lot of time to flesh out characters. However, you do get to know a decent amount of their personalities at least.

It isn’t quite enough for me to feel too emotional when we get to the ending and several of them meet their fates, especially not the twins who I could swear were demons themselves with their glowing red eyes.

Really the only ones you have to worry about are Hikora and Yaimao. Hikora wanted to play the game because his sister, Sorincha, supposedly played the game a while back and has been missing ever since. Yaimao is his best friend, determined to help him find her.

While the big twist is indeed very creative and interesting, I can’t help but note that the rough idea of the end game was predictable. It’s obvious there’s something up with that girl. They even noted that there was seven people when there are only meant to be six. I won’t say anything beyond that, but it is a bit too easy to see where they’re going.

The absolute ending was more sad to me than scary, plus these kids are really stupid to keep pursuing this mysterious game when kids are legitimately going missing. I know some are looking for their loved ones, like Hikora, but most are just curious.

The designs, and particularly sounds, of the demons were very creative and well-made. None were particularly horrifying, but they served their purposes well enough.

The art and animation are done in cel-shaded CGI, which takes a little bit to grow on you, but I believe it works pretty well given the environment they’re in. I think it helps that all of the characters are wearing masks for the entirety of the movie, so we don’t have to see the usual odd CGI facial designs. I did enjoy the various versions of the fox mask as well.

The music is very well done, adding plenty of ambiance to the story.

Voice acting, Japanese, is very well done. Everyone emoted really well and were very fitting for their roles. I especially enjoyed ‘Sorincha’s voice work.

Bottomline: It’s an enjoyable little horror story that could easily be told around a campfire. It’s a tad on the predictable side, but it has a creative and unsettling enough ending to make up for it.

Additional Information and Notes: Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek was written and directed by Shuhei Morita, who also directed Coicent and Tokyo Ghoul. It was produced by Comix Wave Films, and is available in English dub by Central Park Media.

Runtime: 26 minutes

Year: 2005

Recommended Audience: Children do die, but in very non-graphic ways. That’s about it. 10+

Yu-Gi-Oh Episode 6 Sub/Dub Comparison

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Plot: Jounouchi prepares for his first duel in the tournament. His friends urge him to go after someone easy, but the ruthless Mai Kujaku challenges him first to weed out the weakest duelists. She uses a card trick to make it seem like she has psychic powers and can see her cards even when they’re face down. Psyching out the rookie, Mai easily takes the lead in the duel. Can Jounouchi come out a winner or will he lose his only chance at saving his sister’s sight?

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Jounouchi’s first speech right before he starts his duel with Mai is pretty deep and insightful. In the dub, Joey just babbles on about how he has to prove himself even though he never got much training, isn’t very experienced etc.
Mai mentions in the dub that the field they’re playing on is 40% mountain, 40% forest and 20% meadow. In the original, it’s 40% mountains 40% grassland and 20% wasteland. This is a fairly glaring error since they make a point early on in both versions that Joey/Jounouchi’s home field is grassland. It doesn’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things, but still.

Hey 4Kids, it’s Harpy Lady, not The Harpy’s Lady!

Yami Yugi in the original helps Jounouchi by bringing up the “Something that can be seen, yet cannot be seen” thing again. (In this case, scent) In the dub, he says Mai’s just trying to divide and conquer – a strategy that’s been used for centuries. Then as he says “Believe me, I know” they edit in a closeup of Yami’s face and impose a Millennium Eye mark on his forehead….So, 4Kids remembers that Yami has no memories of his life as an ancient pharaoh, right? Right?

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In the original, when Jounouchi has his eyes closed, he wonders if this is what people ‘see’ when they’re blind. Then he says he doesn’t want her sister to live like that. 4Kids, sadly, omits this somber bit of dialogue.

Another omission of “Something that can be seen etc.” (This time it’s….time.) They also edit out a shot of the Sennen (Millennium) puzzle’s box since that no longer has bearing on the scene.

In both versions, they completely ignore a primary aspect of the Time Wizard (but it’s fixed later) Time Wizard works by flipping a coin. Call it right, all opposing monsters die (and in Baby Dragon’s case, turns it into a Thousand Dragon, I’ll give the anime a pass for this. Thousand Dragon is actually a fusion of Baby Dragon and Time Wizard) Call it wrong, and all of your monsters die. In addition, you take damage equal to half of the lost monsters’ attack points. In this instance, the Time Magician just uses Time Magic with no gambling involved (which makes it pretty OP)

More ‘cheating’: Joey/Jounouchi uses Thousand Dragon to attack three monsters at once.

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I actually really liked this episode, even if Jounouchi gets some Yugi training wheels. It took Mai down her first peg, even though it technically is the start of the domino effect that carries way way way later into the show. It shows that Jounouchi’s smarter than he seems both in dueling and cleverness, and it was just a nice first victory for him. I always like Jounouchi episodes.

Next episode, it’s Yugi’s turn to duel next against the fearsome master of the sea, Ryouta Kajiki. Let’s hope Yugi’s monsters can swim.

…Previous Episode

Tokyo Mew Mew/Mew Mew Power Episode 7 (6 For the Original) Sub/Dub Comparison

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Plot: Shirogane and Akasaka are holding an elegant dance party for Ichigo, Mint and Lettuce as a thanks for their hard work in the cafe…..well, Mint really deserves that doesn’t she? Such a hard worker she is drinking tea and lazing about. In preparation for the party, Ichigo and Lettuce meet an American woman set to play piano at the party, yet a huge language barrier makes first impressions more than awkward. At the party, Kisshu shows up and shows off his new ability; making chimera animals with human spirits and the pianist is the first target.

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In the original, Ichigo’s dad says they have to go to their Grandpa’s place to see the festival. In the dub, Zoey’s dad says there’s some sort of samurai festival at the Cinepalace.

Guess the rest of this scene changes because of that. Ichigo getting mad, Ichigo’s dad eating his rice and Ichigo’s mom speaking is edited out. Basically her dad tells her to think about going to the festival and Ichigo tells him to stop talking funny. I’m guessing he’s speaking in a weird dialect or something. I really need to brush up on that. Then he suddenly gets into traditional Japanese clothes and says he’s a real Tokyoite.

In the dub, Zoey’s dad says she used to always love samurai movies and Zoey says she’s just been pretending that she likes them since she was little to make him happy since that one time when she was sick as a kid and had nothing better to do than watch them, which is a bit bitchy of her. Her dad then gets into traditional Japanese garb and says the movie The Reluctant Samurai is the greatest movie ever and ‘quotes’ it while Zoey says she has to work anyway.

Zoey’s mom’s voice is still terrible, by the way.

Well here’s a long cut for no reason whatsoever. After Mint acts like a spoiled bitch, Lettuce offers to do the preparation work for the opening. Ichigo yells that that’s not the point (in being mad that Mint refuses to actually help) when Shirogane interferes and asks if they swept the walkway yet. They say no and Ichigo whines about working since it’s Sunday. Shirogane says she can leave, but she won’t get her employee privilege of all-you-can-eat cakes. Ichigo says she can’t do that and goes to sweep.

In the dub, the only part of this scene that is kept is Lettuce/Bridget talking and in the dub she says maybe they should just take a break and they immediately cut to them sweeping the walkway…because sweeping=break?

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As Ichigo and Lettuce are outside sweeping, Ichigo whines some more and Lettuce tells her they should do their best. Ichigo responds that Lettuce is very optimistic. In the dub, Zoey complains as I did that sweeping isn’t much of a break. Bridget says that sweeping was the only thing she could think of and Zoey’s just glad they’re outside and away from Elliot.

Masha pops up and repeats “Do your best, do your best!” and Ichigo sighs and says he’s always carefree. In the dub, Mini-Mew says “The boss says ‘GET TO WORK!” and Zoey says “He’s calling himself ‘the boss’ now?” Yeah, who does he think he is, Bruce Springsteen? ….Wow, I could feel myself age with that reference.

Ahhhhh yessssss! One of the only moments I was waiting for in this series. The English/Spanish lady. See, in this episode we have a lady who comes out of nowhere to talk to the girls about Shirogane. The problem is that she’s American and doesn’t speak Japanese. She’s also an idiot who instantly thinks that two teenage girls on the street in Japan would know how to speak English. Don’t break out a phrase book or anything, no no. You must be from 4Kids and think that everyone and everything is American. Obviously the girls don’t know how to speak English so they’re clueless until Shirogane shows up.

In the dub, the woman is changed to a Spanish woman….Now I once complained that 4Kids didn’t do a reversal and made her Japanese instead of Spanish, but let me backtrack and say I can further understand why they didn’t do that.

1) Spanish is more common in America than Japanese is, thus it was probably easier finding a Spanish speaking voice actress than it was to find a Japanese speaking one.

2) The woman in no way looks Japanese.

Now let’s get to the complaints about it. This woman is hilarious to watch in the original. Her movements are so spastically animated, even her mouth, like they didn’t know how American people moved or something. Her speech, like many supposedly ‘native’ English speakers in anime, sounds stilted and uncomfortable. She kinda talks like a Speak and Spell. And you want to know what’s odd? She sounds like she has a little bit of a Spanish accent…

In the dub, I don’t speak Spanish well enough to tell, but I’ve heard from several people that she sounds similarly odd in her speech. I don’t really think it sounds that bad, but what do I know? I will say, however, that the subtitles that 4Kids gave her are HUGE! Look at these things.

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Whereas in the original, there are no subtitles at all. The whole point of this scene is to be relatively clueless of what she’s saying. I’m not going to damn 4Kids for being ‘nice’ enough to include subtitles, but they don’t need to be that friggin’ huge.

I guess this couldn’t have translated in any sense. Ichigo initially tries to talk to the woman by saying “I am ‘a Ichigo’.” to which Lettuce responds not to put ‘a’ in front of her name. Ichigo then tries harder and says “strawberry” (since Ichigo literally means strawberry) and the woman still doesn’t understand.

Name Change: The American woman’s name was Mary McGuire. In the dub, the Spanish woman is Maria Rivera.

Zoey’s response seems way more insulting whereas Ichigo’s just seems innocent. Ichigo tries to introduce herself using the best English she knows. Zoey says in a slow and loud tone like an obnoxious tourist “WEEEE NOOOO UN-DER-STAND-O.”

This next bit’s a mess. 4Kids decided to edit out a whole segment where she’s still trying her best to speak English and says “This is a pen” which just confuses the woman further. We then see someone walking up behind Ichigo before we cut to Lettuce.

In the dub, 4Kids places their commercial break right after Lettuce leaves to go get someone who might speak English. When we come back from commercial, we see Lettuce’s scene and the shot of someone walking up behind Zoey is placed directly before we see Mark.

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Mary: “Who is he? And why aren’t you answering my questions?” Oh gee, I dunno, maybe because she obviously doesn’t understand you, you dumb bitch. Not everyone in the world speaks English!

Aoyama’s bilingual too. People that perfect do not exist.

It’s here where we see why the subtitles are pointless. We don’t need them since Mark just translates later anyway and, again, the whole point of that scene is to not know what she’s talking about.

The music when Ichigo freaks out in the original is hilarious. The dub’s isn’t bad, but it’s not as funny. It’s like old-timey silent film music in the original.

Mint asks if Ichigo’s dating Aoyama formally yet. Corina asks if Mark’s kissed Zoey yet.

The piano music being played by the woman is changed. Admittedly, they’re both good songs.

Ichigo asks where the piano came from and Mint says it doesn’t matter, just listen to the music. In the dub, Zoey says she wishes she could play the piano and Corina says she bets she could play the piano if she wanted to. Because why have a nice non-ruined scene when Corina has an opportunity to be a snob?

Well, here’s another pointless change. In the original, Akasaka says that they’re throwing a party for the girls for helping out so much. In the dub, the party’s a charity ball for animal rights and the girls are invited. If anyone can tell me why this was changed, feel free to email me at wtf4Kids@RRRGHHHHHH.com.

Hm….the original either mistranslated what this woman said or Akasaka was purposely changing her words. The woman says to Ichigo “Ichigo, I’d love to play the piano for a girl like you.” And Akasaka translates that as “I’d love to play the piano for pretty girls like you.” Two things: 1) She was only addressing Ichigo there for whatever reason and 2) she never said ‘pretty’. I really don’t know why this woman is so hung up on Ichigo.

Wesley doesn’t translate what the woman says for the girls in the dub, they just awkwardly say ‘see you later’. Which means that scene must’ve been shortened a bit for that to work.

Akasaka says Shirogane fell in love with her performance because he could feel her spirit in her music. In the dub, he just says that they both think she’s talented and Wesley even adds that she’s beautiful.

Shirogane picked pink and red for Ichigo’s outfit to reflect a strawberry/Ichigo. In the dub, he just says it’s her favorite color. To be fair, since her name is changed, the original line wouldn’t work anyway. To be fairer, this line would’ve worked fine if they kept her name the way it was….

A shot of Akasaka speaking to Shirogane with a….hard to describe…Tender sounds wrong…Proud face? Is edited out. I don’t know why.

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Ichigo doesn’t say she thinks she hates Mint like Zoey does, she merely points out that Mint’s used to fancy parties.

Shirogane tells the girls that they should enjoy themselves since it’s a party. Elliot says since he’s at a party he had to wear a “monkey suit.”

Ichigo marvels at the people on the dance floor saying it’s like a real dance party. Shirogane responds by saying it IS a real dance party. In the dub, Zoey asks how they can dance like that without getting dizzy and Elliot points out that it’s called a Waltz.

Ichigo originally said she could never go out there and dance in a real dance party since she’s only folk danced once when she was younger. In the dub, Zoey says she can’t dance because the last time she tried to do the Macarena she sent four people to the hospital…..

Okay, 1) The Macarena?….Really 4Kids? I would be more surprised if not for the fact that I know you’ve made that same reference in Pokemon before and I know that you’ve probably done it elsewhere.

2) The Macarena wasn’t even relevant when this was dubbed, so that makes this reference even more dated and awkward. Hell, I’d go so far as to say 4Kids’ target audience for this show didn’t even know what the Macarena was.

3) How the hell do you hurt anyone doing the Macarena? It’s like one of the most tame dances in the world.

4) How did we ever call the Macarena a dance anyway? You don’t move your feet at all during it. You just move your arms and sway your hips once. You might as well call paddy-cake a dance.

A decent chunk of Shirogane and Ichigo’s dance segment is edited out. It only shows up until roses appear on the screen.

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Just to clarify, the punch that Elliot gives Zoey isn’t originally alcohol (She’s only 13 anyway). It’s just juice….Yes, 4Kids, lovers of juice, changed juice into something else. Granted punch is just a mixture of juices, but still.

Shirogane says if she doesn’t like the dress she can get changed. In the dub, Elliot says he picked the dress because it matched her hair.

Not sure why Ichigo/Zoey would be so apt to yell a greeting to the English/Spanish woman from before. She’s been scared to death of talking to her since she met her. I know it’s just a greeting and most people know simple greetings in different languages but still.

This new ability of Kisshu’s seems to Sailor Moon-ish to me. He takes the spirits of people with great talents and passion for what they do, removes their spirit, which takes the form of a crystal no less, fuses it with one of the chimera animal things and makes a new monster themed on that passion.

Okay, here we go. Is this finally going to be the day that I can properly compare Lettuce’s transformations?

…..Nope! Because in the original only Ichigo’s transformation is shown. We don’t even get snippets of the other girls transforming. This whole episode has basically been nothing but filler but we couldn’t cut some time to fit in the other Mews transforming at all?

Oh and her transformation sequence is the full and long version of it. So we couldn’t even have cut that down to give Lettuce and Mint their usual 5 second transformations? What bull. This show favors Ichigo way too much. I know she’s the main-main character and leader, but the balance between the whole team is just pathetic sometimes.

The dub actually has at least snippets of Corina’s and Bridget’s transformations, which is nicer than the original, but then there’s the fact that they add that damn “We’ve Got the Animal Instinct” song PLUS I have to listen to the damn Mew Mew Power in my face thing again. However, there is the added bonus that 4Kids seems to acknowledge that this motto is awful since they make Corina ask if they have to do the motto this time and Zoey forces her.

Actually, that’s a bad thing because 4Kids realizes this motto’s vomitly awful yet they insist on using it in every damn episode.

Originally Kisshu says that the attack is of Deep Blue’s will and they shouldn’t take it personally. Since this is the first instance that the girls hear of Deep Blue, Ichigo asks “Deep Blue?” In the dub, Dren says he’s turned the party into a real wingdinger….Zoey then says “Wingdinger?” I concur, that’s just lame…..Actually, I’m not even certain that’s a real word.

Zoey: “That’s no ordinary predasite!”

Corina: “Well, I’M no ordinary Mew Mew!”

…Really? What makes you so special besides the fact that you’re a rich snob?

The logo “Boze” is taken off of the speakers.

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Dubbed: rqeve1x

In the original, how they beat the chimera animal is kinda confusing. Shirogane makes off like the music from a pure spirit (oh come on-pure spirits? This is like directly lifted from Sailor Moon now) makes the chimera animal unstable. In the dub, Elliot acts like the real Maria is in there somewhere and listening to her own music will make her fight the evil power fused with her.

They cut out Ichigo yelling at Kisshu.

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Oh and the only one who gets praised for saving Mary/Maria is Ichigo/Zoey. How wonderful. Let’s throw a parade for Ichig -; the only Mew who matters. 😐

Wait, so Maria, in the dub….can speak English!? So this entire plot point was moot?! Come on!

Zoey: “It just goes to prove that friendship is the same in any language.” Yes, I say this immediately after the foreign lady shows that she speaks my native language. That makes perfect sense. God forbid she say “Muchas gracias, Zoey.” and make that line actually fit.

Also, how does Mary/Maria know that Ichigo/Zoey had anything to do with saving her life? How did she even know her life was in danger? Usually in these scenarios the person has no idea that they’re being used by the enemy and take it as a dream or something. Does she remember what happened? Does that mean that Ichigo/Zoey’s outed as a Mew? Rrrgh.

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This episode is just not that interesting dub-wise barring the foreign language stuff. As an episode, it’s filler with only one new thing happening and that’s Kisshu showing us that he can make chimera animals out of humans now. Whoopdeedoo. Mary/Maria is a nice enough character, but the connection she makes with Ichigo/Zoey and only Ichigo/Zoey is abrupt and kinda weird.

Next episode is finally Pudding/Kiki’s debut and though this may be another time when I can’t get a comparison of Lettuce’s transformation, hopefully I can at least get Pudding’s.

…Previous Episode

Yami Shibai 3 (full) Review

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Plot: A little boy drawing on a slide presents us with tales of demons and monsters.

Breakdown: Well, now we’re at Yami Shibai 3, the season most people seem to hate with a passion, for some reason. Nearly every comment I saw about this season was slamming it in some way.

People ranking the seasons always put this one last or called it terrible. The comments on the individual episodes called the stories stupid, boring and plain not scary.

I will admit, the sudden change in format and the seeming change in subject matter was a bit difficult to deal with. However, is it really on the lowest rung of the ladder for this franchise?

Episode 1 – Lend it to Me: 8/10 A creepy little story with a successful jump scare at the end. In hindsight, the monster looks a tiny bit silly, but it’s only on screen for a few seconds and it’s not that bad.

Episode 2 – Tunnel: 9.5/10 I called this episode the scariest one of the series so far, and I would probably say that statement still stands up even after watching the rest of the series. Successful jump scares, creepy atmosphere, freaky imagery – it’s just a really effective episode.

Episode 3 – Rat: 6.5/10 The first ‘meh’ entry of the season, I’m not that freaked out by rats, the husband is a complete ass, and the final imagery is a little silly. It’s a bit squicky, but doesn’t really warrant anything above an ‘okay’.

Episode 4 – The Noisy Hospital Room: 7/10 Creepy setting with a couple of decent scares, but ultimately disappointing with somewhat silly visuals.

Episode 5 – The Museum of Taxidermy: 6.5/10 Another creepy setting with some nice atmosphere, but ultimately predictable and kinda meh.

Episode 6 – “That Side” Festival: 6/10 A mixed bag in regards to freaky imagery, but not really that scary and has a fairly sad ending.

Episode 7 – Behind: 5/10 This one is just completely ruined by the visuals, which are cartoony and laughable. The sad part is that the actual story is fairly strong, but the imagery just makes it fail.

Episode 8 – The Empress Doll: 8/10 This one had so much going for it. Great atmosphere, creepy environment, freaky visuals and creative ideas, but it is marred very badly by the BOO ending.

Episode 9 – The Fourth Man: 4/10 Fitting that this episode receives a 4 rating. This episode has a decent enough set up, but it’s predictable from start to finish, the visuals aren’t that creepy, the monsters are very easy to avoid and the ending is cheap.

Episode 10 – Merry-Go-Round: 7/10 Very effective in its setting and atmosphere with some pretty freaky moments, this one also just ends up being silly in the end. And I mean really silly. Despite the silly ending, this was a very memorable episode that made something unique out of itself instead of relying on clowns like I was worried it would do.

Episode 11 – Cuckoo: 4/10 Rating given mostly for atmosphere and buildup, this isn’t scary at all, is barely interesting in its story and ends up being pretty silly. Plus, I really believe that grandma is a bitch. She must’ve known what that clock really was, yet she just lets her granddaughter get caught up in it.

Episode 12 – Water: 2.5/10 About as interesting and creative as its name – this episode is milk toast at best and silly at worst.

Episode 13 – Drawing: 9/10 The best season finale of all three seasons, and a very well-written and composed tie-up to the story of the little boy who has taken over the narrator’s job this season. The actual story itself is a little predictable once you get into it and the visuals aren’t fantastically scary, but it’s a great entry in this series and really makes up for the narrator’s absence, especially the absolute end.

Overall (Rounded Up) – 6.5/10 Though, to be technically fair, this season beat out YS2’s raw score by about .2 during calculation.

Additional Information and Notes: Yami Shibai 3 was directed by Takashi Taniguchi and Tomohisa Ishikawa, and was written by Hiromu Kumamoto. It was produced by ILCA and is currently licensed in the US by Sentai Filmworks.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2016

Recommended Audience: The Museum of Taxidermy is pretty much the worst you get in terms of gore, and even that’s not too bad. Typical scary situations and whatnot. 7+

Animating Halloween FINALE: Yami Shibai 3 Episodes 9-13 (end) Review

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Yami Shibai 3 Episode 9 – The Fourth Man

Plot: A teenage girl overhears some classmates talking about the latest urban legend; the handshake man. According to the story, there are four handshake men. You have to shake the hands of the first three men when they ask. Refusal will get you crushed up into a meatball. If you shake hands, though, you’ll be safe. The hitch is to watch out for the fourth handshake man. If you shake the fourth man’s hand, he’ll bite your hand off. The girl’s little sister asks to go back to the school in the middle of the night to get her homework notebook. She agrees, but she has to watch out for the handshake men.

Breakdown: This one is incredibly cut and dry. They explain everything about the handshake men full out and you know that the girl in question is going to come into contact with them, plus, if the title is any indication, you know that the fourth one in particular will be the one to get her.

The only facets of suspense are wondering if her little sister will also be attacked and how the fourth man will actually get her.

And I have to say, the way he got her was incredibly cheap. It sounds like the whole business with the handshake is a complete choice. If you accept, you’re golden, if you refuse, you’re a meatball sandwich. Except, of course, for the fourth man who bites your hand off if you accept and…I have no idea what he does if you refuse him. Does he crush you into a meatball too? Or is the rejection his ‘leave them alone’ option. Because, I have to say, outside of the cheap way he seems to work, that would be an incredibly easy monster to avoid. Shake, shake, shake, no shake. You’re free.

The cheap way the fourth man worked? Instead of asking the girl to shake his hand and letting her make the decision, he just grabs her hand after sneaking up on her. Cheater.

They could’ve easily made it so that the fourth man could create the illusion that it was her little sister, and since they were holding hands the whole time, she could reach her hand out and say ‘grab my hand’ (which could also mean ‘shake my hand’) and then, boom, the illusion fades and she realizes she’s holding the fourth man’s hand and then decides to go to the pirate store for a nifty hook.

Really, the fourth man would also be more threatening if the other three didn’t have higher stakes. Gee, would I rather get my hand bitten off or be violently crushed to death and mushed into a ball? Decisions, decisions.

In the end, this episode is predictable, not scary and pretty cheap in the end. She was being smart about her every move and the fourth man gets her on technicality…

Episode 10 – Merry-Go-Round

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Plot: Satomi and Shinichi are a young couple at a nostalgic mall carnival when Satomi is approached by a clown who gives her a red balloon. As the mall is about to close, she decides to ride on the Merry-Go-Round for old times’ sake. Round and round she goes, where she stops…..

Breakdown:

Yami Shibai 3: Episode 5 Review – “Taxidermy?! Now you’re really cheating, Yami Shibai. What’s next; clowns?”

I was friggin’ kidding!

So, yeah, clowns! That’s not cheating for free creeps. Totally.

Honestly, though, this episode was a bit odd. On one hand, the story and atmosphere is genuinely creepy, and the first few passes on the Merry-Go-Round did succeed in freaking me out a bit. However, there are several goofy shots that ruin the ambiance and really make you laugh a little.

Especially the ending. Now, I don’t exactly know an ending that would’ve been fitting for this episode; maybe just having her vanish or end up dead, impaled through the Merry-Go-Round pole or something. Maybe she’d go so crazy that she’d somehow kill herself on the ride? Nope. Instead we get….Okay, I’m not gonna spoil it. Let’s just this would be a really dark episode of My Little Pony.

Episode 11 – Cuckoo Clock

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Plot: A young girl named Rumi is fascinated by her grandmother’s cuckoo clock. And it’s glad to finally have a friend.

Breakdown: This one is another that have good ambiance and what could be a pretty creepy topic, but ends up just being silly. I guess this girl ends up under the spell of the cuckoo clock, which spurs this whole thing, but why does it never affect the grandma if the clock is magical and malicious?

I think they could’ve done a lot better with this story than they ended up doing. They built it up fairly well and just ended up making a silly ending. It’s not really predictable, but it’s a bad unpredictable in that ‘it’s so goofy, no one would expect it’ kind of way.

And while clocks can be effectively made into spooky story fodder, why choose a cuckoo clock? Has anyone ever been afraid of a cuckoo clock?

Episode 12 – Water

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Plot: Tooru is a the star member of his swim team, and the pressure’s on him to help them win a big meet coming up. In an effort to prepare, he sneaks into school to use the pool for practice. But he’s not alone….

Breakdown: Eh, this one’s just stupid. They spent a good minute of the four minute short on setting up why Tooru was out there and in the end he just gets attacked because there’s a monster in the pool for some reason. I don’t think it was because he was set on winning or anything, he just gets randomly attacked by a monster.

While the traditional mermaid stories can be seen as scary, this one is probably not even a mermaid, and it’s not scary. The visuals for the thing are actually pretty laughable.

As a horror movie lover, I love pointing out those stupid ‘Horror movie character’ moments. You know, those special moments of dumb where they could easily escape danger but decide to do something stupid instead? He only notices that there’s something in the pool when he has completed one run, meaning he’s at the edge of the pool. When he freaks out, he decides to, instead of immediately climbing out on the side he was on, to swim to the other side of the pool to get out and run away.

Good job.

Episode 13 FINALE – Drawings

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Plot: A new teacher from Tokyo finds life in suburbia to be very nice, but she’s continuously weirded out by a boy in her class who is very cold and anti-social. He just draws a lot by himself. But no one ever sees his drawings. What’s in that sketchpad of his?

Breakdown: I am happy to announce that the comments section for this episode was filled with people saying that this finale more than made up for what they considered to be a lackluster season. And I wholeheartedly agree.

While I definitely don’t think season three is the massive crap fest so many people seem to make it out to be, I will say that this finale made up for those entries that seemed either blah or just stupid.

First things first, remember that little boy I mentioned at the start of season three? The one who replaced the narrator? Allow me to flesh out more of what he’s been in the series up until this point. He opens each episode by singing to himself on a slide while drawing a picture. As he leans the sketchbook forward and reveals his eyes for a second, we get the title card.

After the episode ends, we see that he was drawing a mish-mash of the imagery from the episode before we see a mask or numerous masks rapping words that are fed into his head. As each episode goes by, more masks join the ending. IE, there’s one mask in episode one, two in two, three in three etc.

While I missed the regular openings with the kamishibai format and the narrator, I was really hoping they’d explain what this kid was about before the series was over, and lo and behold they did.

The twist for this episode is one I don’t want to reveal because it is incredibly clever and freaky in its own right. I won’t spoil anything but I will reveal that the narrator does indeed make a return and the boy is kinda within a Yami Shibai story within a Yami Shibai story.

This is definitely my favorite episode of the entire series so far because I really think they knocked it out of the park with this finale. If they had given a lackluster ending to this boy’s story and failed to explain the whereabouts of the narrator, people definitely would write off this season as being a total fail in comparison to the other seasons. It would be unwarranted in my opinion, but they would do it.

I’m even happy to report that the ED did indeed grow on me after a few episodes. Rap may not be my favorite thing, but I found myself unable to resist tapping my feet and trying to sing along when it came on.

This season was released this year, so there’s hope for more Yami Shibai in the future. For now, however, it’s going to have to be the end. The curtain is drawn on Yami Shibai’s stage.

And that’s it for my first ever Animating Halloween! I hope everyone enjoyed this year’s Halloween and horror-themed reviews! Happy Halloween!

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 3 Episodes 5-8 Review

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Yami Shibai 3 Episode 5 – The Museum of Taxidermy

Plot: A young couple are on vacation when they decide to seek refuge from the rain in a museum of taxidermy. While the husband is enjoying all of the various stuffed animals, the wife is aggravated and creeped out. She quickly leaves the museum and her husband follows later, but when he returns to the museum to find his lost hotel key, he finds that the museum is creepy than his wife thought.

Breakdown: Taxidermy?! Now you’re really cheating, Yami Shibai. What’s next; clowns?

So yeah, taxidermy is creepy, and the episode pretty much goes the say you’d probably expect. I guess it’s a little freaky, but overall it’s just kinda meh. I will say that the prank that the husband plays on the wife was kinda funny. I don’t know why I laughed out loud at that.

Also, if everything was the way that it was when they arrived, why did they not notice? Let me just say that people typically move every now and then, especially children. The entire place being dead quiet, no pun intended, with no one moving? I’d notice that on my first visit.

Episode 6 – “That Side” Festival

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Plot: Miki and Asako are two young girls enjoying a festival. When Asako is having so much fun that she wishes to stay there forever, she finds that she just might get her wish.

Breakdown: This one is also a bit of a miss to me. I feel like season three is relying a bit too much on monsters and demons and while this can sometimes be freaky to me, I just don’t find it as scary as ghost stories.

That being said, there is some freaky imagery in this episode, but it’s also hit or miss since there are several different types of imagery here. It is a bit sad that all of that happened to her just because she was having so much fun that she never wanted it to end. Poor girl was just enjoying herself.

Episode 7 – Behind

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Plot: A bunch of teenage boys are away overnight on a field trip. One of them shares a scary dream that they had about a creature that appears behind him and he knows he cannot look at. However, he is forced to look at the creature after it grabs his head and turns it towards it. But it’s just a dream….right?

Breakdown: Boy I am not on the same page as a lot of commenters on this series. This is one of the few episodes in YS3 that I see people giving praise to for being legitimately scary and I just don’t feel it.

Sure, the idea of a creature that you can’t look at but forcibly twists your head and prevents you from closing your eyes is a bit creepy…..it’s the visuals that break the atmosphere for me.

You’d think that a creature who is breaking the necks of its victims to force everyone to look at it would be creepy-looking, but it’s not. All of its victims have faces that look like Halloween themed twirly lollipops and their eyeballs bulge out of their faces like cartoons. And the actual creature itself looks very similar. The story is creepy, the imagery is damn near laughable.

Episode 8 – The Empress Doll

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Plot: Many teenagers go into abandoned houses as tests of courage, and this group has wandered into a house that is in pretty good shape for being abandoned. They see a bunch of hina dolls in the living room and notice that the empress doll is missing. Thinking another teen taking a test of courage must have taken it as a trophy, they continue to wander the house. However, the empress doll is still there….

Breakdown: This one started out really good. Standard format of a bunch of teens trying to prove they’re all brave by going into an abandoned and possibly haunted house in the middle of the night with nothing but some flashlights and a sense of curiosity. The atmosphere is great, the tension builds up well, they had a great idea in the middle of the episode that was utilized very well, and the visuals were pretty creepy too….

But the ending completely ruins it. Let me just say, you get sucked into the creepy environment, the weird doll vibe, the feeling of being watched, you see something terrible happen and wonder what’s truly behind them and then they straight up BOO! OOGABOOGABOOGABOOGABOOGA! You. It’s just disappointing. Even ending the episode without revealing the ‘monster’ (ala cut to black and screams) would’ve been a lot better than what we got. They already had a pretty good shocking jump-scare-ish moment right before the end, why ruin it with something that cheap?

Animating Halloween – Yami Shibai 3 Episodes 1-4 Review

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Yami Shibai 3 Episode 1 – Lend it to Me

Plot: A man decides to stop off at a public bath after work. It’s very late, and after the usual hours of a public bath, so he has the place to himself. As he washes up, he hears a girl on the woman’s side of the bath ask to borrow a bar of soap. He’s happy to lend it to her, but starts to get weirded out when she asks for more…..and more…..and more…..and more.

Breakdown: First things first, the first two seasons were presented in a traditional kamishibai format. A man in a creepy mask, our narrator, would gather the kids around the miniature stage and present the story for the day.

Now, we have some kid on a slide singing to himself while drawing a picture as our intro. What was wrong with the narrator? You’re purposely trying to emulate a kamishibai. Those are usually presented by such performers with stages, not kids sketching on the slide. How do you screw up your own intended style?

Later, during the end credits, we see that the kid is being fed these stories by a floating mask that resembles the mask the narrator used to wear. As each episode goes by, more masks join him, IE, there are two in episode two, three in three, etc. So I guess the narrator is just whispering his stories to a kid to give him inspiration to draw instead of putting on a show. He either got lazy or had to sell his stage and puppets to post bail or something.

Now for the story itself; it’s pretty damn creepy, and the final jump scare/reveal of the ‘girl’ actually did get me. I didn’t really see where the story would be going from the start, so that was a pretty nice twist.

Let’s just say she asks to borrow stuff like a razor and scissors and let your imagination go for a bit.

After a lackluster season two, season three starts off pretty strong with a creepy, creative and legitimately scary note. Hopefully the rest of season three will be just as good……Still miss the narrator, though….

Music-wise, I’m not liking the new ED that much, but the one for the second season grew on me a bit so maybe this one will too.

Episode 2 – Tunnel

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Plot: Two men are on their way to a hot spring, but they end up getting lost in the middle of the night. As they enter a tunnel, they run out of gas. They decide to take a break from pushing the car and hope a car drives by that can help them find a gas station, but they’re not alone.

Breakdown: Wow, just wow. People said Yami Shibai 3 was the least scary season, but screw that because this episode is the scariest of all the seasons so far. It has eerie atmosphere, a familiar setting, creepy visuals (I won’t explain them full out, but let’s just say there are creepily smiling faces involved) and plenty of squickiness.

Even the ambiance in the music selection is fantastic. There’s a jump scare in the middle of the episode that completely got me because the freaky thing was suddenly on screen yet there was no music cue or music at all. It was just silence and then boom it was there.

While I can admit in hindsight that the actual monster is somewhat uninspired on base design, the one addition to its features is more than enough to make it memorable and freaky.

Episode 3 – Rat

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Plot: A married couple moves into a new apartment, but the wife, Machiko, is freaked out by the appearance of rats in their new home. Her husband, Ken, isn’t bothered at all, and tells her that she has to get used to the rats since she chose an old and cheap apartment to move into. He lays down some traps before he leaves on a business trip, and Machiko tries her hardest to get used to the rat problem. Maybe she gets a little too used to them.

Breakdown: This one was just meh. First of all, let me point out what a complete asshole Ken is. What husband tells their wife to ‘get used’ to a rat problem in their home? That is horribly unsanitary and unsafe. Even if it wasn’t, it’s something that obviously makes his wife uncomfortable and even scared. That in itself should be enough to get him to call an exterminator. He doesn’t even really seem to care when one of the rats bites her. Just living with rats is bad enough for your health, but being bitten by one? Go see a doctor!

Second of all, I’m not really all that freaked out by rats. Sure they’re fairly gross and a little creepy, but I was never too concerned with them.

Finally, the ending is predictable enough and the final shot of what happens to Machiko after Ken returns is just a bit on the silly side. The animation done to her while she’s talking is a bit freaky, but it’s overall kinda silly.

Episode 4 – The Noisy Hospital Room

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Plot: A man is staying at the hospital while he gets some tests done. He has a nightmare that something horrible is happening in a strange room at the end of the hall. When he wakes up, he’s covered in sweat, so he goes to find a nurse to help him get changed. He finds no one but an old man and the room from his nightmare. He hears the voices he heard before in the room, but a nurse stops him and tells him to stay away from that room. The next night, he decides to open the door anyway, and despite being knocked down by some force, he finds the room empty. Is there really something worth hiding behind these doors?

Breakdown: I can safely assume that hospitals freak most of us out even a little bit, and while there are one or two creepy moments in this episode, it’s mostly disappointing. They don’t explain what the things behind the door really are nor do they explain what that weird truck with the human shaped-statues driving around in the middle of the night is.

What we do get is a little on the creepy side, but the creatures look ultimately laughable and cartoony. It kinda breaks the atmosphere a bit. Plus the timing is off, building up to an obvious jump scare that isn’t even really a jump scare.

I’ve started to notice that season three is moreso about demons and monsters than it is about ghosts. So far, none of the stories have been ghost stories. They’ve all been monster or demon stories. That might hurt this series more than you might think….

Yami Shibai 2 Review (Full)

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Plot: A continuation of ghost and demon stories presented in kamishibai format.

Breakdown: Since I don’t have as much to talk about with Yami Shibai 2 as I did with the first season in regards to background, I will quickly run through my final thoughts on each episode, give it a numbered rating, and finalize the entire season with an averaged rating.

Episode 1 – Taro-Chan: 8/10 If I take these episodes as not being entirely horror related, I would say this episode is actually pretty good and memorable. It’s very sad to imagine what Taro-chan had to go through and, ultimately, what he still seems to be going through. It was a nice twist on the ‘possessed ventriloquist dummy’ story.

Episode 2 – Kitchen: 4/10 On further consideration, this episode was lazier and less interesting than I gave it credit for. The creature looks a little creepy, but it’s predictable, and the absolute ending is just kinda dumb.

Episode 3 – Inside: 5/10 This one is also just kinda meh. It doesn’t go nearly far enough to generate any sort of reaction, and the doll itself just isn’t that creepy.

Episode 4 – The Wall Woman: 6/10 Another one that is just alright, this one has a decently designed creature, some suspense, but ultimately blows it by practically beating us in the face with warnings of a final jump scare.

Episode 5 – Locker: 7/10 Doing better here with a relatable character, an actual urban legend-esque setting (urban legend within an urban legend?) a creepy doll and a sad ending. However, I really must emphasize how poorly this whole locker thing is set up. It’s just borderline ridiculous.

Episode 6 – Nao-Chan: 7/10 Not scary, though probably not meant to be, this one is an interesting story with a slightly creepy visual and a confusing ending. Might’ve been more impacting with a longer story, perhaps allowing us to meet Nao-chan originally.

Episode 7 – Capsule Toy Machine: 8/10 How creepy or scary this episode is really fluctuates on how much nostalgia means to you, I think. Though there’s a difference between getting excited over toys or games that you used to love as a child and certain people and events that happened to you when you were younger. This episode includes both in a fairly clever way. I believe this one might connect with a wider audience than I would’ve first noted, so I bumped up the rating a bit. No monsters or ghosts here, but it’s still a frightening concept.

Episode 8 – Farewell Confessional: 6/10 An interesting idea, but the execution is a bit lacking. Like I mentioned in the review, there’s just something a bit silly about the secret that becomes the tipping point for the big scare at the end in comparison to one we hear earlier. Plus, you can see the jump scare coming from a mile away.

Episode 9 – Ominie-san: 2/10 I still can’t figure out what the hell was supposed to be so freaky, creepy or weird about this episode. People like a weird food, a new person in town doesn’t want to eat it because it’s weird, and then she’s forced to eat it and gets a bit hooked on it. Outside of the meat looking weird and the people having terrible table manners, this one is the weakest episode of the lot.

Episode 10 – Bugged: 7/10 I really, really, really don’t like bugs, and I liked the progression in the main character from being a grumpy ass of a person to being out of his mind. I figured that, in the end, he started out as a grumpy jackass and probably got worse on his own as time went on, but the bugs influenced him to get increasingly worse until he was no longer in control of himself. I almost feel like him angrily trying to kill the bugs was a subconscious way of trying to make himself better. It’s not a great episode, but it’s alright.

Episode 11 – Picking Up: 4/10 Another bit of laziness. A cautionary tale against plagiarism/art theft, but the visuals are lame and this is really only slightly frightening for people who have committed/thought about committing this act.

Episode 12 – Netsuke: 8/10 Great on the visuals, scares and atmosphere, a little light on the story for my tastes.

Episode 13 – Bringer Drums: 7/10 Suspenseful enough, jump scare got me, but the story still fails to make any sense to me in the end.

Overall Score (Rounded up): 6.5/10

As you can see, this season definitely suffered from a lot of ‘meh’. Plenty of good ideas just met with equal amounts of wasted opportunities and poor executions. I think this season shows how badly the four and a half minute run time really affects these shorts. With just a few more minutes and more details to the stories, they could be much stronger.

Additional Information and Notes: Yami Shibai 2 was directed by Noboro Iguchi and Takashi Shimizu, and was written by Shoichiro Masumoto. It was produced by ILCA, and is currently licensed in the US by Sentai Filmworks.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2014

Recommended Audience: There is some gross imagery in Bugged, but nothing that bad. Other than that….really nothing. Scary situations and whatnot, but still no gore, sex, swearing or anything. 10+