Hell Girl: Three Vessels | Episode 23 – Twilight Hills Review

Hell Girl Three Vessels - Tomohide Bullying Fumio

Plot: While Yuzuki continues to refuse to be the next Hell Girl, another client shows up – Fumio. He is constantly bullied by Tomohide and his cronies for seemingly no reason outside of the fact that he has nice things and his family is higher class. There are always two sides to a story, however.

Breakdown: Lets enter the new year by getting things back into action with Hell Girl: Three Vessels!

It dawns on me that I have been reviewing this season of Hell Girl for over a year. Part of that has been my erratic posting schedule as of late, but part of that has just been a complete lack of motivation to just plow through the rest of it. It says something when I’m more motivated to finish “Let’s see how many ways we can torment poor Takuma” Two Mirrors than I am “Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn” Three Vessels.

Typically, this doesn’t have much to do with the story of the week. While this season hasn’t really been the strongest, it’s more or less been fine in the episodic story department.

The problem, yet, again, continues to just be Yuzuki – the protagonist who is so dull and forgettable that I keep forgetting her name and have to look it up half the time. We’re at episode 23.

Like I said the past two or three episodes, you’d think things would finally start heating up with her story at this point, but nope. She spends this entire episode ghosting Ai and her associates because she’s determined to not be the next Hell Girl. And that’s it. She just ignores them and barely says a word until the ending. She even completely ignores the case of the week.

At the end, Ai allows her to hear the ringing bells of the people around her again, indicating that many of them are either current Hell Girl clients, targets or have already pulled the string. Then she lashes out at Ai, refusing to be Hell Girl, saying she just wants to be a normal girl and go to school with her friends. She doesn’t even think Hell Correspondence has a point. Her lashing out prompts Ai to claim that she now feels hatred and, thus, hell in her heart as well.

Yes, congratulations, Yuzuki. You’ve been annoyed into hatred.

Ai Enma

At least it looks like the next episode will finally be centered on her and the main story, if you can even call it that, of this season, but I really just feel like anything they come up with won’t have been worth the frustration and boredom that comes with watching Yuzuki over this entire series.

As for the story of this episode, sorry to say, but it’s one of the weakest, most confusing and unsatisfying stories we’ve had so far. First of all, we’re back to the good ol’ reliable bullying setup, which is fine, really, but they act like Tomohide has this secret reason for hating Fumio or that Fumio did something to Tomohide or someone related to him to make him hate him to such a ridiculous degree, but they never actually give one.

Instead of focusing the majority of the episode on Fumio, much of the episode actually focuses on Tomohide. Fumio comes from a borderline rich family, though he himself isn’t a snob or anything – he’s actually rather meek and polite. Tomohide, on the other hand, is lower middle class. I wouldn’t say he’s technically poor, but he definitely doesn’t live in luxury. His mother is always working, and his father is “gone.” It’s implied that Tomohide sent his father to hell, given that he does have a curse mark, his father was clearly pointed out as having just up and left, and he grasps his shirt at the curse mark when talking to his little sister about their father, but they never give the specifics. Was his father abusive? Does his mother know what happened? We never find out.

When he’s not bullying Fumio, Tomohide’s a rather likable and hard working young man. He’s a baseball star at school with a dream of going to high school and playing baseball there to hopefully become a professional baseball player. However, he’s decided to give up his dream so he can immediately go into the workforce after middle school and help his family. In addition to his constantly working mother, who is never seen on screen, you have Tomohide’s little sister, Suzumi, who is extra cute because she has jammies that make her look like a cow. Not in a mean way – they’re literally cow pajamas.

Suzumi in cow pajamas

Suzumi’s, like, four, but she talks like she’s an older teen or adult, fussing about the water bill and chastising Tomohide for doing the dishes incorrectly. She’s already baking bread and is rather good at it. She wants to be a baker in the future but is willing to give up her dream so she can stay at home taking care of the house while their mom works and Tomohide goes to high school to become a baseball star. Tomohide won’t let her do that because he’s vehement about working so he can give up his dream.

The first half of the episode is some of the clunkiest dialogue and exposition I’ve ever seen in this series, which is kinda ironic because they exposit so much without actually saying much of worth. Like Fumio’s rich, has a watch that was a gift from his still-alive rich father, which is why he wears it to school when his teachers tell him it might not be a good idea, he really wants to make movies and has a sweet entertainment center in his room and got a brand new video camera, but we don’t know why he wants to make movies so badly. Tomohide’s father is gone for some reason, he sent him to hell for some reason, Tomohide is playing “No, I’ll give up MY dream” hot potato with his little sister, he loves baseball, but can’t play it in high school for no real reason.

Make no mistake – Tomohide really is giving up his dream for no reason. Everyone around him, including his sister, is telling him to go to high school and become a pitcher because he can easily go pro, and becoming a pro baseball player would make his family a lot of money. But he insists on working. When he’s at a local factory getting a tour for prospective employees, he starts muttering to himself “Work…work” like he’s being forced into work, but no one is doing that.

Don’t get me wrong. His decision is logical. Getting a steady factory job immediately to help out his family isn’t nearly as risky as trying to become a professional athlete, but I really can’t see why he absolutely has to skip high school entirely and not even give it a shot before entering the workforce. His family really doesn’t seem that badly off with just their mother’s income. I’m not sure why either he or Suzumi feels the need to give up their dreams to make money for the family (or in Suzumi’s case, take care of the house) when they’re not struggling that much financially from all I see. Their apartment is pretty spacious and clean, they have plenty of food, fresh water, nice clothes, the aforementioned awesome cow pajamas, a rather large bedroom, they’re both in great health, etc. If they are really struggling that badly, they didn’t convey that well enough for me to sympathize with Tomohide at all.

Tomohide claiming he absolutely needs to work.

Speaking of sympathizing with Tomohide, that’s quite the task considering he has the biggest hate boner for Fumio for seemingly no other reason besides he’s rich and Tomohide’s not. They were hinting that there was more to the story. Ai even asked Fumio, when he asked why he was the only one so unlucky as to be targeted like this, “Are you sure you haven’t scarred anyone?” Fumio looks up in shock, as if there is something terrible he’s done….but it never pays off. We never learn if Fumio really did do anything bad besides be rich.

Tomohide overhears that Fumio made it into a good high school on recommendation, so he gets pissed and bullies him. He sees that Fumio got a nice watch from his dad, so he gets pissed and bullies him. Fumio gets a new camera and goes off by himself to use it in the woods, so he gets pissed and bullies him. And when Fumio offers to give him the camera or the watch, Tomohide smacks them away and gets even angrier.

At one point, Tomohide, in a seeming change of heart, decides to return Fumio’s camera to him (guess he took it anyway) but decides against giving it back when he overhears Fumio say that high school is just a path to college. It’s a place where you figure out what you want to do in life, and he’s already figured out what he wants to be, so he’s not that concerned about high school.

Tomohide got so pissed at him saying this when he’s being ‘forced’ to not go to high school and immediately go to work that he grabs Fumio later and completely flips out this time. Before, the bullying was actually rather tame for this show. He took his money and pushed him around, but the main point of contention was his focus purely on bullying Fumio. They don’t bully anyone else, even if their classmates are afraid of the boys and choose to not help Fumio. Tomohide hates Fumio so much that he tells him repeatedly that it doesn’t matter if he goes to a school in another city or if he sends him to hell (he now knows that Fumio called Hell Girl) he’ll never escape, he’ll never let Fumio go and Fumio will never be happy.

All of this ire because he’s jealous that Fumio has rich parents.

You can have negative opinions on rich adults as much as you like, but rich kids can’t control who their parents are. All things considered, Fumio’s a pretty good and kind kid for a rich kid in any form of media. The worst things he does are use the nice things his parents buy for him and kinda imply that he doesn’t think all that much about high school, but that was only because he saw it as a means to figure out what you want to be as an adult, and he already has that figured out. It’s not like he went “Pfft, high school? A mere way to waste my time until I go to the most prestigious college money can buy me into. *snooty rich person laugh*” He obviously cares somewhat about high school because he was really excited when he learned he got into the one he wanted.

Even if he had said that, that’s not enough reason to hate him nearly as much as Tomohide does.

Tomohide attacking Fumio with a pipe.

But this brings us to the big moment – the string pull. After Tomohide snaps and attacks Fumio with a metal pole, Fumio whips out the straw doll, but hesitates. Tomohide, who knows exactly what Fumio’s doing because he’s also a Hell Girl client, notices it, and then…..

……He berates him into pulling the string until he does.

The last thing we hear from Tomohide on his ferry ride is “I’m sorry, Suzumi.”

What the hell is wrong with you, dude? You knew the doll was for you. You knew what it was. You knew the power was real….and yet, you just goad Fumio into pulling the string, basically committing suicide? When you know full well that you’ll be leaving your mother and your sister all alone, basically damning your sister to taking care of her four-year-old self until the day she has to give up her dreams to help support her mother because her brother decided to be a dumbass and get himself killed for absolutely no reason when one of the reasons he was choosing to go into the workforce immediately in the first place was so she didn’t have to give up her dream of being a baker?

Is there any brain cell in your skull that is functioning?

At the end of the day, as Fumio takes a tour around the high school he chose, he sees some other boy being bullied and realizes that Tomohide was right, he’ll probably never escape from being bullied. At least, I think that’s what they were trying to say. I mean, just because some other kid is being bullied doesn’t mean he has to.

Also, Tomohide’s friends watched him get Hell Girl’d and they tell their entire class what happened in a huge panic. They even turn on the class in paranoia and claim they’re all probably Hell Girl clients sending people to hell.

Overall, this episode is very, very sloppy. I kinda like the idea of having a bullying story where the script is flipped and we are meant to sympathize more with the bully than the victim, but they did such an awful job executing that idea. You don’t sympathize with Tomohide nearly enough, and the victim is too meek and marshmallow-esque that you can’t even dislike him a little. If you dislike him, it’s probably because he’s kinda whiny, but he has a bit of a right to be. There’s not enough details given for any of the important factors of the story, despite the clunky exposition-y dialogue, and the details they do give just aren’t good enough and/or feel stupid.

I don’t even want to talk about Yuzuki’s part again.

Onto the first of the final three – let’s see if Yuzuki’s story is really up to snuff.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 11, 12, 13 (Season Finale) + Special (Episode 0) Review

Episode 11: Dragon Palace

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Plot: An overworked man and his coworker go night fishing to relax. He soon realizes that his friend isn’t exactly fishing for fish….

Breakdown: Unrelated to the episode, but can I just take the time out to say, holy crap, how am I just now noticing that this season has a full zodiac motif and it isn’t just an opening sequence gimmick?

Every episode so far has had a title and theme that involved a zodiac animal. I feel like a fool.

Anyway, this episode is okay. Not the first time I’ve seen a story where someone who is overworked or lonely or something gets dragged away by some mysterious beautiful woman who just wants to suck the life force out of the men, but this version was done well enough. Not sure what any of this has to do with dragons, though. Is the woman meant to be a dragon?

Episode 12: Monkey Prayer

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Plot: The legend of the Monkey Prayer claims it will bring death to anyone of your choosing.

Breakdown: There’s nothing inherently wrong with this episode, but there’s not a lot to sink your teeth into in regards to unique aspects. I’ve never heard of the Monkey Prayer before, but there’s certainly no shortage of legends concerning curses that bring death upon someone. The background of the legend is that monkeys started mimicking humans in prayer during funerals, but they have a special way of praying, with their elbows touching when they put their hands together. It’s not really that unique.

The other aspect of this episode is not judging a book by its cover. There’s a creepy girl in class who first alerts Mei to this legend. At first, it seems like she’d be the one doing the cursing, but it turns out she’s not only innocent, she was also giving Mei information that could save her life. I’ve also seen this before. In fact, I feel like I’ve probably seen it in Yami Shibai several times.

The motive of the actual culprit is very vague. Someone theorized that she was jealous because she had a crush on Mei’s boyfriend, but it’s not really clear.

It’s fine, but it’s kinda sloppy and not enough is done to make it stand out much.

Episode 13: Year of the Cat

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Plot: A designer tells his coworker about the legend of the cat of the zodiac. The story goes that the rat tricked the cat when they were supposed to have a feast with god, causing him to miss the party. While this legend is a relatively well-known folktale, there’s an urban legend tied with the myth. Apparently, after that incident, the cat ate the rat, and god kicked the cat out of the zodiac as punishment. People are still born in the year of the cat to this day, and if god notices them he wipes them from existence.

Breakdown: Fruits Basket reference!

Now that that’s out of the way, this is a pretty clever horror twist on the legend of the cat of the zodiac, and this is a great note to cap off the zodiac motif of this season. I’m not sure it’s all that scary, though. I suppose not many people would know whether or not they were born in the year of the cat, but the main lesson here seems to be to keep your ego in check. If you do that, then you’ll never receive the punishment from god.

I like how the episode mirrors the legend by having Mitsuki deceive the MC about the design contest their boss was holding. However, this time the rat’s the ‘good’ guy instead of being, well, a rat. He wasn’t really justified in what he did, though, so it’s hard to call him a good guy. The MC may have been an asshole, but he didn’t really seem bad enough to do that to him.

SPECIAL (Episode 0): The Old Well

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Plot: A woman is camping with friends when she accidentally falls down a well. Trapped, she has to find a way out on her own. However, she’s not really alone.

Breakdown: I can’t really get a lot of information on this special. From the way it’s formatted, I guess it was a….mobile exclusive episode that was released before season nine’s proper premiere as a way of promotion, but I can’t be sure. It does have an extremely weird vertical format, though.

This is, by far, the scariest episode of season nine, and probably one of the most legitimately scary episodes of Yami Shibai that I’ve ever seen. Granted, it’s not the most creative premise in the world, but it did manage to play on my biggest fear – drowning. And drowning in such a confined space as a well just makes it worse. I’m not claustrophobic, but in a circumstance of drowning, it would make me panic so much more.

The ending is simultaneously depressing and scary, which is kinda good for a horror story since it means I sympathize with the main character. Still, what an awful fate for that poor girl.

And that was all of Yami Shibai 9! I really hope we get season ten next year, but for now we’ll just head on to do the full Yami Shibai 9 review and kinda close out this year’s Animating Halloween!

Like I mentioned in my announcement at the start of the month, I knew I’d be very sparse on Halloween content this year due to personal matters, and I certainly was, so allow me to welcome you all to Animating Halloween: Noctober! Throughout November, I will be peppering in more Halloween reviews throughout my regular reviews of the month. While a good chunk of the hecticness has died down for me, it will start back up soon enough. I hope to be back to normal in time for A Very Animated Holiday Special, but we’ll have to see. Until then, thank you all for your patience, comments, likes and sticking with me through the spoooOOOOoooookiness.

👻 Have a Happy and Safe Halloween! 🎃


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 9 and 10 Review

Episode 9: Snake Celebration

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Plot: A woman who has recently married visits her in-laws for the first time in order to celebrate her brother-in-law’s birthday.

Breakdown: This episode had a lot of promise in the first half but really fell off in the latter half. This story does a good job at making you like the main character and the in-laws, and the noises made when the family were behind the paper doors were really creepy…..However…

I know people, myself included, sometimes have a problem with Yami Shibai choosing not to show enough of the ghost or monster or what have you, but this episode has the opposite problem in that it shows too much. I was so into it until the instant they showed what the snake monster looked like. They had a perfect thing going where were just seeing what was happening via silhouette behind the paper door, but then they made that pointless by outright showing us the creature full out for numerous seconds, and it’s really lame.

Spoiler alert, the in-laws are snake people, but in the lamest of terms. As in, when they shed their skin, they’re just scaly. That’s it. No creativity whatsoever just…scales. And of course the ending is the MC turning into a snake person too, but really just getting scales. They’re not killing her or anyone else, they’re simply making her scaly. And that’s only when she chooses to look that way. The family usually has regular human appearances, and it’s only when they shed this skin that they look this way. I wouldn’t want to become scaly, but it’s hardly the scariest horror story ending.

I will say that the art style is creepy enough. It’s a bit rough and ugly, but the faces are just subtle enough in their creepy stares and slightly wide eyes that it makes you uncomfortable.

Episode 10: Boar Meat

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Plot: A young girl named Nao, who has recently moved to the countryside, has a difficult time making friends until she meets another girl named Botan. A strong bond forms between them quickly as they care for peonies through the winter, but there’s something peculiar about Botan….

Breakdown: I was really loving this story for a while. The art, the water color-like coloring style, the characters, the story, the pacing – it was one of the most engaging Yami Shibai stories I’ve seen to date.

However, it’s also one of those episodes that makes absolutely no sense unless you know Japanese, and even once you learn the context it’s still a little confusing. Granted, the story isn’t confusing at all until the very ending.

A bullied new kid in town, Nao, befriends a really nice girl named Botan, and they live in their own little world simply caring for a peony plant on a hilltop in the woods. It’s obvious something is off about Botan, but her intentions with Nao never seem malicious.

I feel like I have to spoil this one to explain how confusing the ending is, so fair spoiler warning.

At the end of the episode, Botan hurts her leg on something unseen. In a panic, Nao rushes off to get help, despite Botan’s pleas to not leave her side. As we cut to black after the incident, we see Nao with a really haunted expression sitting quietly at the table as her mom talks to someone on the phone about making a hotpot for dinner with the boar meat they’re giving them…..the end.

It’s rare that I reach these levels of confusion, but there I was. The sub I watched didn’t have any notes about the context here, as usual, so I went to the comment section to find someone explaining the ending.

According to one of the commenters, Botan was actually a boar who could, for some reason and somehow, take the form of a young girl. But, to everyone else, Botan just looked like a boar. Case and point, one of Nao’s bullies started throwing rocks at them because he believed Nao was being attacked by the boar. During the attack, Botan’s eyes turned yellow, scaring the boy away.

When Botan hurt her leg, she actually got it caught in a trap meant to hunt boars. It’s unclear what would have happened had Nao stayed with her, but, supposedly, when Nao went to get help, she either returned to realize her friend was actually a boar, which had since been killed by the trappers, or the people she got to help were the trappers, who in turn killed Botan right in front of Nao – either of which would explain why she looks so horrified and grief-stricken near the end. I can only imagine she felt exponentially worse once her mother started talking about making a hotpot with the boar meat that was offered by the trappers who just killed her best friend.

You may be wondering how the heck we jumped from a little girl taking care of a flower to a boar. The thread holding all of this together is Botan’s name. Botan means ‘peony’, but there’s also a Japanese stew called Botan Nabe made with wild boar meat. It’s named as such because the pieces of boar meat are cut and arranged like the petals of a peony. Basically, the ending is a super dark joke on Botan’s name.

There was also a theory that Botan was merely caught in a trap and was later killed by a wild boar, but this theory doesn’t fit nearly as well as the other one, especially since the mother would be ridiculously nonchalant about the entire situation. “Oh a boar killed my daughter’s best friend? Oh sorry about the fuss. Sure, I’d love to make dinner out of the boar meat!”

Either way, holy crap, what a depressing end to this story. This poor girl is just lonely and bullied. She finally finds a friend, and not only does she realize she wasn’t an actual person the whole time, but she, at best, saw her dead body (I have no clue if she ever reverted to looking like a boar to Nao at any point. For all we know, she could have seen a young girl’s dead body.) or, at worst, witnessed her being slaughtered. And no matter which of those it was, she still has to deal with the fact that her best friend is for DINNER. What the actual hell?

In my opinion, as long as you know the context, this is a pretty good story, but that ending is way too depressing. Season nine’s really going heavy with the sad stories, eh?


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 7 and 8 Review

Episode 7: Mr. Rooster

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

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

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

Episode 8: Rocking Horse

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

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

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

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

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


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 5 and 6 Review

Episode 5: Paper Mache Tiger

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

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

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

Episode 6: Spirit Ox

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

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

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

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


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 3 and 4 Review

Episode 3: The 44th Sheep

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

Breakdown: This one was a half goofy half creepy.

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

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

Episode 4: Lapdog

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

Breakdown: This episode was frickin’ hilarious.

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

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


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 1 and 2 Review

Episode 1: Rat’s Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t get it.

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

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

Episode 2: The Man in the Rabbit Hutch

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

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

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


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Reopening the Theater of Darkness | Yami Shibai Season 8 Review

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

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

And it was fine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Onto season nine!


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

Episode 11: Curse

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 12: String Telephone

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

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

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

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

And then the ghost gets him? The end?

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

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

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

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

Episode 13: Sleeptalking

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

Breakdown: Eh….Pbbbt.

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

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

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

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

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


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 8 Episodes 9 and 10 Review

Episode 9: Antlion Pit

Plot: A prominent office worker goes missing out of the blue. Her rival starts to become completely wiped out, exhausted from her workload but unable to find the time to get any rest. In her weariness, a desert appears before her on her way to work with a strange antlion pit in the center.

Breakdown: This one wasn’t scary, but it was depressing and had layers to it.

Saki’s rival goes missing, but she doesn’t think all too much about it since she has her own workload to worry about. She’s at the top of her game in the office, but her work is basically killing her. She goes home at extremely late hours only to go home to sleep for a short while before heading back to work.

While out walking, she sees a desert spring up out of nowhere. In the sand is an antlion pit. For those unfamiliar, antlion larvae create traps in the sand to capture and eat ants. The pit is dug in a cone shape, causing any ants that stumble into it to fall and be unable to climb the sloped sand back up, eventually falling to their doom in the center. This one, however, is a massive antlion pit big enough to nab humans.

Voices from within the pit try to coax her in by reminding her of how tired she is and how difficult it is for her to keep up with work. She nearly falls in, but manages to escape. When things only get worse at work and she gets even more rundown, she starts to give up on her life, which causes the pit to call to her again. This time, it’s successful and we’re shown that her rival also fell prey to the pit.

Later, Saki’s boss also thinks to himself about how much work he has to get done and how tired he is, leading him to the same desert. This time we see a line of people, first in near silhouette, emulating the appearance of a line of ants, all basically waiting to get into the pit and talking about how much work they have to do and how tired they are.

I think what they did here with the imagery is pretty clever. Indeed a lot of people basically just work themselves to the bone and/or live for work and don’t have much of a life otherwise, robbing them from truly living and essentially making them worker ants, if you will. Working too hard for too long will eventually lead to your demise.

I really like this episode. It’s not the most creative of all imagery considering comparing office workers to ants is not uncommon, but I like the additional imagery of the antlion pit and having the pit basically call out to you by drawing out your most negative feelings about your current work situation.

It’s very easy to find yourself working so hard that all you really want is to rest and you’ll take any opportunity to do so. And, sadly, sometimes you do find yourself going so far as to give up entirely. When you work yourself to the bone and wind up feeling like you’re not even really achieving anything, it can drain every bit of energy out of you. Someone in the comments said this was a particularly clever commentary on Japanese workforces, but, honestly, it applies just fine to American workforces and probably many, many others.

So, moral of the story, don’t work too hard……which….okay, is a good moral….but it’s not really a luxury for many people to not work this hard, which just leads me back around to the note about this story being depressing.

Episode 10: Footprints in the Snow

Plot: A pair of siblings are out in the woods building a snowman, but they’re not alone.

Breakdown: Best episode of season eight so far. It’s pretty scary, leaves just enough to the imagination and is fairly well-paced, but it’s also pretty depressing. I liked that they used footprints as both a lure to get a new victim to follow them and to trap them where they wanted them by making their own footprints disappear.

There hasn’t really been much differentiation in the art styles between episodes like normal, but this one is noticeably different, taking on a more water-colored art style. I like it.

Like I said, the only negative side to this story was that it was depressing. These poor kids were just having fun building a snowman and then that happens….


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