I Played Corpse Party: Book of Shadows and Had Opinions About it

Note: I am not a video game reviewer, so forgive my terrible format and analysis as a game. Thank you.

Recently, I reviewed the anime Corpse Party: Tortured Souls for Animating Halloween, and it got me wanting to play some of the other Corpse Party games since I really hadn’t played any of them besides the first game and basically a retooled version of the first game…again. A good place to start from there appeared to be Corpse Party: Book of Shadows since that was a direct sequel to the original (though, again, remade again) game.

So I played through the whole thing and I’m uhm…..Kinda…confused.

The game isn’t really a sequel so much as it is a pre-mid-sequel. And that’s strange because the cutscene that plays each time you load the game is directly following the events of the first game (in one of the Wrong Ends – 6*8, which leads the Kisaragi students through a time loop of the events of Heavenly Host.) Naomi is near catatonic and her mother is distraught because she keeps talking about her ‘imaginary’ friend, Seiko, when Seiko’s existence was wiped from the earth after dying in Heavenly Host. It’s basically a longer version of what we got at the end of Tortured Souls.

Each episode covers a different story. No episode intersects with another nor is there any cohesion in creating an overall plot. It’s just a lot of different stories bundled together.

Episode One: Seal

The first episode does pickup where the opening cutscene left off, kinda. Naomi did suffer from a breakdown due to the events of the first game and is desperately trying to cope with the fact that her best friend and love interest, Seiko, is not only dead, but her existence was wiped from the world. However, that’s just a blip at the beginning. The real story is about the time loop the characters are currently in.

The Wrong End that they’re basing this game off of involves several of the characters surviving the events of Heavenly Host and leaving, but, tragically, they find themselves caught in a time loop. They are damned to suffer the events of Heavenly Host over and over for all eternity.

How do you build a story out of this type of ending?

Well….You don’t, really.

Much of the story shows what happened with Naomi and Seiko before the events of the first game. They enjoyed their first ever sleepover together and bonded more. Naomi notices a strange bruise forming on Seiko’s neck, but they don’t think much of it.

Then, when they get to school the following day, the events of the first game start to transpire. The one difference is that Satoshi starts freaking out when Ayumi brings up the Sachiko Ever After ritual. He panics and says it’s a horrible idea because, somehow, Satoshi is the only one who has memories of Heavenly Host right now. He explains that they’re in a time loop, but doesn’t actually convey any important information or try to destroy the paper doll or anything. Instead, he just flips and resigns himself to doing the ritual so he can at least help try to do something in Heavenly Host.

Satoshi, by the way, never gets his own story in this game. He gets a minor role in episode three and that’s the end of his role in this game entirely.

Naomi has been experiencing some instances of deja vu, but she’s not bothered enough by it to listen to Satoshi’s words, thus they’re all set to Heavenly Host.

Once everything is set into motion, Naomi starts getting more of her memories back, and she remembers that Seiko died via hanging in the girls’ bathroom. She becomes determined to save Seiko from that fate.

I became quite intrigued when this occurred because I thought the game would be about redoing the events but the survivors regain their memories and try to save the ones who canonically died in the first game.

That is not what happened.

Well, okay, that’s not true.

That’s kinda what happens, but in a horrible, horrible way.

Naomi DOES save Seiko from being hanged, but she forgot one key detail of Seiko’s death in the first game. Naomi was actually Seiko’s killer. Naomi had succumbed to something called the darkening, which is basically a dark influence the school has on its inhabitants over time that worsens with negative thoughts, feelings and witnessing stuff like dead bodies, gore and ghosts. While Naomi was in her darkened state, she hanged Seiko in the bathrooms, but she also completely forgot about it. She later has to face what she had done and make amends with Seiko’s spirit to free herself from the darkening and leave the school.

When Naomi saves Seiko from the noose, Seiko flips out at seeing the girl who tried to kill her and runs off.

Let me back up a tad and explain that, earlier, I had to disable a piano wire trap in order to pass through certain sections of the school. One wire could not be cut, and it was a neck-height wire on the stairs.

Guess what Seiko runs into.

Yup, she’s instantly beheaded by the piano wire, much to Naomi’s horror. Sachiko explains what this time loop actually is. While it is technically a time loop where everything happens exactly the same, there are some circumstances where the people will regain their memories and try to stop those who died from meeting their ultimate fates. She explains that this is not only pointless – it’s actually ill-advised and horrible for those who died. If these people are saved from what initially killed them, the school will actually devise a way for them to die anyway in a manner that is similar to their initial death but certainly worse.

IE, Seiko originally died via hanging and now she died via beheading, and both involved the mark on her neck.

I’m not sure I agree with that, though, because I think slowly suffocating while hanging and knowing your best friend – the girl you’re in love with – put you there is worse than being quickly beheaded on accident. I get that the latter is bloodier, but still.

The end of the episode is Naomi cradling Seiko’s disembodied head as she mourns the loss of her best friend once more.

What we have established here is, for any episode involving a character who canonically died in the first game, there is no saving them whatsoever. And if they do get ‘saved’ it’s only so they can suffer a worse fate, so why even try? I thought this would be a continuing problem throughout the game, but it really wasn’t – and not for the reasons you might think.

Episode Two: Demise

The aforementioned problem shines brilliantly in this episode as we follow Mayu who was the first to die in the original game. She became a wall sloppy joe via the three children ghosts. Now that the loop is occurring, she has spotty memories of that happening. She has a very foreboding bruise on her stomach that branches outward, and she spends a good chunk of the episode being concerned about it, but tries to ignore it.

This episode did give us a really nice moment between Ayumi and Yoshiki, ending up in the two of them embracing and even falling asleep on each other, so that was really nice, but the niceness ends there.

Also, this is the only episode in which Ayumi and Yoshiki show up (well, technically Ayumi shows up later, but I’ll get to that.) so we don’t learn much else about their stories, which kinda makes sense because they both canonically survived. Also, despite Ayumi’s heightened spiritual powers, neither she nor Yoshiki has any memories of Heavenly Host, so I guess they’d just do pretty much the same things they did before, barring this one part with Mayu since she died long before anyone else came into contact with her.

Mayu and Yoshiki also rescue a girl from another school named Nana, who has similarly foreboding bruises in the forms of straight crisscrossing lines on her thighs, even though, as far as I know, she never died from that. (In the first game, she dies from having her tongue ripped out.)

Nana is in some weird trap involving her being tied to a bust on a desk. The bust is tied to a bucket of sharp items over her head. If she flails too much or if someone tries to save her recklessly, the bucket will fall and she’ll surely die from the wounds. I have no clue why she’s in this trap or who put her in it. I’d assume it was Yoshikazu, but for what purpose? Why not just kill her where she stands like he killed everyone else? Also, her original death couldn’t have been retconned to the bucket thing because then she’d have bruises all over her face, right? I just don’t understand this trap.

Anyway, the bruises get worse the closer a character is to their time of dying. Nana’s get noticeably worse and, when she goes off by herself to try and find her friends – alone, because she’s a dumbass – she gets caught by Yoshikazu and we discover why she has bruises on her thighs – Yoshikazu smashed her legs off with his giant hammer. Not sure if this is canonical either because, despite the certainty that something must’ve happened to her legs in her first death, the bruises were clean lines, which wouldn’t happen if her legs were smashed off.

That’s not even her cause of death anyway. Yes, this really, really awful injury doesn’t kill her, which just makes this death sequence all the more horrific. Mayu is forced to just sit there and watch as Yoshikazu drags Nana away as she’s screaming for help because Mayu knows Nana’s probably as good as dead anyway, and Mayu would never survive trying to go against Yoshikazu. Nana’s actual death scene comes in a different episode.

Seeing Nana get her legs lopped off like that did make Mayu significantly more concerned about her own situation. She dared to check up on her own bruises, which had gotten drastically darker in color. She even started getting one on her face. Mayu starts panicking because she knows what’s coming and is quickly realizing she won’t be able to avoid it.

Now, at this point, I was wondering how the hell you could make Mayu’s death worse. The poor girl was flung into a wall at like 60 MPH and exploded into a mass of unrecognizable guts and gore. How could that be made worse?

Well, Sachiko found a way. Mayu is cornered in the infirmary, a place she should have been avoiding anyway because that’s where the ghosts of the children initially started influencing her before they killed her. Her bruises get so bad that they start bleeding. Sachiko brings in the ghosts of the children to give her a fate worse that her original one, which is being slowly ripped apart by the bare hands of the ghosts.

Yup….yup…that’s definitely worse. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we still play as Mayu as she dies. You know the instant she passes on. It’s pretty heartbreaking.

This episode did a good job in making me care more about Mayu, but she’s still a pretty bland character. She has a love of theater, loves Morishige and is good at covering a wide range of jobs. She’s also very kind and sweet. I appreciate them giving Mayu more of a role in this game since she was pretty much just there to be the first shock death in the original game. You’d think they would’ve done more for her character originally since she was the main reason they did the Sachiko Ever After ritual, but nah.

Episode Three: Encounter

Now we’re into full prequel territory. This episode focuses on Yui Shishido, the teacher of the class that gets sent to Heavenly Host. I believe it’s the day before the events of Corpse Party go down. She’s horrendously sick, and Satoshi, through a lot of convoluted writing, ends up taking care of her in her home since she’s completely out of it. As Yui slumbers, she thinks back to when she was a student in Kisaragi Academy. She had always aspired to be a teacher, and her dream was finally becoming a reality.

She had a crush on a guy named Tsukasa, who became a close friend to her as they neared graduation.

One day, she’s approached by an old woman in the pouring rain who tries to warn her of the dangers of Kisaragi Academy. She told her to not go to school that day and even tried to give her a paper charm to protect her. Yui, ultimately, cannot heed her warnings because she had an important interview at school that day. The woman, who turns out to be Makina Shinozaki, Sachiko’s great aunt, collapses in the rain and Yui is forced to leave her mother and the paramedics to care for Makina as she goes to school. Everything with the interview goes well, but Makina dies while Yui is at school.

Later that night, Yui rushes back to school to retrieve Tsukasa’s special lucky pencil. However, as midnight approaches, she’s reminded of an old ghost story her friends were telling her about, which is the story of Yoshie, Sachiko’s mother. She haunts the school at night, and her friends thought Yoshie might target Yui specifically since she wants to be a teacher and Yoshie was a school nurse.

Sure enough, weird things start happening in the school, and Yui gets targeted by Yoshie’s spirit. With the help of Tsukasa and the spirit of Makina, Yui is able to escape, though she does still experience great pain in her arm after Yoshie tried to crush it. This whole event is played off like it was a dream. They suggest that Yui fell unconscious after getting to the school and just imagined everything that happened, but she still had a severe pain in her arm that couldn’t be explained. In the end, it’s rather sweet because she holds hands with Tsukasa in the light of the sunrise. However, we never learn what became of Tsukasa after they graduated.

Sadly, when Yui wakes up and speaks with Satoshi, we see that she has a big bruise on her arm, which is poking at the fact that her arm was crushed under the cabinet before she died in Heavenly Host. This is the only episode where Yui has a role, so we’re basically left to assume that she’s barreling towards death in the time loop too. Luckily, we don’t have to watch that here.

This is definitely the best episode in the game. I love Yui, and it was nice to see her get a sweet and happy backstory, even if she is destined for a horrible, albeit still noble and the least gratuitous of the bunch, death. I wish she ended up with Tsukasa. He was a sweetheart, and I would’ve liked her to have all the happiness in the world if she was just going to be wiped from existence later.

Episode Four: Purgatory

Focusing on Naho’s friend, Sayaka, it’s basically just a retelling of Naho’s story with lots of filler put into it. Naho is a perfectly normal girl until Kou went to Heavenly Host without her – then she just goes off the deep end, sacrificing her best friend, Sayaka, so she could go after him, and putting up the wrong instructions for the Sachiko Ever After ritual on her blog so more people would wind up in Heavenly Host as ‘samples’ for Kou to study. It’s a complete 180 that comes out of nowhere. Maybe she just snapped because she thought she lost Kou already, but there is seriously nothing properly leading up to this sudden change in behavior. I’d say maybe it was Sachiko’s influence since her presence was following her before this happened, but I can’t be certain. I’ve never seen an instance of darkening outside of Heavenly Host.

After they enter Heavenly Host, it’s just a waiting game until Sayaka dies. I say this not only because Sayaka is canonically dead in the first game, long before the group ever shows up, but also because the very first scene is of her being attacked by Yoshikazu. The rest of the episode is a flashback showing how she reached this point.

The very last scene did make me a little sad for her because that was a terrible way to go out, and Sachiko was a total bitch. Like many others in Heavenly Host, she was starting to die anyway since she spent days wandering around the school with no food or water. In the original game, she dies from succumbing to the darkening. In this game, she nearly does so but is then caught by Yoshikazu and beaten to death with his sledgehammer.

Oh and as some added misery, we witness Nana dying via getting her tongue ripped out. That poor girl can’t catch a break. It was a horrible scene to sit through….

Episode Five: Shangri-La

This episode follows Morishige throughout his time in Heavenly Host. I found this episode to be the most pointless because not only does he pretty much not do anything we don’t already know he was doing, but it doesn’t even follow his story to the end. He never finds out that this ‘beautiful’ ripped apart corpse he finds is Mayu, and he doesn’t even have any bruises on his face to indicate he’s going to smash his face into a window and kill himself in grief over her death and the realization he’s been defiling her corpse this entire time. His last lines are talking about how he’s going to just hide his corpse pictures when he gets back to the regular world instead of deleting them like he was planning to do.

Out of all of the characters who died, he’s the one I most wouldn’t mind seeing die again, but nope.

He also runs into some characters from Byakudan Senior High School, but he doesn’t really affect their story that much, other than freaking them out because he’s so creepy around corpses.

There’s an alternate ending that you have to get by going back once the episode is cleared. This ending shows Yuuya killing Fukuroi and Mitsuki, but that’s pretty much it.

Episode Six: Mire

Okay, here’s where things get a little more confusing. I thought this entire game was following the events of the Wrong End 6*8 (The time loop ending) but apparently that’s wrong. This episode takes place during the events of Wrong End 2*4, wherebasically everyone barring Ayumi either dies or succumbs to the darkening, leaving Ayumi alone and stranded in Heavenly Host because she has no one to do the ritual with. In regards to this episode in particular, this is the ending where both Yuka and Yuuya die – so most of it is stuff you’d already know if you got that ending. I never got that ending, so it was new for me, but if you did get it you’d be simply going through the motions.

We see Yuka after she’s been separated from Satoshi (Which should have been an indicator right there that we weren’t in the time loop because if Satoshi was dumb enough to let Yuka go off on her own again when he clearly has a good chunk of his memories, he’s too dumb to live.) She’s about to be killed by Yuuya, but her kindness causes him to have a breakdown. She then narrowly escapes Sachiko and Yoshikazu, not seeing Sachiko before fleeing due to a blackout.

She then gets shifted to the abandoned bomb shelter area where she comes face to face with Sachiko and decides to be kind to her since she seems to be a nice spirit, not realizing who Sachiko really is. Sachiko asks if Yuka will do anything for her and Yuka, taking a big sisterly type of role, says she will. Then Sachiko starts requesting things from her. She wants her socks because her feet are cold. She wants her shoes because her feet hurt. And she wants her hairpin because her hair keeps getting in her eyes. You’re finally given a decision in whether or not to listen to Sachiko’s requests at this point. You can either tell her she can’t have the hairpin or give it to her. Either way, Yuka dies, but the proper ending is obtained by giving the hairpin to Sachiko, which causes Yuka to start falling under the forces of the darkening. She starts giving Sachiko literally whatever she wants without question, even if she really doesn’t want to.

For example, Sachiko wants Yuka’s hair, and she obtains this by ripping her scalp nearly clean off with her bare hands. Yuka still goes on acting like this is normal, though internally she’s panicking. Sachiko asks for one more thing – her life. Yuka agrees. Yoshikazu then drops by to bludgeon Yuka in the head with his sledgehammer, killing her.

…..So…yeah this episode was also pretty pointless. All it served to do was show us more proof that Yuka is this innocent little kind angel girl before viciously caving in her head with a hammer.

Granted, it did also shows us some of Yuuya’s backstory, which can be summed up in ‘He’s always been a psychopath.’ We get a flashback to Yuuya as a child. The first thing he does of note is viciously beat up another child and laugh about it. Then he’s basically disowned by his family, though his big brother and sister still seem to care about him. Even then, Yuuya’s still a psycho. He kills ‘an animal’ (they never specify what it was) and thinks it’s funny, he gets into a fist fight with his older brother and he just generally acts like an asshole. He eventually started pretending he was a decent guy in order to fit int while secretly not giving a crap about anyone but himself.

He did, however, say he wanted a little brother or sister to see how his older siblings viewed him, which is where Yuka came in.

In this version, Yuuya kinda-ish turns good before he’s murdered by Yoshikazu, but there’s really no redeeming this guy so I didn’t care. Probably a mistake putting this episode right after the one in which, in the secret ending, he viciously stabs two of his friends to death. One of which, he actually gets pissed because she wouldn’t scream for him like he wanted. I know the darkening has some weight here, but you just confirmed he was a psychopathic murderer even before he came to Heavenly Host, so I don’t know what you want from me.

Episode Seven: Tooth

The final episode is a midquel to the first game in which we follow Tohko. I think I saved Naomi in the first game so I never got Tohko’s part. Though, according to what I read, that path just leads to a bad end anyway.

Tohko is one of several people from Byakudan Senior High School who is lost in Heavenly Host at the same time as the Kisaragi group. Yuuya is one of these students, and Tohko has a bit of a crush on him.

The story starts out with a little backstory on how they wound up doing the Sachiko Ever After ritual (though why they included Kai, a guy they all pretty much hate, I’ll never know.) We then skip forward a little bit to a point where Ryousuke has had his leg lopped off by a booby trap. They’re all frantically trying to find him some help before he bleeds out.

Long story short, Kai is an asshole who is the only person I’ve ever seen in Heavenly Host who tried to simply leave (Mayu mentioned trying to jump the fence behind the pool area to see if she could escape, but said she had a bad feeling it would either loop back around or she’d be lost in the darkness forever.) Spoiler Alert: We never really know what happened to him out there, but he comes back in a daze with his knife embedded in his chest. Tomohiro is loyal to Ryousuke to a fault and quickly goes crazy as he tries to deal with the situation. Yuuya is cool as a cucumber because he’s a psychopath, and Emi just kinda reacts to things and screams a lot. Mitsuki and Fukuroi are the only ones separated from them.

After Kai leaves them to go out the door without the others, Yuuya and Tohko return to where Ryousuke is being cared for only to find all of them with sullen faces. Ryousuke has taken a turn for the worse and they don’t believe he’ll make it even if, by some miracle, they do make it out and find help. They rush to get him out anyway, hanging on to a sliver of hope.

Tohko tries to find Mitsuki real quick before they leave since she thought she heard her calling out earlier. After she fails in her quest to find Mitsuki, she returns to the group to find that Ryousuke has passed away from his injuries.

Later, Yuuya is revealed to be full-on nutso as he kicks Ryousuke’s body down the stairs to prove that he’s actually dead to Tomohiro, who is so distraught that he refuses to believe Ryousuke is dead. Tomohiro accidentally breaks his arm by falling down the stairs in an attempt to get to Ryousuke and he flees from Yuuya, who is just standing by in eerie silence. Emi also runs from him, though she seemingly lies to Tohko about what Yuuya did – claiming Yuuya had kicked Tomohiro down the stairs and broke his arm.

Tohko then has to run from Yuuya, not believing that Yuuya did such a terrible thing, even though he also now has Kai’s bloody knife in his hands. She remains in disbelief until Yuuya starts beating her viciously with his fists. She manages to get away, but spits out one of her teeth as a result of the assault.

…..Ugh…..eh…Yuuya finds the tooth….and spends a ridiculous amount of time slowly licking it, chewing on it and finally swallowing it…….Euehgbhghdsfkjhdksajfhdslkfjhsdakfjh. It takes a lot to make me cringe and gag in horror – that did it for me. It was accompanied by gross sound effects and everything. Ugh. Why did he swallow it?! Even for a crazy person, that couldn’t have been pleasant.

Anyway, him eating the tooth is how the game ends.

No. I’m not kidding.

Well, technically, that’s how the game ends.

Before I get to that point, my thoughts on this episode are, it’s very much okay. It was nice to get a little more backstory on the other Byakudan students, but it wasn’t much and the episode just kinda stops. I’d say it’s probably the third best episode behind Encounter and Demise.

However, with this being the end, I do have to say that this game would be insanely confusing if you never played the first game. Hell, I played the first game more than once and I still ended up being confused at some points.

In regards to this being technically the final episode, there is one more episode but it’s not only locked it’s also hidden. The episodes are in a masterlist that you select one by one when you’re starting up the game (Unless you’re starting from a save file) You unlock a new episode with the completion of a previous chapter. When Tooth is done, the list is complete. There are no grayed out episodes to unlock.

However, there is one final episode, Prologue – Blood Drive, that can be revealed and unlocked under two circumstances – either 1) you have to transfer your data from a completed Corpse Party PC game (the re-re-remastered version), which I wasn’t going to do because that would mean completing the entire game again and I’ve done it more than enough on the older versions, or 2) you have to unlock every single ending in this game, which, well, fuck that.

Did I mention that this game is more of a visual novel than it is an actual game? There are hours of text scrolls that you have to go through to get to the options that present these various endings. This wouldn’t be so bad if you knew you had to do this to get the true ending and saved at each option, but I certainly didn’t know that. Hell, I didn’t even know you could save during an option until about two and half episodes in, and I never would have known there was a hidden final episode if I wasn’t reading a Wiki.

Not to mention that some endings are obtained not just through the options but also depend on whether you obtained certain items or did certain things. I know some people are completionists and would do this anyway, but a lot of people would miss out on the true ending either because they didn’t know that episode existed or didn’t want to spend hours upon hours trying to get the endings they missed.

Granted, considering this episode is called Prologue I can imagine Blood Drive would have this be their first episode, but I don’t know yet.

Prologue – Blood Drive

lol i cheetd

Okay I didn’t ‘cheat’ but I did just look up the final episode on Youtube to see what happens.

Even this episode doesn’t follow the storyline they were going for at the start of this game since it is building off the true ending where Naomi, Satoshi, Yuka, Yoshiki and Ayumi all survive, but they’re all still suffering because no one has any memories of those who were lost in Heavenly Host and any evidence they even existed is either gone or distorted (IE, any photos of them that the survivors had on their phones have the faces blacked out.)

Ayumi tells Naomi that she plans on going to the Shinozaki estate, Sachiko and Yoshie’s old house, to see if they can find anything that would help them bring their friends back. Naomi heads there with her, but when they get to the tiny quiet village they find that everyone starts acting very panicky when the Shinozaki estate is brought up. They hitch a ride with some truck driver to the estate, which is pretty far away from the main village, and the road leading there is so bad that it’s a stretch to even call it a road.

When they get as far as the truck driver can take them, they leave the truck, but the driver says he’ll wait for them since he doesn’t want to leave two teenage girls alone here, especially since it’s getting dark.

When they arrive at the estate, they’re shocked to see that the entire building was demolished. Nothing is left save for an old shed that, surprisingly, still has electricity. The shed contains some documents and such but nothing really that helpful to their cause.

It’s now dark out, so they head back to the truck, deciding to come back another time and investigate more then. However, another shock awaits them at the truck – the driver is gone, but the lights are on and the truck is running. They wait around for a bit, but it doesn’t seem like the driver is coming back. They can’t get into the vehicle to warm up and take shelter because it’s locked. They decide to head down the road on foot.

After a long while of walking, they’re devastated to find that they’ve somehow looped around back to the truck, which makes no sense to them because they were heading downhill the entire time. They try again a couple of times, but each time they loop back around to the truck.

At this point, two things are clear – the driver is seriously never coming back, and anyone would’ve just broken a window on the truck to warm up, get some shelter and maybe even just take the truck back down the hill. I mean, considering what’s happening, I can bet anything that even taking the truck would just loop them around, but it’d be smart to try.

Instead, they decide the best course of action is to go back uphill to the barn because there is electricity and some mats to sleep on until morning. Because taking shelter in the creepy abandoned shed previously owned by two murderous ghosts is very smart.

When they arrive, they get a third surprise – the Shinozaki estate is glowing and floating in front of them. Well, I guess if they can have a ghost school a ghost house isn’t to be questioned.

They decide to go in the house, which, despite being a ghost, is still corporeal. Like in Heavenly Host, everything is solid, but many of the items are secured to the floor or tables. We get some interesting background on the Shinozaki family tree. It’s filled with women who are ‘gifted’ as in they have strong spiritual powers that are linked to witchcraft. It seems Ayumi is part of Sachiko’s family afterall, which is why she has her own abilities to sense ghosts and whatnot. Ayumi also remembered her sistertelling her stories about witchcraft in the past which seemingly lines up with what they were reading. However, a weird fact about their family is that males are not born into it. Men typically marry into the family and then they all suddenly die after their child is born. Indeed, Sachiko’s father is not around and all pictures of him have his face blacked out.

They’re terrified to hear foreign footsteps around the house, so they hide in a mysterious small room which houses a creepy necromonicon-esque book – you guessed it, the titular Book of Shadows.

This is the first time the entire game that they’ve mentioned the Book of Shadows. The thing that this game is specifically named after isn’t even mentioned in the game, let alone shown, until the very end, and it’s in an episode that you might not even know exists and/or have to jump through hoops to unlock.

I am at a loss for words.

The Book of Shadows is some flesh-covered ancient tome that is filled with powerful spells. Ayumi is shocked the book is even in Japan let alone the Shinozaki’s ghost house.

Ayumi tries to read the book, but it’s mostly in French with some runes and whatnot peppered throughout. However, some notes on the side, supposedly written by Yoshie, are in Japanese. Ayumi reads for a bit and then, I’m not even kidding here, basically just says to herself “Eh…that’s good enough. Let’s raise the dead.”

And they do just that. They start a ritual to bring their friends back to life. All they need is a pentagram, some candles, three paper dolls to represent the two of them and their intended target and a photo of the deceased followed by a long, long, long spell. They decide to bring back Mayu first. Surprisingly, the spell works, but not really.

Like so many times with hinky witchcraft resurrections, the ‘Mayu’ they brought back isn’t really Mayu. Remember how I said any photos of the people who died in Heavenly Host had their faces blacked out? This Mayu has a blacked out face. She just kept calling for Morishige over and over until she suddenly fell to the ground. Bright red runes start appearing all over Mayu’s body and she pretty much exploded and died again.

Before they can even process what happened, those same runes appear on Ayumi’s body. Saw blades and screwdrivers from the shed start piercing those markings in an effort to kill her.

The paper doll that represented Ayumi is on fire. Believing this to be the cause of the problem, Naomi tries her best to extinguish the fire, but she’s unsuccessful. Naomi’s paper doll starts catching fire next, meaning they’re both sure to die in mere moments. Just then, Ayumi’s sister, Hinoe, bursts in and extinguishes the flames with a special powder, saving them both, even though Ayumi is still badly wounded. (How did she even know they were there?)

Ayumi cries in her sister’s arms, and all seems well and good…..

Until Hinoe’s head explodes.

I don’t know why.

And that’s the actual end of the game, which, like I said, is really a teaser for the following game, Blood Drive.

This was a pretty good episode. And it actually was a, get this, SEQUEL to the original game. Go figure. And no, I don’t count the time loop episodes as being sequels. They didn’t accomplish anything and they took place during the original game, technically.

Don’t get me wrong, the stories they had to tell here were okay for the most part, but besides Yui’s backstory and Mayu’s episode, I don’t feel like I really got much out of playing the game as a whole. There was no cohesion between the episodes, which can be fine but they went a bit too out of whack for my tastes, especially considering they’re building off a game with numerous endings and not sticking to one ending to act as its base. Plus, they ended on a completely random note.

It just baffles me that the one episode you’d think would be necessary to this game is actually hidden and requires a bunch of work to unlock. I’m not really angry at it, I’m just confused. This whole game confuses me.

Gameplay

It’s pretty standard point and click. Each room and hallway is a static screen. Your cursor turns into a reticle, and you enter into a scanning mode. In this mode, you can click on anything interactable and find key items, disable traps, read messages etc. Nearly all of the important items are marked with shining lights, making them even easier to suss out. There are some minor ‘puzzles’ you have to solve in order to move forward, but they’re very easy to figure out. I only got stuck twice, and even then it was just a matter of me not knowing I had to interact with something a second time to get what I needed.

You move through the rooms by bringing up your map via the center mouse button and selecting which room you want to travel to. Some areas are blocked off for whatever reason – locked doors, gaping holes in the floor, booby traps etc. And you either have to wait for a shift to occur to change the dimension in order to pass, or you have to find some way to unlock the door, get across the gap etc.

There were two timed events near the start of the game. I really thought they’d introduce more mechanics like that or increase the time crunch as the game went on, but sadly those were the only ones in the game and no other game mechanics were introduced. You also have an inventory, but it’s more or less pointless besides to show you that you still hold certain items in case you’re restarting after a Wrong End or something.

In addition to quick saves occurring after certain events, you can also save at any time by right-clicking – and I suggest you do this at pretty much any option screen in order to save yourself if you get a Wrong End or to help you along if you want to get every ending.

Final Thoughts

I did enjoy myself while playing this game, but it just seems like a jumbled mess of side stories instead of being a proper sequel to the original game. While some episodes did offer interesting perspectives and fleshed out some of the more minor characters further, I didn’t really care about what was presented to me outside of Yui’s backstory and Mayu’s episode. Most of the characters from Byakudan are pretty boring. Kai is interesting, but he’s also an asshole who really only gets one or two scenes of focus before he’s stabbed. I guess I also liked Fukuroi and Mitsuki, and they got a decent amount of focus, but it wasn’t worth the price of admission, ya know?

I’m also a bit disappointed that this is mostly a visual novel instead of being an RPG like the other games were. I can kinda forgive a lackluster story in a game if the gameplay is fun, but there really isn’t much to the point and click aspect. There are some interesting notes that you can read throughout, but that’s about it. Apparently Blood Drive is in more of an RPG format, so we’ll see how I do there.

Screencaps Courtesy of the Corpse Party Fandom Community.


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Animating Halloween | Corpse Party: Tortured Souls Review

Rating: 5.5/10

Plot: Nine people from Kisaragi Academy High School perform a friendship ritual on a dark and stormy night since one of their friends, Mayu, is moving away the following day. Once the ritual is done, what seems like an earthquake hits the school and all of them end up in a strange different school called Heavenly Host Elementary – a site where grisly murders happened several decades prior. What is the mystery behind this school? And can they return to their world before the tormented spirits within the school kill them first?

Breakdown: It’s been a hot minute since I reviewed the manga Corpse Party: Blood Covered and it’s been even longer since I played any of the Corpse Party games. I was excited to sit down and finally watch an anime adaptation in this franchise since I have enjoyed everything to this point.

However, when I was finally able to check it out, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

Let me put something into perspective. Corpse Party: Blood Covered is ten volumes long and covers the same story.

Corpse Party: Tortured Souls is four 30 minute episodes long.

Do you see where the problems are already starting?

This simply isn’t a long enough time frame to flesh out each character, of which there are NINE, explore the individual stories of each group, truly care about whether or not they live or die and properly execute the story.

They gave it a decent shot, but in the end it was all just too rushed and smushed together, and as a result the anime just comes off as an unbridled gore fest. Granted, yes, Corpse Party is, of course, quite gory by default, but this anime was damn near sickening at parts. I tend to handle gore and stuff just fine (Saw is one of my favorite horror movies – Dead Space is my favorite horror game etc.) but there were some scenes in this anime where I legitimately wanted to skip over them because they were just torture porn.

I’m going to cover each individual group’s story before convening them all into the ending.

Naomi and Seiko

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Yeah and we’ll always hang out together……..That was a terrible joke. I am sorry.

Originally, Seiko loved Naomi and Naomi loved Satoshi, so Seiko never told her how she felt. She did have a habit of “play” flirting with her and playfully groping her whenever possible, but Naomi just took it as Seiko being goofy.

Naomi was always very secretive about her feelings for Satoshi, but she still stewed in jealousy when it came to other female characters getting close to him, especially when the school started influencing her. In Tortured Souls, the same is basically in place but there’s not enough time to actually explore that so it’s very much just subtext.

Naomi and Seiko are just the best of friends, and Seiko has become increasingly concerned about Naomi leaving her side one day. Naomi’s jealousy is all but removed entirely.

Once the school’s influence starts affecting them, it leads to the untimely demise of Seiko, who seemingly hangs herself after Naomi snapped at her in anger. Naomi spends the rest of the series in a state of deep regret and guilt for Seiko killing herself.

However, I should note that the scene in which Naomi tries to ‘save’ her is rather stupid. Seiko is actually not quite dead yet when Naomi finds her hanging body. Naomi yanks DOWN on her, TWICE, and instead of getting underneath her and allowing her to climb on her shoulders to get the noose off and come down, Naomi runs to get a bucket, which means Seiko dies in the interim.

It’s a shame because I liked Seiko in the original series too. She was a bit overbearing, but she did love Naomi so much that she encouraged her to pursue Satoshi because she knew Naomi loved him. She didn’t want to ruin their friendship and she wanted Naomi to be happy.

Satoshi and Yuka

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Depicted Above: The World’s Biggest Idiot. Recently beat out the last record holder who was, coincidentally, Satoshi Mochida.

While I am happy that they pretty much entirely omitted the part about Yuka loving Satoshi in a romantic sense, they left in the incredibly stupid part of the Blood Covered manga that I previously ranted about on Twitter.

Satoshi is in the middle of a school covered in corpses and ghosts. They are currently being lead over a field of corpses by a ghost. Yuka needs to pee, so Satoshi, with a smile even, happily leaves Yuka alone in this outdoor walkway WITH THE GHOST while he goes into the next building and SHUTS THE DOOR. Shock beyond shocks, this causes them to get separated and is ultimately the event that leads to Yuka’s untimely death in this version. Yes, believe it or not, the anime managed to make this scene even stupider than it was originally by having Sachiko, the main murderous spirit, escort Yuka as she goes off to pee and Satoshi’s just like ‘Lol enjoy ur p! Baiiii!’

Yuka’s still a pretty annoying character, but she was sweet to bring Satoshi his umbrella at the start. After that, though, it’s pretty much non-stop saying she has to pee and screaming until she dies. And let me tell you something right now, even if you have found Yuka to be the most annoying character in the franchise, she did not deserve the death she got. That was just overly brutal.

Satoshi continues to be the unsalted cracker he has always been. I’m still confused as to why so many girls love him, but in this version it’s not nearly as much of an issue because only Naomi’s crush still seems to be a real thing and even that’s toned down quite a bit. Ayumi’s love of Satoshi does seem to exist, but we’ll get to that later.

Mayu and Morishige

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These two aren’t really together-together, they just happened to enter the same dimensional plane. (For those not familiar with the games, each group is separated not only by space but also by dimensions. IE they could be in the exact same spot in the school but not see or interact with each other because they’re on different dimensional versions of the school. This doesn’t really matter much in the anime, though, since once the ghosts start being appeased the dimensions merge.)

We don’t really see Mayu doing anything before the school starts influencing her (outside of her back at regular school where she’s basically just a nice girl). She gets mind-controlled into being the friend of two of the main ghosts in the school, but when their teacher, Yui, finds her, they kill Mayu in one of the most gruesome ways they could. The manner in which it’s done is canon, but damn it’s still incredibly gruesome. At least she went quick, is all I can say.

Morishige continues to be the creepy sadist psycho he was before, practically getting off from taking pictures of corpses and eventually starting to kill people himself. It’s still unclear whether he was screwed up from the get-go and the school just made it worse or if this is just the way he is. The only thing he really cares about legitimately is Mayu, and he suffers from a final psychological break when he realizes that the giant splatter of person he took a picture of earlier, that was his favorite corpse, was actually Mayu’s remains. His death is not the same as it was in Blood Covered, where he committed suicide out of guilt when Mayu’s spirit tells him to not look at her insides as he was gazing at the photo. Instead, he just becomes ultra psychotic, tries to murder Yuka, he dies via neck stabbage by a character who had never even met him at that point.

I think it was a mistake not having Morishige kill himself instead. That was the one thing that kinda redeemed his character, as terrible as that is to say. Otherwise, it’s impossible to sympathize with him even a little.

Yoshiki and Ayumi

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Yoshiki was my favorite character from both the games and Blood Covered. He’s abrasive, somewhat cold and jealous, yeah, but he’s a pretty good guy. He’s much more interesting than Satoshi and way more likable than Morishige, and you can really tell how much he loves Ayumi, even if it’s difficult for him to come to grips with his feelings himself.

Complicating their relationship even further is the fact that not only is Ayumi completely oblivious to his feelings, but she’s also in love with Satoshi. However, this love really isn’t given proper focus or explored at all in Tortured Souls. When she and Yoshiki have returned to their world and are given the chance to go back to Heavenly Host to sate the spirits, save their friends and destroy the place, she suddenly started prattling off about how Satoshi would go back to save everyone and how they ahve to save Satoshi and the others.

Yoshiki comes off as a gigantic coward and a bit of a jerk in their story. He doesn’t do anything to help until his big moment at the end. Before that, he refuses to go back and try to save their friends even though nothing happened to him to warrant this vehement refusal. Without spoiling too much of Blood Covered, let me say that, while he also doesn’t want to return to Heavenly Host in that story, he still did a lot to help and he went through A LOT while he was there. Not to mention that the task of finding the other items and appeasing the rest of the ghosts as well as finding Sachiko and helping her pass on was a huge venture. The task itself really wasn’t difficult, but pulling it off while staying alive was an entirely different story. It was perfectly justified for him to want to stay behind. Even with all of that on his head, he still went back with her and helped end everything.

In this version, Yoshiki just has a big temper tantrum. Despite only the bare basics of spooky ghosts and seeing corpses happening to him, AND them already appeasing all of the murdered children’s ghosts beforehand quickly and off-screen, meaning they only have to do one thing when they go back to Heavenly Host, he comes off like he gives zero shits about their friends. And then he acts like Ayumi only wants to go back to save her beloved Satoshi. He actually lets her leave without him in this version.

Granted, he does – somehow – return to Heavenly Host later and tries to save Yuka, to no avail, and also kinda saves Ayumi, which is his character’s only saving grace before he’s viciously murdered while trying to confess his love of Ayumi. He has one of the worst deaths in the series, and while I didn’t much care for this version of Yoshiki (it’s at least way better than he’s portrayed in Musume from all I’ve heard about it….) he didn’t deserve to go out like that. Also, considering how few people survive in this version and how he was mercilessly murdered immediately after returning, it just kinda makes it look like Yoshiki was right to not want to come back.

Yui

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I agree. The way they treated your character was sick.

Yui is the only character mostly left to her own devices. She starts out on the same dimensional plane as Mayu and Morishige, but that doesn’t matter much. Yui is definitely the most shafted out of the entire cast. She doesn’t even get an arc. She gets nothing to do. All she does is see Mayu get murdered then she seemingly spends the rest of the series in shock, sitting on the floor of a nearby classroom.

In the games and the manga, she gets a very emotional arc. One of the ghosts pins her under a large cabinet. She has glass and sharp instruments stabbing her in the back and her right arm is crushed under the weight. She has a back and forth with the ghost who keeps trying to convince her that she’s selfish and doesn’t actually care about her students. After a lengthy and very painful ordeal, she manages to convince the ghost of how much she loves her students. The ghost lets her go, but she’s still very wounded. She dies in both the games and the manga via self-sacrifice to save her students, just in different manners.

The last time we see her in the anime is after Ayumi returns to the school. Yui has somehow snapped out of her shock and has a discussion with Ayumi. She alerts her to Mayu’s death, tells her that Mayu wouldn’t want her to feel guilty about it…..and then immediately gets beheaded by falling debris…..

I sat through Yuka’s torture porn death.

I stomached Yoshiki’s unceremonious murder.

I had to pause the video when Yui was killed because I was just THAT insulted.

Why even have her in the anime version at all if you’re not going to give her anything to do? She barely interacts with anyone or anything, we get no insight into her character and then she’s just killed in a goofy fashion for shock value. Yui deserved way better than that. She was a great, tough and loving character who beat the odds and died on her own terms to save others. Fuck this.

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AH! ANATOMICAL MODEL! GO AWAY YOU UNFAIR FRUSTRATING PAIN IN MY ASS!…Oh sorry…game flashbacks…

In terms of the overall story being rushed, you can probably tell from what I’ve already written on how much stuff was omitted or changed from the Blood Covered manga and the games to fit the four episode format. Character deaths are just sorta glossed over without any of them, barring Seiko, being given proper weight. No one’s continuously affected by Mayu and Morishige’s deaths outside of Yui, but who cares, Yui’s death might as well be a footnote, and all that carried through after Yoshiki died was Ayumi asking him to watch over them as they geared up to stop Sachiko. Even when Yuka dies, Satoshi breaks down during the death, but the next episode he’s perfectly fine and barely even mentions her. We don’t even know where he left her body….

While it is even worse than what I’ve already conveyed in regards to condensation and omission, it does manage to hit the necessary beats and tell the entire story of Heavenly Host and Sachiko in a relatively satisfactory manner in the time frame that it was allowed.

They do skip over the appeasement of most of the ghosts, choosing to return their items to them off-screen, but they showed their suffering, at least one of the ghosts passed on to heaven on-screen, and Yuki was still the one who helped them out. In the end, the main story and conflict is about Sachiko and appeasing her, which they did just fine, so it’s not too bad.

I stupidly believed they might have actually been headed in a good ending direction. The Corpse Party games have numerous endings depending on your actions, and the manga ended in a relatively good manner. This is, afterall, the only version I can recall that has Heavenly Host being destroyed without implying that the school, somehow, recreates itself and still perpetuates the rituals and killings without the ghosts around…..But uh….nope.

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In the very end, only Ayumi, Naomi and Satoshi remain. Yes. Only three people managed to survive, which is worse than even the worst ends of Corpse Party, barring ones in which they all seemingly die.

After Sachiko is appeased, the school starts falling apart. They have one opportunity to get back home by doing a reversal of the friendship ritual that brought them there, Sachiko Ever After. Problem is, you need to have the paper slip (from a ripped paper doll) that you originally obtained in the first ritual in order for it to work. Naomi lost her slip but took one from a random corpse, leading to concerns that something might happen to her during the ritual.

To fix this….Satoshi gives her his slip….??? Satoshi says it’s okay because he has Yuka’s slip……????? Yeah, this doesn’t make any sense. In Blood Covered (In the games too, I think) all they needed was A slip from the paper doll. They didn’t specifically need their own slip. In the end of the manga, Naomi also lost her slip, so Satoshi offered his, but she refused. Ayumi reveals that the slip she had was Naomi’s, so she gives it back to her, but then reveals that she also lost her slip. Yui, choosing to stay behind in the collapsing school, gives Ayumi her slip so she can save all of her beloved students.

The anime just makes no sense whatsoever. Satoshi giving her his slip means both of them won’t be using their original slips, unnecessarily putting both of them in danger. He would’ve been better off just giving her Yuka’s slip because maybe having two slips would decrease their chances of something bad happening.

But that’s still not the end.

They perform the reversal ritual and return home….Only to find that Ayumi and Naomi are holding the severed arms of Satoshi – the only parts of him that made it through the portal…

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You girls need a hand? Pbthahahahaha!….Ahh….again, I’m sorry.

Satoshi didn’t use Yuka’s slip. He actually used Yuuya’s slip, which he found and for some reason kept earlier. Yuuya is a student from another school who also ended up in Heavenly Host. He’s a psycho who eventually, somehow, becomes the bane of my existence – the anatomical model. Speaking of that, I guess that’s another point for Yoshiki in this version since he killed that bastard.

Why he kept Yuuya’s slip but didn’t have Yuka’s, I have no idea. Also, why he lied about this I don’t know either. Maybe if he knew it was risky to use a paper slip that wasn’t a part of the original doll so he lied to ease Naomi’s fears, that’d make more sense. However, that was never established. It was just that you needed your original piece.

I honestly don’t know why they wouldn’t have made more of an effort to retrieve the other doll pieces from their friends if they knew this. They knew where all of their bodies were and having more slips would probably greatly increase their chances of surviving the ride back home. Satoshi picked up the slip of some random dude he never met, but didn’t pick up the slips of his dead friends. Logic is fun.

It’s possible that Satoshi just didn’t realize he grabbed Yuuya’s slip out of his pocket instead of Yuka’s, which is just kinda dumb.

The ending is actually framed in a funny manner because we just see Naomi and Ayumi reacting to the disembodied arms (without saying anything or even screaming) and then the credits roll.

In a post-credits sequence, we see Naomi’s mother frantically calling the doctor because of Naomi’s terrible psychological state in which she keeps muttering about imaginary friends, which is mirroring something that may or may not happen in the games. In keeping with the Corpse Party way of doing things, if a person dies in Heavenly Host, they never existed in the real world (eh, kinda. It depends on the ending.), yet things are somehow still identical to the way they were before. The only people who remember those who were lost are the other surviving party members. Losing Satoshi and Seiko and realizing that no one even remembers everyone else, barring Ayumi, must’ve been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

As for Ayumi, we never learn what became of her after she came back home….nor how they explained the two severed arms thing to other people. It’s actually kinda funny that one of the people who is canonically dead in several of the endings to the games is one of the few who survives here.

This is one of those situations where I found my opinions of the anime souring after I sat down and actually wrote out my feelings on it. When I started writing, I felt like giving it a 6 or a 6.5 but I dropped it down to a 5.5.

Don’t get me wrong, I still had a decent amount of fun with the ride. While the atmosphere is diminished because of how rushed everything is, there was still a pretty high scare factor, especially considering that it’s very clear that no one’s safe in this situation. But I have to step back and wonder if I was worried about these characters more because I’m already invested in the franchise and know a decent amount of their other stories…. The answer is ‘maybe.’

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I can imagine someone completely new to Corpse Party as a whole would be incredibly confused and uninvested in these characters, and pretty much the only reason they’d really be scared for them is because of how gory and graphic everything is. The characters are still likable, but it’s hard to really get attached to any of them in this version.

Some of the visuals on their own are fairly scary even without gore, but the gore-less horror shots are few and far between.

Also, while it doesn’t happen that often, this series has a habit of putting gratuitous panty shots in the middle of scary scenes. Like when Naomi is paralyzed on the bed and some spirit is invading her body, the spirit pulls up her skirt so we can see her panties. It’s no alluding to rape or anything – it’s just boop look at my panties. Oh look, Mayu is about to become a stain on the wall, better make one of her last shots as a non-splatter of a human being holding her upside down and shoving the camera right in her crotch.

Bottomline: I realize I keep skewing into trashing this show, but it did manage to hold my attention throughout the entire story, and it provided me with a decent actual horror title to watch for this year’s Animating Halloween. Most of the material this year has been very vanilla, but this provided me with some actual blood, ghosts and psychological terror. The characters, while not being given nearly enough time to be fleshed out, are still mostly good characters, barring the ones who weren’t good to begin with like Morishige.

The voice acting was also extremely good. One of the reasons the more torturous scenes actually got to me was because the actors were able to deliver extremely believable and gut-wrenching screams. When they were drowning in sorrow, you felt it. And when they had a moment of hope, you believed it might be okay. Even the ghosts provided good performances when they spoke.

The music was also pretty good. Nothing that really stuck with me that much, but fitting enough for the series’ tone and nice enough to listen to. The absolute ending of the OP is a bit too high-spirited, though, considering that the series is just not positive at all and the picture they’re holding on is alluding to something tragic and horrific, despite the people depicted smiling in it.

Overall, while this is a fine enough watch for Halloween or for anyone who wants a bite of gritty gore and horror in their anime while having a cast that isn’t obnoxious. While it has some glaring problems as a standalone, many of my complaints come from how bad it was in comparison to the games and the Blood Covered manga, which I loved.

I really think they should re-do this series as a 13 episode run instead of four. That would be the perfect length in my eyes to create strong atmosphere, flesh out the characters, strengthen the relationships and allow the story to breathe while also not overstaying its welcome given the level of gore in this title. Not sure if we’ll ever get another Corpse Party anime. I’d assume it’d be based on Book of Shadows if they did anything in that regard, but I don’t know if it would ever happen.

Additional Information and Notes: Corpse Party: Tortured Souls was directed by Akira Iwanaga, and it was written by Shoichi Sato. The OVA was produced by Asread, a company that hasn’t really fallen on my radar as of yet but has produced Shuffle!, Ga-Rei: Zero and Mirai Nikki. Corpse Party: Tortured Souls has, to date, never been licensed in North America nor is an English dub available.

Episodes: 4

Year: 2013

Recommended Audience: No nudity or sex, though rape/sexual assault is suggested in one scene. The obvious hitch here is gore galore. They do NOT hold back on the blood and gore here. They basically revel in it. It’s one of the goriest anime titles I’ve ever come across, and that’s saying something. 17+


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Corpse Party: Blood Covered (Manga) Review

Rating: 9.5/10

Plot: Satoshi Mochida, Yoshiki Kishinuma, Naomi Nakashima, Seiko Shinohara, Ayumi Shinozaki, Mayu Suzumoto and Sakutaro Morishige are all very close friends at Kisaragi Academy. Saddened that Mayu is going to be transferring next year, Ayumi propositions them to partake in a charm ritual that will supposedly bond them all forever – Sachiko Ever After. Joining them are their homeroom teacher, Yui Shishido and Satoshi’s little sister, Yuka.

However, upon completion of the ritual, they are thrust into a strange different school called Heavenly Host Elementary. The school is blackened, wrecked, with many holes in the floor and structural damage. The place is littered in corpses and there are revenants around every corner.

What’s worse is that the group has been separated into smaller groups and spread not only over the school but also over dimensions, meaning they have no way to regroup and return home. They’re soon tormented by the revenants – attacking them and seemingly wanting them dead.

What is the secret behind Heavenly Host Elementary? And can they all return home alive?

Breakdown: It has been several years since I played any of the Corpse Party games, including the game this is directly adapting, Corpse Party: Blood Covered, so even though I remember the main gist of the story, I wouldn’t be able to give this manga a play-by-play comparison to see how it matches up.

That being said, I did really enjoy the Corpse Party games I played. I got bad ends and that anatomical model can go to the deepest recesses of hell in a coffin made of napalm, but I still got really invested in the story and the characters. It had its hiccups, but they were really well-made.

Blood Covered is an absolutely amazing horror manga. It never made me scream or anything, but I jumped once or twice and it definitely kept up a great atmosphere.

The series pulls no punches with its violence or gore, and by the end I was nearly crying, which is strange because the ending is a lot happier than any of the ends I ever got.

The story was also well-written with several twists and turns that I never saw coming. I had some moments during the Corpse Party games where I felt like the story was contrived or didn’t make full sense, but the manga does a good job ironing those issues out. The only question I really have is SPOILERS Why does Heavenly Host still exist at the end? It shows the kids who were murdered as supposedly being the new spirits running the joint, but they got their body parts back and turned good. I know the spirits still ended up being a part of the school, but I thought their spirits would dissipate or move on once the school was destroyed. What re-tainted them? END SPOILERS

While the character designs are simplistic in style, the horror elements are beautifully stylized and detailed. There are so many panels in this manga that I stopped on just so I could appreciate the creepy vibe they were instilling in the scene.

The characters were also pretty memorable and likable, barring one recurring theme I’ll get to shortly. They were all realistic characters reacting and interacting like real people. I ranted on Twitter a bit about one pretty stupid decision Satoshi made, but it’s not like people don’t make stupid mistakes, especially in horror stories. I felt particularly impacted by Yui, who never once truly faltered in her resolve to stay true and not play this out selfishly or be affected by the darkness.

Mayu never really got a chance to be affected by the darkness, and Satoshi never got affected because that might make him interesting.

That being said, I had some minor issues with the characters. Morishige and Mayu were such non-characters that I pretty much forgot about them by the time the story put the focus back on them. I almost thought Morishige was a completely foreign character wandering around.

They also don’t do much with him when he is reintroduced. We find out he’s got an almost fetish level amount of admiration for corpses, leaving the audience forever wondering if this is a trait he’s always had or if he developed it because of the influence of Heavenly Host, he spends a while searching for Mayu, whom he views as a sister, and outside of spoilers, that’s about it.

His impact on the story is extremely minimal, and Mayu’s impact is even less than that, which is worse because their stories are intertwined so it kinda comes off like they’re just here to up the body count.

Another issue I had was that I was perpetually irritated by the fact that nearly all of the female characters had a romantic obsession with Satoshi – even his little sister! (I can’t escape the incest. Thanks, manga.)

So many times the flow of the story was interrupted by someone getting jealous of Satoshi interacting with a girl, someone getting flustered, sad or embarrassed at the thought of a romantic interaction with Satoshi, Yoshiki getting jealous that Ayumi’s in love with Satoshi instead of him, someone focusing entirely on Satoshi in their efforts to escape the school when they’re all in danger etc. etc.

The only female character here, besides their teacher, who isn’t in love with Satoshi is Seiko and that’s because she’s hopelessly in love with Naomi and spends a good deal of her time teasing Naomi to go after Satoshi. Oh wait, I should mention that Mayu is also not in love with Satoshi as she’s implied to be in love with Morishige, but she’s such a minor character here that it really doesn’t matter.

It’s just incredibly irritating, especially when it comes to Ayumi and Yuka. I won’t lie that part of my irritation with Ayumi is the fact that Yoshiki is in love with her, even confesses it so, but at the very end she’s still dedicated to Satoshi and barely pays Yoshiki any attention even though he’s damn near died several times trying to protect her.

When Yoshiki starts feeling the effects of the school and it’s geared towards jealousy of Satoshi, even though it’s only a few scenes, you do sympathize with the guy because, as far as I’m concerned, Satoshi is a pretty bland Gary Stu.

Seriously, I would never be able to describe Satoshi any further than ‘He’s a nice guy and a good big brother’ Even the people who are in love with him don’t describe him any further than that. Like in the games, the manga makes off like Satoshi is the main character, but he really isn’t. Numerous other characters are more vital to the plot than Satoshi is. I just kept wondering what it is about this guy that makes him so appealing to so many girls.

As far as Yuka is concerned, she could’ve been a lot more annoying, and they didn’t focus a lot on her romantic feelings for Satoshi, but it’s still irritating, especially in regards to the fact that she acts and looks more like a damn toddler when she’s, according to the Wiki, 14 years old.

Also, they spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get this girl to the bathroom….

These aren’t really major issues, but they did keep cropping up and it did get annoying.

All in all, this is a fantastic read. I found myself staying up late reading and being disappointed that I really needed to stop reading and go to bed. Corpse Party tends to do a really good job at making characters that you truly care about while also making a terrifying atmosphere and not balking on deaths. It’s a great mixture of creepiness, gore and horror, and while it does have a few issues in the character department, it’s nothing damaging enough to make me lower my score by much.

Corpse Party has several other mangas out, and I hope to review them in the near future. Maybe I’ll even get my hands on another one of the games or watch the live-action movie.

Additional Information and Notes: Corpse Party: Blood Covered was written by Makoto Kedouin. It was illustrated by Toshimi Shinomiya. It was published by Gangan Joker.

Volumes: 10

Year: 2008 – 2012

Recommended Audience: There is a TON of gore and frightening situations here. People get pulverized by getting thrown into walls, there’s a bunch of chopped up corpses, there are scenes where characters get their eyes stabbed and popped out, their tongues cut out, their heads lopped in half etc. and it is pretty detailed in its gore too. There’s a smidge of fanservice, but not a lot. No nudity either. 16+