Yami Shibai 3 (full) Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episodes: 13

Year: 2016

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

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 3 Episodes 5-8 Review

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Yami Shibai 3 Episode 5 – The Museum of Taxidermy

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

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

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

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

Episode 6 – “That Side” Festival

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

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

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

Episode 7 – Behind

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

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

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

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

Episode 8 – The Empress Doll

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

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

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

Yami Shibai 2 Review (Full)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Score (Rounded up): 6.5/10

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

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

Episodes: 13

Year: 2014

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

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 2 Episodes 11 and 12 Review

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Yami Shibai Episode 11 – Picking Up

Plot: A college student finds a draft of someone’s novel on the train home. He becomes entranced with reading it, but soon becomes weirded out when he somehow ends up on a bench at the train station later that day without realizing it. As he’s about to throw the novel away, he notices an add for a novel writing contest with a prize of 3 Million yen. Unable to resist, he sends in the novel and surprisingly wins. However, getting credit for the work of another has a way of biting you in the end.

Breakdown: I hate plagiarism. I hate art theft. That’s why stories like these aren’t quite as scary. It’s hard to feel scared when deep down you’re happy that something bad is happening to someone.

Not to say that plagiarists and art thieves deserve being killed, going crazy, being sent to hell, etc. but this is fiction, so I can fictionally laugh at them when this does happen in fiction, fictionally.

This is basically a cautionary tale against such a thing, and admittedly the visuals aren’t that interesting. Just a lot of skeletons. However, if you have ever done anything similar like copy someone’s answers on a test, pass off a picture as your own or buy term papers, this might be something to creep down your neck.

Episode 12 – Netsuke

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Plot: A college student named Kaoru is helping out her grandma at her store for a while since her grandpa recently passed away. She’s taking some toys and things that her grandpa would’ve wanted her to have. As she’s gathering things, she stumbles upon a box and asks what it is. Her grandma explains that they’re netsuke that her grandpa always forbade her from touching. They’re two tiny carvings of faces. Kaoru asks if she can take them as earrings and she agrees. As she happily wears her new earrings, Kaoru starts to believe she’s being followed. Do the netsuke truly not belong to her?

Breakdown: This one actually had me going in the middle because they do a fantastic job with that chase scene and making the pursuers seem pretty creepy. I knew a jump scare was coming, but it still got me anyway and I continued to feel tense throughout the scene.

Not much to say about this one beyond that except I feel like the grandma is either an idiot or a complete bitch, based on the ending. I won’t spoil why I think that, but geez.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 2 Episodes 9 and 10 Review

Yami Shibai 2 Episode 9 – Ominie-San

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Plot: A teacher moves from the city to start a job in a school in the country. While she’s enjoying her new job so far and the students seem to adore her, she is grossed out by the fact that everyone seems to be obsessed with weird looking purple meat called Ominie-san. She can’t bring herself to eat it, but once you’ve had one taste, you’ll be hooked for life.

Breakdown: This one is just kind of weird. That’s it. Everyone in this town loves to eat Ominie-san but the teacher doesn’t find it appealing at all so she avoids it at every turn without even trying a bite. I don’t feel like it’d be a big deal to spoil this one since I find it horribly anti-climactic so here goes…..she eventually is tricked into eating some and also becomes hooked.

Now you may be thinking, “Twix, you must only be giving us a part of the story. Ominie-san must be human flesh or something frightening to eat. Maybe it makes the people who eat it become something horrible like serial killers, zombies or politicians! Maybe it makes you into a demon! Maybe it KILLS YOU!” Maybe it does nothing…..because it does nothing.

Outside of being super yummy and giving you slightly bad table manners (and sounding gross when you bite into it), there are no real side effects to eating Ominie-san. People just really like to eat it. Kids get excited when it’s on the menu for lunch, people order it like any other food at a restaurant…..it’s delicious.

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They seem a little addicted to it, but the people act very normal otherwise.

All that would be left to be somewhat creepy or frightening in this situation would be where the meat came from, right? Well, they never tell us or really give us any hints. People were suspecting that it’s probably demon meat, but even that’s not really scary unless the meat actually does stuff to you, and it doesn’t. Maybe the demon’s still alive considering they’re still calling it Ominie-san….Okay….so? Meat is meat. I’m pretty sure most meat-eaters wouldn’t care if what they were eating was still alive somewhere. And there are even some foods that are served whole as living creatures that people eat without killing beforehand or cooking.

Remember that episode of Futurama where they revealed that the popular and addictive soda, Slurm, was goop that came out of a giant alien slug’s ass? That prompted much more of a physical response than this episode did.

They could replace this meat with any other really good food and it would work essentially the same way. Call the episode lasagna, cake or maybe Twix bars :3? The only scene that even seemed a little scary was the furnace scene. The teacher can’t bring herself to try the meat at lunch so she puts it in a bag and tries to throw it into the furnace. However, the meat moves right before she throws it into the fire. It’s a cheap jump scare, and if you feel scared even for an instant, remember that you’re being frightened by a lunch item and that fear will go away soon enough.

Unless you were traumatized by cafeteria lunch meat as a child, this episode is just barely a little weird.

Episode 10 – Bugged

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Plot: A man writes diligently in his journal every night, though for the most part he just constantly complains about everything around him. In the midst of the summer heat, he gets more and more aggravated with everything, especially the damn bugs that keep getting louder and louder….

Breakdown: Why bugs? Why? Just eughghghghsjdasjhdjk First puppets now bugs. I hate bugs. I just do. I will look at them from afar, but keep the hell away from me.

That being said, this one is a pretty good story. It’s basically a descent into madness story with bugs being the main point of threat. Thing is, it’s not made clear if this guy is legitimately getting increasingly mad or if he’s being influenced by the bugs. One might say that the bugs are feeding off of his constant hatred and negativity, but they may also be contributing to his feelings.

There are a few shots here that are just nope-worthy, but overall not horribly scary. Just squicky and a bit freaky.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 2 Episodes 7 and 8 Review

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Yami Shibai 2 Episode 7 – Capsule Toy Machine

Plot: A businessman is having poor luck at his job when he wanders by an old man who seems really entranced by a nearby capsule toy machine. The next day, he walks by the machine again, though the man is gone. He wonders what is in the machine to make the old man so interested so he gives it a try. However, the price for getting a toy is much steeper than it seems.

Breakdown: For someone who adores nostalgia, this episode was pretty damn creepy to me. Hell, those capsule toy machines are nostalgic in their own right. I remember using the machines by our local supermarket and getting superballs and little action figures and temporary tattoos; they’re pretty neat for some pocket change. And, really, what down on their luck 20-something wouldn’t decide to have a nice passing fling with nostalgia and spend some change on a capsule toy?

I really like the twist that they added to this machine, not just in the items within the capsules but also in the price for obtaining these goodies. I’m not sure if there’s really a message here besides try to live in the now and think of the future instead of losing yourself in the past because your life may pass you by in the meantime, which is a good lesson, but then again you have to wonder if the people using the machine aren’t ending up under some sort of spell after that first toy. You’d think they would notice what is happening to them after even the first toy pops out.

All in all, probably the best episode of the second season so far. Not downright scary, but pretty freaky, especially if you are one who gets lost in nostalgia.

Episode 8 – Farewell Confessional

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Plot: A man has returned to the country to be with his extended family after a relative passes away. However, this is no normal funeral. In this funeral, the deceased loved one stays in another room while mourners go in one after another revealing one secret to them. It is said that the secret will ascend to heaven and the sin will ultimately be forgiven. Ken has never been to one of these funerals before, and while he hasn’t seen this man in a long time, he does have one secret to reveal.

Breakdown: This one is also interesting but ultimately predictable from the instant that they explain what this funeral really is. The concept of revealing one secret to the deceased to alleviate both you and the deceased from the burden is a pretty believable and good concept for this short to have. Even if it does seem just like hell for the dead person. Sure a lot of the secrets are benign, but some of them are just things I would never want to hear even while dead.

And this confessional seems pointless since everyone on the other side can clearly hear the secret. Hardly anyone is really whispering and their only barricade is a paper wall…..

Which leads us to the main premise of this story. Spoilers ahoy!

Ken is all awkward and doesn’t know what to say to the man since it’s been so long since he’s seen him that he really doesn’t know if he was keeping any secrets from him. He finally remembers one thing and hesitates a bit since it seems too big to confess, but decides to do it anyway. The secret is muttered half the time, but the main idea is that he did something or other that somehow caused the deceased’s dog to die in an accident. He apologizes for it and starts to walk away when the cloth on the body’s face moves and the candles die out. He brushes it off as the wind and walks away, and the dead guy springs up in a rage that he caused his dog’s death and that’s the end.

I only decided to explain this full out because I have to compare Ken’s secret to another mourner’s. Another man’s secret was that he had an affair with the deceased’s wife and is the real father of one of their children.

…….This secret doesn’t warrant coming back from the dead in a rage and attacking the guy but accidentally causing the death of a dog does? Don’t get me wrong, I adore dogs, I have three of them and I’d be pretty pissed with anyone who’d hurt them, accidental or otherwise, but really? And at least Ken had the decency to apologize for what he did. This guy was just all ‘remember when your wife got pregnant? That was me. Shh’

Well, at the very least we can hope Ken is fast enough to run away from a corpse through a paper wall. Or maybe one of his relatives would have the decency to lop his head off. This could be a common farewell confessional occurrence, I dunno.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 2 Episodes 5 and 6

Yami Shibai 2 Episode 5: Locker

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Plot: Tried and true story of a girl with a crush on a guy but can’t admit her feelings to him. She overhears some girls talking about a locker that supposedly grants wishes. You put the picture of your loved one in the locker and your love will be realized. She puts the picture of her crush in the locker and prays for her wish to come true. When she checks back later, the picture is gone and her crush is also looking to make a wish. Will her love bloom or is there something more sinister about this locker?

Breakdown: This one was creepy, but a little confusing. Starts out with an innocent enough story and a rumor that leads to yet another creepy doll. And go figure, the creepy doll in this story is much creepier than the doll in the short about the doll.

I kinda have to spoil the ending to express my confusion, so please skip to the next episode to avoid spoilers.

 

 

 

 

Like I said, she puts the picture in the locker with the doll and later finds the picture missing. She sees her crush in the basement where the locker is located and they chat up each other for a bit before he reveals that he’s also there to make a wish. She explains that her picture went missing and her crush becomes confused. As she opens the locker to show him, he jolts back in fright realizing that this locker is not the one that you’re supposed to be wishing on, but is instead….I dunno.

When she opens the locker, he is forcibly and painfully mushed into a ball and shoved into the locker, I guess to make a new doll, and the episode ends.

I have so many questions. First of all, if that wasn’t the wish-granting locker, what was it? What was that doll? Are there really two supernatural lockers in this school that work on a wish system? Why did her crush get turned into another doll? Is this the vengeance spirit locker? How did he know what was in it? And how did he seemingly know he’d be the one to be transformed?

It’s not a big surprise that she chose the wrong locker, though. Her method of selecting a locker among the 50 or so in the basement was to choose the locker that bore the number of her crush’s baseball jersey. Because…yeah, why wouldn’t it be that number? Except the fact that these are unused lockers in the basement not baseball team lockers, and there’s no reason to ever suspect that. You’d think if the wish locker and the vengeance locker were so well known someone would mark them or something. If they both work on the same system just with drastically different outcomes, I’d say that’s something to warn people about.

It should be noted that one of the lockers had a note on it, which might be marking it as the wish locker, but there’s no shot close enough to read it. You’d figure the first thing she’d look for is a damn sign or note indicating which locker is the wish locker.

This whole story ends on a pretty sad note because of this, too. This poor girl just wanted, literally, for her senpai to notice her, and she ends up killing him on accident instead.

Episode 6: Nao-Chan

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Plot: A mother becomes slightly worried when her young son starts saying ‘Nao-chan’ over and over while looking at the ceiling at night. They know no Nao-chan and Takkun stays at home all day with his mother and has never met anyone with that name. They brush it off as an imaginary friend and play around with him about it, but Nao-chan is certainly real. What does he want?

Breakdown: I….actually don’t think this one’s even aiming to be a horror story. To be fair, despite the title translating to Theater of Darkness, the full title of this show is Yami Shibai: Japanese Ghost Stories, and not all ghost stories have to be scary.

That being said, the middle of the story where we finally see Nao is pretty damn creepy just on the design of Nao and how he makes no noise as he approaches.

I’m not exactly sure how we’re meant to take the ending. I suppose it’s a good thing because a good friend of the family gets reincarnated but Takkun clearly seems angry at the situation and the parents seem like they’re not in the same frame of mind as they were previously. I don’t want to say that they seem like they’re in a trance, but similar to it. I want to say that they’re fine and that Takkun is just being jealous because if Nao is what he’s supposed to be there’s no reason he’d do anything bad to them.

This one’s a pretty good story, but there’s no real scary material here outside of Nao’s reveal.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 2 Episodes 3 and 4 Review

Yami Shibai Episode 3: Inside

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Plot: A young boy brings home a set of matryoshka dolls that he found on the playground. His mother is creeped out by the doll and tries to throw it away for him. However, she returns later acting strangely and will not let the doll out of her sight. What is within this doll?

Breakdown: This is another one that seems a little lazy. First of all, using a creepy doll is more kinda-cheating. It’s only a smidge better than using a puppet.

Secondly, the doll isn’t even creepy. How the hell you screw up making a doll creepy is beyond me.

Third, the story itself is just pretty meh. The doll is making the mom act weird and obviously since it’s a nesting doll the big creepy thing at the end will be within the dolls. And, really, even the absolute end where they reveal what’s inside the doll isn’t that freaky. It’s just a bunch of scribbles drawn onto the dolls which leads to a black screen and a bunch of screaming and laughter, which in turn makes the kid all trance-like and weird. They don’t do anything violent or anything while in these trances, they just walk around like zombies and have mood swings.

Episode 4 – The Wall Woman

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Plot: A college student has a bit of a crush on his next door neighbor, a beautiful woman in white. As he’s watching her from his window one day, he sees a strange creature climb up her walls and into her house. She seems fine when she emerges later. Is he seeing things?

Breakdown: Hate to say it, but this one’s also pretty lazy. Basically, the summary of this is a guy sees a monster, thinks he’s seeing things, encounters a bunch of evidence to the contrary, surprise, the monster’s real.

I’m not even really yearning for a backstory here, it’s just bland, and you completely expect the jump scare at the end. They practically announce that it will happen. Some of the visuals are pretty freaky, but that’s about it.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 2 Episodes 1 and 2 Review

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Yami Shibai 2 Episode 1 – Taro-Chan

Plot: A police officer goes around to schools giving safety lectures with his puppet, Taro-chan. While he’s a talented ventriloquist, perhaps it’s Taro’s turn to say a few words.

Breakdown: Opening the season on a creepy, then funny and yet ultimately sad note, this episode kinda cheats a little because dammit, using ventriloquist puppets should be cheating! They’re one of the pinnacle creepy yet for some reason for children icons of our time like clowns or Furbys. I had nightmares for years about that stupid Urkel puppet from Family Matters, and that’s a damn sitcom! You’re cheating, anime! You just are!

That being said, this does seem to follow the typical ‘haunted puppet’ formula. Acts all normal then boom it can talk on its own. But it’s not being threatening, really. It just gains the ability to talk and essentially goes on with the act in the same way, to a degree. Sure, it doesn’t let go of the officer’s arm, which leads to a funny shot of the officer trying to fight with the puppet to free his arm while Taro tries to tell his story about bike safety. However, it’s not doing anything you’d think it would do like gain a demonic voice or start cutting people up.

It takes a really sad turn near the end, and I feel like spoiling this one, so turn away until episode 2 pops up to avoid it;

It starts telling a story about how he was riding his bike and got hit by a car. His limbs start flying off, he starts getting louder and louder with the details of the crash and just as the officer is able to throw him off of his arm, he fumbles to the floor and keeps repeating that it hurt in a terribly distressed tone of voice. So, yeah, the insinuation here is that this is the spirit of a real boy who died after getting hit by a car. How he became a puppet and why is beyond me, but this is one of those instances where I don’t really care. Maybe the guy in the car did it to him? I don’t think the officer did it because he seems completely baffled by the whole ordeal and has no idea what the little wooden o-fuda is for.

I’ve never felt bad for a ventriloquist dummy before, but Yami Shibai 2 somehow managed it. This segment was a bit creepy for a minute, but damn it just ends so sadly.

Episode 2 – Kitchen

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Plot: A college student visits her friend at her new apartment. While it looks brand new, the building was occupied once before. Perhaps the old tenants are still around….

Breakdown: This one has creepy visuals, but overall feels a little on the lazy side. It’s really just a ghost that makes people go crazy and kills others for whatever reason. You can guess what will happen from the instant that the friend says that people used to live there before. And I hate to beat this dead horse, but a proper backstory for stuff like this would be nice.

What I didn’t expect was the absolute ending, which just seems equally lazy and makes no sense. If it had the ability to spread out to such a wide range, why didn’t it ever do it before? It could kill or possess everyone in town with such a power.

Like I said, the creature itself looks creepy enough and is animated in that craggy ‘crayon’ type look, but the rest of the animation seems off. I can’t pinpoint what it is, but this segment’s animation seems more…..’kid-ish’ than normal.

The ED this time is just alright. It’s the same basic style as the last one only the distortion isn’t as obvious and the melody isn’t as good.

Yami Shibai Review (Full)

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Plot: A series of short four-minute ghost and demon stories and urban legends presented in an animated kamishibai format.

Breakdown: I’ve already given my opinions of each of the episodes of this series, but I thought I’d do a quick wrap-up review for organization sake.

I really love short stories. They’re quick, fun and usually impacting and memorable. I especially love short horror stories. Those stories that instantly put you in front of a campfire with friends and family in your mind. Those urban legends that get passed around from person to person, leaving whole areas of people slightly on edge. They’re just awesome….when they work correctly.

This series is based off of an old Japanese street theater technique called kamishibai. A kamisibaiya, kamishibai narrator, would travel around with a butai, essentially a fold-up mini-theater and paper slides that would be interchanged to show passage of time and movement throughout the story.

This type of entertainment was very popular in the 1930s and post-war Japan, entertaining audiences of children all across the country. In order to make money on these shows, the showrunners would sell sweets to the children as their fee for the show.

As you can probably guess, while kamishibai did enjoy a period of great popularity, it was eventually all but snuffed out by the advent of television. Somewhat ironically, in Japan, television was referred to in the early days as denki kamishibai or electric kamishibai.

There are stray kamishibai shows in Japan today, but it’s mostly just a memory now. However, it is fondly remembered for its impact on Japanese children and society as a whole during the harrowing period in the 1930s and ’40s.

It is also greatly respected for its influence on the development of manga and anime. In fact, some of the first manga and anime started out as stories in kamishibai, such as Oden Bat, and the manga artist Shigeru Mizuki, creator of GeGeGe no Kitaro and Akuma-kun, started his career as a kamishibai artist.

Yami Shibai presents each episode as a kamishibai show with a mysterious masked narrator showing each story. While kamishibai typically showed a wide variety of stories, Yami Shibai focuses entirely on horror, ghosts, demons and monsters.

Since, like I mentioned, I’ve already discussed each short in full, I will rate each episode, linking to the individual reviews, then give an overall rating based on the individual ratings.

Episode 1 – 7/10

Episode 2 – 6/10

Episode 3 – 7.5/10

Episode 4 – 6/10

Episode 5 – 8/10

Episode 6 – 8.5/10

Episode 7 – 7.5/10

Episode 8 – 7/10

Episode 9 – 7/10

Episode 10 – 3.5/10

Episode 11 – 8.5/10

Episode 12 – 8/10

Episode 13 – 8.5/10

Overall (Rounded up) – 7.5/10

Really think the toilet monster hurt the rating more than I first thought.

The animation style is something I feel compelled to warn some people about, though, since I imagine this animated kamishibai format, which is basically paper dolls and everything animated in puppetry style and stop-motion, would get on the nerves of some people. I really believe this style greatly helps the storytelling aesthetic, but it appeared to annoy some people, so fair warning.

Additional Information and Notes: Yami Shibai: Japanese Ghost Stories was produced by ILCA. It was written by Hiromu Kuramoto and directed by Tomoya Takashima.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2013

Recommended Audience: There is a lot of ‘scary imagery’ but there’s not any gore, and the death scenes aren’t that bad. They usually cut away to the credits right before the big death happens. There’s one episode that touches upon suicide. There’s no sex, nudity etc. No swearing. 10+