Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 3 and 4 Review

Episode 3: The 44th Sheep

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

Breakdown: This one was a half goofy half creepy.

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

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

Episode 4: Lapdog

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

Breakdown: This episode was frickin’ hilarious.

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

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


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 1 and 2 Review

Episode 1: Rat’s Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t get it.

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

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

Episode 2: The Man in the Rabbit Hutch

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

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

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


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Reopening the Theater of Darkness | Yami Shibai Season 8 Review

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

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

And it was fine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Onto season nine!


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

Episode 11: Curse

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 12: String Telephone

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

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

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

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

And then the ghost gets him? The end?

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

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

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

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

Episode 13: Sleeptalking

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

Breakdown: Eh….Pbbbt.

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

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

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

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

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


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 8 Episodes 9 and 10 Review

Episode 9: Antlion Pit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 10: Footprints in the Snow

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

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

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

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


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 8 Episodes 7 and 8 Review

Episode 7: Issun Boshi

Plot: Niimi used to be best friends with Miyama before he started dating a girl Niimi had a crush on. Miyama shares the tale of Issun Boshi – a creature that grants one wish to anyone who catches it. Consumed by jealousy, Niimi attempts to capture the creature, but things don’t turn out as planned.

Breakdown: This one was…..unique.

At face value, it’s a pretty goofy story, especially after Niimi accidentally steps on Issun Boshi. It gets damn near cartoony when Issun Boshi pops up in Niimi’s body and beats him up from the inside.

However, if you think about it a bit more, this story is a pretty good supernatural take on being consumed with jealousy or revenge. This is never a tale where the moral is ‘be careful what you wish for’ because Niimi never technically catches Issun Boshi nor is he offered a wish. He accidentally squishes him, which causes Issun Boshi to infiltrate his body and torment him as punishment. The only way he’ll let up is if he kills Miyama for spreading the story of Issun Boshi, causing people to chase him, and Nanako, his crush, for laughing at the legend.

I actually kinda like it, but I don’t much care for the slight implication that Niimi might have schizophrenia, and that’s the reason why he’s hearing voices and getting violent. If true, it’s perpetuating negative stereotypes about schizophrenia.

Episode 8: Viewing

Plot: A high school student gets notified by her teacher to not come to school the next day because the school will be shut down for a special viewing. Deciding to go anyway with her friends as a joke, she finds herself locked in a nightmare as she enters school grounds.

Breakdown: This episode is fine, but it’s also built on an insanely weak premise. What teenager thinks “Oh we get the day off school tomorrow? Hey, ya know what would be funny? If we went to school anyway for no reason and to do nothing. Let’s also wear our school uniforms in case anyone catches us.” Like, what? I know some kids do loiter in their school in the off-hours, but why would that be the first thing you’d think to do when told you have a sudden day off from school?

It’s not like the school is empty either. The teacher specifically said it was closed for a special viewing, meaning there would be some people there.

As for what went down when she actually did go to the school….it’s very confusing. She gets there and sees the classrooms filled with students who shouldn’t be there. Suddenly, the ‘viewing’ starts, and everyone puts their hands to their eyes and screams while a bunch of students drag a coffin through the halls. When the screaming stops, the girl opens her eyes to see that everyone now has empty eye sockets. The coffin opens and reveals Chie’s body and the Chie we’ve been seeing disappears, implying that she’s dead I guess.

So the moral of the story is if your teacher tells you to not go to school, you have to do everything in your power to resist going to school anyway. I know how much you kids love school, but if you go to it during off-hours you’ll die, so don’t do it.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 8 Episodes 5 and 6 Review

Episode 5: The Sound of Laughter

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Plot: A teenage boy is studying for his entrance exams when he starts hearing the sound of an old lady laughing wherever he goes.

Breakdown: This episode was funny, but I could see how it could be kinda spooky for a split second at the end.

The entire episode, I felt like laughing with the old lady, whom we never see by the way. And at the end, when the laughter spreads like laughing gas to the teen’s parents and they just can’t stop laughing no matter what, I was starting to laugh out loud.

Then you realize, ooh it’s spooky because the laughter spread to you. Clever, if you can get it to work, which it did for me, but that novelty wears off very quickly.

I still don’t understand what is up with this old lady. Why is she laughing and tormenting this family? What’s her story?

Episode 6: Catch of the Day

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Plot: A man brings home an odd fish after going fishing with a friend and starts acting very odd.

Breakdown: This episode was really stupid.

Guy caught a ‘fish’ that we never see, and he starts acting all weird because of it. In the middle of the night, his wife catches him cutting up the creature, which is…kinda blur censored or something? It’s clearly still alive and wailing like a baby as he chops it up. This made me very concerned that the ‘fish’ he ‘caught’ was actually a baby he kidnapped, which is why he desperately didn’t want his wife to see it…..

But nope.

It’s just a sea creature of some sort that makes the men turn into….I dunno, something after they eat it. The final shot is of the wife trying to pull off a blanket from her sleeping husband, implying he had turned into a monster, but they cut away before we see it. I guess it is slightly creative, but it’s definitely not scary and not all that interesting.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 8 Episodes 3 and 4 Review

Episode 3: Don’t Look Back

Plot: A young man finds himself lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood with a sign that says ‘From this point forward, don’t look back.’

Breakdown: This episode has the same cliché vibes as the first episode, even though it’s not quite as bad. However, like the first episode, there is also a problem in how the gimmick works.

In this episode, the obvious gimmick is that you can’t look back when you’re walking in this place or else you’ll disappear. The main character meets a young woman who also stumbled into this place. She used to be traveling with her boyfriend, but he looked back when he heard voices and vanished instantly. She has gone crazy desperately trying to not look back no matter what, and she’s trying to save the main character from suffering the same fate as her boyfriend.

Thing is, this place is also a purgatory of sorts. She states she’s been walking for so many days that she’s lost track, implying that no matter how much you walk you can’t escape from this place….so…why not look back? Sounds like you’re screwed either way.

This place also doesn’t follow its own rules. She says you can’t look back or else you’ll vanish, but then she also says she’s looked back several times, but she doesn’t explain what happened when she did. There’s just a closeup shot of a rock on the ground as she says it.

When you do look back and vanish, you’re just transported to the same location only a lot foggier and with ghosts hanging out in the windows of the houses. You’re still stuck in a loop either way. It’s never established that the ghosts will do anything to you, and it still seems like it’s pointless to not look back. If you’re trapped forever, you’re trapped forever.

Tell you the truth, the non-ghost neighborhood is really almost as bad. The ghosts are still technically in that area trying to trick travelers into looking behind them. They pretend to be your loved ones or kind strangers and they never leave you alone. The only difference is that you can’t see them. All the while, you try desperately to not look back and keep walking forward, knowing you’re not actually getting anywhere.

This story is actually pretty frightening to me, but, honestly, the ‘don’t look back’ stuff doesn’t have anything to do with it. The concept of just wandering into to some unknown area and being trapped forever without even realizing it seems like hell to me.

Episode 4: Bean-Throwing

Plot: A little boy is concerned that her mother has befriended a demon and is desperate to drive him out of their home.

Breakdown: Jeeezzzzz that episode was a nightmare to sit through…..Not because it was scary, though.

This episode was a total mess because of the dialogue. The little boy, Youta, is narrating throughout each second of this episode, but there is also regular dialogue going throughout the episode as well in the background. So, if you speak Japanese, you have to focus a lot to get both tracks of dialogue or stop and rewatch sections to focus on one track at a time. And if you don’t understand Japanese, you have to constantly pause the video to understand what’s being said in both tracks.

It totally took me out of whatever scary experience I would have had watching this episode.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Youta’s narration goes at a mile a minute because the episodes are so short. It’s like he chugged a case of Redbull before recording. So you not only have to pay attention to two tracks of dialogue most of the time, but you also have to keep pausing even more frequently just to read what Youta’s saying.

Once you manage to trudge through all of that, you find yourself with a fairly unique story, but also one that’s not that scary. Youta’s family used to be fairly happy, but things changed when his father suddenly left. He started hearing his mother having secret conversations at night with a shadowy figure that had red eyes. After having a weird existential crisis that seems way too heavy for his age, Youta felt like he had to get rid of the demon to protect his mother, but he didn’t know how to do it.

His school has a tradition every year of bean-throwing. People are meant to throw beans at demons once a year to keep them and the misfortune they bring away for a year. Why beans have this power, I don’t know.

Youta keeps a bag of beans from the event. That night, he sneaks to his mother’s room when she’s speaking with the demon, telling him she believes Youta’s starting to figure out their secret. He bursts in, breaking the light, and blindly throws beans everywhere to ensure the demon is gone.

When he’s done, he manages to find a light and turns it on. Both his mother and the demon are gone. He rubs his head and feels something odd. The end.

From what I gather, Youta and his parents must have been demons? That’s the only reason why his mother would have also vanished after the bean pelting. I think his father was either killed by a demon or could no longer maintain a non-demonic image anymore and had to stay hidden from Youta until he was old enough to know about his heritage.

I believe at the end Youta is feeling horns developing on his head?

This is interesting and all, but it’s not really scary. It’s mostly just sad because Youta, I guess, killed or banished his parents and now he has to grow up as a demon child without anyone to help him? Or is the talk about needing to do the bean throwing every year seemingly pointless because it means the demons return and indicate that his parents will be back next year?

I don’t know. And quite frankly I don’t want to keep analyzing this episode to figure out anymore. Even in the comments section people were like “I need a mangekyo sharingan to follow this episode.” This episode needed to be at least a couple minutes longer and have more breaks in the narration to not be so sloppy. It is ridiculous.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 8 Episodes 1 and 2 Review

Episode 1: Dropped Handkerchief

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Plot: Four teenagers go to an abandoned house in the middle of the night as a test of courage…..What could possibly go wrong?

Breakdown: Welcome one and all to 2021’s Animating Halloween! Yami Shibai is finally back after….*snicker* ghosting us last year, and they made up for the lack of season last year with two seasons premiering this year. Season nine is wrapping up right now, and we’ll be going over that this year as well to also make up for the lack of Yami Shibai in Animating Halloween last year.

I’m really excited…..buuuuuttttt…..

This episode was kinda lame, if you couldn’t tell from the plot alone. It’s so ridiculously cliché. It’s so disappointing that this is what we have to start out with. I mean, come on, four teenagers go to an abandoned house at night as a test of courage? Plus, the house has spooOOooooky backstory to it in that people just vanish when they’re in the house and the last residents were a family that also suddenly vanished?

Granted, the story itself has decent ambiance, but the only non-cliche hook is the aspect of the handkerchief, and that’s just boring in my opinion.

They very briefly show a shot of a drawing the kid from the missing family made where it depicts him playing the handkerchief game with what I assume is his family? The handkerchief game is almost exactly like Duck Duck Goose. A person who is ‘it’ walks behind a circle of people. They drop a handkerchief behind one of them, declaring them ‘it’ and that person has to pick up the handkerchief, chase the tagger and try to catch or kiss (?) them before they’re able to make a full lap around the circle and take the tagged person’s spot.

The teenagers all happen to sit in a circle when they visit the kid’s room, since that’s supposedly the most haunted room in the house. They want to party there, but one of them notices a handkerchief behind another person that wasn’t there before. The lights suddenly go out, and when they come back on the person who was nearest the handkerchief is shown to have vanished. The same repeats until everyone’s gone.

It happens so quickly that I just don’t see the point in even playing this game. It would be interesting if they showed one of them winning the game and escaping the house, but none of them can even try. The best that happens is one of them realizes the handkerchief is connected to the disappearances and throws it after they pick it up, but they still die. Even if you realized the game in time, there’s no one to chase or catch so how would you even win?

We have a new intro, this time being the narrator presenting his kamishibai show to a bunch of ghosts populating a dark foggy street. The ending has a new song, which is pretty darn good. The animation accompanying is has a girl made out of pencil scribbles running down a live-action street passing some fellow scribble people until she reaches the Yami Shibai narrator. It’s possible some of these people are references to the stories but I can’t be certain.

Episode 2: Death Day

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Plot: The Kunitake family has a tradition of always gathering in the family home and spending the day together on the anniversary of their mother’s death. It seems like an innocent enough tradition to Sachiko, who has recently married into the family, until she realizes that maybe the mother is celebrating this day as well.

Breakdown: Alright, this is more like it! A more original premise, pretty spooky ambiance and a genuinely surprising and scary twist at the end.

I am very thankful that they didn’t show what the ghost looked like in the end because that would have ruined the entire twist and the looming fear over what was in the room with them. Not sure why Sachiko could see the ghost when no one else could, but that’s an easily hand-waved detail.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. Wish this one had been the first episode of the season, but what can ya do?


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Hell Girl: Three Vessels | Episode 22 – Flower and Moon Review

Plot: Yuika is an up and coming star in the world of modeling, known for her brash and pushy attitude. Her twin sister, Sumika, is a more timid and studious type. Sumika typically stays to the background being Yuika’s ‘shadow.’ She pretends to be Yuika in order to do her college work, take her exams and even stand in for her at work sometimes. Sumika is far from an innocent flower, though. They’re two sides of the same coin in the worst way.

Breakdown: I really, really thought this episode was finally going to get Yuzuki’s main plot rolling since a good chunk of the first half is dedicated to her struggling with her destiny of becoming Hell Girl. The end of high school is approaching, and her school counselor is questioning her about her plans for the future, but she doesn’t really have any.

Dreams and the future are two concepts that give Yuzuki pause lately.

And that’s it. She just can’t think of anything when she thinks about the future or anything she dreams of being. She’s such a boring character.

The most interesting thing we got from her was the slightest implication that something very bad happened when she was a kid involving her mother, but that’s about it.

I’m also starting to believe that maybe Yuzuki is….crazy? She suddenly seemed to lose contact with her mother, even though she stated that she used to call and talk to her parents every day, and I’m now realizing that we’ve still never seen either of her parents on screen – not even in pictures. I actually kinda hope it’s something like that, because at least that has the potential to be interesting.

After that, it’s a typical Hell Girl story. Although, the way they inject the story of the week is quite odd. Yuzuki is just walking down the sidewalk and she’s suddenly approached by Sumika, who apologizes profusely for the ashes from her flame-less fire seemingly getting on Yuzuki, but it’s clear that the smoke is only barely even slightly near her, so I doubt any ashes got on her. Also, if you didn’t want to bother nearby people with smoke and ashes, maybe not start a non-fire smoke signal in your two-foot wide yard right by the sidewalk?

She then invites Yuzuki to enjoy the warmth from this non-fire….When it’s not even noticeably cold out.

One of the pieces of paper making up the “fire” blows onto Yuzuki’s foot. It’s a picture of Sumika and her twin sister, Yuika, as teenagers. She clearly doesn’t want Yuzuki to see this picture…..so again…I ask…why are you doing literally any of this? Why the “fire”? Why not just tear up the pictures? Why not set the fire in a place that won’t immediately draw attention from passersby? Why invite Yuzuki over to enjoy the private picture fire? You make no sense, lady.

Anyway, absolutely nothing involving Yuzuki has any bearing on the Hell Girl story today. What a surprise.

The real story is fine, but I feel like it’s basically treading water we’ve already treaded. Most notably, I was really reminded of the season one episode, A Night Among Traveling Entertainers.

You have a pair of twins, one of which is the bitchy star, Yuika, and the other is the timid doormat, Sumika. Yuika treats her sister like garbage and acts incredibly self-centered. She’s always telling Sumika to do her college work for her and even pretend to be her so she can take her exams for her.

Sumika comes off as a nicer person, but the twist is that she really isn’t deep down, which is pretty clearly foreshadowed by her burning the pictures earlier. While Sumika isn’t as mean as Yuika, she is self-centered and conniving.

When Yuika gets herself injured because she was a drunk moron, she demands Sumika take her place in a photo shoot so she won’t ruin her career. Sumika does great at the shoot and even earns a lot of positive attention because she’s being so much kinder and gentler than Yuika.

Not only that, but Sumika clearly covets Yuika’s boyfriend, Masato. While Masato does love Yuika, he gets along great with Sumika, and Yuika is, well, not a pleasant person, so you do kinda root for him to be with Sumika…..for a minute.

This whole conflict with the boyfriend comes to a head when Sumika pretends to be Yuika and tricks Masato into having sex with her….ya know…raping him.

He realizes only after the fact that she was actually Sumika, but his actual feelings are quite iffy. He seems like he feels bad about cheating on Yuika accidentally, but he’s not getting angry with Sumika, and we cut away before we can get any further information on what went down.

Yuika has been following her and becomes enraged when she realizes what happened.

After this, Yuika’s wound heals and she and Sumika basically fight for Yuika’s life.

They’re both dressed identically, so there’s no way to tell them apart.

One of them calls Hell Girl and pulls the string, sending the other twin to hell. It’s meant to be ambiguous, and the viewer is supposed to decide which twin was the client and which was the target, but there are several hints as to the identities of each, and I think it’s pretty clear that Sumika was the target.

They do obscure the name on the candle at the end. You can only see the ‘ka’ part of their first names. The rest is covered by a wax drip. However, what you can see of the kanji that is covered doesn’t match the way Yuika writes her name.

Masato breaks up with the woman who has the doll. He had never entered into an actual relationship with Sumika, he only slept with her once, so it seems weird that he would ‘break up’ with her.

The woman in the boat acts more like Sumika than Yuika. She asks “Am I not supposed to chase my dreams? Even though I wanted to be myself….” Yuika was always herself. She was a selfish bitch in front of people, and she was a selfish bitch in private. Sumika, on the other hand, had to hide behind Yuika’s persona in order to get attention while still being herself. Sumika was a kind person, but, as I said, she had a more nefarious side to her that was more scheming and selfish.

Finally, and the most obvious piece of evidence. It was established early in the episode that the only concrete way to tell Yuika and Sumika apart was a flower-shaped birthmark on Sumika’s lower back. That’s how Masato proved it was Sumika when they slept together. They specifically zoom in on Yuika’s bare back at the end of the episode and show that it has no markings on it. I even watched it frame by frame to make sure not even partial marks were shown – they weren’t.

The only thing that doesn’t mesh with this is that Yuika is notably more pleasant in the press conference at the end. Maybe she was humbled by the experience. Or maybe Sumika was actually the client and she just covered up her birthmark with makeup for whatever reason.

I’m 98% certain it was Yuika who lived and Sumika who got sent to hell. If true….eh, I don’t really care either way. Yuika was a bigger bitch than Sumika, no doubt, but Sumika was also a slimy bitch who basically raped Masato – no matter if he chose her in the end or not.

All in all, this episode was pretty okay. I liked that they were at least trying to create a fairly wide gray area here, and I appreciate the attempts at masking who the client and target were, even if, in my opinion, it was a bit easy to figure out. I am getting very annoyed at Yuzuki, though. They better throw her story into high gear in the next episode, because it really feels like it’s a road to nowhere.


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