Yami Shibai 10 Review (Emotional Roller Coasters and Confusing Garbage Trucks)

Plot: The tenth season of the horror anthology series, Yami Shibai.

Breakdown: I was very happy to hear that Yami Shibai was already airing a season ten while I was reviewing season nine for Animating Halloween last year. As of this writing, there hasn’t been an eleventh season announced, but despite this season kinda coming off like maybe it might be a grand finale, I’m hopeful it will come back sometime in the future.

However, if this is the last hurrah, I’m satisfied with how it went out because this season is one of the best Yami Shibai has ever had.

To recap:

Episode 1: A Job to Quit – This was a strong story to start us off on. It was the perfect length. It definitely had the creepiness factor locked in with the mannequins, and it was a fairly unique premise.

Episode 2: Ending Note – There’s a whole lot going on in this episode. It’s quite the emotional roller coaster for a five minute story, and the fact that they pull the rug out from under you in the end was very effective and shocking. Definitely a sadder entry than scary, but still a very good story.

Episode 3: The End of the Day – One of Yami Shibai’s more unique entries, and definitely one where you need to rewatch it a few times to really work out what exactly happened, but I liked it a lot. I choose to believe it had a more hopeful and bittersweet ending than a tragic one.

Episode 4: Last Train – My main gripe with this episode is the possibility that they’re perpetuating stigmas against mental illness, particularly depression. Otherwise, I did call it the weakest of the lot so far, but even then it was still a pretty good episode.

Episode 5: The Last Customer – The art in this episode is some of the creepiest they’ve ever had without stretching out too far into the realm of being unrealistic. I mean, technically, this is just an elderly lady, but she’s designed in such a manner that instantly freaks you out when she’s on screen. While I do think this was a decent one, and certainly had scare value, my main issue here was that the lesson, if there was one, was extremely muddled and messed up.

Episode 6: Trash Drop-Off – Sadly, this is certainly the closest this season gets to a stain on an otherwise really strong season. I do think the premise is quite workable, and you could have had some really scary and messed up imagery with the trash compactor they reveal in the end, and you can have some emotional turmoil with the “most prized possession” gimmick, but instead they poorly explained the rules behind this garbage truck and broke the rules they did establish. I still don’t understand how the episode went the way that it did.

Plus, after I posted that review, I realized that this episode may be borrowing a bit from a previous Yami Shibai episode in season six, Swamp Offering. That episode had a similar premise, only you were meant to sacrifice your most precious item to a swamp to protect yourself from harm, and if you didn’t give up that item you’d be taken away by the ‘muddy,’ That episode was similarly sloppy, but I think it worked better than this one by a significant margin.

Episode 7: What Happened in the Tunnel? – Not the strongest of entries, but still pretty memorable and a mixture of sweet and crazy. It’s one of few Yami Shibai entries where I still can’t decipher what exactly happened or give a strong theory to it, but I feel like this is also a rare instance where that doesn’t matter too much. The ending is confusing, but it’s also where the sweetness comes in. That man’s dedication to his girlfriend is very heartwarming, which makes what happens to them all the sadder.

Episode 8: Wristwatch – This episode had all the makings of being a bad or silly episode, but it really wasn’t. I had a fun time working out exactly what happened, and it wasn’t so vague or messy that I felt like I was making up the story for them – the story beats were there, I just had to pay close attention. The presentation in this episode alone was strong enough to carry it as well.

Episode 9: To My Future Self – This episode really made me think they were gunning for a depressing vibe than a scary one. Like I said in my tag for that episode, how much would it suck to find a DVD from a past version of yourself who winds up massively disappointed that you turned out badly/didn’t achieve your dreams? However, they pulled a 180 on us, and I think it was pretty effective. It was less scary than some people claimed it was, but it was a solid episode.

Episode 10: The Other Building – I don’t think I should have said this was possibly one of the weakest entries in the season since that definitely belongs to Trash Drop-Off and nothing else. Looking back, this episode’s worst sin is that it’s too obvious, but otherwise it creates a decent degree of atmosphere and tension.

Episode 11: Bye-Bye – This episode definitely has creepy atmosphere to it, and some really good audio, but it’s still eclipsed a bit too much by how funny the constant “Bye bye”s are. Just on entertainment value alone, this episode holds a special place in my heart. I can’t help it. BYE BYE!

Episode 12: Pinky Promise – While not really scary or even creepy, this episode was ‘dark’ in the manner of just feeling sorry for the ‘fake’ wife. It was definitely a good and well-written episode that I enjoyed.

Episode 13: The Hundredth Story – Closing out strong, we have a good old fashioned episode about a bunch of teenagers going to some abandoned location to do something spooky. It had good pacing, really good atmosphere, pretty strong creepy vibes, and I love the way they ended it. The only real issue I have with it is that I still can’t wrap my head around these kids managing to tell a hundred horror stories in one night. All with a hundred candles burning. Not a one of them got exhausted or ran out of material and the candles never melted even a little let alone to the point of burning out.

All in all, I really enjoyed this season. There are rumors that this is the final season, but as far as I’ve been able to tell there’s nothing official labeling this season as such, so it’s all just speculation likely stemming from how final the ED feels. As I said, if it is the end, then I’m pretty fine with it going out this way. Sad, but content. I do hope we get more seasons in the future, though, just because this series is such as a staple of Animating Halloween, and I do really enjoy it, but only time will tell.

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Animating Halloween | Yami Shibai 10 Episodes 7 and 8 Review

Episode 7: What Happened in the Tunnel


Plot: A couple go through a tunnel as a shortcut after a long day of hiking in the mountains. The trip through the tunnel seems immediate to one of them, but to the other, Rina, it took forever. She suffers from such intense fear that she is hospitalized for months, but her boyfriend doesn’t remember what happened in the tunnel.

Breakdown: Gotta admit, I thought this one would be a bit of a dud just because the art style seemed a little too goofy, but, surprisingly, the art worked quite well here. Even the limited animation was effectively utilized.

What wound up damaging the episode was the story. This isn’t necessarily a bad episode – there are definitely some scary elements to it and even some surprising twists – It’s the fact that the story doesn’t make enough sense to me to consider it as scary as it should have been.

This is one of those stories where I really can’t solidify what my theory is on what happened. I definitely know that something attacked them in the tunnel and, at some point, they let go of each other’s hands or she let go of his hand on purpose, but I can’t really make a lot of sense as to the other details of the story. I think I’ll avoid full spoilers here, but I will say her boyfriend is very, very dedicated, and this is probably one of the sweetest couples in the entire franchise. Shame what happened to them, though.

Episode 8: Wristwatch


Plot: There’s an old legend of The Watchman who shows up to people wearing watches. He has a simple request – Give him a big clock or a watch? You have to choose correctly or else you get kidnapped. However, no one knows which is the right answer. You have to guess and hope for the best. When a woman loses her watch, her sister reminds her of the legend, which prompts her to flashback to when she was a child with a new pink watch that she eventually lost over time. Does The Watchman have anything to do with the watch she lost now?

Breakdown: Some episodes of Yami Shibai definitely work a lot better with their presentation than they do their story, especially since some premises are downright silly – such as this one. While it is pretty silly and confusing, but there was enough done with the presentation for it to not be a huge issue.

The legend of The Watchman definitely has a strong vibe of an actual Japanese urban legend, even though it’s not. It is pretty silly, though. A mysterious figure approaches people with watches and asks “Big clock or watch?” and you have to give him one. If you don’t choose or you choose incorrectly, you wind up getting taken by a monster.

It took me a while and a few rewatches to finally figure out what the heck was going on with this legend.

This is just my theory, but it fits everything I saw so I think it’s solid. It was hard to tell because their voices were similar, but the YOUNGER sister answered when The Watchman asked for a big clock or watch. She chose “watch” which was the wrong option. As a result, she got taken away by The Watchman. However, it also seems the older sister’s memories were erased because she both didn’t remember her sister vanishing nor did she remember how she lost her watch.

At the beginning of the episode, the older sister notices her watch is missing, and her younger sister says with a grave face that the Watchman took it. I believe the older sister was once again approached by the Watchman, she offered her watch, he took it, but it was the wrong answer. I have no clue how long it takes for the Watchman to take you once you answer wrong, but it took about 24 hours in this episode, it seems. Either that or it’s possible the sister she’s been seeing has been the Watchman in a different form or a fake the Watchman is presenting her with, and when she jokingly did the Watchman’s ritual, she actually was the Watchman asking the question and she didn’t answer, which means she’d get taken away.

The right answer is “big clock” but it’s understandable that no one would choose that because you can’t really give a big clock to someone you randomly meet on the street. Even if you did own a big clock, you wouldn’t have it on you to give to someone at any point. A commenter theorized that, when you answer with “big clock” The Watchman goes to find a big clock tower or something and leaves you alone, which is plausible, but I’m not sure how much I believe that. You’re not really giving something to The Watchman if he has to go out and find one.

The only detail that doesn’t fit in fully is the very ending when the older sister says, “Then, the next one is me?” I don’t quite get what she means by that, but I stick by my theory.

Overall, I did enjoy this episode quite a bit. Didn’t get me with the scares as much as episode seven, but it worked well enough.

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Animating Halloween | Yami Shibai 10 Episodes 5 and 6 Review

Episode 5: The Last Customer


Plot: A frightening elderly woman is the last customer at a cafe. A young employee tries to politely request for her to leave since they’re closing up, but she has nowhere to go. Wherever could she go….

Breakdown: This episode got me immediately because it has one of the most effective art styles I’ve seen in the Yami Shibai franchise. The woman looks so creepy that I was legitimately unsettled by her appearance. She didn’t look so creepy that she didn’t seem human or anything, but the manner in which she was drawn in comparison to everyone else was definitely scary.

The art and animation as a whole as well as the direction for this episode were some of the best in the series.

The story was pretty good, but I think whatever aesop they were going for got muddled. The story goes that the old woman was the last customer in a cafe in which the main character worked. As he tried to politely ask her to leave since they were closing up, she wondered where she could go. She had no friends, no family, no home, no where to go. She suddenly asks in a very jarring manner if she could stay with him. He obviously doesn’t want to, but before he can even answer properly his boss interrupts and asks him what he’s doing. He explains that he’s trying to tend to a final customer, but he’s surprised to discover that she vanished while he was talking to his boss.

Not thinking much of it, the man returns home only to be shocked to see that the old woman is there having tea with his wife, who believes he invited the woman. The man is enraged and forcibly drags her outside, telling her to leave and that he’ll call the cops if she returns. She leaves, but not before telling him that he’ll end up just like her.

When he wakes up the next morning, his wife pulls a knife on him, demanding to know who he is. She doesn’t remember him at all nor does his boss or anyone else he knew. He wanders around confused as to what happened and doesn’t know where to go. He shriveles up like an old man, and he winds up being the last customer at the same cafe and does the same thing the old lady did to him to some other young employee.

I guess the message is to respect and be kinder to your elders, but this wasn’t really a good method of conveying that. It’s not like this was some sweet old lady who was asking for spare change or wondering where the nearest homeless shelter was or anything. She basically demanded that she stay at his house, didn’t even let him answer when she asked, lied to his wife about agreeing to the arrangement, which might as well be breaking into his house, then she cursed him as she was thrown out.

Could he have been nicer about the situation? Sure. Should you be kind to your elders? Yes. But if someone, no matter their age, basically forces their way into your home and expects to stay the night at least, no….no….NO. You don’t get to do that. That’s creepy and invasive as fuck. I don’t care if you’re homeless or a rich person, woman or man, young or old (okay, I might be a lot more lenient to a child) – you don’t get to basically say “I’m staying with you now.” and expect me to not kick you out. If you’re trying to teach a lesson about kindness or charity or something, maybe not do it with someone who is way more of a dick than the main character.

Someone was comparing this story to the backstory of Beauty and the Beast with the old woman who curses the prince at the start because he wouldn’t offer shelter from the storm. I guess that can be viewed as a parallel, but the situation isn’t exactly the same. A filthy rich prince with a huge mansion is not the same as a minimum wage cafe waiter who lives in a small apartment. A kindly old lady offering a rose in exchange for shelter from a storm that may very well kill her if she goes back out into it, especially considering his mansion is basically in the middle of the forest, is not the same as a rude and demanding woman who basically forces her way into a man’s home in the city when there are other temporary homing options to explore.

In the case of Beauty and the Beast, the prince was also a notorious asshole before any of this happened. His transformation into the Beast wasn’t just for that act but all of his selfish and cruel acts before that. (Granted, turning all of his employees into objects wasn’t at all fair, but that doesn’t apply here.) As far as I saw, the man in this story was just an innocent guy doing his job who didn’t want an intruder in his house. That’s fully understandable. He didn’t deserve that fate.

Overall, there was definitely a good scare level in this one, but the story/message was a tiny bit botched.

Episode 6: Trash Drop-Off


Plot: A woman has recently moved into a new neighborhood, and she’s confused by the odd trash pick-up practices of the area. A man informs her that, on the fifth Wednesday of the month, a special garbage truck comes by. You have to give the garbagemen your most prized possession otherwise it will vanish. The woman thinks it’s a prank, so she doesn’t do it. Will her most prized possession be taken from her?

Breakdown: Sadly, definitely the worst episode of the season so far. First of all, the premise is just silly. A special purple garbage truck that comes by on the fifth Wednesday of the month (that doesn’t even make sense. There are only four Wednesdays in a month) and you have to hand over your most prized possession otherwise it gets taken? Why?

Also, does this mean that you eventually have to give all of your possessions to this thing? Because there were a lot of people dropping off their things on that day, and they never specified if they’d get them back. It’s very weird and confusing. Do you give your possession over to the garbagemen, they take it and then it just suddenly appears back in your home? What would be the point of that?

The big twist is also weird and makes no sense. The twist comes when the woman wonders where her boyfriend is because she hasn’t heard from him in a while. They fight a lot, and he’s constantly wandering off, but he’s been gone for longer than usual. He’s not answering calls, and she’s starting to get worried. He calls her on the fifth Wednesday of the month from the inside of what I think is a trash compactor. He’s in a panic and suspects she knows what’s happening to him. She does. She knew he was her most prized possession and purposefully didn’t ‘give’ him to the purple garbage truck because she wanted him gone.

Absolutely none of that makes sense. It was established beforehand that it was POSSESSIONS not any people that you had to give up. Everyone in line for the purple garbage truck had THINGS not PEOPLE. The first guy she talks to about this brought his girlfriend’s kimono. Would he not bring his girlfriend instead?

If this woman’s most prized “possession” was her boyfriend, why did she rush to her closet to check up on something seemingly important after the first purple garbage truck day? Also, if her boyfriend was her most prized “possession” then why would she be actively trying to get rid of him? I’d think if you want your boyfriend dead he wouldn’t count as your most prized possession anymore. She even mentioned that they fight all the time, and he seemingly broke up with her in a flashback. The ending should have been that he was taken from her because she loved him most and mistakenly believed that whatever was in her closet was her most prized possession. That definitely would have been a much more depressing ending, and it still wouldn’t make much sense because people aren’t things, but it would work a lot better than this.

Hopefully, these are the lowest point of the season, because I’ve really been enjoying it to this point and I’d hate to see it nosedive and not recover.

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