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 FINALE: Yami Shibai 3 Episodes 9-13 (end) Review

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Yami Shibai 3 Episode 9 – The Fourth Man

Plot: A teenage girl overhears some classmates talking about the latest urban legend; the handshake man. According to the story, there are four handshake men. You have to shake the hands of the first three men when they ask. Refusal will get you crushed up into a meatball. If you shake hands, though, you’ll be safe. The hitch is to watch out for the fourth handshake man. If you shake the fourth man’s hand, he’ll bite your hand off. The girl’s little sister asks to go back to the school in the middle of the night to get her homework notebook. She agrees, but she has to watch out for the handshake men.

Breakdown: This one is incredibly cut and dry. They explain everything about the handshake men full out and you know that the girl in question is going to come into contact with them, plus, if the title is any indication, you know that the fourth one in particular will be the one to get her.

The only facets of suspense are wondering if her little sister will also be attacked and how the fourth man will actually get her.

And I have to say, the way he got her was incredibly cheap. It sounds like the whole business with the handshake is a complete choice. If you accept, you’re golden, if you refuse, you’re a meatball sandwich. Except, of course, for the fourth man who bites your hand off if you accept and…I have no idea what he does if you refuse him. Does he crush you into a meatball too? Or is the rejection his ‘leave them alone’ option. Because, I have to say, outside of the cheap way he seems to work, that would be an incredibly easy monster to avoid. Shake, shake, shake, no shake. You’re free.

The cheap way the fourth man worked? Instead of asking the girl to shake his hand and letting her make the decision, he just grabs her hand after sneaking up on her. Cheater.

They could’ve easily made it so that the fourth man could create the illusion that it was her little sister, and since they were holding hands the whole time, she could reach her hand out and say ‘grab my hand’ (which could also mean ‘shake my hand’) and then, boom, the illusion fades and she realizes she’s holding the fourth man’s hand and then decides to go to the pirate store for a nifty hook.

Really, the fourth man would also be more threatening if the other three didn’t have higher stakes. Gee, would I rather get my hand bitten off or be violently crushed to death and mushed into a ball? Decisions, decisions.

In the end, this episode is predictable, not scary and pretty cheap in the end. She was being smart about her every move and the fourth man gets her on technicality…

Episode 10 – Merry-Go-Round

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Plot: Satomi and Shinichi are a young couple at a nostalgic mall carnival when Satomi is approached by a clown who gives her a red balloon. As the mall is about to close, she decides to ride on the Merry-Go-Round for old times’ sake. Round and round she goes, where she stops…..

Breakdown:

Yami Shibai 3: Episode 5 Review – “Taxidermy?! Now you’re really cheating, Yami Shibai. What’s next; clowns?”

I was friggin’ kidding!

So, yeah, clowns! That’s not cheating for free creeps. Totally.

Honestly, though, this episode was a bit odd. On one hand, the story and atmosphere is genuinely creepy, and the first few passes on the Merry-Go-Round did succeed in freaking me out a bit. However, there are several goofy shots that ruin the ambiance and really make you laugh a little.

Especially the ending. Now, I don’t exactly know an ending that would’ve been fitting for this episode; maybe just having her vanish or end up dead, impaled through the Merry-Go-Round pole or something. Maybe she’d go so crazy that she’d somehow kill herself on the ride? Nope. Instead we get….Okay, I’m not gonna spoil it. Let’s just this would be a really dark episode of My Little Pony.

Episode 11 – Cuckoo Clock

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Plot: A young girl named Rumi is fascinated by her grandmother’s cuckoo clock. And it’s glad to finally have a friend.

Breakdown: This one is another that have good ambiance and what could be a pretty creepy topic, but ends up just being silly. I guess this girl ends up under the spell of the cuckoo clock, which spurs this whole thing, but why does it never affect the grandma if the clock is magical and malicious?

I think they could’ve done a lot better with this story than they ended up doing. They built it up fairly well and just ended up making a silly ending. It’s not really predictable, but it’s a bad unpredictable in that ‘it’s so goofy, no one would expect it’ kind of way.

And while clocks can be effectively made into spooky story fodder, why choose a cuckoo clock? Has anyone ever been afraid of a cuckoo clock?

Episode 12 – Water

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Plot: Tooru is a the star member of his swim team, and the pressure’s on him to help them win a big meet coming up. In an effort to prepare, he sneaks into school to use the pool for practice. But he’s not alone….

Breakdown: Eh, this one’s just stupid. They spent a good minute of the four minute short on setting up why Tooru was out there and in the end he just gets attacked because there’s a monster in the pool for some reason. I don’t think it was because he was set on winning or anything, he just gets randomly attacked by a monster.

While the traditional mermaid stories can be seen as scary, this one is probably not even a mermaid, and it’s not scary. The visuals for the thing are actually pretty laughable.

As a horror movie lover, I love pointing out those stupid ‘Horror movie character’ moments. You know, those special moments of dumb where they could easily escape danger but decide to do something stupid instead? He only notices that there’s something in the pool when he has completed one run, meaning he’s at the edge of the pool. When he freaks out, he decides to, instead of immediately climbing out on the side he was on, to swim to the other side of the pool to get out and run away.

Good job.

Episode 13 FINALE – Drawings

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Plot: A new teacher from Tokyo finds life in suburbia to be very nice, but she’s continuously weirded out by a boy in her class who is very cold and anti-social. He just draws a lot by himself. But no one ever sees his drawings. What’s in that sketchpad of his?

Breakdown: I am happy to announce that the comments section for this episode was filled with people saying that this finale more than made up for what they considered to be a lackluster season. And I wholeheartedly agree.

While I definitely don’t think season three is the massive crap fest so many people seem to make it out to be, I will say that this finale made up for those entries that seemed either blah or just stupid.

First things first, remember that little boy I mentioned at the start of season three? The one who replaced the narrator? Allow me to flesh out more of what he’s been in the series up until this point. He opens each episode by singing to himself on a slide while drawing a picture. As he leans the sketchbook forward and reveals his eyes for a second, we get the title card.

After the episode ends, we see that he was drawing a mish-mash of the imagery from the episode before we see a mask or numerous masks rapping words that are fed into his head. As each episode goes by, more masks join the ending. IE, there’s one mask in episode one, two in two, three in three etc.

While I missed the regular openings with the kamishibai format and the narrator, I was really hoping they’d explain what this kid was about before the series was over, and lo and behold they did.

The twist for this episode is one I don’t want to reveal because it is incredibly clever and freaky in its own right. I won’t spoil anything but I will reveal that the narrator does indeed make a return and the boy is kinda within a Yami Shibai story within a Yami Shibai story.

This is definitely my favorite episode of the entire series so far because I really think they knocked it out of the park with this finale. If they had given a lackluster ending to this boy’s story and failed to explain the whereabouts of the narrator, people definitely would write off this season as being a total fail in comparison to the other seasons. It would be unwarranted in my opinion, but they would do it.

I’m even happy to report that the ED did indeed grow on me after a few episodes. Rap may not be my favorite thing, but I found myself unable to resist tapping my feet and trying to sing along when it came on.

This season was released this year, so there’s hope for more Yami Shibai in the future. For now, however, it’s going to have to be the end. The curtain is drawn on Yami Shibai’s stage.

And that’s it for my first ever Animating Halloween! I hope everyone enjoyed this year’s Halloween and horror-themed reviews! Happy Halloween!

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?

Animating Halloween – Yami Shibai 3 Episodes 1-4 Review

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Yami Shibai 3 Episode 1 – Lend it to Me

Plot: A man decides to stop off at a public bath after work. It’s very late, and after the usual hours of a public bath, so he has the place to himself. As he washes up, he hears a girl on the woman’s side of the bath ask to borrow a bar of soap. He’s happy to lend it to her, but starts to get weirded out when she asks for more…..and more…..and more…..and more.

Breakdown: First things first, the first two seasons were presented in a traditional kamishibai format. A man in a creepy mask, our narrator, would gather the kids around the miniature stage and present the story for the day.

Now, we have some kid on a slide singing to himself while drawing a picture as our intro. What was wrong with the narrator? You’re purposely trying to emulate a kamishibai. Those are usually presented by such performers with stages, not kids sketching on the slide. How do you screw up your own intended style?

Later, during the end credits, we see that the kid is being fed these stories by a floating mask that resembles the mask the narrator used to wear. As each episode goes by, more masks join him, IE, there are two in episode two, three in three, etc. So I guess the narrator is just whispering his stories to a kid to give him inspiration to draw instead of putting on a show. He either got lazy or had to sell his stage and puppets to post bail or something.

Now for the story itself; it’s pretty damn creepy, and the final jump scare/reveal of the ‘girl’ actually did get me. I didn’t really see where the story would be going from the start, so that was a pretty nice twist.

Let’s just say she asks to borrow stuff like a razor and scissors and let your imagination go for a bit.

After a lackluster season two, season three starts off pretty strong with a creepy, creative and legitimately scary note. Hopefully the rest of season three will be just as good……Still miss the narrator, though….

Music-wise, I’m not liking the new ED that much, but the one for the second season grew on me a bit so maybe this one will too.

Episode 2 – Tunnel

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Plot: Two men are on their way to a hot spring, but they end up getting lost in the middle of the night. As they enter a tunnel, they run out of gas. They decide to take a break from pushing the car and hope a car drives by that can help them find a gas station, but they’re not alone.

Breakdown: Wow, just wow. People said Yami Shibai 3 was the least scary season, but screw that because this episode is the scariest of all the seasons so far. It has eerie atmosphere, a familiar setting, creepy visuals (I won’t explain them full out, but let’s just say there are creepily smiling faces involved) and plenty of squickiness.

Even the ambiance in the music selection is fantastic. There’s a jump scare in the middle of the episode that completely got me because the freaky thing was suddenly on screen yet there was no music cue or music at all. It was just silence and then boom it was there.

While I can admit in hindsight that the actual monster is somewhat uninspired on base design, the one addition to its features is more than enough to make it memorable and freaky.

Episode 3 – Rat

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Plot: A married couple moves into a new apartment, but the wife, Machiko, is freaked out by the appearance of rats in their new home. Her husband, Ken, isn’t bothered at all, and tells her that she has to get used to the rats since she chose an old and cheap apartment to move into. He lays down some traps before he leaves on a business trip, and Machiko tries her hardest to get used to the rat problem. Maybe she gets a little too used to them.

Breakdown: This one was just meh. First of all, let me point out what a complete asshole Ken is. What husband tells their wife to ‘get used’ to a rat problem in their home? That is horribly unsanitary and unsafe. Even if it wasn’t, it’s something that obviously makes his wife uncomfortable and even scared. That in itself should be enough to get him to call an exterminator. He doesn’t even really seem to care when one of the rats bites her. Just living with rats is bad enough for your health, but being bitten by one? Go see a doctor!

Second of all, I’m not really all that freaked out by rats. Sure they’re fairly gross and a little creepy, but I was never too concerned with them.

Finally, the ending is predictable enough and the final shot of what happens to Machiko after Ken returns is just a bit on the silly side. The animation done to her while she’s talking is a bit freaky, but it’s overall kinda silly.

Episode 4 – The Noisy Hospital Room

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Plot: A man is staying at the hospital while he gets some tests done. He has a nightmare that something horrible is happening in a strange room at the end of the hall. When he wakes up, he’s covered in sweat, so he goes to find a nurse to help him get changed. He finds no one but an old man and the room from his nightmare. He hears the voices he heard before in the room, but a nurse stops him and tells him to stay away from that room. The next night, he decides to open the door anyway, and despite being knocked down by some force, he finds the room empty. Is there really something worth hiding behind these doors?

Breakdown: I can safely assume that hospitals freak most of us out even a little bit, and while there are one or two creepy moments in this episode, it’s mostly disappointing. They don’t explain what the things behind the door really are nor do they explain what that weird truck with the human shaped-statues driving around in the middle of the night is.

What we do get is a little on the creepy side, but the creatures look ultimately laughable and cartoony. It kinda breaks the atmosphere a bit. Plus the timing is off, building up to an obvious jump scare that isn’t even really a jump scare.

I’ve started to notice that season three is moreso about demons and monsters than it is about ghosts. So far, none of the stories have been ghost stories. They’ve all been monster or demon stories. That might hurt this series more than you might think….