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 11, 12 and 13 Review (Finale)

Episode 11: Bye-Bye


Plot: A pair of friends are on a trip where they wander into a weird local town.

Breakdown: I’m not gonna lie. I was laughing through most of this episode. The constant “Bye bye!” easily tickled my funny bone. I couldn’t stop laughing until the credits.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a decent degree of creepiness here, because there is….but it is terribly overshadowed by how funny it is. Maybe that’s just me, though.

Other commenters seem to not be too impressed by this episode. I do agree that, even without laughing at the “Bye bye!”s the episode isn’t that great, mostly because it’s one of those stories where I can’t really make sense of it. So they enter a town, all the people say “Bye bye” over and over and it causes someone to…be…possessed? Or they say “Bye bye” because the possession is already happening and they’re saying “Bye bye” to the person since they’ll be pushed out by the spirit or demon that’s possessing them?

Without the “Bye bye!”s this episode just amounts to ‘Someone got randomly possessed. The end.’

There is creepiness in the visuals and audio, but that’s about it.

Episode 12: Pinky Promise


Plot: A woman becomes very concerned when her husband starts acting strange and distant. He explains that he’s experiencing weird dreams of another world with another family, and he can’t stop thinking about them.

Breakdown: This was another episode that I think was very well written and executed. Not sure how scary I found it, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The twist, spoilers by the way, at the end is really good, and it leaves just enough to the imagination to make you question which world was actually real. If you ask me, it makes the most sense that the world we were following was the dream world. It would explain why he was always full after eating in the other world and why he seemed so despondent when he was with the wife we were following instead of being as lively as he is in the “dream.” I also can’t imagine that her existence is entirely reliant on her husband remembering her unless she’s the dream. If he really did choose the dream, I’d imagine he would be locked in a coma or disappear himself or something.

The coloring would also make more sense. Before the twist even came up, I noticed the wife we were following had a weird paleness and blueness to her, even in her lineart, but it wasn’t so stark in comparison to the rest of the artwork that I felt it was that strange. End of Spoilers

This episode isn’t really scary or even creepy, but I guess it would be very concerning to watch your loved one slowly spiral into a state of detachment all because they seem to be enjoying their life in a dream better than the real world.

Episode 13: The Hundredth Story


Plot: A group of friends perform a hyakumonogatari – a ghostly ritual where you light a hundred candles, tell a hundred ghost stories and blow a candle out after each story. When you blow out the final candle, something is supposed to happen, but what happens is a mystery.

Breakdown: I want to point out that this episode is not the 100th episode of Yami Shibai. That would neat – but it’s not.

However, there is speculation that this episode is the finale to the Yami Shibai franchise. I have no idea if this is true. As of this writing, a Yami Shibai 11 hasn’t been announced, but if it did end like this…..I’d be okay with it.

For a series all about telling ghost stories, we don’t have nearly enough episodes about people telling ghost stories. I think a problem with those types of stories is that they’re typically not written really well, and a lot of them go the same way. The group will tell pretty lame stories, someone will walk off because it’s so lame and then go missing and blah blah blah.

This story, however, is pretty good. It got me with the atmosphere, and the ending twist was something I didn’t expect, especially when twist took another twist, which I thought was really cool.

Something that’s kinda bugged me throughout the previous seasons has been a lack of wanting to do anything with the bookends. Only a couple seasons have done anything with the openings and endings to create some sort of overarching story, even if it is just a few details here and there. This season actually chooses to do some minor things with the bookends.

First of all, the opening makes it seem like the narrator is….dying or something? Every episode, he’d normally say “It’s time for the theater of darkness” (Yami shibai no jikan dayo) and yet, in this season, he keeps audibly fading off when saying that. (Yami shibai no jika……)

Second of all, the ED shows the narrator in an empty theater before removing his mask, placing it face down on the floor and walking off into the shadows. His face is never shown, but the inside of the mask is, and it’s gross. It looks like it’s got flesh inside of it while also having bloodied sutras/talismans of some sort.

In this episode, the mask turns back over. What that implies, I don’t quite know, but it’s kinda cool.

Spoilers – The twist after the twist was that the narrator showed up when the final candle was blown out. He started telling the tale of the teenagers who were in the room telling ghost stories. I thought that was a really cool and clever way to incorporate the narrator into an episode. It was also a really interesting way to close out the franchise, if this is indeed the end. End of Spoilers

All in all, I really liked this episode, even if a small group of people telling a hundred ghost stories in one night while none of the candles seem to melt even a little is a bit weird. As a season finale, it’s really good. And if it’s the series finale, then I’m sad to see it go, but I think this entire season was pretty strong, and this was a fairly suitable ending for it. I won’t call it dead quite yet. Yami Shibai has a habit of just coming out of nowhere when you think it’s gone. Hopefully see you next Halloween, Yami Shibai. Thanks for the spooks!

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Animating Halloween | Yami Shibai 10 Episodes 9 and 10 Review

Episode 9: To My Future Self


Plot: Having given up on his dreams of becoming a manga artist long ago, a man finds a DVD from his past self among the junk in his apartment. When he watches it, his past self wishes his future self luck on achieving his dreams, but when he admits to the screen that he failed in his dreams, the DVD malfunctions. After that, the man believes he has been cursed by the DVD.

Breakdown: Man, what a weird way to encourage people to never give up on their dreams.

Okay, that’s probably not the real message. The real message is probably more akin to “Don’t bully people or otherwise be a crappy person” but this one took me for more of a ride than I expected. It was heading down a somewhat predictable path. I thought that the man’s history would slowly start erasing after he became cursed. Or he’d disappear because his past self was unhappy with learning about his future and would ensure that wouldn’t happen. However, it took a sharp left turn towards an ending I never expected.

People kept touting this as being the best episode so far, and I’m not sure I agree with that. It was certainly good, but I think they were too in-your-face with the scary faces. Yami Shibai might get some shit sometimes for not showing enough, but here I think they showed a bit too much. When the first jump-scary shots popped up, I didn’t get in the least bit scared or even surprised. They pretty much warned you of the jump scare before it happened by showing the creepy person walking in the foreground.

The scary atmosphere was constructed entirely by the story, if you ask me.

Episode 10: The Other Building


Plot: An ill man who has been hospitalized keeps trying to push his physical therapy too far at night behind everyone’s backs to help him get well enough to go to work. One night, he believes he spots another building to the hospital that should exist filled with creepy patients, but no one believes him. What is this other building?

Breakdown: This one was okay. May or may not be the weakest of the season. It was just a bit too easy to figure out the twist here, and the main character was a bit too dumb for my liking. He keeps seeing monsters and strange visions before passing out whenever he goes out at night, but he doesn’t think, hey, maybe it’s a good idea to just not go out at night. Or, at the very least, if you do go out at night, don’t go beyond where the salt is because that’s always where the trouble starts.

The imagery was fairly spooky, and, for some reason, this episode certainly had the most animation I’ve ever seen in this show. Like it was actually….ya know….animated. It’s was obviously still very rough animation, but it was a lot more than the typical level we normally get and I don’t know why.

You want to know something very strange? Throughout this entire episode, I was getting severe deja vu. I’d swear I’ve seen this episode or a very similar story somewhere before, but, for the life of me, I can’t remember where. Does anyone know what I’m thinking of? Am I crazy?

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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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Animating Halloween | Yami Shibai 10 Episodes 3 and 4 Review

Episode 3: The End of the Day


Plot: A lonely girl named Makino admires an older girl in the window of an apartment building on her way to school every morning, wishing she could have a friend like her. The girl in the window seemingly writes in regularly to a radio show that Makino frequently listens to, and she shares how the girl brightens her days by glancing up at her window. The glimpses at the window and the radio show updates give Makino some form of comfort in her lonely life every day, but everything changes when Makino makes a real friend at school.

Breakdown: This episode is quite a bit confusing and weird. It’s certainly one of those stories where you have to run through it a few times to really understand what happened, and even then it’s somewhat unclear, but I really did enjoy this episode. It’s not really scary, although you do feel concerned for the girl near the end, because she’s really nice and innocent and her loneliness is finally going away for real and you don’t to see anything bad happen to her.

I’m going to be spoiling the ending here just because it requires some analysis.

What I personally believe happened in the end of the episode is that the billboard ghost/spirit purposely avoided Makino. It wanted to meet her, potentially with malicious intent, because she was missing her after she had been neglecting her so long after she made that friend at school. However, she saw Makino look up at her this time, because the girl’s friend had to miss school, and I believe she decided to purposefully miss her. The reason I say this is because the message on the billboard said, “It’s okay. Let yourself be reborn.” feels more like she’s saying goodbye and letting her go than she is implying that she’s a ghost now.

In addition, when the billboard fell, Makino was nearly off-screen, which usually doesn’t happen when they’re implying someone got crushed. She was so far up that we’d at least see some body parts or blood on the ground on that edge, but we don’t. The onlookers would also be much more freaked out than they seem to be considering they would have seen a teenage girl absolutely obliterated. It is a tiny bit weird, I will admit, that the girl doesn’t have more of a reaction to the billboard falling and nearly crushing her to death, which I think is why some people are confused and think she might be a ghost now.

However, the ghost theory doesn’t make much sense to me. If the billboard ghost’s plan was to kill her so she could turn into a ghost and they could friends forever, then why did the billboard fall? The billboard was destroyed. The billboard will no longer reflect in the window in the morning, meaning Makino can’t visit her every day, even as a ghost. The only way I could see this making more sense is if the billboard crushed her and then the next shot we see is of a new billboard but this time Makino is on the billboard and she does the same thing to some other lonely girl on the street.

I really don’t think this is me being overly optimistic – if you know me, you know that’s not really my thing – I just think my theory of her not being dead and the billboard ghost basically letting her go makes more sense to me.

End of Spoilers

Overall, a really good story, and none of it really seemed cliché either. It’s a teeny bit light on horror is about it.

Episode 4: Last Train


Plot: Oomori just barely makes it on the last train in order to get home, but while he was out having fun with friends, he forgot about his other friend, Takeshita, who had an important matter to discuss with him. No matter, though. They’ll meet on the train….

Breakdown: This season seems to really be getting into the vague “fill in the blanks yourself” storylines quite a bit, and that’s fine with me. I like analyzing stories and coming up with my own ideas as to what happened, as long as it’s not such a confusing mess that I feel I need to literally write the story for them.

This episode has a mixture of scariness, but mostly in the unsettling atmosphere that it creates near the end, and depression in the circumstances involving how they got there. While I would say it’s the weakest of the four episodes so far, it’s definitely still a good story that caught me with the ending twist. I admit that I did kinda predict it given the hint at the very start of the episode, but it wasn’t such a massive hint that it ruined everything. It just kinda poked at one aspect of the ending.

I also didn’t much care for the fact that it made off like Takeshita was….evil and creepy? If the implications are correct, he was just a terribly depressed guy who was reaching out to a friend for help and he didn’t receive it because his friend was a bit flippant and absent-minded.

Those aren’t really major points off, though. It’s still very much a solid entry.

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Animating Halloween | Yami Shibai 10 Episodes 1 and 2 Review

Episode 1: A Job to Quit


Plot: A man asks his friend’s advice on quitting his job when he shares an emotionally draining aspect of his work.

Breakdown: New Animating Halloween, new Yami Shibai, let’s GO!

Our first episode of this season involves mannequins, so we’re already starting strong. A man works at a mannequin factory with the specific job of checking for defects. The defects in question are any mannequin heads with the ability to talk. He is forced to throw the mannequin heads into the incinerator if they can talk, forcing him to listen to their screams as they melt away. He asks his friend if he should quit his job because the emotional turmoil is getting to be too much for him, and that’s about all I feel like spoiling for this one.

I think this is a very strong episode to start us off on. Some really creepy visuals, some legitimately scary screams and it fits very well within the five minute format. It, for once, doesn’t leave off on a cliffhanger. I really enjoyed it.

Our opening this season is a rather blasé shot of the narrator in an empty playground presenting the story to no one. The ending is much more interesting. It shows the narrator in an empty auditorium and he takes his mask off as he’s about to leave. While we don’t see his face, we do see the inner side of the mask, and it’s all dark and has a few red seals in it.

The ED is okay. It’s a bit of a rough listen because it’s mostly just acoustic guitar with vocals. It’s like someone threw it together on the fly. But does that make it bad or does it add to the unsettling ambiance? You be the judge.

Episode 2: Ending Note


Plot: A trio of siblings clean out the apartment of their estranged father after his passing until they find a heartbreaking note.

Breakdown: Excuse me. Let me just pick my jaw off the floor.

Sometimes, Yami Shibai can be quite sweet. In certain stories, the darkness of the tale lies in the sadness and tragedy or the bittersweet situation – not in horror. I really thought this one was heading in that direction.

Hoo boy, was I wrong.

I don’t want to spoil this one either besides saying that I’m not 100% certain on how much I like the twist at the end. It was indeed creepy and definitely shocking, but it was one of those endings where I ultimately felt more sad than anything. That’s not a bad thing, though, so I don’t know if I can find it within myself to ding it for that.

Overall, this episode was certainly well-written and managed to throw me for a loop in a fairly good way.

So far, I’m quite impressed with how this season is turning out, and it seems many fans are having similar responses. Hopefully, the season maintains this momentum throughout the entire run.

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Yami Shibai 9 Review

Plot: Season nine of the horror anthology Yami Shibai.

Breakdown: Someone forgot to post the full review of this series after Animating Halloween was over.

And I’m not naming names, but it begins with a Fiddle and ends with a popular candy bar name.

That’s right.


Anyhoo, I learned a couple of days ago that Yami Shibai 10 is airing right now, which is cool.

Season nine has a theme for the first time in what feels like eons. This season has a zodiac animal theme to it, which I didn’t even catch onto until ten episodes down the line. I don’t know if I’m not bright or the creators didn’t make it obvious enough, but here we are. I think it’s pretty cool to have a horror based zodiac theme to the stories, and they have exactly the right number of episodes, so that works out quite well.

This was quite the interesting season, so let’s go down each episode real quick.

Episode 1: Rat Wedding – Entertaining and definitely creative, but not really scary.

Episode 2: The Man in the Rabbit Hutch – Very creepy episode with horrifying sound effects, but has an ending that is a little too predictable.

Episode 3: The 44th Sheep – If there was ever a chance that counting sheep could be made scary, this episode made as big of an effort as anyone could.

Episode 4: Lapdog – LOL

Episode 5: Paper Mache Tiger – An incredibly sad story that still manages to deal a good amount of tension and creepiness. I loved it.

Episode 6: Spirit Ox – One that was bordering on boring until the end where it becomes very sweet.

Episode 7: Mr. Rooster – Not scary at all, but really makes you think. The ending was confusing and cliché, though.

Episode 8: Rocking Horse – One of my favorite Yami Shibai stories to date. I just wish it were longer.

Episode 9: Snake Celebration – A very intriguing idea with some pretty strong creepy vibes at first ruined by a lame ending.

Episode 10: Boat Meat – Loved this episode for the most part, but it has an unreasonably confusing ending. It’s made a little less confusing if you know Japanese, but even then the ending is still very depressing.

Episode 11: Dragon Palace – It’s fine. Don’t have much to say about it. It’s fine.

Episode 12: Monkey Prayer – It’s fine.

Episode 13: The Year of the Cat – A clever story just not all that creepy.

Web (or Mobile?) Special (Episode 0): The Old Well – Surprisingly, for a limited release special episode, this was quite creepy. Maybe some of that is attributed to the vertical format, given the subject matter, but I enjoyed it.

Overall, Yami Shibai 9 was one of the strongest seasons we’ve had so far, which is good because the series was really starting to lull into very, very average territory. We had a few gems, some really interesting ideas and only a few episodes that were simply “fine.” I hope, with everything I have, that Yami Shibai 10 and possibly onward continue the upwards trend so we can have plenty of fun for many Halloweens to come.

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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 11, 12, 13 (Season Finale) + Special (Episode 0) Review

Episode 11: Dragon Palace


Plot: An overworked man and his coworker go night fishing to relax. He soon realizes that his friend isn’t exactly fishing for fish….

Breakdown: Unrelated to the episode, but can I just take the time out to say, holy crap, how am I just now noticing that this season has a full zodiac motif and it isn’t just an opening sequence gimmick?

Every episode so far has had a title and theme that involved a zodiac animal. I feel like a fool.

Anyway, this episode is okay. Not the first time I’ve seen a story where someone who is overworked or lonely or something gets dragged away by some mysterious beautiful woman who just wants to suck the life force out of the men, but this version was done well enough. Not sure what any of this has to do with dragons, though. Is the woman meant to be a dragon?

Episode 12: Monkey Prayer


Plot: The legend of the Monkey Prayer claims it will bring death to anyone of your choosing.

Breakdown: There’s nothing inherently wrong with this episode, but there’s not a lot to sink your teeth into in regards to unique aspects. I’ve never heard of the Monkey Prayer before, but there’s certainly no shortage of legends concerning curses that bring death upon someone. The background of the legend is that monkeys started mimicking humans in prayer during funerals, but they have a special way of praying, with their elbows touching when they put their hands together. It’s not really that unique.

The other aspect of this episode is not judging a book by its cover. There’s a creepy girl in class who first alerts Mei to this legend. At first, it seems like she’d be the one doing the cursing, but it turns out she’s not only innocent, she was also giving Mei information that could save her life. I’ve also seen this before. In fact, I feel like I’ve probably seen it in Yami Shibai several times.

The motive of the actual culprit is very vague. Someone theorized that she was jealous because she had a crush on Mei’s boyfriend, but it’s not really clear.

It’s fine, but it’s kinda sloppy and not enough is done to make it stand out much.

Episode 13: Year of the Cat


Plot: A designer tells his coworker about the legend of the cat of the zodiac. The story goes that the rat tricked the cat when they were supposed to have a feast with god, causing him to miss the party. While this legend is a relatively well-known folktale, there’s an urban legend tied with the myth. Apparently, after that incident, the cat ate the rat, and god kicked the cat out of the zodiac as punishment. People are still born in the year of the cat to this day, and if god notices them he wipes them from existence.

Breakdown: Fruits Basket reference!

Now that that’s out of the way, this is a pretty clever horror twist on the legend of the cat of the zodiac, and it’s a great note to cap off the zodiac motif of this season. I’m not sure it’s all that scary, though. I suppose not many people would know whether or not they were born in the year of the cat, but the main lesson here seems to be to keep your ego in check. If you do that, then you’ll never receive the punishment from god.

I like how the episode mirrors the legend by having Mitsuki deceive the MC about the design contest their boss was holding. However, this time the rat’s the ‘good’ guy instead of being, well, a rat. He wasn’t really justified in what he did, though, so it’s hard to call him a good guy. The MC may have been an asshole, but he didn’t really seem bad enough to do that to him.

SPECIAL (Episode 0): The Old Well


Plot: A woman is camping with friends when she accidentally falls down a well. Trapped, she has to find a way out on her own. However, she’s not really alone.

Breakdown: I can’t really get a lot of information on this special. From the way it’s formatted, I guess it was a….mobile exclusive episode that was released before season nine’s proper premiere as a way of promotion, but I can’t be sure. It does have an extremely weird vertical format, though.

This is, by far, the scariest episode of season nine, and probably one of the most legitimately scary episodes of Yami Shibai that I’ve ever seen. Granted, it’s not the most creative premise in the world, but it did manage to play on my biggest fear – drowning. And drowning in such a confined space as a well just makes it worse. I’m not claustrophobic, but in a circumstance of drowning, it would make me panic so much more.

The ending is simultaneously depressing and scary, which is kinda good for a horror story since it means I sympathize with the main character. Still, what an awful fate for that poor girl.

And that was all of Yami Shibai 9! I really hope we get season ten next year, but for now we’ll just head on to do the full Yami Shibai 9 review and kinda close out this year’s Animating Halloween!

Like I mentioned in my announcement at the start of the month, I knew I’d be very sparse on Halloween content this year due to personal matters, and I certainly was, so allow me to welcome you all to Animating Halloween: Noctober! Throughout November, I will be peppering in more Halloween reviews throughout my regular reviews of the month. While a good chunk of the hecticness has died down for me, it will start back up soon enough. I hope to be back to normal in time for A Very Animated Holiday Special, but we’ll have to see. Until then, thank you all for your patience, comments, likes and sticking with me through the spoooOOOOoooookiness.

👻 Have a Happy and Safe Halloween! 🎃

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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 9 and 10 Review

Episode 9: Snake Celebration


Plot: A woman who has recently married visits her in-laws for the first time in order to celebrate her brother-in-law’s birthday.

Breakdown: This episode had a lot of promise in the first half but really fell off in the latter half. This story does a good job at making you like the main character and the in-laws, and the noises made when the family were behind the paper doors were really creepy…..However…

I know people, myself included, sometimes have a problem with Yami Shibai choosing not to show enough of the ghost or monster or what have you, but this episode has the opposite problem in that it shows too much. I was so into it until the instant they showed what the snake monster looked like. They had a perfect thing going where were just seeing what was happening via silhouette behind the paper door, but then they made that pointless by outright showing us the creature full out for numerous seconds, and it’s really lame.

Spoiler alert, the in-laws are snake people, but in the lamest of terms. As in, when they shed their skin, they’re just scaly. That’s it. No creativity whatsoever just…scales. And of course the ending is the MC turning into a snake person too, but really just getting scales. They’re not killing her or anyone else, they’re simply making her scaly. And that’s only when she chooses to look that way. The family usually has regular human appearances, and it’s only when they shed this skin that they look this way. I wouldn’t want to become scaly, but it’s hardly the scariest horror story ending.

I will say that the art style is creepy enough. It’s a bit rough and ugly, but the faces are just subtle enough in their creepy stares and slightly wide eyes that it makes you uncomfortable.

Episode 10: Boar Meat


Plot: A young girl named Nao, who has recently moved to the countryside, has a difficult time making friends until she meets another girl named Botan. A strong bond forms between them quickly as they care for peonies through the winter, but there’s something peculiar about Botan….

Breakdown: I was really loving this story for a while. The art, the water color-like coloring style, the characters, the story, the pacing – it was one of the most engaging Yami Shibai stories I’ve seen to date.

However, it’s also one of those episodes that makes absolutely no sense unless you know Japanese, and even once you learn the context it’s still a little confusing. Granted, the story isn’t confusing at all until the very ending.

A bullied new kid in town, Nao, befriends a really nice girl named Botan, and they live in their own little world simply caring for a peony plant on a hilltop in the woods. It’s obvious something is off about Botan, but her intentions with Nao never seem malicious.

I feel like I have to spoil this one to explain how confusing the ending is, so fair spoiler warning.

At the end of the episode, Botan hurts her leg on something unseen. In a panic, Nao rushes off to get help, despite Botan’s pleas to not leave her side. As we cut to black after the incident, we see Nao with a really haunted expression sitting quietly at the table as her mom talks to someone on the phone about making a hotpot for dinner with the boar meat they’re giving them…..the end.

It’s rare that I reach these levels of confusion, but there I was. The sub I watched didn’t have any notes about the context here, as usual, so I went to the comment section to find someone explaining the ending.

According to one of the commenters, Botan was actually a boar who could, for some reason and somehow, take the form of a young girl. But, to everyone else, Botan just looked like a boar. Case and point, one of Nao’s bullies started throwing rocks at them because he believed Nao was being attacked by the boar. During the attack, Botan’s eyes turned yellow, scaring the boy away.

When Botan hurt her leg, she actually got it caught in a trap meant to hunt boars. It’s unclear what would have happened had Nao stayed with her, but, supposedly, when Nao went to get help, she either returned to realize her friend was actually a boar, which had since been killed by the trappers, or the people she got to help were the trappers, who in turn killed Botan right in front of Nao – either of which would explain why she looks so horrified and grief-stricken near the end. I can only imagine she felt exponentially worse once her mother started talking about making a hotpot with the boar meat that was offered by the trappers who just killed her best friend.

You may be wondering how the heck we jumped from a little girl taking care of a flower to a boar. The thread holding all of this together is Botan’s name. Botan means ‘peony’, but there’s also a Japanese stew called Botan Nabe made with wild boar meat. It’s named as such because the pieces of boar meat are cut and arranged like the petals of a peony. Basically, the ending is a super dark joke on Botan’s name.

There was also a theory that Botan was merely caught in a trap and was later killed by a wild boar, but this theory doesn’t fit nearly as well as the other one, especially since the mother would be ridiculously nonchalant about the entire situation. “Oh a boar killed my daughter’s best friend? Oh sorry about the fuss. Sure, I’d love to make dinner out of the boar meat!”

Either way, holy crap, what a depressing end to this story. This poor girl is just lonely and bullied. She finally finds a friend, and not only does she realize she wasn’t an actual person the whole time, but she, at best, saw her dead body (I have no clue if she ever reverted to looking like a boar to Nao at any point. For all we know, she could have seen a young girl’s dead body.) or, at worst, witnessed her being slaughtered. And no matter which of those it was, she still has to deal with the fact that her best friend is for DINNER. What the actual hell?

In my opinion, as long as you know the context, this is a pretty good story, but that ending is way too depressing. Season nine’s really going heavy with the sad stories, eh?

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