The Salty Anime Challenge Day 22: An Anime Everyone Hates And/Or Has a Low Score, But You Love

I really struggled with this one. Outside of the typical ‘kids’ shows like shounen gaming anime, I don’t really know of many shows that I like that others hate on or that have particularly bad scores. Two shows came to mind, though, one of which is an aforementioned shounen gaming anime, but it’s for a different reason than the usual.

If you’ve followed me for the past few Halloweens, you probably know that I’m a Yami Shibai: Japanese Ghost Stories fan.

For those who have never seen it, Yami Shibai is a horror anthology series presented as a kamishibai show. I absolutely adore horror anthologies and the style of this show really appealed to me. The stories vary widely in quality in nearly every way from story to characters to art style (especially in later seasons) but, as a whole, I love the entirety of the franchise, and I’m excited about Yami Shibai 6 coming out this July.

However, the series receives a lot of flak, and it seems to get worse every season. The first season was held in pretty high regard, but every subsequent season keeps getting worse and worse responses.

The scores for the various series aren’t really that low. They range between 7.5 and 5.5.

Even so, the discussions I saw about these series on various anime sites were just terrible. It seems like they get the worst of it right when it’s in the middle of airing, but it gets pretty badly slammed. They either say the story was stupid or it’s just not scary at all, and the one comment that never goes away is ‘This series hasn’t been good/scary since the first season.’

I will admit, Yami Shibai has some major duds in their collection. Every anthology is bound to have at least a few stinkers, and the seasons aren’t terribly consistent with quality. People were pretty relentless about this series, though.

The aforementioned shounen gaming anime I chose was Duel Masters.

That random tagline’s not gonna help my case. Damn you Google images and your lack of…images!

I loved Duel Masters for the handful of months they showed it on TV. It was a pretty funny show with a cool card game being the focus. I even bought some of the cards and the GBA game for it. I had a blast playing it.

Like all shounen gaming anime, it shares many of the same criticisms like being poorly animated, having a bad story, having stereotypical leads and, of course, it carries the pall all shounen gaming anime carry – it’s just a half hour long commercial. It’s a show designed to sell toys. If it’s just those things, why does Duel Masters tend to get the pointy end of the review stick?

Thing is, Duel Masters couldn’t have come at a worse time. It debuted right at Yugioh’s peak, so it obviously gained a firm reputation as being a Yugioh ripoff, even if, besides playing card games being part of the plot, it had nothing to do with it…..Mostly.

People pretty much wrote off the show before they ever even saw it, if they ever saw it at all. It’s understandable, I suppose. But I think it’s undeserved.

One thing you have to know about Duel Masters is, from everything I’ve been able to gather, the dubbed version is almost entirely a different show in regards to dialogue and tone than the original. I doubt many people who have watched the dub have seen the original, but I feel the need to speak its piece in that department.

The dub tends to focus a lot on comedy. They break the fourth wall all the time, have meta humor and constantly make jokes. They even change up the editing in order to include more jokes. There’s still a ton of shounen children’s-card-gaming action, but there’s much more comedy to the dub than the original.

The original version, which I’ve never been able to find, supposedly plays all of this straight, and from what I’ve read of the plot and story of the original manga and what I saw of the dialogue in the game, I’m obliged to believe this is true.

The story, from what I can tell, doesn’t change all that much, it’s just that the dialogue, tone and editing are mostly altered to make jokes.

I will admit, I don’t remember much of the story besides these are kids who like playing Duel Masters, they enter a tournament and, of course, there are a bunch of evil people who play the game that they have to defeat because, if not, they’ll, say it with me now, take over the world!

The original does appear to be a Yugioh rip-off, to the bare bones anyway. I have yet to see any Egyptian imagery or Kaiba clones. At the very least, they’re trying to ride its coattails. However, I don’t believe the dub should share the original version’s negative marks on copycatting because 1) The game itself is a lot different from Yugioh. Not every card game involving monsters is a Yugioh rip-off, guys. 2) The dub’s really funny sometimes. Even if the story falls flat, they did enough with the dialogue in the dub to make it very entertaining.

Even today, Duel Masters maintains its horrible rep. If anything, it’s gotten worse. Reviews of the show aren’t plentiful, but what’s there is usually extremely negative. Check out this gem for example.

I particularly enjoy this section.

“CHARACTER SECTION: 2/10

There is a nerdy bunch of kids who care more about a card game, than, let’s say, finding a job or getting laid, and a bunch of costumed weirdos who control the world with cards.” Yes, ten-year-old children, go out and get a job and get laid instead of playing that children’s card game.

I will give them some leeway because they call it a Magic the Gathering rip-off instead of a Yugioh one, which is more accurate. Yeah the tapping and mana thing carry over, but MtG is far more complex and Duel Masters still does enough to differentiate itself.

I don’t even think the ‘action’ is bad. Generic? Yeah. Poorly animated? Indeed. But I have plenty of fun with it.

When they keep the serious tones, it’s actually somewhat funnier because you can clearly tell the voice actors aren’t taking the serious stuff….seriously. It’s almost like they’re purposely either phoning it in ultra hard or overacting to the max just to make the serious stuff look silly.

Maybe a part of it is my nostalgia goggles. Maybe I’m mentally filtering things. But I rewatched some clips of the show to do this entry, and I still think it stands up perfectly fine…..I did not remember the insanely poor sound production, though. I don’t know what happened in the BGM and sound effect department, but it’s sloppy as hell. I won’t defend that.

And now for your earworm pleasure, the theme song!

 

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Yami Shibai 5 Review

Plot: The fifth collection of short horror stories told in kamishibai format.

Breakdown: The initial hate I had come to expect from the fanbase seemingly died a little when this season got its footing. A few episodes out the door and, while there were still those familiar naysayers who believe basically all series start sucking once they exit season one, the comments were mixed at first for season five and then they got gradually better. Yami Shibai finally seemed to have shrugged off the blah-ness that haunts them throughout each season, only finding a ray of redemption in a finale twist or a particularly good episode.

I’m pleased to say that, despite some hiccups, this held true through the end. I’d even hazard to say this season was even better than Yami Shibai 1. Let’s recap the episode list real quick.

Episode 1: Wrong Number – 8/10: Starting off strong, this story takes a familiar set up with the mysterious creepy phone call and adds a twist that makes the ending very satisfying. A rare example of a horror story with an unlikable lead that really works.

Episode 2: Give it to Me – 8/10: Another good entry, this one mostly just suffers because, really, if a kid is being that greedy and annoying, you don’t just keep giving them stuff…..That doesn’t have much to do with the story, but if she never gave the kid anything, she might still be alive. Teach kids good manners = not dying.

Episode 3: The Crow Children – 7/10: Marked off mostly for not really being scary at all, this is an interesting and enjoyable story with some pretty nice visuals.

Episode 4: Copycat – 8.5/10: This one was very cleverly written. While it is predictable to a point, the absolute ending throws you for a loop. This story is also creepy on the basis of being a very realistic scenario and not relying on supernatural circumstances to get a scare across.

Episode 5: Shadows of Women – 7.5/10: Clever, but not creepy or scary. Love the artwork.

Episode 6: Giveback-Sama – 7/10 Predictable and not all that scary, plus the structure of the myth is confusing, but there was one jaw-dropping twist I’ll give it credit for.

Episode 7: Hide and Seek – 9.5/10 WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT THING!? AAHHHHHHHH POINTS OFF FOR SADNESS IN THE ENDING, WHICH IS PETTY, BUT BLEH, AAHHHHHHHH!

Episode 8: The Neighbors – 8.5/10 Not that creepy, but put a nice spin on a tired setup and did legitimately surprise me. Love the artwork.

Episode 9: If You Want to See Ghosts – 6/10 Weakest entry of the lot. Interesting setup, but doesn’t go anywhere you don’t expect it to go. Plus the more anime-ish artwork makes for less scares.

Episode 10: Flower Reading – 10/10: First ever perfect score. I would mark it off for not being scary or creepy at all, but no. This story is touching and beautifully written enough to earn a gold star with no scares. The artwork here is also fantastic.

Episode 11: I’m the Only One – 8/10: Points off for cathartic horror ending instead of scary. Points given for friggin’ scissors. Dammit. Eugh. Also, the twist was clever.

Episode 12: The Last Bus – 7/10: Creepy, but not that much. Mostly gets points off for being so confusing on why this is happening to this woman.

Episode 13: Seductress – 7/10: Intentionally scratchy artwork….film noir….Mmm….AH! What the hell is happening!?….Oh….Pbbbbtttt ahahahahahah! Also, the series ender was very confusing. I like that they actually attempted to do something this time around *coughYamiShibai4cough* but what is it trying to say? What happened? Who is that guy?

Rating: (Rounded up) 7.5/10 8/10 I’m giving half a point for changeup in opening shot and the nice ending theme.

Recommended Audience: No worse than usual. 10+

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 5 Episodes 11, 12 and 13 (FINALE)

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Plot: A high school girl treasures her beautiful hair, and she’s constantly getting praise, adoration and even awards for its beauty. Like many vain people, she is constantly looking in the mirror. There only needs to be one prettiest girl. Just one.

Breakdown: Maybe I didn’t think the victim problem through. Yeah, it sucks to watch bad things happen to good people, but watching them happen to jerks just gives you a sense of catharsis when they finally meet their fate instead of rightfully giving you the feeling of horror for them. I have failed to apply my long-standing horror movie credo to horror anime. If we hate the main character, the scares are significantly diminished. I am shamed.

That being said, yeah, the scares in this one are diminished fairly badly because the main character is just a straight up narcissistic bitch that you really wouldn’t mind seeing get her just desserts. Still, the plot twist was clever and damn it all to hell I do have a thing about scissors. I have watched a lot of horror movies, anime and the like. I can stand a lot of terrible, horrific things when watching them, but I nope right the hell out when it comes to a few things. 1) Nails (Go to hell, Higurashi no naku ni), 2) scalping (Go to hell, Saw 3) and 3) friggin’ scissors. The sounds, the snipping people up just nope. Nope. Nopenopenope.

Episode 12 – The Last Bus

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Plot: A woman barely manages to catch the last bus after a bad day at work. She’s fed up with her life at the moment and decides to get some rest on the ride home. When she awakens, she finds that the entire bus is now empty except her and an older woman who starts talking to herself. At first, she believes the woman is merely creepy, but is soon startled when she realizes that she’s telling a story that sounds suspiciously like what’s currently happening to her.

Breakdown: I found this entry to be pretty good, but not one of the strongest stories this season. It’s creepy because it’s a very real circumstance, and who doesn’t get slightly creeped out being on the last bus or walking around late at night? This whole episode had a very real nightmare type of feeling, even down to the fact that the colors and ambiance noticeably changed to something softer and dream-like when the woman woke up.

However, I do find the whole setup to be weird. Was she targeted just because the start of her story matched the one from the woman in the story or is it just the fact that she’s a woman on the last bus? The fact that her life at the moment was crappy seemed to have no connection to the actual horror aspect of the story, yet we hear it three times. She’s obviously not the same woman from the story since they look so different.

It just seems like this horrible thing happened to this random woman and nothing connected back to her besides the fact that she got on the last bus.

Episode 13 – Seductress

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Plot: A private eye is investigating the disappearances of men at a local bar. In particular, there’s a woman who frequents the bar who piques his interest. What’s the secret behind Mantis Bar?

Breakdown: Horror….scratchy rough art style….film noir?….Yami Shibai, you’re trying to seduce me.

Mmmmmm……..Oh yeah, this episode’s silly. She’s really a praying mantis in a human suit who eats the guys she seduces. Get it? Because female praying mantises eat their mates? Also, get it? The bar is called Mantis Bar? Hurrr.

This is definitely the most disappointing entry of YS5, which is a shame because this episode had so much going for it, like I pointed out. The anticipation of horror, the amazing art style, the film friggin’ noir atmosphere. I am a total sucker for film noir. I paused and did an embarrassing ‘squee’ when I realized they were doing that. Why did they have to ruin it? I was even praising this season while waiting for the finale to be released, saying that every season so far has had at least one major flop of an episode. They’ve had slight ups and downs, but the season has been mostly consistent so far. Now we get this.

Being fair, this entry isn’t really a ‘flop’ per se. It’s just disappointing and slightly silly. I was freaked out when her arms fell off, but then I practically giggled when they were replaced with the praying mantis arms.

To be clear, the man who dies in this entry is not the private eye – it’s a completely unrelated man. Which leads us to the actual end of this episode.

Actual spoilers, though I already have spoiled a good chunk.

In order to tie up the series, I suppose, the episode ends with the private eye witnessing the man’s death. We fade out to a shadowed picture of the narrator’s mask and then cut to the private eye waking up on a bench in the park. He wonders what his case was really about when we see the Yami Shibai narrator walking away with his bicycle and stage. He says that the truth of the case was lost in the darkness as the opening music plays behind him and we get our title card (the intro was noticeably missing this week)

Soooo…..was that a dream? Was that a Yami Shibai show he fell asleep at? Was he stuck within a Yami Shibai play? It would’ve been more impacting and maybe made more sense if the private eye was someone we’ve known the whole time or at least someone from the first episode.

This episode does seem like it’s also tying into the observation that this season was focusing almost entirely on women. Either women were the victims or the monsters in each story. I still don’t know what the hell the season was trying to say about or explore about women if that’s the truth, though. This episode might’ve been a cautionary tale about not being promiscuous since this woman is obviously not picky about who she sleeps with and the guy basically yearns for her because she’s a hot woman who sleeps around. *shrug*

Full season Yami Shibai 5 review coming up!

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 5 Episodes 9 and 10

Episode 9: If You Want to See Ghosts

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Plot: A college student shows her friend some ghosts by telling her to look into the reflection in her eyes. She says her friend taught her how to see ghosts using that same method when she was younger. Certain things weren’t meant to be shared….

Breakdown: Weakest entry of S5 so far, but still not too bad. This is the first entry that lends itself more to a traditional anime style, though not too severely to be that distracting. The movement and appearances of the ghosts just isn’t scary and the ending was predictable from the instant she said she hadn’t heard from the original friend since she shared the power with her.

Not much else to say about it, really.

Episode 10: Flower Reading

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Plot: A man is caught in the rain at a bus station when he meets an odd little girl who has a thing for flower reading (The “he loves me, he loves me not” thing). Her predictions are always right. The flowers will show you the truth.

Breakdown: Yami Shibai does this once in a blue moon – they’ll give us a story that’s supernatural but not seemingly meant to be spooky or scary at all.

This is a very beautiful and sad story. Even the artwork is absolutely perfect for this tale. It’s slightly sloppy, in a good way, and sketchy with some colors being natural and many others being odd, surreal and even beautiful, like neon lights and rainbow colors.

I didn’t expect the twist this time around, both because it’s clever and, again, Yami Shibai typically doesn’t do stories like this. This was one of my favorite episodes so far. Well done.

Spoilers! I am a little confused as to what this is, though. I feel like this is some form of temporary purgatory or transition place that they’re in. The only reason I say that is because 1) She says the rain will never stop and 2) the only person who looks completely normal here is the man. The couple who were behind him were drawn completely in solid color and the girl has big red eyes and an extremely bright shirt. She also predicts that she won’t go home, meaning she’s either meant to stay there, guiding souls, or she’s also trapped there for the time being, herself being a spirit meant to find her way to either heaven or hell eventually.

Either way, it’s a great story, but I wish that had been cleared up just a tad.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 5 Episodes 7 and 8

Episode 7: Hide and Seek

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Plot: A young boy named Takeshi is on his way to see his grandma for the first time. As they drive through the village, he spots an extremely old and broken down house with what seems like a little boy in the window. He asks his grandma about it, and she sternly warns him never to go near that place since that’s where the crone lives. Takeshi and his two friends decide to forego the warning and go to the house to play hide and seek. But what’s really hiding in that house?

Breakdown: Okay, we have officially jumped back into complete scariness. This might actually be the scariest Yami Shibai story of all the seasons so far.

The ‘only women and girls’ theory might not hold water here as the main character is a young boy, but he has two girl friends and the grandma is another main character soooo…maybe?

The start of the story is predictable enough, even calling back a little to The Crow Children in set up. Kid sees an old abandoned building with someone seemingly inside it, so he and his friends go to investigate and bad things happen. But dear God, the bad thing that happened. That thing freaked the hell out of me just with a shot of the top of its head.

While this is one of the best Yami Shibai entries, it’s also one that has a really sad ending because the victim is a child, and the circumstances surrounding this ending are even sadder.

Spoilers! After the bad thing happens, the parents and everyone but seemingly the grandma forget that Takeshi ever existed. Seriously, it was bad enough what happened to him, but now he’s but a flickering memory in Grandma’s head? Kid didn’t deserve to go out like that for mere curiosity.

Episode 8 – The Neighbors

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Plot: A woman named Kana gets a great deal on a nice apartment. Her friends joke that this is probably one of those situations where there’s a creepy reason why the price on such a nice place was so low.

Yup.

Breakdown: This season has a real knack for taking a fairly predictable set up (durr, I wonder if the neighbors are freaky durr) and just flipping you on your head in the second half of the episode. I’m not lying when I say nearly all of these episodes so far have had me genuinely surprised (some jump or jaw drop worthy) on their twists. Halfway into the series and this is eons above what we’ve been getting in recent years. If they keep up this pace, I’d even be so bold as to say this is even better than the first season.

This wasn’t the creepiest or scariest episode, but it was still pretty great. We have the absolute most realistic art designs so far and they add to the atmosphere very well.

A couple of jump scares happen, but one is pretty well done and the other is predictable with a not even all that scary face accompanying it. I really didn’t expect the twist again, and it’s pretty clever.

Another thing I’m noticing about this series is that I don’t care as much about not knowing the backstories of these entities as I was in previous seasons, even the first. I guess my theory that creepiness and scares can make up for it holds weight.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 5 Episodes 5 and 6

Episode 5: Shadows of Women

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Plot: A woman gets jealous when she finds evidence that her husband is cheating on her. She wants answers….and she’ll get them….Though she may regret it.

Breakdown: This one wasn’t particularly scary or even creepy, but it was very clever. I didn’t get the twist until the absolute ending, and they definitely took the story in a direction that I never would’ve expected.

The art this time was changed a bit, and while it didn’t add to the creepiness all that much, it was a really cool addition. The art style is basically the same, but it’s done with what seems like watercolor crayons. Also, for some reason, the ‘paper dolls’ for lack of a better word, seem like they cast more of a noticeable shadow in this episode.

Someone in the comments also pointed out something interesting that I should’ve noticed earlier. This season seems to be putting total focus on female victims. The ‘kids’ at the start are actually all women and girls. Every episode so far has had a female main lead. And the ending theme silhouettes are all of women. I don’t know why this season is going down this path or what it’s trying to do, if anything at all, but it’s interesting either way.

Episode 6: Giveback-sama

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Plot: A high school girl is distraught after losing her boyfriend to a girl she thought was her friend. She comes across an odd story in a library book about a being named Giveback-sama. You call her as the clock nearly strikes midnight and merely ask for whatever you want back and she will deliver it to you. However, there’s a catch. You must call her back the next day at the exact same time to thank her for what she’s done or something terrible will happen.

Breakdown: This one’s fairly predictable due to the story actually saying straight out that ‘something terrible will happen’ if she doesn’t call her back, so obviously she’ll either forget or something will prevent her from calling. However, there is a twist that was a little clever and I did drop my jaw near the middle.

Again, a commenter made a theory as to what the twist was about, and while it does make a good deal of sense, there’s one aspect that doesn’t make any sense to me.

They said that it seems like the friend might’ve used Giveback-Sama before the girl, and forgetting to call her back caused her untimely death. When the girl went to make the thank you call, the friend came back as a spirit to prevent her from doing so in order to get her killed as well, I suppose as revenge for getting Tomo (The boyfriend). A sort of ‘if I can’t have him, no one can’ situation. However, the entity is called GiveBACK-Sama, so I’d think she’d have to have him before the girl to ask Giveback-sama to give Tomo back. *shrug*

Without this theory, you just have to believe that the friend died because of the girl’s request and she came back as a spirit to stop her from making the thank you call as revenge, which, admittedly, does make a little more sense. What do you think?

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 5 Episodes 3 and 4

Episode 3: The Crow Children

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Plot: A young girl named Sae is on her way to visit her grandma for the first time with her mother when they meet a creepy old lady dressed in black that the local children call ‘the crow lady’.

Breakdown: I would’ve guessed this was a spin-off to Children of the Corn when first looking at that title.

This episode’s a bit on the predictable side and doesn’t really get at all creepy or scary until the final 30 seconds or so, which is a bit ironic because this is one of those stories that just ends in a moral and not anyone being perpetually tortured, going crazy or dying. That was a welcome twist considering the main character of this story is a cute little girl.

It’s definitely not the scariest or creepiest entry, and they even throw in a jump scare near the end, but I thoroughly enjoyed this episode.

The art is back to the way it was in episode one, which is nice, but the episode also clearly has much less animation than most other episodes, if that was even possible.

Episode 4: Copycat

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Plot: Haru is a young woman who just finished her college orientation. She’s surprised to find that her old childhood friend, Yukari, has also gotten into the same school as her. Yukari always copied everything that she did. Wore the same clothes, bought the same things, pursued the same dreams. It was flattering and fun throughout childhood, but as you get older, you need to develop your own personal identity. What happens when someone’s personal identity is yours?

Breakdown: This is, I believe, our first story that isn’t inherently supernatural. It is really just a story about a crazy friend who is doing everything in their power to copy someone else. The twist at the very end is what throws you for a loop.

One of the main aspects about this story that sits uncomfortably with people is that I’m certain many people have, at one point, had a friend with similar traits to Yukari. I’ve even been in a somewhat similar situation. It’s very awkward to deal with a friend that you do really like but is either intensely clingy or is trying to do everything you do to be just like you. You know trying to talk to them about it, even kindly, will likely hurt their feelings, but eventually everyone hits their breaking point.

Yukari does reach that boiling point of incredible annoyance, which is quickly offset by her insane creepiness. She is dead set on copying Haru as much as humanly possible.

….And I’ll just leave it at that line.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 5 Episode 1 and 2

Episode 1: Wrong Number

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Plot: A woman married a high-level salaryman to live an easy life with plenty of money to spare. However, she soon comes to hate her life. She despises that she has to care for their son, Hiro, and she is no longer enjoying her marriage. He’s gone all the time, and they never connect when he is home. One day, she starts getting mysterious messages coming from a woman who keeps thanking her for helping her out, but says she can’t leave yet. Confused and increasingly irritated as the calls keep coming, the woman keeps telling the caller that she has the wrong number, but maybe it’s she who has the wrong life.

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Before the episode even starts, the intro is already creeping me out. Each Yami Shibai in the past, barring season three, has started with the narrator starting the show in front of a group of kids at the park. Now the narrator looks noticeably disheveled and the kids are all blacked out in a sketch style and seemingly hanging from the ceiling or shakily floating in mid-air…..Okay. Keep this up, season five. We’re doing good so far.

How’s the actual episode fare? Pretty damn well. It’s not often that Yami Shibai has a story that stars a character who actually deserves the horrors they face. In this circumstance, even moreso because of the theories involved in the person on the other line.

Spoilers! It’s not entirely clear, but from what you can gather, the woman on the other end of the phone is Hiro’s actual mother. It’s implied that the woman killed Hiro’s mother to get with his father so she could live an easy life with a fairly successful husband. Why it took her so long to come back, I dunno, but this was Hell Girl levels of sweet justice.

The art style in this episode is back to the old classic style that the earlier seasons had, but the editing is a bit different. They add grainy film effects (not the lines but the dust specks), color filters and glares to add to the atmosphere, and while I would prefer atmosphere be achieved with direction and not effects, they are not invasive and do add to the creepiness quite a bit.

The end theme is alright, and I really like the various silhouette cards they have going on. The ending is still a bit light-hearted, but not as much as the previous season.

You’ve got good momentum, season five. Let’s keep it up.

Episode 2 – Give it to Me

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Plot: A woman is walking through a park on her way home from work one day when she meets a little girl. The girl admires her butterfly broach and repeatedly asks if she can have it. Unable to resist her pleas, the woman gives the girl her broach and happily goes home. It’s nice to make kids happy, but sometimes greed can get the better of you.

Breakdown: This season is still showing to be much different and better than season four. This story is pretty creative. Though, sadly, it’s another story where a perfectly kind person is trapped in the horror.

Not only do they present you with a realistic scenario that anyone might fall into, but they make the little girl and the visuals very creepy, especially at the end. This is one of those stories where I don’t really care about knowing the backstory of the creature – I’m entertained enough, and the story works fine without it.

Seriously, though, it’s nice to be….well, nice, but if a little brat is sitting there going ‘hey, give it to me!’ over and over and over, no matter how cute they are, don’t do it. 1) Their parents might not want them taking stuff from strangers, 2) They should really learn to not take stuff from strangers, and 3) it just instills spoiled behaviors. Want something? Be an annoying little piss until you get it. Come on, who would give up a brooch to a whiny kid who keeps begging for it, anyway?

All in all, though, a very solid and creepy story, and I’m looking forward to what else YS5 has to offer. Being honest, I also appreciate that they seem to be using open endings less and less, and they seem to be getting a little less reliant on the narrators.

Yami Shibai 4 (Full) Review

Plot: A continuation of the horror anthology told as a series of kamishibai productions.

Breakdown: When I first went into the fourth season of Yami Shibai 4, I was met with a tidal wave of negative comments and reviews. People hated this season with a passion, but I was more than open to it because, well, I really love this franchise. While they have had their share of bad stories, I wasn’t ready to write off this season from the start.

That being said, this season is, by far, the weakest of the seasons so far. Each season has had their problems. Season one was the strongest, though was damaged by the stupid toilet monster story. Season two had plenty of good ideas, but ultimately ended up a largely ‘meh’ season with poor execution. Season three relied a bit too heavily on monsters for my taste and changed into a format that was slightly difficult to get used to, though ultimately paid off very well.

Season four didn’t do anything different except made the narrator tell the whole story, which has its ups and downs, and include one live-action shot per story, which is largely pointless. It had many silly or meh stories and ended with absolutely no fanfare.

Episode 1: Tongue – 5/10 Clever-ish twist, but confusing to the point where I can’t make much sense of it at all. It’s also not that creepy or scary.

Episode 2: Fish Tank – 2/10 Not scary, creepy or clever. It has the most cliché of all horror story plots and only kinda gets points for using a monster that I’ve never seen done before.

Episode 3: Sewing Shears – 3/10 Again, not scary and very cliché. Points only go to the kinda creepy monster and the aspect of shears.

Episode 4: Red High Heel – 5/10 Good idea, nice start, poor execution. Disappointing. I still think my suggested ending would’ve been better.

Episode 5: Night Bus – 7/10 Best episode so far, but still not very strong.

Episode 6: Guess Who? – 7.5/10 Getting better. This one is creepy, off-putting and clever, but the only thing that gets me is the logistics of what exactly happened and who that girl even was.

Episode 7: Footsteps – 5/10 Middle of the road rating for a middle of the road entry. I should dock it off for reminding me of the toilet episode, but I feel nice today.

Episode 8: Cassette Tape – 8/10 I really enjoyed this episode, and it’s impressive that it gets a rating so high given that there is really not much animation on screen. It’s mostly just the shots of the tape recorder. Creepy, amps up the tension very well and uses its concept very well. I just wish the box had been better explained.

Episode 9: Grinding Teeth – 6/10 Creepy focal point, cringey (in a good way) sound effects, not too bad about halfway in, drops the ball and falls flat. Disappointing.

Episode 10: Calling Crane – 9/10 My favorite of the entire season. While the game itself is just weird, this is a very beautifully drawn and colored episode with plenty of creepiness and atmosphere.

Episode 11: White Line – 8/10 Clever and creepy with a unique enough premise and freaky visuals. A lack of live-action shot is distracting due to the break in continuity, though.

Episode 12: Snow Hut – 6.5/10 I still can’t decide on how much I really like this episode. It’s clever, but not scary. It has some creepy visuals, but it makes me sadder than anything else. Plus, it really bothers me that they never explain why this snow hut needs someone occupying it.

Episode 13: Underground Walkway – 6/10 You ever have those moments where you’re watching a horror movie and you want to yell out to the screen ‘Don’t go in there! Who the hell would go in there?! Turn around! Does this look safe!? Go back! You ran into a scary person! Turn around! What is wrong with you?!’ That is this episode in a nutshell. I docked off half a point because this is the season finale and it fizzles out. Is it the worst entry? No. But it does require major stupidity to pull the plot off and the twist isn’t that scary at all. Being a disappointing season finale, especially when you’re following up the awesome season three finale, is just not cool.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Recommended Audience: No worse off than any other Yami Shibai season. 10+

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 4 Episodes 11, 12 and 13 FINALE

Episode 11: White Line

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Plot: A teacher is working late one night when she spots a young boy in a tattered school uniform drawing chalk lines on the yard. As she goes to investigate, she finds the boy has vanished, but the white line has been drawn into the school. Where does the white line lead?

Breakdown: This one’s pretty clever and unique. It’s not the creepiest or scariest story in the world by a long shot, but I enjoyed quite a bit, especially the ending, and it’s one of the stronger entries this season.

The art style this time around is kinda back to being a little more anime-ish, but not too badly. It’s also like the lines are much crisper and sharper than they usually are and like the coloring is fuller and more vibrant.

There’s no live-action shot this time around, which was weird, but the narrator was delightfully entertaining, especially at the end.

Episode 12 – Snow Hut

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And then he gets shot through the eye…..Oh sorry, that’s Saw II.

Plot: A young boy and his older brother decide to build a snow hut. As his brother goes off to get something for them to eat, the boy spots another snow hut across the yard. Oddly, this hut has no entrance, but it seems like there’s a small flickering light inside. The boy is curious to see if someone is in there, but some things are better left alone.

Breakdown: I wanna say this one works, but it kinda doesn’t because it’s one of those stories that I find sadder than scary.

The idea is fairly unique and the scene with the other snow hut is creepy, but it’s not creepy or scary enough for me to ignore the fact that I feel sadder for the fate of the boy above all else.

The live-action shot this time around was of the candle in the snow hut, and it’s pretty effective given that you see it from the hole in the snow hut, which does obviously lend itself to an easy jump scare.

The story is also one I can’t wrap my head around. Why is there some sort of snow hut prison out there? Who is in it, and why does it seem to need to have someone in it? The family seems to have no choice but to do what they seem to be intending on doing, but I don’t get it.

The art style this time around is a very scratchy almost sketchy or storyboard type of art style that I….think works in its favor? I can’t really decide.

Episode 13 – Underground Walkway

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Someone should’ve told him he’s in a horror anthology.

Plot: A college student gets caught in the rain and decides to take a creepy, unfamiliar underground walkway to the station. He learns that you don’t do that.

Breakdown: Really? After the awesome ending season three gave us, you end the fourth season with this? It’s not a particularly stupid or bad entry, it’s just very predictable and meh. Not to mention, you want to clock out the instant he enters the walkway.

Gee, an unfamiliar, dark, dank, creepy underground walkway with flickering lights and no one else but a freaky worker around who’s trying to direct you down an even creepier and darker walkway and keeps chanting ‘it’s only dark at first.’? I’d sure nope out of there probably before I even got beyond the entrance. Dude, it’s rain. Just deal with it. Go into a shop until it passes. Get on a bus. If the alternative is ‘creepy, dark, dank underground walkway I could swear wasn’t here before’ exhaust every other option first….and still don’t do that.

The art style is basically identical to Snow Hut here, which is fine, and the live-action shots may be some shots of the tunnel (it’s really hard to tell) and the shot of the footprints, which add nothing to the creepy factor.

Like I said, not the worst entry, but certainly a disappointing one, and definitely a disappointment as a season finale. They didn’t even do anything clever with the narrators this time around outside of change them out every episode, which would be more impacting if the opening showed them in a different area with different kids every time, but it doesn’t. They don’t even alter the end credits. Pfft.

I’ll be releasing the full Yami Shibai 4 review soon enough, but first, I just realized that they released Yami Shibai 5 this year. Yay!