Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episodes 11, 12 & 13 (FINALE)

Episode 11: Frozen Memories

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Plot: A man is caught in a snowstorm on a mountain, mourning the death of his only child. He promised that, when he was well, he and his son would climb a mountain together, and now he’s doing so on his own in his son’s memory. He seeks shelter in a mountainside cabin meant for travelers and meets a man who won’t communicate with him, only shiver. When he finally does talk, the only thing he’ll say is that something has returned and begs him not to open the door no matter what until the blizzard passes. What lies beyond the door in the frigid mountain snow?

Breakdown: Sticking pretty fiercely to the tragic story theme, this one actually has a happy ending. While I liked the story, it truly wasn’t anything horrifying. We never learn what happened to the other people that strange man was with nor do we see what’s out there.

Truthfully, I think the latter is for the best because sometimes the best horror comes from the mystery of what’s in the darkness, and the tension of wondering whether or not he’ll open the door is decent enough, but it still wasn’t anything really scary at all.

I’m glad at the end, but also a bit confused. I have nothing against Yami Shibai trying new things, but they’ve been skimping on the horror for a while now. Also, the art in this episode is fairly subpar.

Episode 12: Waterfall Drop

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Plot: A group of teenagers head to a waterfall for some fun. They tease each other about how the spot is supposedly haunted by people who have committed suicide on the cliff before tricking one of the girls into following a path to the top of the waterfall.

Breakdown: Slow start but definitely one of the creepiest Yami Shibai entries. The kids were creepy, the way they kinda fake you out with the scare is well-done and when the shit finally goes down it is fantastic. The lighting, the reveal, it was all great.

It was a teeny, tiny bit predictable because you know her friends are trying to warn her of something, and the actual design of the creatures could be better, but it’s still very creepy and impacting.

Also, the art could be a little better for this one. The lines are really craggy, even for this show.

Episode 13: Echoes

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Plot: Two girls enjoy a hiking trip in the mountains when one of them decides to have some fun with the echoes. They hear a man’s voice responding to them, but get creeped out when he asks where they are. They decide to leave, but a sudden onset of fog traps them. It’s so bad that they can’t see each other despite being a few feet away. One of the girls is unable to hear her friend too and all she hears are the echoes getting closer and closer.

Breakdown: Strangely, despite being the season finale, there’s nothing that special about this episode. The narrator whispers in the start of this episode, for some reason, but that’s about it. Someone said that the figure in the fog at the end was the narrator, considering the intros for this season have been in a foggy area, but I’m not sure how much I buy that. If that’s what they were going for, they didn’t do a good job of conveying it.

As for the episode itself, I found it to be frightening in a disorienting way. There’s a strange, unseen figure in the fog, and it suddenly becomes numerous people, and they’re warning her about something else unseen. It’s a nice change of pace from the typical ‘Ahhh there are things in the dark!’ shtick.

This all culminates in a jump scare that seemingly leads into a happy ending, but then there’s a twist that legitimately took me off guard, and the voice acting for that one line made it very creepy.

A bit of an odd story to leave off on as it’s not terribly notable nor does it try to bookend the series as a whole, but it’s a good episode.

And that’s it for Yami Shibai 6! The full review of the entire season will be coming up soon!

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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episodes 9 and 10

Episode 9: Mud Games

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Plot: A mother picks up her daughter from daycare in a rain storm when she starts telling her a strange story of what happened when she was playing in the sand box.

Breakdown: Well, we’re back to incredibly sad again.

I didn’t see the twist of this one coming, and it did have one or two very unsettling moments, but the whole story is a bomb of sadness. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s like they came up with the bare-bones plot and asked themselves ‘Hm, what’s the most depressing route we could take this story?’

It’s not a bad story by any means, in fact it’s very good, it’s just incredibly sad.

Episode 10: Tree of Innocence

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Plot: Twin boys, Satoshi and Takeshi, decide to climb a big tree. When Takeshi steps on a rickety tree branch and begs his brother for help, their mother arrives and pleads for them to come down….Well…one of them anyway.

Breakdown: This is so similar to episode 9 it’s weird. Starts off normally, leads into creepy, revelation that one of the characters is dead, leads to the death of the loved one of the initial person who died.

The only major differences are the situation and the absolute ending, and it somehow makes the entire situation even more tragic than episode 9.

When Satoshi tries to save Takeshi, his mother begs Satoshi to get out of the tree because Takeshi recently died from falling out of that same tree. Satoshi was lured into the tree by Takeshi’s restless spirit. He caused Satoshi to fall, and when he did, Takeshi took over his body and walked home with their mother.

Dying is one thing, but having your dead brother take your body and leave you as a spirit in a tree with no one mourning you because they believe you’re still alive is heartbreaking.

I have no clue why the comments were so lenient on this one when they weren’t on episode 9. Tons of people were saying ‘finally a good episode!’ when every other episode has been either mixed or littered with ‘this isn’t scary.’ This one’s even sadder, and, in my opinion, it’s less frightening. Ghost Takeshi is a little unsettling, but he’s a lot easier to watch than that scene with the toddler in the previous episode.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episodes 7 and 8

Episode 7: Frog Eggs

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What’s wrong with your face!?

Plot: A boy was terrified of having too many eyes on him back in the city, so his parents moved them to the country. He finds himself still having trouble adjusting and being terrified of the eyes of the townsfolk. When he finds a pile of frog eggs in the nearby stream, will his troubles be over?

Breakdown:…..What the hell is up with the art in this episode? It’s both bad, but also a million times creepier because it’s bad. The scratchiness of the line art and those small dead eyes are just haunting. Look at this wall of paintings and tell me this isn’t horrifying.

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This is a very good and unsettling episode, certainly creepy, but the story doesn’t make much sense to me.

A boy is so frightened by being around too many people or ‘having too many eyes on him’ that his parents are forced to relocate to the country where there are less people, instead of, ya know, getting him therapy or something.

The boy finds a weird pile of frog eggs in the stream and suffers from another panic attack after seeing the eyes of the townsfolk. In the middle of the night, he once again panics, this time believing the eyes of the paintings on the walls are staring at him.

He, for some reason, runs out to the stream to see the eggs and is happy they’re safe. He decides to move them so some rude kids from earlier won’t hurt them, and when he goes to do so one of them moves like an eyeball.

Cut to later where the boy is seemingly back to normal. He’s no longer scared of eyes on him, he’s willing to go out and do things, and he is happily watching something in a fish tank. When we see him from the front, he has the pile of eyeballs or eggs or whatever in the tank and we see that he has either gouged his own eyes out or the egg/eyeball thing has taken them from him.

This story is so weird and nonsensical. Does this mean this…thing has been tormenting the kid from afar all this time or was it the worst coincidence ever that he came to a village with a weird eyeball/egg monster thing when he has a paralyzing fear of eyes? What is this thing? Is it taking eyeballs? Why?

I almost feel like this story is a horrific narrative on mental illness and none of this is paranormal. The kid is so terrified of eyes that he believes the frog eggs are eyes then he gouged out his eyes in fright.

It’s also kinda strange that you can’t get a lock on if the ending is a bad one. Yes, it’s horrible that the kid lost his eyes, but he’s also oddly happy and is no longer living in fear of eyes on him.

Seriously, I truly believe this whole situation would’ve been avoided had his parents taken him to a counselor or something.

Episode 8: Sea Fortunes

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Plot: A woman and her husband visit a small island for a vacation when she mysteriously disappears. She winds up on the beach in terrible shock, but all she did was a pull a fortune on the beach. Good luck can only be granted if something is sacrificed in return….

Breakdown: This story’s just lame. It’s very cut and dry (opposite pun?) while also being confusing. These fortunes grant good luck for fishermen but only if the person pulling the fortune is sacrificed? What? We’ve seen sacrifice plotlines before, but what’s the point of getting good luck if you have to die to get it?

Strangely, the woman didn’t die. Why, I don’t know. She tries to run after she’s chosen to be a sacrifice. Then she’s teleported onto a boat in the middle of the ocean, some weird monster baby attacks her then…nothing and she somehow arrives on shore. Then she passes on the sacrifice duty to someone else by carving the mark of the good luck fortune onto her arm and having some random guy grab her arm as she falls over.

Usually stories this milquetoast can be saved with creepy imagery, but outside of the slightly creepy baby, which is just a regular baby malformed a tiny bit, there was none.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episode 5 and 6

Episode 5: The Dripping

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Plot: A man spends too much time reading at a mini-mart after work. When he decides to walk home, he sees that it has started to rain. He spots an umbrella in a stand outside of the mini-mart and realizes it probably belongs to the creepy man who was reading next to him. He decides to take it anyway and starts to walk home. No matter the circumstances, you shouldn’t steal anything from others….

Breakdown: This has been one of the more chilling and legitimate scary entries of Yami Shibai in quite a while. There’s no jump scares, but there’s a great deal of build up, creepy moments and great horror shots. You sympathize with the protagonist enough to worry about his safety, but you also realize a tiny bit that he stole an umbrella, and that’s wrong….Not ‘you should die’ wrong, but still.

Only thing about this story is that I’m a little confused as to what’s happening. The creepy guy definitely seems to be the owner of the umbrella and he seems to know what happens to the people who steal it. Is he setting up this trap on purpose? For what reason? Who is this girl whose soul seems to be attached to the umbrella?

Despite that, this is certainly one of the scarier episodes of the series.

Episode 6: Sakura

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Plot: A man is hospitalized after a car accident. He hears children talking to him through the wall, asking to be his friend. He agrees and is happy to have some kind company as he recovers, but what happens when they want to meet him as the cherry blossoms fall outside?

Breakdown: This was certainly an eerie one. Starting off on an uncomfortable note is merely the fact that the man is hospitalized. He has a broken leg hung up in a sling, so he can’t really move to escape danger should it appear.

A majority of the episode goes on quite pleasantly. He’s just talking to these kids, enjoying the company, and then, one night, more voices join and they want to see him, though some of the voices, particularly the children, aren’t so keen on the idea.

The big twist of this episode is a strange one, but explains why it’s called Sakura. Apparently, the big bad of the episode was the cherry tree outside. It was, I guess, demonic and lured many patients into hanging themselves from the branches over the years. It was about to do the same to the man, but the nurse stopped him getting up in the middle of the night. The next day, the tree was mysteriously cut down.

And thus, the day was saved by a nameless, faceless lumberjack. And, possibly, the nurse because she seemed like she kinda knew what was going on.

This twist certainly caught me off guard, and, while it is weird, it was also creative and creepy. Some people in the comments were complaining about another story ending with a happy ending, but not all horror needs death. It just needs suspense, atmosphere, tension and a feeling of personal concern. Plus, it’s not like it’s all that happy – tons of people were lured to their death by a tree and possibly still haunt the stump. They found death in a horrible way and can’t seem to rest.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episodes 3 and 4

Episode 3: The Wind’s Warning

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Plot: A man comes home to his empty house and finds the side door open. He shuts it and goes on with his night, but the door keeps inexplicably opening on its own. Who or what won’t let him shut the door?

Breakdown: Sometimes, Yami Shibai truly surprises me by having sad and even touching entries in their lineup. This is one of those entries.

I won’t spoil the story for you, but it was a really sad and sweet story that actually has a happy ending for a change. Some stories can bring you chills and make you concerned for the characters without needing to kill everyone off, and this was a great example of that.

Episode 4: Swamp Offering

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Plot: A pair of newlyweds move to the country to be with the groom’s family. The bride’s mother-in-law is very strict and cruel towards the bride, but she takes it in stride in order to be a fitting wife. The village has a custom where you throw your most precious item into the nearby swamp in order to protect yourself from harm in times of disaster. If you throw in worthless junk, a creature called ‘the muddy’ will take what is truly precious to you. How will this year’s offering go?

Breakdown: This one’s a little confusing, but also cathartic in a very ‘Hell Girl’ sense.

A woman moved to the country to be with her husband and his mother. The mother-in-law was very strict and treated the woman poorly, even taking her deceased mother’s ring off her hands and keeping it because wearing the ring in respect to her mother was viewed as an affront to her, her ‘new’ mother.

The swamp offering was that night, and the mother-in-law threw in the woman’s ring for her, against her wishes of course, because that was what was most precious to her. The woman was distraught, but decided to accept it in order to be a good wife.

Now, here’s where things get odd. That night, the husband follows a trail of gross water to his wife, who is sitting in their room babbling about losing her ‘mother’ and desperately apologizing for not being a good wife. She’s shown to have her ring back on her hand, which is muddy, and the mother-in-law is mysteriously missing.

From what I could gather in the comments, since the woman herself threw in something that wasn’t precious to her (an old pen from school) the muddy took what was most precious to her. She had convinced herself that her ‘new’ mother was most important, so the muddy took her, I guess?

That didn’t mesh entirely with me, but there was another theory. Since the mother-in-law only threw in the ring and not something precious to her, the muddy came and took what was most precious to her, which was her life. However, that doesn’t explain how the woman got her ring back, unless the muddy returned it for some reason.

It was also theorized that the woman went back to the swamp and got the ring back herself, which angered the muddy. As a sacrifice to the muddy, the woman killed her mother-in-law and threw her in the swamp or killed her by throwing her in the swamp.

I’m not sure the mother-in-law deserved to die here, but, hey, if we’re giving all these terrible fates to innocent people, why not have this shrill harpy take a dip in a swamp?

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!

 

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.