Yami Shibai 7 Review

Plot: Season seven of the horror anthology series, Yami Shibai.

Breakdown: This season of Yami Shibai was consistently okay. There weren’t any entries I hated, there was one episode I loved, and everything was more or less….fine.

That assessment is actually more disappointing than anything because I really don’t like when entertainment is just middle of the road. It’s usually just shorthand for ‘forgettable.’ But let’s really assess the damage and high points here.

Episode 1: Delivery – 5/10: What batter way to start off a series I was describing as being middle of the road than with a very middle of the road episode. There’s some creepiness here, but it’s not much and the twist at the end is pretty contrived.

Episode 2: The Sleepless Child – 8.5/10: A highlight of the season for sure, this episode had great buildup, nice atmosphere and some legitimate scares. It also subverted expectations a bit with that ending, but the jump scare made me wag my finger a little.

Episode 3: The Reception Room – 9.5/10: I think I jumped the gun a little on this episode. While I did really like it, it’s still a tad confusing on just what exactly the doll was doing to the couple to the point where I feel like it’s a problem. If the doll was killing them, then I don’t feel the sympathy with the doll at the end, really. Still a really great episode, but ultimately not worth my second 10/10 score on Yami Shibai.

Episode 4: Paintings – 6.5/10: Decent enough of the creepiness factor, but the story was kinda bland and I didn’t much care for the MC.

Episode 5: Notice of Termination of Service – 7.5/10: Despite the rating, I have just as little to say about this episode today as I did back when I watched and reviewed it. It’s a solid entry, but nothing too special.

Episode 6: The Veranda – 4.5/10: Another meh episode, the only things this episode really has going for it to me are the spastic animations they had on the fingers and the sound the ghost woman was making. Otherwise, it’s very dull.

Episode 7: Public Phone – 5/10: More meh. There are significant writing problems with this episode and the art is terrible. Outside of there, there are some creepy elements, but it’s a messy episode.

Episode 8: Cough – 7/10: Earned some points for both being legitimate creepy for a few seconds and for giving me a good laugh. This episode would be rated way higher if the ending weren’t so ridiculously silly.

Episode 9: The Woman in the Elevator – 7.5/10: Had some good spots of tension and an interesting story, but it was a bit too predictable and I really just felt bad for the ghost more than I was scared of her.

Episode 10: Manga Cafe – 5/10: Frustratingly stupid MC, goofy art and animation, lack of scares and kinda confusing story at the end.

Episode 11: Little Sister’s Room – 3/10: After mulling it over for a while, I decided the only things I really liked about this episode were the fact that it had good tension, but it was misplaced, and the cool way the ghost or demon thing moved without anyone acknowledging it was there. Outside of that, it’s a mostly unpleasant episode as we have a bitchy sister and her equally terrible friend talking smack about fat people and her brother, who has done nothing wrong as far as I can see, a fairly nice guy in the brother, but that’s ruined because he gets killed in a hilariously bored way, and some of the worst art the series has had so far.

Episode 12: Fitting Room – 6/10: While I did enjoy it for what it was, and the mannequins were some of the creepiest things we’ve seen all season, it didn’t blow me away and it was another entry that was very confusing.

Episode 13: Refrigerator – 6.5/10: Basically the same situation as Fitting Room only amplified by about 100. This story is certainly unique, especially for Yami Shibai, and it was a lot better than I thought an episode about a fridge could be, but at the end of the day, you basically have to write your own story for it to make any sense. In a way, it’s basically asking your to create the horror for them, so you mileage with this episode will vary depending on what story you come up with, if you even bother trying to come up with one in the first place.

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One thing I definitely noticed as I was recapping the episodes for this review was that there was many more instances where I was making theories on what was actually happening in an episode than I would usually do. Yami Shibai is no stranger to leaving things open to interpretation, but they went overboard with this season to the point where it was almost frustrating. Refrigerator is by far the biggest offender, but nearly every episode this season had these problems. The Sleepless Child and Manga Cafe probably fared best in that department and even they had issues.

Even in the episodes where I felt it wasn’t necessary to explain every little thing, like Notice of Termination of Service or Fitting Room, I still felt like I was forced to fill in the blanks to make a full story. You can definitely have coherent stories without going too much into detail, scary short stories basically thrive on that, but the risk of confusing your audience to the point where the horror was diminished was too high.

Your instant reaction to a scary story should be fright, terror, anxiety – if your audience is too confused when the story ends, even if the story is scary, they won’t feel nearly as much of those emotions because they got sidetracked by confusion first.

I also find it a tad unacceptable that we got two episodes that had funny endings this season – Cough and Little Sister’s Room. They were both one liners too, it’s was a bit ridiculous. I enjoyed the comedy, but it ruins the horror.

Overall, this season isn’t worth much outside of The Reception Room, The Sleepless Child and, just because I find it interesting to theorize about, Refrigerator. Everything else was caught in a purgatory of meh.

I found the opener this season to be interesting since it was so different to every other opener we’ve had in Yami Shibai, but I also was confused as to why the narrator was in this weird rundown building, why we were here and what is even happening. So many openings have the narrator in a public or otherwise open place gathering people or spirits or what have you to watch the show. Who is he rallying together to watch the show in this abandoned….hospital? Warehouse?

It also amounted to nothing, which I am always disappointed by. At least have the narrator bookends loop around each season. Come on.

The ending theme was pretty good. It’s a grungy and catchy song with some interesting visuals.

The art and animation, like each season, fluctuates. There is some really bad stuff in here, but also some pretty nice visuals.

Even in spite of this disappointing season, I look forward to season eight next year if they decide to continue this franchise.

Rating: (As always, averaged and rounded) 6/10

Additional Information and Notes: Yami Shibai 7 was produced by ILCA and is not currently licensed in the US.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2019

Recommended Audience: It’s a horror series, so by default it’s already meant for more of an older audience. Outside of that, nothing of note really. The typical scares and creepiness factors of the franchise. 12+


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 7 Episodes 11, 12 & 13 (FINALE) Review

Episode 11: Little Sister’s Room

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Plot: A teenage boy searches through his little sister’s room without her permission for something of his that she seemingly stole from him. He hides under the bed when he hears her and her friend enter the room, but they’re not the only ones there.

Breakdown: I liked the background tension this episode built with the shadowy figure hopping around behind the guy without drawing attention to itself. I also liked the design of the ghost or demon thing that was under the bed.

However, this episode is really odd because, even though Yami Shibai episodes are only four minutes long, this somehow felt really padded. He spends way too long reaching for the…thing (what was it? A book? A CD? I couldn’t figure it out) and we spend too long listening to the girls prattle on, spending half of their conversation making fun of fat people, whether it be overweight fans of a pop idol named Michi or her fat otaku brother that she also mocks for being perverted, even though we see no indication that he is as such.

I started really sympathizing with the brother because, even though they’re trying to make off like he’s a creepy otaku, he just seems like a typical guy who has an interest in anime/pop idols. She’s the one stealing his stuff, claiming she’s going to sell all of his merch and saying he’s so creepy he’d probably install a camera in her bedroom.

I was really waiting for him to burst out from under the bed to yell at her or maybe accidentally burst out a declaration while under the bed because of all the things she was saying about him, but then I realized he’s right to be highly concerned about being ousted. It’s not just a case of her brother being in her room, but he was hiding under her bed. If she told their parents later, I can bet he’d get in much more trouble for supposedly perverted behavior than she would for hearsay comments about him being creepy, especially when she’s saying that stuff while he’s hiding under the bed….We know the context, but they wouldn’t.

It’s so strange that, ultimately, I felt more tension wondering if they would catch him under the bed than I did of any supernatural being attacking any of them. The demon or ghost or whatever it was really felt like an afterthought, honestly. At the beginning, I thought we would find out their had another sibling who died or something and it was the ghost of that sibling or the room was kept the same after the younger sibling died and neither sibling was meant to be in there, but nope. Just a completely random spirit haunting the girl’s room for some reason – never attacking her for seemingly weeks or months, according to the psychic friend, because reasons.

And, of course, this is a lose-lose situation in regards to the attack. I sympathized too much with the brother to want him to die, and I hate the girl and her friend too much to not want them to die.

The art in this episode was also really poor. The shapes were wonky, especially the eyes, there was a severe lack of detailing, and there’s one shot where the girls have no faces for absolutely no reason. Usually, animators will opt not to draw a face on a character if they’re very far away, but the camera was way too close to warrant not drawing faces.

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Episode 12: Fitting Room

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Plot: A business woman relives her glory days in a cute little boutique that sells a lot of the outfits she used to wear when she was younger. It’s easy to get wrapped up in nostalgia and even easier to become consumed by it.

Breakdown: I really enjoyed this episode, even if it did have its flaws. For instance, there are a few too many old outfits of hers in this boutique for her to not feel even slightly creeped out. She doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that there are no employees in the building. And….was it my imagination or did she get killed because she brought in too many items to the fitting room? I only ask because there’s no reason they’d bring that up otherwise and the sign fell down after she got nabbed, so…….Also, why was there like closets filled with clothes in the fitting room if you’re only allowed to bring in one outfit?

Otherwise, mannequins can sure go to hell, eh?

This episode was interesting in that it focused more on psychological terror than the supernatural threat. This woman is taking a stroll down memory lane by wearing all of her old outfits. She’s mostly remembering people praising her for how good she looked, what good fashion sense she had, how good she was at piano or something. But then the memories turn sour. She starts hearing those same people say terrible things about her, which causes her to freak out.

I was wondering if her memories were really accurate. Because it seems like people either loved buttering her up or these memories were not right. I’m just having a hard time believing everyone around her doled out such unyielding praise to her at such….suck-up levels. Especially the part where she’s remembering what her friends were saying. I probably wouldn’t really have thought to ask but she also said she thinks she would have the courage to confess to a cute guy named Hashimoto now, as opposed to back then, and she said he was so nice to people, even to her.

He also, when shifted to a negative memory, claims she’s indecisive and hesitant. Where did that even come from? If the other negative memories of her were right and she was full of herself and needed compliments a lot, she wouldn’t be hesitant and indecisive.

Was this whole experience in the fitting room meant to expose or exploit some feelings of insecurity? Were her memories reliable at all? She’s so caught up in reliving her glory days, that I almost get the feeling like her current life isn’t all that great, which makes the ending that much sadder, if you ask me.

I wouldn’t say this episode is particularly scary, but I found it interesting at least. Sometimes, your own inner thoughts and concerns about yourself can be your deepest fears, and that’s pretty powerful if that’s what they were going for.

I won’t spoil the ending……but screw mannequins….and those creepy creaky noises they were making.

The art for this episode was done in a similar style to Manga Cafe, but the designs were quite a bit different, much more realistic and less cartoony, and even the animation wasn’t nearly as janky. I really liked it.

Episode 13: Refrigerator

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Plot: A refrigerator observes its family through the passage of time.

Breakdown: Okay!……Okay……Okay?…….

…..Ooo…kay?….

So…it…uh….there’s this fridge……..No, I should start somewhere else….Have you ever seen The Brave Little Toaster?

Ah, nevermind.

Alright, let’s just start at the very very beginning, which is simply the title. When I saw that title, I was very skeptical. It’s our season finale, and it’s about a fridge. It doesn’t help that the fridge talks. I really thought this would end up being one of stupidest episodes of Yami Shibai since that one about the toilet, but I didn’t hate it, honestly. It’s different, certainly, but it’s not bad different. It’s just….very….very confusing. And, sadly, no matter how many comments I read, really no one had a satisfactory theory on what happened to the little boy, so I’m going to share my thoughts.

Please note that my theory changed several times and this one might be kinda out there, but it makes sense to me.

The story starts out picturesque. A fridge is enjoying its life serving as a new addition to the kitchen in the home of a happy family. However, after a few years, the family gets increasingly miserable to the point where they’re always at each other’s throats. Less and less food would be put in the fridge, and they rarely ate together anymore.

After about a decade, it’s clear the family has gone nuts. There’s no food in the fridge anymore, it’s stained with blood and they’re very manic. They eventually load up the fridge with large packages of food, which makes the fridge very happy. However, the fridge notes that the food seems strange and smells very familiar. It also notes that the little boy is the only one of the family to not grow up. The father is notably not present, and the remaining family members chant that there wasn’t another way.

As we end the episode, the conclusion can be drawn that they killed the father, chopped up his body and put it in packages in the fridge either to hide or eat it maybe.

The end.

Right before I wrote this review, I had one theory that the father killed the little boy right after the shot of them acting all happy-go-lucky. Then they became miserable because of the boy’s death, and the boy was haunting the house afterward which is why we see him throughout. Then they went crazy and killed the father in an act of vengeance. I thought maybe they had hidden the boy’s body in the fridge at some point, which is why the fridge said it smelled familiar, but that didn’t make quite enough sense because we would’ve seen at least a hint of it at some point in the episode.

But then I noticed something. The boy never spoke. He never really moved much either. He mostly just stared at stuff. His shirt also never once changed. And then I noticed the most damning thing – from the very beginning, there was only four chairs at the dinner table but, if the boy was part of their family, there would be five (Mom, Dad, older brother, sister and younger brother). In addition, when the mom puts the cake in the fridge, there are only four slices.

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I can’t imagine he was part of the family and died before the start of the episode, so I came up with this theory. Again, it’s kinda out there and might not fully fit given some details, but I’m comfortable with it.

The fridge isn’t a new fridge. It’s just new to this family/house, right? I believe the fridge is a refurbished used fridge that belonged to someone else. The boy was killed, chopped up and stored in the fridge, which is why the fridge noted that the smell was familiar even though we never saw any body parts being put into the fridge over the years (and all of the food looked normal to me, but that might not mean anything.)

The boy now haunts the fridge and affects the family of the owner of the fridge.

As for why the family eventually went nuts and the father got killed and chopped up by them, I believe the boy’s father killed him and he wanted to kill the father of this family to get revenge by proxy, so he used his ghost powers to influence them, make them go insane and eventually do the deed. That’s why he looked so happy in the end and finally disappeared. The fridge also got blood stains as we neared the end because the ghost was causing the stains from his body to reemerge now that the killing had happened or was close to happening.

The only real hitch in this theory that I can’t get around is why the fridge doesn’t recognize the kid, but I guess it’s possible that it was a fridge in the basement or garage or something of the first owner and never really noticed the kid. Maybe the events were so horrible, it blocked it from its memory.

I dunno, maybe my entire theory is bunk. But if you just take the episode at face value it is ridiculously confusing. You pretty much have to make up your own story and overlay it on top to really get enough value, story-wise, from it. It is an entertaining episode if not just for the unique perspective, different storytelling technique and gradual buildup to the really dark stuff.

The fact that the story was being narrated by this admittedly adorable sounding refrigerator also added a unique aspect to this episode. It was a deep contrast to the dark feelings of the family and the grim vibe. I felt a tiny bit sad for the fridge at the end. (Well, that’s a sentence I said.)

It was a creepy episode, but it stops there. The story and atmosphere never become truly scary. It’s one of the better episodes of the season, but it’s also probably the most confusing one of the entire franchise. I know I liked it, but it would definitely be polarizing for most people.

Sad to say, this is another season that closed out without any special little ending or the narrator doing anything special. 😦

That being said, it’s fitting that the end of the newest season of Yami Shibai also closes out this year’s Animating Halloween. It went by way too fast, if you ask me, and I can only hope we get another season of Yami Shibai to visit next year. The full review of season seven is coming up soon, but for now have a happy and safe Halloween!

And be nice to your sentient fridge.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 7 Episodes 9 and 10 Review

Episode 9: The Woman in the Elevator

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Plot: A woman gets on an elevator with a fairly attractive man holding a trash bag when the elevator suddenly breaks down. When they contact the elevator company through the intercom, the man on the other line claims he sees three people – the two of them and a mysterious other woman.

Breakdown: I won’t be able to get through the rest of this review without getting this off my chest – the guy in this episode looks so much like Light from Death Note. The fact that he was an eerily calm murderer on top of that made this whole episode very surreal.

Anyhoo, I enjoyed this episode for what it was, even though this was probably one of the easiest stories to figure out in this show in a very long time. Yami Shibai has a habit of either being too in-your-face with its twists or being so subtle that, no matter how long you think about it, it makes no sense. This one was a like a mix.

Like, ooh, I’m so sure there’s nothing ominous in that trash bag. The focus on his wedding ring sure has no purpose unless they’re indicating that he killed his wife. They really lay it on thick at the end that his wife’s body is in that bag and he’s going to burn it. The balls on this guy to do all of this in broad daylight too.

A few things did confused me though – How did he know the lady behind them was his wife’s ghost and to not look at her? Why did the ghost do nothing besides cry at the trash bag? Perfect opportunity to kill the guy who killed you. He’s trapped in an elevator. You can’t get much better than that. Did she need someone to look at her for her…powers to work?

Some people are theorizing that it was her pet in that bag, not her, which is why it moved in the end….but we were given no indication of any animals, and that doesn’t explain why the woman is clearly a ghost. Unless they’re implying he got rid of her body long ago and only recently killed the pet, which doesn’t make any sense. I believe he definitely killed his wife and she’s in the bag, but it’s one of many bags that he’s trying to nonchalantly dispose of one at a time. The bag is moving because oooh ghosts. It’s not moving because of the body.

Overall, while this wasn’t the scariest episode, I did get tense while the ghost was present just because I thought for sure the (living) woman would look at the ghost and die, and I did have a spot of tension afterwards as well because I thought, if the ghost wasn’t going to kill her, surely Light would. But nope. He just goes about his body burning.

I did feel really bad for the woman, though. Either way, it’s horrible. She’s either mourning her own death and crying about the fact that she’s now a pile of parts in a garbage bag or she’s dead and now her pet is also dead, murdered by the same man who killed her.

It’s not top tier Yami Shibai material, but I enjoyed it well enough.

Episode 10: Manga Cafe

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Plot: An employee at a manga cafe keeps bumping into a creepy woman looking in vain for her lost earring. When the employee shares this information with his colleague, he shares a creepy story of a woman who was a regular at the cafe. But that’s impossible. She’s long since dead.

Breakdown: Another episode where the ‘twist’ is both obvious (the damn pachinko ball is the earring, dude.) but the ending threw me off for a while, and I’m not sure even the explanation I read from comments makes all that much sense.

The line that threw me off was the ghost claiming she paid for the earrings with her eyes….then an audio flashback to what the employee’s coworker told him was that woman died in an accident, but for some reason her eyes were missing from her corpse.

According to said comments, there’s either one of two explanations here. Either 1) she literally paid for her earrings by selling her eyes, which is more goofy than anything, if you ask me, or 2) she paid for the earrings with money she got from a loan shark, but she wasn’t able to pay them back so they killed her and gouged her eyes out as either part of her torment as they were killing her or symbolically. That explanation is much less goofy….but, I don’t know.

The story as a whole just didn’t grasp me. The woman wasn’t creepy enough. Only when she revealed her eyeless face does she get creepy and even then it’s not much. The plot didn’t have enough added to it to make it unique.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the art and animation for this episode just took me right out of everything too. The colors are ugly, the art is too cartoony, and even though I’m well aware this entire franchise is based on paper doll shows, no episode has seemed more paper-doll-ish than this one. I was half-expecting to see a popsicle stick taped to one of the characters.

I didn’t have a bad time watching this episode, but the horror aspect wasn’t there at all for me and the overall story was very average.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 7 Episodes 7 and 8 Review

Episode 7: Public Phone

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Plot: A door to door insurance salesman, Chie, gets a frantic call from her sister late at night as she’s trying to get to an appointment. Her sister is calling from a payphone, not her cell phone, and begs Chie to come get her. She begrudgingly agrees. When she arrives, she finds the floor of the phone booth covered in broken cell phones and her sister is nowhere to be found. What is happening in this phone booth?

Breakdown: Dear god, this art is some of the worst the series has had. I don’t mind crayon-like lines and color work, but the character models are so off, and even the monster at the very end looks weird not scary.

As for the story itself, I give it points for creativity, maybe another point for the slightly creepy shots of the monster outside of booth, but that’s about it.

Chie is lured to this phone booth in the middle of the night as she makes her rounds selling insurance door to door. Her sister, Momoe, calls her in a panic begging her to come to the phone booth from which she’s calling to help her.

Chie, although annoyed, agrees and goes to the booth with about as much urgency as I have when I go to the eye doctor (For reference – super hate the eye doctor). She has zero concern and keeps thinking it’s a prank for some reason.

When she arrives, she finds the floor of the phone booth covered in broken cell phones. The public phone is off the hook, but Momoe’s voice can be heard from it. When she picks it up and talks with her for a bit, the door closes and locks her in. The air gets thin and she clears the glass to see some creepy humanoid monster outside.

She tries to call for help on her cell phone, but like the phones scattered on the floor, her screen cracks and is rendered useless. Momoe tells her that, in order to survive, she has to call someone with the phone card on top of the phone and hang up before the time runs out, otherwise, the monster will get her.

She calls who I assume is her boyfriend, Shouhei. When she hangs up, however, the timer keeps going down and Momoe apologizes. That ploy was never going to actually work. This is basically the MO of the monster. Someone gets caught by the monster, they call a loved one under this same trick, luring them down to the phone booth, but they get killed by the monster. The next person who arrives gets the same treatment. Wash, rinse, repeat for all eternity I suppose.

Chie gets eaten and, unsurprisingly, the episode ends with Shouhei about to enter the phone booth.

Sooo….does no one ever call the cops when they get caught by this thing? If it’s just a string of loved ones being called, wouldn’t someone have caught on before the floor was covered in phones? If your loved one called you in a panic from a payphone and when you arrived you found dozens of broken discarded cell phones scattered on the ground, including one she seemingly believes is her sister’s, would you not then call the cops? What happens if the person just decides to not go to the public phone? Is the monster screwed? Or does it just wait 6 months for someone to use the payphone because everyone has cell phones now?

It’s not too bad of an episode, but there’s enough wrong with it to be distracting to me and take me out of it entirely. The shot of the monster through the glass and its hand grabbing underneath the door were the only somewhat cool spots. Otherwise, it’s just okay bordering on bad.

Episode 8: Cough

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Plot: Takayuki lives in an apartment building where his neighbor is a crazy old man who is constantly complaining about the slightest noise he makes. Meanwhile, his ragged cough is enough to warrant alarm. When Takayuki hears a particularly bad coughing fit coming from his neighbor’s room, he struggles with calling 911 or just letting him suffer.

Breakdown: Here’s my play-by-play reaction to this episode.

– Wow, what a crazy old man.

– Is something going to burst from this guy? Is that why he coughs so much?

– Quite the moral struggle. I like it.

– As douchey as it is, I can’t entirely fault the guy for not calling an ambulance. The neighbor (who is related to their landlord) did threaten to get him evicted for so much as making slight noise, I can only imagine what he’d do if he felt he unnecessary called an ambulance for him.

– I don’t really think Takayuki can be blamed for the neighbor’s death, though. He seems to have died mere seconds after he put his phone down and refused to call an ambulance. Unless the paramedics have teleportation capabilities, he was dead either way.

– Oooh now shit’s going down!

– This sequence is actually pretty creepy.

– The suspense is good too!

-………………..PBBBBBBBBBBBBTTTTTHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! *laughs through the end credits*

What the hell was that ending meant to be if not hilarious? If this whole episode was a joke, bravo, but otherwise, what were they thinking?

The crazy neighbor who died comes back as a ghost milliseconds after he dies. He turns out the lights and starts slowly approaching Takayuki and his girlfriend through a weird dark tunnel thing. The sequence is pretty effective because he looks creepy and it’s paced pretty well. As he gets right up to them……he yells….YOUR TV’S TOO DAMN LOUD!

End!

What. The. Hell.

I’m conflicted even further because I didn’t want this crazy bastard to get the last laugh, I didn’t want Takayuki to die (which I assume he did) and his girlfriend was a completely innocent party I also didn’t want dead because she was insistent on calling for help. So now not only do I have a ruined ‘scary’ story, but I also feel a bit pissed that the jackass character got to win out and the likable characters died over something stupid that wasn’t even their fault.

It may have been silly, but I think my initial thought of this guy having some creature in his body that is causing his cough (and maybe causes him pain when he hears too much sound?) would’ve been better than nagging old man ghost. He might as well have yelled out ‘You damned kids, get offa mah lawn!’


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 7 Episodes 5 and 6 Review

Episode 5: Notice of Termination of Service

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Plot: A salaryman visits a small town where funerals seem to be happening all over. He checks into a cheap hotel…but….The time has come to say goodbye.

Breakdown: It’s not often Yami Shibai leaves me with little to nothing to say. I’m not saying this episode is boring or anything. In fact, this is a very good entry. It’s creepy, has a pretty unique and creative story and is one of those episodes where you don’t really need everything explained to you because the story delivered the scary atmosphere enough for me to not really care. It is confusing, but I think I’m just thinking about it too hard and it’s a rather simple case of the town being a murder town.

Episode 6: The Veranda

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Plot: A young woman keeps hearing strange scratching noises on her veranda, but when she goes to see what’s causing the sound, it stops. She asks her boyfriend to help investigate. What is causing the strange sounds?

Breakdown: Every time someone mentions a veranda, I think of The Golden Girls….

Uh, anyway, this episode is very, very meh. It is probably one of the most overused tropes in horror to go ‘Ahh! Scary sounds!….Oh nothing’s there.’ ‘Other character! Scary sounds!’ OC – ‘There’s nothing there, idiot.’ Both – ‘OMG ACTUAL SCARY THING!’ *dead* It definitely has to be an additional trope for the scary thing to be a creepy woman with super long black hair and spindly fingers with long nails.

I don’t even really understand this story very much, and unlike the previous entry, this story makes me care about how little sense it makes. The woman had been followed by this creepy demon thing before? When? Why? Was the demon woman thing also killing those women on the news? If so, why?

I will give them some props for animating the demon woman’s fingers more than 98% of anything typically seen in Yami Shibai, but that’s about it.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai Episodes 3 and 4 Review

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Plot: An elderly couple who has never been able to have kids before get a beautifully made custom doll to be the next best thing.

Breakdown: Me about five minutes ago: “Oh boy, let’s see what Yami Shibai has in store for me now.”

Narrator: “An elderly couple who lived a long life together…”

Me: “Oh god, this is a sadness over horror episode!”

*One watch later*

Yup, sufficiently sad over horror episode, but it didn’t go the way I predicted. In fact, this episode is basically entirely sadness with no horror. Obviously, the aspect of the doll brings a creepiness factor, and it does come alive, but not in the way you’d think. I really thought this would be a cut and dry ‘doll comes to life and kills the couple’ story, but it’s actually quite sad and beautiful. In fact, the doll coming to life really caps off the whole story very nicely. I’d even say I felt bad for the doll in the end.

SPOILERS – It is hinted that maybe the doll was sucking away the energy of the elderly couple and was slowly becoming human as a result, but I’m not entirely convinced of that. They were already showing signs of illness before the doll came into the picture, and they were getting up in years. It is possible that the doll was speeding up the process, but that would mean that the tears we see at the end, when the mother dies, are both sadness from her dying and remorse that she was partially the cause of it, which is even more tragic.

I can’t even get all that mad at the doll either because the mother wished she could be reunited with her husband after he passed away, so she kinda granted her wish. The more you think about it, the sadder this becomes. END OF SPOILERS

Times like these, you have to remember that Yami Shibai isn’t technically all about horror. It’s a theater of darkness, and tragedy and loneliness are part of the darkness.

I absolutely loved this story. Even though it did make me very sad, it also made me happy in a bittersweet way near the end. In fact, this entry may earn my second 10/10 rating in Yami Shibai.

Episode 4: Paintings

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Plot: A young man gets a free ticket to an art exhibit, but is weirded out by all of the creepy paintings and the equally creepy hostess. He decides to take some pictures of the artwork to upload to social media, but photos are against the rules for a reason.

Breakdown: This episode is simultaneously creepy and pretty goofy.

A while back, they had an episode where an art thief was tormented because art theft is shitty, don’t do it. This is kinda the same concept just with paintings and a slightly more modern spin on the whole deal.

It is becoming more commonplace for people to share art on social media that isn’t theirs to soak up Internet points. It’s always a sad state of affairs when a social media post from someone who isn’t the artist posts the artwork and they end up with exponentially more likes and comments than the initial post from the real artist does.

This isn’t even that, though, it’s a guy taking pictures in an art exhibit and sharing them online for likes and whatnot. He makes off like he’s in the right here because every artist in the exhibit is ‘unknown’ and he’s giving them ‘exposure’ anyway, but it’s obviously not.

The creepy woman tending to the exhibit warns him to not take pictures (and there are numerous reasons you shouldn’t take pictures in a museum or art exhibit that are outside of art theft) but once she walks away, he goes back to what he was doing.

Obviously, this leads to some not-so-nice repercussions for the young man.

This episode is a little too on-the-nose about the supposed scare factor. The curator is clearly creepy, all of the paintings are creepy, he points both of these things out, and you know something terrible is going to happen to him, especially considering that he’s acting like a dick. Once you see all of the paintings, it’s pretty clear what will happen to him.

Overall, it’s not bad, but it’s not that good either. It’s very much middle of the road.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 7 Episodes 1 & 2 Review

Episode 1: Delivery

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Plot: A man housesits for a friend and stays a few more days than initially promised to accept some packages for him. What exactly keeps getting sent to his house?

Breakdown: WHOO!! Another round of Yami Shibai goodness for Animating Halloween! And since the season finale has finally dropped, I can binge watch it. Yay!

The series opener this time around is creepy but also rather confusing. Why is the viewer in a creepy rundown building and why is the narrator putting on a kamishibai show in the middle of this rundown building?

Anyhoo, if this episode’s plot sounds boring to you….that’s because it is. I would say it’s a lot of buildup for a big scare, but it’s not. I feel like spoiling this one for ya, so here goes.

This guy is housesitting for his friend. However, on the day he was meant to come home, he asks the guy if he can stay another day and accept a package for him. The guy accepts, but the package doesn’t get there until very late and the delivery man acts kinda creepy, but he moreso came off as tired, which is understandable if he’s still delivering packages at 9:00PM.

The friend asks him to do it for him again the next day, and the same thing happens. He decides to call his friend, and hears the phone inside one of the boxes. When his friend picks up the phone, the guy asks when he’s coming home, and the friend responds that he’s already home as the packages start kinda turning red I think. The delivery guy bangs on the door outside saying he has the rest of his packages.

The end.

Well, that was certainly was a heartstopper to start the show with.

I admit that it was an interesting twist, but I also have a ton of questions. How did the first package neither smell nor leak when he got it if it was filled with friend parts? Is this implying that the delivery man killed the friend while he was away on vacation or business or what have you, brought his body back to where he lived, chopped up his body, put it into convenient packages, tricked the guy into waiting all day, twice, taking one of the packages one night and keep up the farce until the guy figured it out? For what purpose? Why would you do that? It doesn’t make any sense.

There’s no indication that the delivery man is anything supernatural, so this just comes off as a psycho murderer dicking around with some random dude for two days.

Episode 2: The Sleepless Child

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Plot: Left alone in the house overnight with her husband working late at work, Sawako gets her young son, Takeru, ready for bed. Sawako is very nervous when he has to be alone at night…and she should be. The night has a habit of bringing old, bad memories up to the surface. But one of those memories won’t be forgotten.

Breakdown: Well, at least I can say that this episode certainly made up for the first one.

This episode does a great job at both building up atmosphere and delivering scares. It also added a twist I certainly didn’t see coming. It was a mostly unique concept that went in a different direction than you’d normally think. I thought for sure the kid would be a demon or possessed or something.

I will mark them off a tiny bit for the jump scare at the end. Come on, Yami Shibai. I thought you were usually above jump scares.


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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!

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.