ghostYamishibaiShoichiro MasumotoTetsu Watanabe
Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories: Season 4
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2017: Y
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2017
Director: Masaya Kaneko
Actor: Arata Hino, Fuka Haruna, Han Arai, Hisahiro Ogura, Kanji Tsuda, Kaoru Marimura, Kazuki Ishiga, Masashi Nomura, Minori Terada, Naoki Yamazaki, Ryosuke Takei, Ryota Murai, Ryu Suwaru, Satoko Kishino, Satoru Matsuo, Shoichiro Masumoto, Tetsu Watanabe, Tomu Miyazaki
Keywords: Yamishibai, anime, horror, ghost
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: Season Four: 13 four-and-a-half-minute episodes
Website category: Anime 2017
Review date: 31 July 2018
Yamishibai continues! This might be surprising since the end of Season 3 had seemed like a pretty definite end, but hey. There's always room in the world for a little short-form horror anthology, right?
Is it significantly different from its predecessors? Not really. It's another bunch of nasty little tales with a good amount of atmosphere and sometimes a decent ending. (That's not always the case. It must be hard thinking up strong endings for stories this short, so quite often they'll just end suddenly and/or disconcertingly and rely on mood.) I think they work. The good ones are fun, while even the weaker ones are concentrated enough that you might quite enjoy them anyway.
There are a few minor stylistic things, though. This feels even more like an anthology than earlier seasons, since I'm pretty sure the episodes use different narrators and different art styles. (The narrator is a huge part of the show. Instead of being conventionally told drama, the episodes are effectively narrated radio plays with moving illustrations.) They've also started inserting occasional live-action shots, e.g. a hand, a pair of scissors or an external shot of a house. To be honest, I didn't like that. However this is self-evidently a super-cheap show and overall I like its aesthetic. (It's part of the point of the show. Yamishibai is a play on "kamishibai", i.e. paper puppet theatre.)
The end theme's an inappropriately conventional anime song, though. I always skipped that.
It's simple, dark fun. It has a clear house style (narrated tales, no evil protagonists, spooky set-ups that could easily have been built into much bigger horror set-pieces). If I had to pick a favourite episode... um, maybe the bus in ep.5 or the igloo-making boy's family in ep.12. I'll be watching Season 5 happily, anyway.