Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories: Season 6
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2018: Y
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2018
Writer: Hiromu Kumamoto, Mitsuhi Sasagi
Keywords: Yamishibai, anime, horror, ghost
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: Season Six: 13 four-and-a-half-minute episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=20937
Website category: Anime 2018
Review date: 5 May 2020
This show could last for ever. It's been quietly pottering along since 2013, with its deliberately stiff art and its horror vignettes. There have been other horror anthologies in a similar vein, but this is the one that never goes away.
What's a little different about this year's episodes is that they'll occasionally play with upbeat endings. This is more disconcerting than you'd think in a horror series, especially a short-form one that's often in the past seemed to be going for an E.C. Comics level of goofy-gruesome. By the time I reached ep.13, the episode actually had me believing in its possible happy ending. That's not a bad trick.
There aren't really any bad episodes. There's only one that was noticeably weaker than the others, for me, and even that one is still worth a look. I tried ranking them, but gave up. They're all Yamishibai. You can't judge a four-minute horror vignette by normal standards. Is it exciting? Well-characterised? Doesn't matter. The show's goals have nothing to do with drama, as such, and you don't watch something like this in the way you'd watch normal stuff.
1. THUNDEROUS VISITOR (the mother knocking on the window in a thunderstorm, wanting to be let in) = I quite like the understated ending and the way it stops before the horror gore you're expecting. I didn't notice the marks on her neck on first viewing.
2. TOMONASHI CAVE (schoolgirl sent into "keep out" tunnel by her overbearing classmates) = has a nasty view of human nature.
3. THE WIND'S WARNING (the balcony door that won't shut) = I hadn't expected that ending.
4. SWAMP OFFERING (the village with "swamp offerings") = another ending that surprised me, although it doesn't make much sense at first glance. You'll be wondering what it means, but all possibilities I could see are going even darker.
5. THE DRIPPING (stealing someone else's umbrella) = that's what you'd expect from Yamishibai. The Ringu angle is satisfyingly nasty.
6. CHERRY BLOSSOM (children talking in the hospital room next to yours) = another unexpectedly merciful ending, but the concept's strong and creepy.
7. FROG EGGS (the boy who couldn't stand all the eyes staring at him) = I have no idea what must have happened at the end there, but it's clear that it wasn't nice.
8. SEA FORTUNES (the terrified woman and the fishing village) = the only episode I'd call unsuccessful (for me). The baby in the boat is creepy, but I found the whole thing just too "eh?" to achieve much. It's definitely weird, though.
9. MUD GAMES (a woman's picking up her daughter from a day care centre) = my favourite episode of the season. The ending's the weakest bit, but I really liked the simple, straightforward conversation between the mother and child and the understated, natural way it tiptoes into "creepy".
10. TREE OF INNOCENCE (two boys climb a tree) = nearly as good. Evil ending.
11. FROZEN MEMORIES (a father in a mountain hut in a blizzard) = the most horrible thing about the ending is the possibility that it might not have been horror.
12. WATERFALL DROP (girl's friends make her climb to the top of a suicide waterfall) = I don't think it fits together quite neatly enough to be as satisfying as it could have been. All the individual bits are good, though.
13. ECHOES (girls on foggy mountain with echoes) = wouldn't have worked nearly as well if it hadn't been for the variable endings of the rest of this season.
It's good. It's Yamishibai. The show continued the following year, of course.