Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories: Season 7
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2019: Y
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2019
Writer: Ayako Yamaguchi, Hiromu Kumamoto, Kuniyoshi Saki, Mitsuhi Sasagi
Keywords: Yamishibai, anime, horror, ghost
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: Season Seven: 13 four-and-a-half-minute episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=22234
Website category: Anime 2019
Review date: 7 May 2020
Welcome back to Yamishibai! Here you'll find stylised pseudo-animation and gruesome happenings. I've liked all their seasons, but I think this might be one of their better ones.
1. DELIVERY = quite fun. It's about a man who's housesitting for a friend who'd like him to sign for a delivery he's expecting. You'll guess what's inside the packages at just the right time.
2. THE SLEEPLESS CHILD = another good one. The build-up's good and the ending's memorable (although it would have been nice to do a longer version of this episode where we saw what happened next). Also, the plot's tied together satisfyingly. There's an art to telling a four-minute horror story where everything fits together and makes sense.
3. THE RECEPTION ROOM = I'm not even sure that this is horror. It's almost heartwarming, despite the death. (An elderly couple have a doll that, for them, represents their dead daughter.) I also liked this episode's watercolour-like art.
4. PAINTINGS = heh. What's good about this one is that it's skewering something modern and instantly recognisable. A man's at an art gallery that doesn't allow photography, but he thinks the rules don't apply to him. He has a mobile phone and he's going to use it. "You should be grateful. I'm promoting you!"
5. NOTICE OF TERMINATION OF SERVICE = the ending's exactly what's already in your head, with nothing added. However the idea's chilling.
6. THE VERANDA = one of the less successful episodes. The characters are well drawn, but the story doesn't fit together as satisfyingly as I was talking about with ep.2.
7. PUBLIC PHONE = I liked this one too, partly for the sinister idea of a public payphone where the floor's covered in mobile phones. (We learn how they got there.) Good ending, too.
8. COUGH = a bit of an "eh?" Murdering a neighbour by playing your TV too loud... um, right.
9. THE WOMAN IN THE ELEVATOR = my favourite. "I see one man and two women."
10. MANGA CAFE = you'll lose patience with the idiot protagonist. He picks up something small and round. "A pachinko ball?" he wonders, putting it in his pocket. Then, when an increasingly sinister woman keeps pestering him to return her earring, he keeps not thinking to check the obvious. The story's punchline also lacks any connection to anything else. It's fine, but it lacks that satisfying sense of having come full circle.
11. LITTLE SISTER'S ROOM = my second favourite. It creates a simple, identifiable situation that could still be mortifying for our protagonist if he's found. Then, gradually and elegantly, the episode sets up something far worse.
12. FITTING ROOM = another reasonably good one. A vapid, selfish girl indulges in some trivial, everyday bad behaviour. This has consequences.
13. REFRIGERATOR = stars a happy talking refrigerator who loves his family and the delicious food they put in him. It's like watching a children's cartoon... until the years start passing and the refrigerator notices that the family's not doing quite as well as it used to be. The ending's evil twice.
A few years ago, Yamishibai started a little fashion for short-form horror. That's sputtered out now, but Yamishibai (bless its evil heart) is still here. I'd be happy if it continued forever.