Post Reply Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories 2
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Posted 9/23/14 , edited 10/2/14
by Dingofist

Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories is not the sort of show one can quite comprehend at first glance, but rest assured: it is eerie, bizarre, and entertaining like no other series running this season.

Coming at you in quick bursts of three-minute horror, Yamishibai is made up of standalone short-stories that conjure up thoughts of classic shows such as The Twilight Zone or Tales From the Crypt. Supernatural things happen to completely ordinary people for next to no reason and terror ensues. Characters rarely, if ever, get a happy ending. The difference between Yamishibai and the aforementioned titles is that each episode is no more than four minutes long, allowing prospective viewers to the entire available series in about the same time it would take to watch a full-length horror movie.



Before I could even start the first episode, I was struck and taken somewhat aback by Yamishibai’s bizarre, highly unorthodox art style. To be blunt: it appears ugly, low-budget, and lazy. HOWEVER, a small bit of research reveals the apparent truth: Yamishibai is based on the Japanese storytelling method of Kamishibai, a sort of puppet show using picture scrolls to tell a story. In Yamishibai, the characters and backgrounds are drawn and animated in such a way to convey a similar feeling of paper figures moving about on their paper stage. While the effectiveness of this method is debatable, the unnatural way the humans (and more importantly, the monsters and spirits) move about the screen gives off an unsettling impression that may not have been possible with ordinary animation.

Of course, when dealing with a show whose intention is to frighten the question must ultimately be asked: Is Yamishibai scary? Yes. Oh, goodness, yes. If you let it be, at least. Despite their brevity, each episode often manages to become a quick rollercoaster ride of scary set-ups, fake-outs, and pay-offs. The horror takes shape in a way that reminded me of Silent Hill 2 (my favorite survival-horror game!) and and other staples of Japanese horror, often using paranoia and a sense of dread to build anxiety and unease in a viewer before ultimately slapping you in the face with a jolt of pure terror. It’s enough to make the experience of each episode fun and refreshing every time.



If you like exposition with your scary stories, you’ll often be disappointed. Though plenty of outlandish things occur with each episode of Yamishibai, the questions of how, why, and what are constantly left unanswered, and I think that’s only a good thing. Terror breeds from not knowing. Revealing why something is haunted or cursed often serves to only soften that should be a stark view into another, completely unknown sort of world. Yamishibai understands this and plays it to its full effectiveness.

Yamishibai 2, the current season, succeeds in most areas the previous season did, but plays with the formula a bit more, telling more unexpected and exotic stories than its predecessor. While season one stuck to tried and true ghosts and demons, the writers seem to be having a little more fun with season two, bringing in things like a cursed capsule toy machine, murderous Russian doll, or even psychosis-inducing school lunch. It can feel like slightly lighter fare, but when the horror connects, it still sends the ball right out of the park.

With October and Halloween just around the corner, there really is no better time to sit down and consume every last bit of the scares Yamishibai provides. Gather up some friends, grab your favorite pumpkin-spiced drink, and make sure to turn off all the lights. If you’re willing to open your mind up to its crazy world, Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories will take you on a wild, frightening ride from start to finish. And once the lights come back on, don’t feel bad if you find yourself checking under the couch or over your shoulder. You never know.
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Posted 10/2/14
Are there any plans for a season 3? I think this is one of my favorites... I feel like I get a full story in 3 minutes and like nothing of my time is wasted with these.. plus they are easy to pop in while one is waiting for something to come out of the oven or needing a small pick me up of anime, when I don't have time for a full episode or two.
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Posted 10/2/14 , edited 10/2/14
While I don't find this scary, I also agree that this is definitely worth watching. Interesting art style and creative episodes makes it fun to watch once in a while.
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Posted 10/2/14
Yeah, season two wound up being a lot less scary than season one, but I think it still had a lot of fun thrills and weirdness.
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