Craving some nightmare fuel? This week's feature is here to get you hooked!
This week's edition of The Hook is devoted to two creepy collections of anime weirdness. From modern morality plays to artsy sci-fantasy, join us for a look at two of this spring's darker simulcasts.
The Laughing Salesman
Technically this series is The Laughing Salesman NEW; it's the latest in a long string of adaptations of the classic manga by duo Fujiko Fujio, later solo'd by Fujiko Fujio A. The eponymous salesman is Fukuzou Moguro, a cartoonish, oddly-grinning man who somehow seems to have whatever you're looking for. Whether you hate your job and need an escape, or you're a serial shopper in need of a way to spend guilt-free, he can fix it for you.
His price? Nothing. According to Moguro, all he needs is the sight of a satisfied customer. But his idea of "satisfied" doesn't always seem to align with his customer's.
Each episode is two stand-alone stories, so other than Moguro, the cast is an ever-changing series of average Joes and Janes. Meanwhile, Moguro (almost certainly the inspiration for GaoGaiGar's creepy Penchinon) always shows up eventually, ready with a new deal for an unsuspecting customer.
The Hook: Many shows like this tend to focus on people who are obviously Just Plain Bad, then taken down by their own hubris over the course of the episode. But The Laughing Salesman doesn't show us everyday villains getting what they deserve. Rather, it focuses down on normal people, whose vices are no more serious than shopping too much or wanting a drink during the workday. Moguro isn't out to punish the wicked; he's out to lure out that little bit of darkness we all have in our hearts.
Splice that grim philosophy together with a Doraemon-esque art style and a bangin' opening by NakamuraEmi, and you've got something that's surprisingly addictive and simultaneously very modern and vintage in feel.
Who Is It For: If you prefer stories of bad guys getting their comeuppance and are uncomfortable with anyone else being vilified, this might make you uncomfortable. Otherwise, you might want to give this a try.
The World YAMIZUKAN
Want a good scare but don't have a lot of time? The World YAMIZUKAN is the latest addition to Japan's catalogue of short-form illustrated "anime." A variety of artists, directors, and voice actors have gathered to create the series, with new art and talent each week. TeniMyu performer Takumi Saitou takes on regular narration duties.
But rather than telling old-fashioned Japanese folktales, The World YAMIZUKAN goes more into the realm of UFOs, cryptids, and urban legends. The episodes are modern in theme but Showa-era in feel.
The Hook: This isn't your typical picture-card show. The first episode, "The Black Shadow of Temptation," looks as though it's going to be a story of vampires or zombies or some sort of evil force feeding off a jealous lover's rage. What it does instead... is completely out of left field. And that's not just press talk -- seriously, they throw things in a direction generally not taken in a show like this.
Who Is It For: If you're a lover of dark fiction, especially modern web-based horror, The World YAMIZUKAN has your name on it. And since the episodes are under five minutes each, they're not a huge commitment. Great for a mini-marathon or something to pass the time when you're on a tight schedule.
Kara Dennison is responsible for multiple webcomics, blogs and runs interviews for (Re)Generation Who and PotterVerse, and is half the creative team behind the OEL light novel series Owl's Flower. She blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos.