Animini: Natsume Book of Friend – Episode 1- The Cat and The Book

With Pinkie’s Saturday Anime Adventure I was doing 5 anime reviews in a single day.. so now that I split them across the days I had two days left.. should I take it easy on those days?! Of course not! More Anime for me to watch! So I already had a “nostalgia” show, a show that got recommended by community friends, a magical girl show, an Isekai and a tournament/ analogue gaming show… so else could I watch. Why not something Senpai loves?! You gotta respect your blogging elders according to Japanese culture! So here we go.. starting from today each week I am watching an episode of Natsume Book of Friends… and  I never even knew what it was.. I did not expect it to be this!

The Summary

We meet our main protagonist Natsume in this episode. He was born with a special gift! The ability to see Yokai! While this might seem like a blessing to some, most Yokai don’t seem to take kindly to him.  Either they chase him, he reacts to them or something of the sorts happen that alienates him from all the other humans.  Seemingly having no more friends nor any living blood relatives, the boy seems lonely as a cyclops witch and a ghost with a yukata chase him… pardon me for not knowing the proper Yokai names of these.. but I feel like if I had to look all those up this post would take so much longer… if you recognise what Yokai they are tell me in the comments and teach me something!  Natusme flees towards a shrine but in doing so trips over a rope containing seals and this breaks it. Now that the seals have become undone a Mani Neko is released!  He is called Nyanko-Sensei and he recognises Natsume.. saying his grandma used to be like him and she has something called “The Book of Friends”

This is a book containing the names of Yokai she bonked on the head with a bat and forced them to give up their name.. under the guise of a duel. Nyanko-Sensei wants the book.. but Natsume refuses and gives him watermelon instead and a friendship of sorts begins to bloom. When the one eyed witch and ghostly man invade Natsume’s house the two have to work together to stop the spirits. Natsume decides to return the names to the Yokai his grandmother bonked and Nyanko teaches him how to do that.. on the terms of that if Natsume dies while doing this.. Nyanko gets the book of a friend and can do “weird stuff” with it. We see Natsume’s grandmother bonk the Cyclops Witch.. as soon as Natsume starts the name return ritual.  Talking with the spirit about yeast buns.. after she is sent away.. Natsume and Nyanko stop at the place his grandma claimed had the best Yeast buns.

The Positives

For as many times Irina has told me on her blog that Natsume Book of Friends is great, she never really told me what it was about! I assumed it was this slice of life like show with a boy making friends in high school with a comical relief cat that can drink booze. I was pleasantly surprised that there was a lot more to it. Had I known this was what the show was about I might have taken on the last tour of the OWLS in the Folklore topic and watched it earlier! Now however I can enjoy it at a snail’s pace with an episode a week!  I do like this concept of “reverse”capturing a lot.. I mean in a way this is kind of like a reverse pokémon so far where a boy gets a pet..that actually can EVOLVE ..sort of.. he seems quite capable himself.. and his goal is to release ALL the creatures in his book. It still hits close enough to home for me to be my jam while being different enough for me to see it as its own thing.

I do like the creature design a lot so far. Nyanko-Sensei in particular is adorable in his cat for and his dragonoid form or whatever that seems quit impressive. It reminds me a bit of that dog dragon from the NEver Ending Story..Falcor I think his name was.. just more Japanese.  But I also like the witch and the smiling dude.  I also like the sound design a lot, the cicada’s  give the atmosphere a sense of serenity which helps sell the whole idea of Natsume living in a different world than us .. sort of speak as we see a tranquil world and his one is quite a bit more hectic. The voices are fun and I find them very fitting and I do look how things are framed. The way Nyanko-Sensei tumbles around.. but also the way how a  punch to Nyanko from Natsume cuts away to a sound effect.  From the position he was in.. there was no way to sell the effect visually I think.. yet this way I can suspend my disbelief easier. So it is nice to see that. The episode has a pretty good story to set things up but for now I can’t delve to deep in it.. I felt it had the perfect length and a satisfying conclusion showing us the fact that spirits can be appeased with their name.. or properly manhandled to be sent away. I like that. 

The Negatives

Now I am treading on quicksand here!  What can I say about Natsume that will not get my head severed from my torso in terms of negatives. In terms of this first episode I will admit the opening wasn’t my thing. I really like a bit more peppy intro’s and I did not think the song was too catchy.  A bit unfair to call the first episode out on that.. but it will be the only time it bothers me so I still have to mention it. Other than that I do find the human characters a bit generic. Natsume is okay design wise.. but unlike for example Soul Eater, Watamote or No Game No Life I think it will take a bit for me to recognise the main character. I’d recognise Nyanko but Natsume.. I am not too sure yet! It isn’t a bad design..but I would have given him an odd eye colour or a spot in his eye or something that makes him see this Yokai.. or something.. maybe he wears a special necklace over his uniform… it’s nothing I will not get used to but he’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression again.

I have no strong negatives other than that, and even those are very excusable, I watched the show on Crunchyroll yet for some reason the quality was a bit low for me, it felt as if it was too “bright”.  I am not sure yet if that is the anime’s age, it’s style.. or just a bad version uploaded on Crunchyroll.. but it felt a bit too “pastel” colour to me at times. Another nitpick I have is that we see a scene where two friends are strolling. They encounter Natsume and then continue to talk about how weird he is.. however the story is told from Natsume’s perspective.. while he is being chased.. yet for a brief moment we cut to their dialogue about him. That to me doesn’t fit…if we are being told things from Natusme’s perspective I would have preferred to let him thing “They must think I am super strange”.. and for the most part.. that’s how it is handled. That felt a bit too “in you face exposition” for my tastes. Not horrible.. but a bit inconsistent nonetheless.

The Score

I did have a great time watching this first episode, and I do think it will be a show that I could grow to like a lot. It has a lot of hype to live up too.. but that is also exactly why I read nothing about it except for Senpai doing the wobbly lag fan girl thing for it on a regular basis. That really helped me enjoy it a lot more as it can still surprise me! Unlike the anime I am going to watch tomorrow I know nothing about it and I intend to keep it that way. I do not have a clear idea where this show is headed yet but it does intrigue me! I want to see more! So that is a great thing for a first episode to achieve.

I wasn’t as mesmerised by it as something like Flip Flappers or Samurai Flamenco which both had REALLY good starts. I do feel Natsume is a bit more of a slow burning type of a show though, there is more to set up, it requires a bit more insight so I expect to fall in love with it a few more episodes in. Which is fine.. Hikaru no Go was a similar type of show for me where I wasn’t head over heels from episode 1 but by episode 20 I am hooked. A lot of my favourite shows of all time were slower starters. Also that seems like I hated this episode which is completely not true because I think it is REALLY Good.. it just is not the most captivating first episode I’ve ever seen.  The show can still grow for me and grow on me.. and I feel like it will.. so for some reason I am happier that I can give this a Berry Good.. as I would be giving this my higest score.. we  have a long journey ahead of us with this one but I feel it will be an amazing journey..Where Flip Flapper takes me on a journey on an item that should not even be a vehicle leaving the driveway is slightly more interesting as in the packed car Natsume provides.. but I do feel that with this one I am going to be more comfy and I will see plenty of amazing things!

Animini: Hikaru No Go -Episode 21- The Haze Middle School Go Club

Hello again my sweet Island Guests. It is time to watch animated characters place some black and white stones on wooden boards again. My return to Hikaru no Go did not disappoint! It also did not blow me out of the water, we get a very good development episode that leads us into a new arc. 

The Summary

In this episode we pick up immediately after the realisation that if Hikaru becomes an Insei he can not play in School Tournaments anymore. Mitani takes this particularly hard saying he was forced to play with them in the first place. Refusing to believe that Hikaru is going to leave them.. clutching on to the idea that this is all a mistake. This forces Hikaru to freeze up!  His friends all want him to stay and sacrifice his dream. Then Kaga shows up and supports Hikaru’s dream.. to demonstrate how far he has grown Kaga suggests Hikaru does three simultaneous matches against Kaga, Mitani and Tsutsui. Hikaru wins against Mitani and Tsutsui but loses against Kaga. However during these matches we see a small visual cue in a blink and you miss it moment. During his match with Kaga.. . Hikaru shows the same type of look on his face that Touya has.. cueing us in on the fact that he is VERY serious.

We see Akiri be determined to learn the game more since Hikaru won’t quit Go .. just the club, and so  in this final match we see how strong Hikaru actually is. Not only did he win 2 out of 3 matches, he also   remembers them  one by one, stone for stone in the order they played out in. A talent that may be useful to him later on. We then see Hikaru head to his Insei exam and are reintroduced to Waya, who by just glancing at Hikaru thinks he will pass the test. The examinator however does not seem to be very impressed by Hikaru and his written matches. As Hikaru is given a three stone handicap for this match we see his gaze turn all serious again as he places his first stone and the exam has begun. Which is something we will see in the next episode.

The Positives

A very strong episode once more for Hikaru no Go, while I had trouble with it’s pacing earlier on, the show has been on a streak lately of setting it’s pace very nicely and making all episodes relevant. This episode once again does an excellent job on providing us a measuring stick on where Hikaru is in terms of “power”. The show has been doing an excellent job at this lately! Since the exam is held in December, and summer vacation usually ends in September, we are at least 3 months past the Internet Go story bit. Last episode we got the amazing fall visual and now we have the impending deadline telling us the progress of time.  By spreading these events over such a large span of time you really get the feeling Hikaru’s skill increases are earned, compared to for example Yu-Gi-Oh or Saki where skill levels get boosted out of nowhere. 

The strongest moment in the episode was of course Hikaru showing that look he knows Akira for, we see that the boy who thought it was just something to appease Sai has vanished and now we see an actual Go Prodigee who wishes to delve deeper into the world of Go. The Hikaru we see now is not the same Hikaru from episode 1 .. not even the one from Episode 18 even. This Hikaru is what  our protagonist wanted to be way back in episode 2 and in just a few frames that is made perfectly clear to us! Once again this same emotion is reflected in the cinematography of the matches.  When Akira faced his “boss” we saw a colossal hand on a board aglow.. These matches..we barely see any stones… it symbolised Touya feeling overwhelmed.. and out of his league. This time .. we do not even see the stones being placed on the board.  We just see Hikaru mostly calm.. but feeling the tension between the people playing.. by seeing them depicted in a face off. The only match we see stones placed is the one with Kaga.. his skill matters.. but  Hikaru has outgrown the other two.. This is very nicely depicted once again. The show is great at that.

The  Negatives

The episode does have a few downsides for me which mostly come to play in the second half. The first half only makes me wish that we would see an episode that is focussed around the females of the Haze Middle School Go Club, showing Akiri’s determination to keep on learning.  Yet Akiri is somewhat more of a background character with text.. which is a bit of a shame. The second part makes Hikaru go to the exam with his mother .. who is completely under utilised..  he went there alone the first time and now she just tags along to go drink some coffee. She has no real role there other than shifting the camera perspective on Waya for a brief moment.  She doesn’t feel very supportive yet she isn’t unsupportive either.. she is just there. We have seen her show up a lot lately which I would have assumed would hint that she has some role to play or will see her son play.. maybe reveal she was very good as well.. but nothing happened causing a bit of  a “filler dialogue” feeling when she is around.

Other than that there are a few moments  where characters shift facial expression to a more cartoony comedy expression. While I do not mind it on Hikaru, I already said I disliked it on Sai and this time they use it for Kaga. The comedy moments aren’t funny as it is just a teacher looking for the guy and him making a funny expression for it. I get works as a reintroduction for Kaga and establishes a motive for him to be where he is.. but after they return to it and to me it really doesn’t fit the moment, nor the character. I told it once before the show isn’t that good at comedy. I get why they would think they need it ..but the way it is utilized clashes with the rest. Hikaru can be funny.. but the others.. I remain unsure.

The Score

A very good episode that very well did what it was supposed to do, yet at the same time due to some strange choices surrounding a few characters it wasn’t as compelling as it could have been. It does everything it needs to do and it does it well yet ends up somewhat restrained. I had a lot of fun with this episode and i am looking forward to the next episode.. but I am mostly interested in just “one” thing.. aside from seeing the Akiri centered episode.. which I doubt i am going to get anytime soon. It’s Hikaru’s exam. It’s a very straight path forward and that means I enjoy it a lot .. but also I feel it has less potential to surprise me in the future. 

I would have loved it if Mitani’s plight had been played up a bit more.. but a comedy moment of Kaga smashing him into the floor kind of ruined that thread for me. He just got knocked down and was told to get over it.  Hikaru is a friend and they should support him.. deal with it. We may still see Mitani’s character come into play surrounding this but now I am not sure. This is where the show drops of from the highest grade to one step lower for me. It feels as if comedy shut of a plotline I was quite invested in and it annoyed me a bunch. I’ve come to love all these characters and would love to see them stay at least a bit relevant as time comes. I get phasing out Tsutsui after all he is graduating but snuffing out plotlines with comedy.. feels a tad iffy.. It might not have happend but it is the feeling I got.. which is enough down to bump it down JUST a nodge.

Animini: Flip Flappers – Episode 11- Pure Storage

Finally after a long time I could pick up Flip Flappers again. Of the shows I am watching Flip Flappers has been one I have constantly liked the most. It’s themes while often obscure resonate with me , in one way or another and whether or not that if it’s intended way doesn’t really matter. It is a show that made me laugh out loud, squee with glee or cry. This episode managed to chill me… I felt so much empathy I felt horrified to find the truth of Cocona’s story. And then came in the other emotions.

The Summary

Episode 11 is a surprisingly down to earth episode …. for Flip Flappers. Cocona has now become possessed by her mother Mimi, who finds herself trapped in Yayaka’s organisation.  She wants nothing but to keep her daughter safe.. so she transforms the enemies into clovers and daisies which seemingly kills them; it even disables their killer robots. From there on out she makes her way to the Headquarters of FlipFlap which now is destroyed by the attack of the Amorphous children. The third one Nyunyu has a lot of fun hunting it’s last remaining members down.. but she is stopped from killing anyone by Yayaka. Mimi is offered to rule the world with the “evil organisation”  but she refuses.. she cares for nothing but Cocona and ends up meeting with Salt.. who holds her at gunpoint. By this time I am completely gonna assume he is Cocona’s father as we flash back to the night of Mimi flee FlipFlap. We see a grown up Papika …I think.. or everyone is just really small.. talk with Mimi about the pregnancy…well we don’t see but it is implied and to Salt they do not mention anything either but tell they want to escape. 

He allows them to escape.. after blamining them for a failed experiment beyond that red portal thing.. ruining his father’s mind.  Seemingly bitter he does allow the organisation to search for them and bring them back. Papika  and Mimi are returned and Salt finds out the woman he is in love with has a daughter named Cocona. We briefly flash back to modern times and Salt tells Mimi she isn’t protecting Cocona like this.. she disagrees and she uses her reality warping powers to easily defeat both him and Papika.  In more flashbacks we see her embracing an evil side of her to keep Cocona safe, killing many people within FlipFlap.. the dark side of Mimi is the one in control now as well and her only goal is to keep Cocona safe. As an incredibly over protective mother she keeps Cocona safe in Pure Illusion.. however both worlds now begin to fuse and reality is at stake. Given an Amorphous shard by Salt, Yayaka convinces Papika to join her to save Cocona from her mother.. who meanwhile tries to build the perfect world for her daughter..even if it is at the cost of reality.

The Positives

While I am not completely sure if Cocona is an actual human or a manifestation of Mimi’s mind, I am fairly sure Salt is her actual father.. though he does seem to care for Cocona very little, we still need pieces of this puzzle..but little by little we get more and more answers and I like it.  The whole idea of what Mimi has been put through and it leaving scars or her sense of reality.. by spending so much time outside of it really works for me. We get a “reap what you sow”  kind of situation.  Even if they made the best of a bad situation.. the damage was still done. Showing friendship and smiles don’t always fix everything.. which I think is a need element to add in a magical girl show of all things.   I also very much like the implications it has on Cocona. We have seen the main girl of the show always struggle with making choices in this series and in this episode we see why. She has a hard time making choices.. because everytime she is making such a choice she wishes she could ask her mother. She never had such a bond that can shape a person and is left without it…. and now she gets offered the exact opposite. The chance to never make a choice again.

The scene where her mother and Cocona are in the boat and her mother starts enforcing hairstyles and dress-styles on Cocona and making choices for her , remind me slightly of my own overprotective mother.. While obviously nowhere near as toxic as Mimi I do see similar elements here. Even at a later age.  “Wear your hair like this.. people will like you better”  .. while actually meaning .. she likes it better but also genuinely being afraid that by making a choice that is not hers I make the wrong one.  I sometimes see a mother that wants me and my sister happy and nothing else in the world would matter.. not to the extent of the anime .. but enough for me to feel like I know Mimi. This one just has a dark side she can refer to for all those things she would otherwise feel conflicted about. Because this episode is mostly set in their reality.. it also feels very concrete , the Pure Illusion elements that feature in this episode still back to that moment in the past, where things were alright. Showing something of perhaps.. regret.. and it keeps everything very real. I really do like this episode.

The Negatives

Apparently this is the episode that a lot of people begin to hate this show, saying it is where it jumps the shark. I honestly do not see that, I feel this has all been pretty well set up from the first episode. From little things such as the fact that Cocona can’t make choices all the way to that first Pure Illusion adventure she had such an impact to reflect her love and fondness for Papika. The latter could be shoehorned in.. but all other worlds would have made less of a visual impact to occur in the real world.. it would have felt more out of place. I do however feel that the evil organisation wasn’t really needed all that much. It could have been another cell in Flip Flappers..  it still might be but since most of the organisation is wiped out I am unsure if we will see any answers on that front. The killer robots in reality might be a tad much… then again.. hover surfboards are a thing. It does push the boundaries of forcing an event.. and I can hear it creak..but for me it never really broke.

Yayaka getting a new hover surfboard and her learning to fly it without fault is a bit of a bigger issue and seeing no resolve with Nyunyu felt strange so the episode does make a few missteps but I am honestly not that bothered by it. Nyunyu is not very consistent in behaviour by character so I can see her just losing interest and pursuing other things. I think we will see what made Papika younger in the next episode.. as that episodes should be centered around her but I would have loved to see a bit of an answer in this episode. Some things were left just a little bit too much in the middle for me.. but that makes me very eager to watch the next episode to see if I can get answers there.. so I am not sure if it is a negative yet.. if I do not get these answers in hindsight it will be but for now I trust them.

The Score

This is one of those exposition episodes that is done well, I think they have done plenty of foreshadowing towards this and it feels earned and sincere.. I felt compassion by what Mimi had to endure and I could see how her mind would snap from something like this. I can see how someone who really has nothing can get obsessed with that one little thing that it becomes her entire life and consumes her.  I can also see why it makes her the bad guy.. and I think it offers an interesting struggle for Papika in the next episodes to deal with this. So despite what I saw people complain about in their reviews I think it was done well. Other people called out the over designed elements of this episode and it’s characters.. and I would like to ask those if they have seen the rest of the show…. that is very much how this show is… and that works for me because this show .. teaches us we are shaped by our choices for better or for worse.. we become more unique through the choices that we make so I think the “overdesign” is to an extent intended.

I do get how suddenly all the domino’s coming down to spell out this message may seem out of place as before we only had single lines of bricks falling and now we move to something so much more intense.. yet I really can not say I mind this… I might have preferred to see some elements be built up just a bit more.. or other elements giving some equal attention but this is great as well. Like if you want a chocolat desert of your favourite brand but it’s out of stock and then picking a brand that hits the exact same notes! It might not have been what you wanted but there is no reason to complain either.. and since there is nothing for me to really complain about that means.. we get a very high score.

Animini: That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime -Episode 16- Demon Lord Milim Attacks

Very few Isekai shows feel as wholesome and whimsical as  Slime to me! The episode we feature in today’s Animini to me shows exactly that “feel good” vibe I love this show so much for.. yet it also shows some of the shows weakest points for me! A great episode to be the first to break off from my bulk Sunday review!

The Summary

This episode picks up right after establishing the great Jura Alliance. Gazel Dwargo gifts Rimuru the scientist “Vesta”  whom we have seen earlier in .. I think it was episode 4! But I am too lazy to double check! The asshat guy .. now redeemed becomes a scientist for the village. We also see the Lizard Folk join Rimuru City and finally Gabiru’s sister is named as well.. which transforms her into a very humanoid person with a little dragon fang and some wings. Gabiru evolves further and gets some wings while he is being made a herb farmer down in some caves. Vesta is made the village scientist charged with making potions from those herbs.. like we saw Rimuru do in the very first episode of the show. The village proserpours but it also seems to have gathered some unwanted attention from the demon lords. A pink haired girl in particular takes interest in Rimuru , the Great Jura Alliance and the absence of the great Dragon Veldora and rushes over.

We quickly find out that she is the first person that is stronger than Rimuru. Even while holding back she has 10x the magicules he has. When the ogres attack the Demon Lord known as Milim she quickly beats them without much effort prompting Rimuru to join the fight. Knowing he does not have a chance he decides to feed her honey instead to appease her. Bribing her to give her some more.. as he discovered she has a very childish nature.  He also notices she is flat.. probably because she is so kid like!  Milim likes the honey and the two start talking and Milim asks Rimuru to become a Demon Lord, which he tells he has no interest in. This prompts her into believing he has more fun than Demon Lords who just can fight strong people.. and she joins the village proclaiming herself to be Rimuru’s bestie.. and she gives Gabiru a proper asswhooping.. Finally! She decides to live in the village which Rimuru’s council tells him might invoke the wrath of the other demon lords.. but Rimuru is mostly glad he subdued this powder keg of a woman. 

The Positives

Overall this was a very fun episode that  featured a lot of callbacks, easter eggs, call references and I really do like the character of Milim.. She has pink hair so that already is a plus and she is a type of person I really like. A super strong character but lacking the right persona to  actually take full advantage of that strength. I really do like these types of characters as they allow for character growth without powers spontaneously manifesting.  
In last week’s episode I also mentioned how I liked the growth of the town that once again is given some proper attention. The idea of making the potions one of their main trade goods is great and really ties in with the person Rimuru is.  Plus what we have seen before.. it feels well established and earned. Having Gabiru fail miserably at the task makes it funnier. Vesta being involved in the potions feels like poetic justice.. so from a writing perspective this episode does really well. 

The brief moment of action was also very appealing to me, from Milim’s aura being something very monstrous and explosive to the fake out with Rimuru doing his honey summoning technique. My favourite bit was when Milim punched Gabiru in the face. That hit felt so viceral and the powerful glow she gets in her eyes makes her feel strong.. and similar to Rimuru in a sense.. there is a sense of a tale that still needs to be told surrounding that. I do like the human rendition of the lizard folks as well..I have a weakness for girls with tails or fangs, and while it is a bit of a shame to see them not depicted as Lizards anymore the whole Lizard look lacked the personality they can put into these humanoid forms.  I am not sure I agree with the idea of making her human as a concept..  but for me it did work. I have been known for not liking Lizard people too much though so that may be personal bias.  I do like lizard elements.  All in all I say this episode made a few clever choices that brought a lot of flair and persona to the table for some characters.

The Negatives

I dislike .. a lot.. that Milim wears a barely anything outfit… I dislike that they made Shion’s boobs jiggle in the hottub and I dislike that every female surrounding Rimuru has to be hot and judged by their breast size.  I get this will appeal to some people who like that kind of stuff but I found it obnoxiously present. If Milim is indeed so childish why not reflect it a bit in her outfit as well .. give her a more kidlike outfit.. Why does she have to show so much skin?! It seems to conflict with everything else about her. There is a hot tub scene where Rimuru is alone with the ogre girls and Milim and it feels odd. Shuna seems more uptight.. which makes sense for a princess ..but before she was depicted as more shy and very forgiving yet for some reason she is a real stickler against a demon lord swimming in a hot tub..it felt a bit forced to produce a boob joke later on.

While the storytelling of the episode is great and the visuals are mostly nice, I do think the second half of the episode drags on a bit. That is because this episode does a few “false endings” .. Rimuru says some words in conclusion of a situation that feel like an ending “And that is how a Demon Lord joined our village”,  “So I became besties with a Demon Lord” and the likes after which we mostly get just casual conversations between characters that do not really add anything. I do not mind the idle conversation but I would have placed the Hot-tub scene BEFORE the big speech so we can end on a high note.  Now I ended up checking the timeline twice to see if I had much longer to go because in the end I got bored and wanted the episode to end.. not because it’s  a bad episode persé but because they concluded the episode at the 16 minute mark and the final 7 minutes just give it episode length. It could have been mixed a bit better.

The Score

In the end I have a bit mixed feelings about this episode. In the end I think it is a fine episode because it very much did keep me entertained for the majority of its runtime. It just blew the final few minutes and I honestly felt there was too much of an emphasis on fan-service in this episode.  I wonder what the little slimes were around Rimuru when he was in the tub. Are they actual slimes or where they like bath toys? I am not sure!  It’s perfect light entertainment but it is also an episode that does not hold up when exposed to a more scrutinous eye. 

As this episode most likely is aimed to introduce us to the known villains for the rest of the season we also saw too little for it to have properly done that.  Yet despite those flaws I had a lot of fun with new and old elements being reintroduced. The fact that Rimuru doesn’t always need power to defeat someone is great and the fact he has met someone stronger than him makes this world feel more alive.  So if you are watching the show still by episode 16 I do not think any of these offences it makes are unforgivable.. it just could have been done a bit better, which I know because the show has been better many times over. It does get a positive score from me..  but of the “good” scores it is in the lower range!

Animini: Samurai Flamenco – Episode 17- Ultimate Prime Minister

Hello island guests this is my second Animini review! The series that used to be Saturday Anime Adventure.. but now in small parts!  Today we pick up where I left off with Samurai Flamenco before my move started and that is episode 17! I was not disappointed. I have learned however that I should never play a Sentai in real life! I will get in way over my head! Poor Masayoshi!

The Summary

Masayoshi is welcomed by Goto who knows the police will soon strike to arrest Masayoshi so we are immediately plummeted into some action. Using some weaponised stationary he and Masayoshi manage to escape! Given a new suit Masayoshi is brought to the “base” of the resistance.  Mr Justice as well as Kono are there and tell Samurai Flamenco that he has to stop the Prime Minister right now or every other Sentai will be locked up forever due to a new “Anti-Hero” act coming into effect.  So Goto and Masayoshi try to disrupt his final speech!  Going back to the stationary gadgets of old as well as a new Flamenco suit to get the job done!

However things are not as easy as they may seem! For the Prime Minister is not just a regular prime minister! It is revealed that much like From Beyond Flamenco .. he is a Flamenco too! The government building is on his side and creates a monster for him to combine with! Turning into a sort of Buddha Sentai! The power of his suit increases along with the support he has as a prime minister, thus getting 100% would give him the ultimate power. As he seemingly fights the terrorists the public recognises him as a strong leader and the suit goes stronger. Easily defeating Masayoshi and Goto! However in his final speech he confesses he fooled the public and it is revealed Kono filmed it all with sound.. and thus he quickly loses support. A half unconscious Masayoshi defeats his foe. Then it is revealed that they were all fooled! Mister Justice is actually “Alien Flamenco” an evil force that has took over the world leaders and a 100% powered Prime Minister seemed the only thing standing in between him and world domination! Can Masayoshi clean up this new mess?!

The Positives

I love this episode! I really really really REALLY do! It brings back that old classic Samurai Flamenco with the weird gadgets and the humanity behind the hero. Yet it also managed to combine it with the wackiness of the Flamenger part of the series, as what happened here was absolutely absurd. A roller coaster of plot twists keep the episode interesting and it is backed up with a pretty good fight! A fight that shows Masayoshi with his true friends and hits just enough callback buttons to old episodes to be super satisfying. The Flamen-girls join the fight and we see an improved Mari who willingly takes down the henchmen, finally showing the character has evolved. Moe has a cute moment of not doing anything which suits her very well but it is called out and I am grateful. Seeing Masayoshi and Goto fight the Prime Minister together is also very satisfying.. Even Goto saying he is a Flamenco Policeman felt great.. he finally is an official part of that team and I have been waiting for that. 

The conclusion of this fight is also great. We don’t see the classical “hero finds more strength”  trope that often accompanies this type of fight. Instead we see the enemy get taken down by a politician’s worst foes. The Press.. and Hubris. Of course Masayoshi still gets his finishing move but the Prime Minister already was done for through other means and that  really works in this episode’s favour, sometimes you just have to be the smartest , not the strongest.  The fact that there are many Flamenco in there and it has some deeper meaning reaching even into outer space gives some John Wick or  Saints Row vibes.. where the plot in following installments keeps getting more and more ridiculous! Kind of like Machete and Machete Kills  as well.  I really like when a franchise/series has fun with their IP and I do really enjoy that vibe with Samurai Flamenco as well.  Where the Flamenger part strayed too much from the core message this storyline is much more akin to the series core identity! So I am a happy little girl!

The Negatives

I don’t have a lot of negatives with an episode that I loved this much, let that be clear. If anything I would have to fault some of the music choices earlier in the episode. While the music during the fight is really great … The music leading up to the fight did not match the scene at all. In fact it fit so poorly that I found myself checking if maybe somewhere an add had opened up. It isn’t mixed in that well sometimes even overpowering the dialogue. The fight of the Flamen girls also seemed a bit sloppier in animation than what they used to be.. as if it was the  rushed part of the episode. It isn’t bad but there is a lack of “impact” in their hits. When compared to Masayoshi’s fight or the earlier fight with Goto against the cops. 

These are small gripes though and do not really affect how I feel about the episode. I am not sure if I like Alien Flamenco’s design.. and I know I dislike his spaceship’s design which are slightly bigger gripes but it would be something I just have to get used to. It’s a sligt bit “too” alien and too square. It doesn’t really remind me of a sentai villain. If anything I’d say it would be more fitting to one of those newer Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Series.  I will probably get used to it but for now I find it a bit meh and generic. 

The Score

This is definitely among the better episodes of the series for me! It had some really great moments so far and this episode is almost constantly great, except for maybe some elements I do notice but do not care for THAT much. The show goes into , what I would assume it’s final story arc, super strong and I look forward to seeing the show conclude on a similar level as this.  

I do think with five more episodes there might be still a bit to much show left to let this Alien encounter linger for THAT long, so there might an arc where Masayoshi has to live without being a hero after.. but I do not know.  I look forward to seeing the show conclude as I think the show is reaching its zenith, I am a bit worried about how things will be wrapped up as the show can’t keep up this Formula 1 tempo it has going right now so while this episode does take a risk for the future on it’s own I was very entertained! Highest score in my orchard.

Animini: Digimon Adventure Episode 10 -The Steel Solid Super Evolution

I am back to my lovely Island Guests! After a short vacation to settle into my new town and home I am back with a vengeance! This post is the start of a new feature on my website called the Animini.. a “mini”  review of a single episode of an anime I happened to be watching. Basically.. It’s Saturday Anime Adventure torn to shreds and made into daily anime content with two more shows to follow! But to find out what those new shows are you will have to wait until the end of the week! Until then we pick up my old schedule!  Starting With Digimon Adventure Episode 10!

The Summary

Okay that was a really long intro unbefitting of a mini! But hey I had to tell you what it was all about! Speaking about telling you about things, let me discuss what Episode 10 of Digimon Adventure was all about! We pick up after the apparent death of Ogremon at the hand of Metaltyrannomon we saw in episode 9!  The group is facing an ultimate and that leaves them up a creek without a paddle.  There is no way they can face this behemoth .. yet there is no way to avoid him either.  So the group opts for a tactical retreat so they can come up with a plan of action. Koshiro’s laptop and analysis reveals information that leads them into discovering the headquarters that hold the holy digimon! Two major obstacles however remain in their way.

The first is of course Metaltyrannomon With all the Soundbirdmon..(those are the scanny/evil eye digimon that control other digimon for Devimon)  make escaping unseen rather impossible so Taichi decides to cause a distraction, using Kochiro’s battle data to find a weakness in the behemoth’s offence. Still failing quite bad!  To make matters worse, the rest of the group finds their escape route cut off by a large poisonous bog that you can only traverse if you are tainted by Devimon’s dark Miasma.  When the fight between the courageous boy and his digimon with the Ultimate monster draws close to them… he manages to surpass Greymon’s limit and we see MetalGreymon arriving through super evolution! This wipes the floor with their foe and the group now only has to deal with the bog. There are two ways around with no way to tell if one route is better than the others. They decide to split up.. and while figuring out who goes with who the episode cuts off.

The Positives

Overall we had another great episode, though I must say I was less entertained by it than some other episodes. What it did right once again was the pacing, the setting up things and the cause and effect that this show has going on. My favourite moment of this show was the conflict between Yamato and Taichi.. where Taichi manifests more as the standard Shonen hero that would die in a blaze of glory , Yamato takes a different stance. They are the chosen ones… one of them or all of them are the only thing that can stop the evil. If they die both worlds will suffer, so they can not go around and sacrifice themselves willy nilly It brings some stakes to the show, more than before. They can lose one member but not all. This is also why they split up the group in the end.If one route is easier or the right path.. they have to make sure they travel it.. which can be achieved by splitting up. This way all characters can still shine.

And shine they also do in this episode. Everyone save for Sora has a bit of a moment. Joe takes on the roll of group eldest and breaks apart fights, Mimi can’t deal with conflict as it bursts her little bubble thus highlighting the importance of working together, while also providing some comedy this episode needed in not caring for the property of others..tossing Joe’s books into acid to check out if it is really that acidic. Koshiro’s analysing abilities really shine and Yamato’s tactical prowess help flesh out the story and choices this series makes.

The Negatives

While the episode kept me very entertained, there also was a lot of “clunk” in this episode. The show does make a good point in why they should not attack the Ultimate head on but then the show Taichi and Greymon holding their own single handedly against the thing.. which makes you wonder, would the group not have had a chance?!  Maybe it’s a risk not worth taking.. but there seems something off about the balance of it all. They do provide a pretty sensible reason. But by stretching out the fight as much as they did.. they remove the intensity of the treat a bit, it doesn’t feel proportionate. It is a bit of a nitpick but it did bother me.

While most of the episode is animated properly there are some very weak moments in the fight. A lot of repeat animations as MetalTyrannomon seems to have a very strict attack pattern. This means a lot of the time we see Greymon dodge the same attack over and over again. The scale being on three levels, Taichi being tiny, Greymon being midsize and MetalTyrannomon being large results in the loss of many details on Taichi’s end which sometimes can be a bit obnoxious. The fight itself is pretty cool, with brains really coming into play over sheer brawn and post Super Evolution the animation has this Dragon Ball level of intensity…but some corners here have clearly been cut making it a bit rougher than it needed to be.

The Score

In terms of writing and feel the episode is easily on par with everything we have seen so far. However with some slip ups in the animation and a slight issue in power-scaling result in an episode that is not as good as it should have been.  The idea of not needing Crests or some sort of force  to go beyond is something I am very much on board with however. It brings things much closer to how they are in the Digimon World games or the equally excellent Cyber Sleuth games, this way there will be less hero gate-keeping and the show can introduce any ultimate whenever they want.

I am a big fan for the group splitting up and the whole.. “If at least some of us survive we may be able to save the world”  mentality. It will make it so easy to not offside any of the chosen ones.  The failure of this episode seems kinda inevitable.. they reached a bottleneck and something had to give , had they kept the foe stronger it was too strange that Taichi would have survived, had they had the group attack all at once they would immediately ignore and nullify their own strategy.. so they have written themselves in a bit of a corner here and the way it broke.. is the least annoying they could have chosen… that doesn’t make it any less noticeable though.. so I can’t in good faith call it as good as the rest.. it is still a sweet watch!

Spooky Ghost Stories The Origin: Yamishibai Season 3

Hello again mortals who dwell on my island! For the spooky month I have been watching this strange.. little anime made out of short stories. Season 1 was a banger, season 2 was so… and now I watched the third season. Is it better than season 2?! According to most it is. I think it is! It does something in its final episode that makes everything better… but that also kind of messes me up in the format I do these reviews… what is going on!?

The Twisted Season

The third season of Yamishibai delivers WAAAAAY more on the horror than season 2.  While it keeps on the same directors as the second season and I expected it to be kind of bad it almost feels as if the stories chosen have since been adapted to the direction style. There is a sense of more randomness in this season. Where season 1 focussed on retelling the classic ghost stories, season 2 seemed to “set up”  for classic stories this third season seems to go bigger and bolder. It seems more focussed on original creatures slightly inspired  by folklore rather than borrowing from it heavily. In a way I’d argue these stories feel more like “Creepy Pastas” and that works out really well for me. I get everything much more! There is still the “what the heck did I just watch” vibe but never did I wonder “does this references anything.. am I missing something”. So one of my biggest issues with the second season and even the first season has been fixed. However this comes with a new problem.. but I am not sure if it is an actual problem..because.. later we see that stylistic choice connects to a certain story.

The Narrator of season 1 and 2 has been replaced by a young boy who hears voices from the other side which makes him draw. These drawings form the inspiration for the new stories. Stories have no more explanation on who the main character is and we are drawn in from the sketch. It is a stylistic choice I like a lot that can add some extra tension. We do not always know who the main character is and it offers that extra bit of insecurity in some cases. In others  it requires the story to set up the characters just a tiny bit more which already makes them slightly more endeared to us. At the same time though this does take a bit away from the Kamishibai show illusion. In this season we also see a slight artstyle change. The Kamishibai like images that the show is famous for feel more colourful and cheerful! They lack the grim eeriness of the first two seasons. Almost as if these target a younger audience.. which makes sense because this storyteller is a lot younger. And just like his mind seems to be a bit distrubed so do these stories change in a similar vein.

The stories seem more focussed on body horror and blatant monsters rather than ghosts that follow a certain set of rules. No instead we focus more on creepiness of twisting necks, changing shapes and gruesome implications. We lose a tad of subtlety and cleverness but in return we get a much more intense dramatic build up.. where the crux of the show isn’t always at the end.  Sometimes it even happens near the middle of the episode.  A few stories had me pretty scared and there certainly is a lot less “missed” opportunities. However since the narrator is a young boy..the scares seem to reflect that mindset. What would an eight year old come up with as a scary story. This results in this being the season that has some of the scariest creatures you have seen so far, who are further away from any logic.. or stories that would really resonate with children a lot…but the end scares are often a tad childish.. so in a way this is the season of untapped potential. The idea is there but the punchline often misses.

The other side!

Yamishibai season 3 ditches the classical ghost-stories more in favour of monster stories.. while there are ghosts and  spiritual forces, they are a lot less subtle about their ways. Where season 2 had people startled, cursed or possessed by the end.. in this season the forces do not inconvenience you here the forces are downright trying to get you killed or mamed. This makes season 3 a very different show as season 2. Where  moral lessons seemed to form the core to induce the haunts of the second season here it  seems more to be induced by over conconfidence seasons don’t feel as preachy and instead more like a classic horror movie! Like the past two blogs about this show I will discuss the plot synopisis after which I give each episode a micro review! Be warned if you think a synopsis is a spoiler.

Episode 1: Lend it to Me

A young man visits a bathhouse after work, he seems to be the only male guest when a woman asks him to lend him stuff she did not seem to get at the checkout counter. The two have a talk and she sounds cute! Then the requests the woman begins to make start to get stranger and stranger and she begins to ask more and more aggressively.

What a great way to begin this season! It is a very good episode that properly introduces the scares. At first you do not know why! Why does the girl ask for a pair of scissors or a razor!  Why is she so upset he hasn’t got one!  The way old gritty movie filter that shows gives the bathhouse a bit of a grimey derelict look and the disembodied echoed voice from over the wall makes you wonder what will happen. When it is time for the big creature reveal we get a very brief and surreal shot, that can easily leave you jump-scared. It does not come where you expect it either.  The creature design is wacky and makes you wonder what you have seen and ends in some very weird end credits.. that leave you pondering.. we do not get an “end..” we get a sketch.. that looks like a horrifying cap off. A very strong start and one of the better episodes of the series even.

Episode 2: Tunnel

Two friends are driving through the mountains when a wrong turn makes them realise they are short on gas. Encountering a tunnel that seems the quickest way back to the interstate they drive in and of course run out of gas.  Tired from pushing the car they take a break when they see two children just outside the car window…but is it really just two children?!

While the first episode crossed us over from the Old Yamishibai into this new one .. this completely embraces it’s new style. The way that it seems to reach it’s climax in the middle of the episode is quite strange.. but we see why when it is clear this show pays as much attention to scaring you with the aftermath as the actual event. Sometimes an ambiguous fate is not enough. This season is more like “Oh My God they are eating her, and then they are going to eat me Oh my goooooooddd!” .. but not in the Troll 2 sort of way.. you are told what these monsters are capable of and what you should fear… only to reveal the truth is even more hopeless. This season caters into the fear of certain death and in this episode it is down very powerful. The last show in the tunnel is amazing and the linke we can make to it is nothing short but dreadful! One of the seasons highlights for me.

Episode 3: Rat

A young couple just started to live together in a new apartment , to save some money they went for a very cheap apartment which has a rat infestation. The girl being afraid of the rats gets bitten by one. Her partner then has to leave on a business trip and leaves her alone with nothing to defend herself but a rattrap. He tells her she has to get used to the rats..and we see her being slowly pushed to the brink of insanity as she tries to follow her husband’s will.

This is one of the lesser episodes for me! The reveal in the end was quite predictable and feeling odd. This is the first story that really seems to lean into the younger and more inexperienced story teller scenario. Or I could just be justifying this while in the end the episode isn’t all that scary. The visuals are noticeably brighter here in that the two episodes that went before and while the visual style does fit some of the episodes I think for this episode it all feels too bright and too clean. Let us feel they live in a rat infested hellhole instead of a clean house with some adorable little critters.  The ending visual is super silly and it doesn’t seem to end as powerful as most of the other episodes.  No matter how I look at it this one is an odd one out! I do have to give it some credits though for the tense scene before the conclusions so it is not totally without merit.

Episode 4: The Noisy Hospital Room

A fairly young man wakes up in the hospital after a nightmare, seeming himself being operated on in a room he was told by a nurse not to visit. When his vivid nightmares have given him cold-sweats however he has to explore the hospital to find him some change of clothes or he might catch a cold. During his search for a new nightgown he learns some horrible truths of this hospital.

A mid tier episode that is a bit bogged down because of the odd sound design that is present throughout this entire season. There is a lot of laughter, whispers and other effects that are meant to sound creepy that in fact sound rather cheesy. Like A Wilhelm Scream doesn’t really invoke fear anymore even if someone meets a gruesome end. The twist is deliciously evil  in this episode but once again the entities seem slightly over designed giving it a slightly comical appearance. It feels more like something you show you kids in a picture book as a monster than something you need to be scared off. The strong dialogue that clearly captures the fear by the good voice acting can’t save the episode from mediocrity either as it is slightly drowned out by stock effects.This is the first episode that uses a number of fake outs to set us up for a proper scare but unfortunately fails to deliver a proper scare afterwards.  Too childish for adults but a great story for a scaredy cat and wouldn’t you know it I have the perfect score for that!

Episode 5:  Museum of Taxidermy

Taxidermy is that art of stuffing a dead animal and turning it into a “stuffed” statue preserved through the ages. Now that that has been explained for those who do not know .. or did not know the english word… this episode is set in a museum filled with stuffed animals. A couple staying in town runs in there to take shelter from the rain. Luckily the museum is free and they take a peek. The woman gets fascinated by how lifelike the animals look, particularly interested in a dog that almost seems to follow her with her eyes. Her boyfriend decides to prank her and shet gets mad and leaves.. trying to enter his hotel room later he finds her unresponsive and his own key missing.. So now he has to go back to the museum and search for it.

Where the sound design last episode was pretty shitty here it shines in telling a message. The fact that the hotel is called Hotel Otherside.. and the young boy  narrator keeps screaming for things to happen on the other side.. hints at a connection between the stories and the real world which this episode really makes clear. Something is odd.. as if we are in a twilight zone of sorts. It banks heavy on that feeling and ends up with a satisfying punchline and amazing end visual. It is sick, it is twisted and it looks just silly enough  to not be full of gross-out horror. It walks the fine line very well and we have a clear idea what happened on the other side..even though we never get to fully see it!  Very nice with enough classic horror vibes form both the Twilight Zone and House of Wax to be deemed one of my top 3 episodes!  Yet this time it has some competition and the third place spot!

Episode 6: “That Side” Festival

A festival is in town. Asako and Miki attend all sorts of fun activities together. They are having a great time until Asako gets mesmerised by a booth filled with mysterious masks. She loses sight of Miki and asks herself loudly where Miki went. One of the masks seems to respond with “That Side” suddenly the fair isn’t the same place it used to be anymore and everything goes extremely twisted and dark.

A mid tier episode that has some amazing visuals but at the same time it feels so over designed that it stands out a bit. The cotton candy vendor on the Other Side of things for example spins cotton candy by vomiting his own intestines  on a cotton candy stick.  While it looks gruesome it also looks like.. too much.  It gets a cartoony quality. There are a lot of creatures here that look extremely silly and rudimentary. It is a great ride and I bet it would be awesome for a horror artist to check out these designs. This episode has some heavy Spirited Away vibes through it.. but then a darker take.  It however misses the finality of the rest of the season and while I don’t need finality in all episodes I really wish here we would at least see the girl become bound to this new world or lose herself in it or something.  It needed a nail to the coffin sort of speak. Without it.. it is nice but is exactly down the middle for me  when it comes to spookiness. I can’t  mark it as that so I will label it Scares without Nightmares…but if you can get past the odd designs you can scale this up one tier!

Episode 7: Behind

During Summer camp one guy insists on bothering the girls dorm even if his friends are too pooped to pop!  When he keeps insisting his friends ask him how he has  so much energy! He tells them he doesn’t but he has been having nightmares, people laughing and a creature then coming into the classroom and turning his head around on his neck but he knows that if he sees whatever is doing that .something horrible will happen.Later that night one of his friends wakes needing to go to the bathroom when he hears cracking sounds from his friends neck.

A very scary episode that is really hindered by a single really weird visual! It feels so silly it ruins the entire episode. Luckily I came to play Yomawari and I could accept the weirdness which gave me some appreciation of it. If you want to know how silly the visuals go…look up the game Hylics or Hylics two, a surreal RPG “series” and you have an idea on how odd it will look. I would have loved to see this episode go a bit more subtle myself but the combination of “have you heard’ and then seeing another effect occur is pretty cool.  Is it linked together, are there dark forces at work here what will happen outside the dream.. what happens inside the dream. There is a light and a dark theme going on as well. That once again seems to be describing the existence of two sides. Had the ending not looked unintentionally comical this would have been my third favourite episode or maybe even my second favourite but now it has to do with fourth place.

Episode 8: The Empress Doll

Daphne, Fred, Shaggy and Velma travel to a haunted house and go to investigate it. Well it’s not really those four .. but still four meddlesome kids visiting a haunted house and encountering a presence. This one seems to be of an Empress Doll.. one of those stacks of porcelain dolls on a stair things you might have seen them before! While the house seems clear and safe at first a glance trough a mirror allows them to peer into a world yet unseen.

While the episode does start really suspenseful the end screen is yet again another very derpy looking monster. Which ruins the tension. What makes it worse is that the big “kill”  makes no sense. We see someone suffer in a certain way. Making us believe either their soul was taken or they got so scared that their mind just shut down. Yet suddenly things completely shift and it makes no sense in the timeline of this episode. When did that happen?!  Did they leave the person behind? If so that is rather poorly established. Once more the tension build up is great, reminding me a bit of the Amityville Horror series which I really like. It also is somewhat reminiscent of the Warner siblings horror series like Annabelle. It succeeds in once again establishing “another side” but fails to deliver another scare.

Episode 9: The Fourth Man

A girl in highschool overheard a rumor about an urban legend about “the handshake men”  . These are people who will ask you for a handshake. If you refuse to give them a hand they will crush you into a meatball but if you happen to encounter a fourth one you have to refuse or they will bite off your hand. Later at night the girl is asked by her sister to go to her school as she left her notebook there and cant finish her homework afterwards. On their way back the girl encounters a strange looking man asking for a handshake.

This easily is the best episode of the season. It follows that Urban Legend feeling of the first two seasons but doesn’t require any prior knowledge due to explaining the myth entirely. It feels like a genuine Japanese ghost story, similar to Red Cloak, Blue Cloak, just a bit more tame. It has several jump scares, fake outs and misdirections and the conclusion it reaches in the end is satisfying! While we do not see anything gruesome happen there are some pretty heavy implications being made here that reminds me of some Goosebumps like novels I used to read.  It has atmosphere, good visuals and nothing too silly to ruin the experience! This is definitely a story you can tell by the campfire or during a horror D&D campaign. If you watch anything be sure to check out this one!

Episode 10: Merry-Go Round

A young couple is visiting a mini theme park sitting on the roof of a Mall. They have only just arrived when they encounter a creepy clown, giving the girl a red balloon. Soon after it is announced the mall is already closing. Super disappointed the girl pouts when the clown offers her one last ride on the Merry-Go-Round for free. The girl gets on and seems to have a lot of fun but she might have misinterpreted the words “one last ride”

This one really benefits from the brighter visual style. Of course the clown giving away blood red balloons immediately evokes memories of It. Yet when the Merry-Go-Round goes round and round this episode seems to start to take more and more cues from the bad Nightmare on Elm Street movies. It delves into the absurd once again and so many elements seem to not play a role in this. There are a lot of creepy people around the Merry-Go Round but non of them really seem to have any correlation to what is going on.  Maybe they do but the connection is not made clear at all. As a result this episode feels really disjointed. It does have some creepy visuals  and I don’t even mind what happens in the end all that much but the dialogue, the set up and the result do not seem to match up. As if I am watching three different writers create a four minute story. While I do enjoy extreme random horror at times, in a four minute interval it is too much to make this enjoyable. 

Episode 11: Cuckoo Clock 

A young girl staying over at her grandma’s house with her mother for a few days discovers her Grandma’s clock and is immediately obsessed, wanting to see the Cuckoo pop up every hour she has some good and innocent fun. On her first night there the girl wakes up a few moments to midnight, very thirsty! She goes downstairs to drink when she notices the clock will nearly reveal the Cuckoo again.. when at twelve the Cuckoo doesn’t show up.. the girl goes to investigate a bit closer… she shouldn’t have!

This episode was okay! I really do like the episodes where people get obsessed with Mundane objects holding less than Mundane powers. This is another one that can feel insanely silly but this one still feels like it could be an actual ghost story of the orient. This is how you do silly episodes!  It once again uses body morphing for a shock effect but this one is done kinda cool, even if it also looks very odd. The story beats the story hits feel logical next to each other and while it is not all that scary it is just a fun four minute watch. Reminding me a bit of those Goosebumps Junior novels! Safe for your kid! Fun for the family!

Episode 12: In the Water

It’s the competitive swimming season. One particular schools ace is put under a lot of pressure from his coach so now he has to train and train and train. Luckily he can train at night since he has been given a key to the school’s pool! Just after dark at 8 in the evening, the boy decides to go for a final training session. During this session he notices something odd in the pool! He thinks he is seeing things because he is put under so much pressure and decides to train anyway! He gets into trouble for this choice…. in record time!

This is one of those episodes that is a bit bogged down by cultural differences and plot convenience. Working to hard so you hallucinate seems to occur in many Japanese man according to this series though! Still it seems like a bad idea to jump into the water when something seems off.. it damages this horror experience for me. I doubt a semi-pro swimmer would risk jumping into the water if something dangerous might be in it. It doesn’t help that later in the episode the swimmer tries to flee the pool by swimming to the stairs.. while he could easily push him up onto the dry land way before that. How could he not push himself to saftey as soon as he could?!  Fear?! In the end I doubt it would matter as the deed had more or less already been done.. but jeesz this man seems to tried really hard to win himself a Darwin Award. Also the creature/visual has no set up, no reason to be there and it is super ugly as well. As in.. it’s ugly..but it is also not very well drawn with very weird proportions that also lead to other visuals shown before not making sense.  Bad episode!

Episode 13: —Drawings—-

Yes I actually did type what this episode is about! Well done in discovering it!  This episodes ties all stories together as from the intro of the boy drawing we don’t cut.. we see the boy drawing! A teacher finds him and asks what he is doing .. he says nothing and walks off.  She later finds out he is in her new class and tries to befriend him by asking him to draw her. He refuses telling her she is boring. As she discovers more he finds out the boy has been sketching all sorts of people who have gone missing… the boy shows up and finally agrees to draw her, and it is revealed that this boy would grow up to become the storyteller of the previous season and his stories turn kids into monsters for more stories in the future!

This episode is great for the scale! It really brings all the other ghost stories together but for that reason I have hidden the plot of this episode from you! It connects everything, intro, outro and episodes. Visuals shown in the intro of season two suddenly make sense, and the odd choices this movie makes in terms of narratives all make sense now. Some of these flaws in the stories described earlier were clearly put in with intention! While I commend them for this bold choice it also comes with a problem.. Did people make it this far?  Since it is so episodic and stand-alone one could easily watch these episodes out of order yet this one SHOULD be watched last. It doesn’t follow the rules of the show but it is amazing. The ending feels disjointed but delicious. Appealing to fans of the series and making me excited for a fourth season. The story that is interwoven in this episode feels a bit short.. as a lot of time is spent on the epilogue but it still is deeply satisfying.. though I can not rank it among the other episodes.. This is it’s own thing and it is quite good! Yet not perfect.

Into the Darkness

This season to me is much better then the second one! Albeit a tad to obvious and odd at times, I think this is for me might even rival the first season. Yes there are more lows and the highs aren’t AS high but it was enough! Where season 1 over-achieved at times this one just does the job it needs to do and it does it well. I never felt that lost and the final episode was a little cherry on top of an already pretty good season. Even as a Gaijin you can understand all these episodes and never do you have to google something to appreciate the story. Watch these after midnight just when you begin to feel.. Oh I am really tired.. that is the perfect moment where the weirdness can get to you less.. but the scares can get to you hard! I will at least give the fourth season a chance now as well! So be sure to come back for more soon!

Friendship is Magic! Pinkie’s Saturday Anime Adventure 21 (Lite Edition)

Hello lovely Mortals! This sunday we will briefly take a dive back into regular content! Although I say normal! I am doing a lite version of my Anime Adventure as I had so much stuff to do I could not finish the entire block! I am very busy packing , making phone calls and setting everything up for my move! A wall of boxes is in front of my writing spot right now as more and more cabinets slowly become empty storage. My neighbour seems to be moving away as well!  Regardless Saturday Anime Adventure for the time being will just be an episode of the shows airing on CrunchyRoll. At least until I have more time again on my weekends.  In november I will see if I will split Saturday Anime Adventure into additional weekly content (thus  more content per day with one short anime post and a longer post on other subjects). Would you rather see seperate reviews or continue to see them grouped let me know in the comments! Now onto the episodes!

Digimon Episode 9: The Ultimate Digimon Attacks

I still can not believe how good this show is and how much I like it. The show takes a very different approach to the old show but I feel this show could never be so good without the other show. It’s almost as if I am watching an “ultimate” remake of this story.

Plot

The episode begins with Ogremon getting a hologram mission from Devimon! The latter is not amused with Ogremon’s failed attempts to kill the Chosen Ones. Ogremon reacts coldly but once the cal is over he yells in anger over his broken horn swearing revenge. We then move back to the fortress our heroes have invaded in the last episode. Taichi is reading the digiscript and says that the holy digimon are in the hands of darkness. Which leads them to believe they are on the right continent now because these fortresses of evil were meant to kept them out from freeing the holy digimon. Kairi and Takeru are clearly not in the digital world so it seems like this time Angemon and Angewoman might have to be rescued before we even see them.  Ogremon attacks right after the kids finish reading the script and challenges Taichi and Agumon to an honorable match. They agree but as soon as they bein Devimon’s troops attack. Which overwhelms the other chosen ones. Koshiro and Kabuterimon save everyone with the last of Kabuterimon’s energy; he has finally caught up to the group and is welcomed for their rescue. However the evil Digimon won’t stop and that is when they are saved by Ogremon.

Ogremon just wants an honourable fight with the one digimon he fought that managed to claim his horn. An honourable vengeance.. he wants to have fun with their fight!  This chases Devimon’s troops off and the match between him and Greymon continues. Both seem to have great fun and in the end Greymon comes out victorious even going as far as breaking off another horn.  But then a missile impacts and damages Ogremon greatly. An ultimate level digimon steps out of the water. Note that this is an Ultimate in the dubbing sense.. in the original Japanese name it would be called a Perfect. While the name Ultimate in Japan is used for what we call a Mega form! Greymon is a Champion in english and an Adult in Japanese, MetalGreymon is an Ultimate to the rest of the world but a perfect to Japanese while Wargreymon is an Ultimate in Japanese.. but a Mega in English! Confusing right?!  While in english Digimon  digivolve and in Japanese just evolve the subtitle of this series coins the term Evolve.. thus following the japanese rules, when it comes to forms the translation seems to follow the dub rules.  Since I can not verify if they are renamed/reclassified in japanese as a rule I will use whatever my subtitle/translations says. This monster overwhelms the group quite easily and Ogremon uses his signature move to show them the way.. before jumping into the ultimate MetalTyranomon’s attack and detonating it point blank.

Strengths

I love how this show is paced, we know of the existence of Ultimates already so the show makes no real secret of it. It respects that a lot of it’s lore is already established but also doesn’t shy away from addressing it still.  Just without the fluff this time.  I do wonder how this will work with Devimon as it seems we might get Metalgreymon  in the next episode.  Devimon being just a champion, also seems to have control over some ultimate ones so could it be he will evolve into NeoDevimon or heck even evolve into Myotismon? Both are possibilities here and it could tie stories together so well! It has so much potential but is also risking overstepping and fumbling. For now I am super excited. Koshiro joining just before their potential biggest battle is great  and it makes sense as a meet up spot.  It’s nice to see him finally join the gang and get a safe that tops that of Yamato’s. Once again everyone plays their role. 

There is also a good dose of humor in this episode. Joe introducing himself to Koshiro as the leader, Mimi trying to be in the foreground when meeting Koshiro, it feels so much more as if everyone constantly is in character now. Joe feels he is responsible for the group, Mimi much more keeps up with her princess thing and overall the level of consistency is great. This also shows in the battle scene. The group gets pinned down by an aerial bombardment.  However they are in a fortress so they would have cover. However moments earlier Ogremon just trashes the tower they are standing in to make a statement and get their attention.  Thus taking their cover away and creating the next problem. This is much more pleasant than say.. the same digimon also shooting away the roof.. as it would have given a very obvious window! No party was prepared and it resulted in trouble. Yamato and Gabumon managed to get away because they are much more battle-honed and have more of a focus on speed. Reasons are shown why he is slightly ahead of the pack!

The visuals were also very strong! The show does a great job showing the height difference between your average Ultimate and the Digimon as they currently are, making them immediately feel overwhelmed. It is also shown that even at the maximum of his strength Greymon can’t even make a dent against this monster. It is not said or spoken like in most anime.. it is simply shown!  My favourite moment was the fight between Ogremon and Greymon. It uses aura’s , expressions in eyes, wind and other effects to tell a story!  The fact that they don’t use special attack after special attack really shows they are having fun in this contest of strength and it feels like Courage is pitted against the sin of Pride here which leads into an interesting matchup and a great episode!

Weaknesses

Not a lot of noteworthy weaknesses for this episode from me. I slightly dislike how invisible Sora was this time but had Biyoman digivolve here I am sure it should have died so I can see why they did it.. I just feel so far they have put Sora a bit up there with Yamato and Taichi and her being absent from a chance to fight felt a bit of a miss to me. But timing and all. I am also worried about their ultimate villain being a champion level facing off against potential Ultimates plus Omnimon already being a thing. My negatives are nothing directly one this episode but more worries for the future. I would love to see a slower paced episode without a battle in here somewhere soon though.

Overall

Very strong episode! It doesn’t reach the perfect score for me as it is YET another action episode but it at least was one heck of an episode! Despite it’s focus on action the show does introduce some wit and lore each episode  and I haven’t seem to much stereotypical events yet and those that do feel well earned or are explained good enough.   The fact that Devimon seems to have possession over Angemon and Angewoman could lead into an amazing story given how Devimon was beaten with the help of Angemon in the first place and this time that outcome MIGHT not be available. Ogremon turning good early also seems to introduce the group with loss fairly early one as I doubt he can recover from this attack! Raising the tension. Death usually comes fairly late in a series of Digimon making the first half feel a bit “magical girlish”  but here we are constantly learning new things and progressing. The fight between Agumon and Ogremon has Dragonball Z like qualities and I mean that in the good way. It has that Cinematic feel to it. While we can fault Dragon Ball Z for it’s writing the action shots oftenly were quite good so saying this took a page from their book is a very big compliment. This show continues to show it’s charm  trough every episode!

Samurai Flamenco Episode 16: Wandering Hero

I love Moe so much! She is such a great character and she really is to good for this world! I love her!  I might have found another potential Waifu candidate as this episode might have left me smitten.

Plot

Masayoshi is the wandering Hero from the title accused of terrorismn and with a nation wide search going out for him he is scared to turn to Goto. He does not want to endanger his friends now that everything he fought for seems to be worth nothing. Meanwhile the Flamenco girls reunite and we see Mari snap against her two friends telling them she is sickened by Moe’s face for embarrassing her. Moe because she would give her life without a second thought in her mind to save the woman she loves  made Mari look bad because she could not do the same.  She realises Moe was the true hero and not her and it sickens her to the core that she is that bad person.It sickens her she can not be a hero! So she tells Moe to never show her face to her again or take it off if she ever wants Mari to look at her again. Mari runs off to the base of King Torture to reflect on things .Having a mental breakdown where she vommits on the floor crying disgusted by herself .. much more than by Moe. When her two friends sneak up we see Moe wear a paper bag over her head.

Moe knew exactly where Mari would be as she loves her so much and knows her better than Mari knows herself. She .. in the paperbag and all tells Mari that she did not make a heroic choice but a selfish choice just like Mari did.. because she loves Mari so much that there was no way she would want to go on living without her. Bless that girl… Mari reconciles with her and the two begin to violently make out while Mari is covered in vomit and Moe is all teared up. Mizuki is asked to join in the group hug.. and potentially into the kissing as well, I am not sure.  Meanwhile the flamengers are interrogated and we hear how they are doing trough the mouth of Jouji’s wife. She doesn’t acknowledge Sakura as a Flamenger though and doesn’t offer her any support in these tough times. She tells her husband she might have to bake him cake if she has to. We cut away and next we see Masayoshi finding a newspaper saying that Jouji is to be executed for his crimes against Japan. Soon after the desperate former hero passes out from starvation.

He wakes up in a homeless man’s tent and finds out that this in fact is one of the guys that he rescued as Samurai Flamenco when he just got started. It  seems that the man is in the know that he indeed picked up Japan’s most wanted terrorrist who is his hero but not a lot is revealed. The man tells him a story on how is was framed by a buisness associate and friend and then lost all his money.. when his eyesight got bad he could not get his money back and his family left him and he had no one left to turn to. He was unhappy but trough Samurai Flamenco’s selfless risk he began to help others around him, who began to help him in return and now he lived much happier. Reinvigorated by these words Masayoshi gets asked if he has people who support him and he answers yes! He flees the tent when police show up aided by the old beggar man, and goes to Goto’s house who welcomes with open arms.

Strengths

I cried happily in this episode! I was so happy to see Mari and Moe make up.. but I also cried when I saw Moe suffer so much! She is such a amazing person! She is a true little angel! A very gay little angle!  The scene with her with the paper bag over my head was my favourite thing this episode. It felt so unreal to see such a cute voice come from a paper bag and it is great to see Moe despite how much she has been through to choose for Mari still. She chooses her words to comfort Mari but also to defend herself. She reveals that you don’t have to be a hero to do the right thing but also that even in doing the right thing you can still choose for yourself. Moe isn’t a hero who does things to be a hero, she is a hero because others matter to her more than herself and no matter what happens she will always be there for them. Mari before her breakdown was equally a hero but on other terms. Even if she had been trough a lot she always found the strength to get back up on stage or in the Flamenco girl costume and that is something Moe would never be able to do. A hero can exist in many ways!

Masayoshi’s talk with the homeless man who was just a background detail in an older episode was also great. We had this amazing shift in scope when he became an actual Sentai and he had to save the country and to an extent t he world even, but now that he has been tricked It all seems to have been taken away. However this episode shows us how Masayoshi already changed the world as a hero on the smaller scale. It doesn’t matter what you are called or what title you have. It is your actions that  define who you are. If one calls you a villain doesn’t mean you are that to everyone.  A person is bigger than just a title the state slaps onto him. That is what I got out of this at least and it is a powerful message that is much more in spirit with how this show started out than the mediocre Flamenger arc. This is what I want this show to be! It is not a story about people constantly bettering themselves it is people fighting for what they believe in and finding a worth in that belief even if it isn’t widely embraced. Very strong episode!

Weaknesses

I would lie if I said I had none because there was one plotpoint that annoyed me to no end. It was the fact that Jojii’s wife did not acknowledge Sakura as a Flamenger. Yes I get she tries to sleep with your husband but it was shown he never did anything with that..at least to my knowledge. Sure she tries to do something unsavory and harmful to the person who is trying to help.. but these people are scared and might be executed, she still fought for the safety of Japan which I feel is bigger than her trying to snipe your romance. Given  how she is referred to as Lady Axe I feel she should have at least that bit of hero spirit to show Sakura who the bigger person is. Perhaps I am strict here because Sakura is the Pink Ranger but I do feel it is a very poor choice on Lady Axe’s end to make Sakura suffer, given that she already had to live with the fact that her family cast her out for being an adulterer..let alone now that she is a terrorist. In an episode that is all about friendship and reunions this sticks out to me like a sore thumb. Understandable sure.. but bad in this episode.

Overall

Another perfect score for Samurai Flamenco! It is great  to see it return to what made this show so amazing to me in the first place. The fact that the president’s plans are very vague and Lady Axe was super selfish do not ruin the episode for me. Perfection does not exist and if an episode has to be flawed I rather have it slip up with Lady Axe than with Moe and Mari or Masayoshi. This episode me me cry with joy and I feel truly touched.. if that happens I was so invested that minor offences do not matter. Mari’s moment of glory will be in my head for a while! It was really beautiful! Memorable and engaging?! Highest score!

That Time I reincarnated as a Slime Episode 15: The Jura Forest Alliance

Slime has an odd way of satisfying me, in the same way I like building villages in Sim City or maybe more an RTS like scenario like Warcraft 3, growth is an amazing thing to experience in Slime, even though we know how powerful Rimuru is we see the progression of his little town.  I want to see more of that!

Plot

This episode is told in a more narrative shape with Rimuru telling the viewer what happened after the fight with the Orc Disaster. We see him welcome the Orcs in his ranks as well after a meeting with both the Lizardman and the Ogre’s.. of course  Treyni is also there. Since Rimuru took the since of the orcs upon himself everyone agrees that they can stay as long as they make themselves useful to Rimuru. This leads to the great Jura Alliance being formed.  Rimuru names the son of Geld, Geld in honour of his father and that piglike creature then becomes the Orc King instead of the Orc Lord. He also names all the other 15.000 Orcs and goes into sleep mode again. When he wakes up he continues to tell us what new features his now small city has. They have a sewage system, they are making roads , they are establishing trade with other nations and there even is some sort of “government” in place with the Ogre’s having titles. The only thing the village seems to be missing is a name…and roads.. cause they are still just starting to make it.

Then Souei shows up and tells a 100 pegasus knights are almost in the city. They are led by the Hero King of the Dwarven nation Gazel Dwargo.  He wants to find out Rimuru’s motive and while Rimuru offers collaboration from the start the king wants nothing off it. The only way Rimuru can prove his heart is by honourable combat. If Rimuru defends against Gazel’s chain of attack he wins!  The man turns out to be a student of the old man Ogre, who also thought Rimuru so being familiar with this technique Rimuru stops the attack. This convinces King Dwargo that Rimuru is not evil and he offers Rimuru a treaty not only acknowledging his little town but even acknowledging the Jura forest as his domain/country. This forces Rimuru to name his country and decides to call it the Jura Tempest Federation. Benimaru then tells him this town and the nations capital should be called Rimuru..

Strengths

I can be a lot more  brief about this episode as it was a nice and simple episode. It was an exposition episode done well. Not a lot happens yet a lot happens.  We just fast forward to the slow progression stuff and now actually see RImuru’s village becoming more. I still really like the concept of having a nation of monsters and that idea is expanded upon here.  I am also happy to see that Gabiru got exiled for trying to usurp the throne. His father gifts him the magic trident thing though to keep him safe on his journey!  A touching end.. that still gives at least some punishment to the horrible ..but deep down not so terrible Lizardman.  I like how this series feels a bit like the map part of a total war game or the city management aspect of one of those mobile games with alliances and sending armies and such. Just with some spectacular action from OP characters to make it less stale.

I also like how surprisingly the humanoids doesn’t seem to be Rimuru’s enemies. Instead the focus lies on this mysterious demon lord whose eyebrows do not math his hair. The one who wields the crystal ball.  It seems he is being set up as the season finale boss but what do I know! It is nice to see this approach as it does avoid a bit of cliché Warcraft like thinking. I like how Treyni functioned as a judge and it reminded me of an almost pokémon like match when Rimuru fought Dwargo , it gives the combat a more playful element and some good spirit.  A very nice exposition episode and I was proud to see the village grow almost in a manner as if I had build it myself. So I guess Rimuru is “my boy”!

Weaknesses

I had a few gripes with this episode, for example every Ogre’s function is explained except for Shuna’s function she is called a Princess .. most likely because the title was preexisting but what are her tasks?!   Treyni’s role in this alliance is also unclear. Her goal is to protect the forest and Rimuru can do that but the fact that they have to build homes for 15.000 would harm the woods because a city is built in them would it not?!  Also 15.000 orcs that means there are so many orcs that they would take up the major demographic in the city but that is never shown.  There are quite a few elements that seem rather sloppily tagged in in this timeskip.

What is this demon lords goal?! Why do we care about him?! Why does that clown figure that worked with Gelmud teleport out of a conversation while he still has a full glass of wine on the table.  It isn’t exactly bad but a lot of details are glossed over in this episode.  If you want to emphasise a conversation is at an end let him drink his final sip of wine instead of depicting him next to a full glass. If you tell what everyone does don’t skip on one!  Wasn’t the crafting Ogre a leather and hide expert? Why is his rank Sword Smith. or something like that.  Again there are no major flaws, just a series of pinpricks that all seem to address the same little annoying little spot.  It makes sense that these things happen given how this show is paced over days or weeks of development even though there is clearly a bigger story being told that the small story doesn’t matter as much.. but it does stand out.

Overall

I enjoyed myself a lot with this episode but I am not sure I could actually call it a good episode. There are things …. off about it. Not only the inconsistencies but a few plot beats being awfully convenient as well.  Yet while these flaws are clear to me, this really had a good quality! I felt pride.. an emotion that is almost strange to me, that this village has come this far. I liked the idea of roads so much that I was almost disappointed that I did not see it this episode.  For some strange reason the faith of the town of RImuru is something I really care for.

As if it is my own little Minecraft project.  Just more entertaining, better looking.. and without Smash Bros representation. It is a nice change of pace to see a hero shift from protecting a town to establishing one. There is something powerful about forming new friendships and opening your heart to new people and growing because of it that just makes my kokoro swell with satisfaction and pride! That is the way Rimuru! You are the hero we all need!  I never thought Village builder the anime would be for me.. but apparently it very much is!

Berry good is the score based on entertainment value, it would score a Fineapple from a more objective stance.

Unfortunately that was all the time I had for anime this week and probably the next coming weeks. Tuesday will most likely be a skipped post day as my family will come on over to help me pack, clean and move things to the trash all day and with tabletop role-play evening on Monday planned I do not think I have the time to schedule that post ahead. I have a cute little Halloween story readyish but I still need to do image work so you will most likely see my Halloween story in the week of the 19th. For the coming week I will create new Pokémon life, review a movie about a killer condom and I play yet another scary game! Like I said earlier I am considering splitting the Saturday Anime Adventure into smaller individual reviews for extra ..more bitesized content! Let me know how you feel about that in the comments! if they work again! Have a great next week!

Stranger Short Stories the Ani-Meh: Yamishibai Season 2

Dear Mortals last week’s spooky anime was a collection of short stories called Yamishibai and I was seriously impressed with this series.  With the second season getting a new director that would stay for the ongoing season I was sure this one would be even more potent… yet me and the Crunchyroll Comment section had to reach a tragic conclusion. The second season is nowhere near as good as the first.

 Lost Direction

In the previous post I explained why the visuals of Yamishibai have meaning and how the format lended itself quite well for the short episode format. It kept things spooky.  In part due to the amazing direction of Tomoya Takashima with the writing of Hiromu Kumamoto. For this second season the series was helmed by Takashi Shimizu and Noboru Iguchi as directors and Shōichirō Masumoto  is responsible for the script this time. Like season 1 it is still an ILCA studio production that is available for free on Crunchyroll .This is a season that clearly got a lot less love in the comments though and that has mostly to do with the direction of this season. There almost seems to be a stylistic change. Even noticeable between the two directors. One clearly more capable than the other but both are bogged down by their choice in stories this time. Leaning heavily into the biggest gripe I had with last season. 

This season has a lot of implied messages. Where season 1 put a twist on folklore stories and retells them, season 2 implies their presence. What I mean by that is that Season 1 feels more like a Show and Tell format “Today I will tell you a scary story about a fabled curse”  while Season 2.. sets up for people to recognise a folklore story.. If Season 1 would be a Pokedex entry about folklore Season 2 is the Whose that Pokémon of Folklore. Which probably makes it a lot more interesting for Japanese viewers and those VERY well familiarised with japanese ghost stories.. and I mean VERY well. As a Gaijin though I oftenly missed what was going on this season. It still is fascinating in ways but it is strange and makes no sense rather than it being scary. The jump scares have been replaced a bit .. by a big clue to reveal the story in the end. As a fan of both western and asian horror this really missed a bit of the balance for me. 

That being said this season still has a few gems in between. The ratio if just off. The tales are still fascinating in a way as well, they just feed that horror itch less and are more an interesting thing to research. There is a bit less of variety in stories as well, with the majority being possession type stories. Season 1 offered a mix between survival scenarios , curses , monsters and possessions. Like last time let’s discuss all the episodes with a short summary (not spoilers but I do tell the story premise)  after which I give a bunch of microreviews. 

Barely Scared

No episode can match the top 5 episodes of season one but there where still a few stories that were quite good! Plus due to the easy format you can gloss over this season and pick the episodes you think might be interesting.  After all even if there was just one worthwhile episode in this format it is still worth watching as these people clearly did still put a lot of effort into these stories.

Episode 1:  Taro Chan

This is the story about a cop, trying to teach the kids about bike safety using a ventriloquist dummy named Taro-Chan. The act seems to go smoothly until Taro’s head suddenly jams, after working around it a bit , the cop discovers and removes a wooden seal from Taro’s neck and suddenly things get very strange.

This episode for me is the perfect summary of season 2. It shows everything that is wrong with the direction at its worst. The dialogue written for Taro-chan doesn’t produce any feelings of anxiety. The fear the cop experiences isn’t done as well as fear was depicted in the last season and the ending really doesn’t deliver. If you are a horror fan you have probably seen a better haunted ventriloquist dummy story than this one. It tells a story but it needed more than 4 minutes to be something special.. now it’s basically.. there once was a haunted ventriloquist dummy…it could talk by itself ..the end. It doesn’t help that the dummy still uses the cop voice, the events happening feel weird and uneventful. Probably the worst episode of season 2 straight away. 

Episode 2: Kitchen

A girl is visiting a friend who had just moved into a new place. As a housewarming of sorts the homeowner girl cooks for the protagonist girl. When the latter notices a voice coming out of the AC unit in the kitchen and some shadows appearing out of nowhere she isn’t sure if she is crazy or if it’s real.  She needs to decide if she wants to warn her friend and look stupid.. or hope that she beliefs her.

Directed by the “other one” you can see it is paced a lot better then the first episode. There even is a nice dramatic build up that could lead into some scares. The visuals are creepy and produce the right atmosphere. Unfortunately this episode is plagued a bit by its  writing.
This might be me not understanding Japanese culture very well.. but if you see a shadowy figure threatening your friend and you are going besides yourself with fear..would you really try to be polite and compliment her cooking?!  Would said friend really go so angry that she kicks you out of the house when you don’t compliment her noodles straight away.? If I saw something scary I would tell my friend..I rather think they are crazy than risk  her being eaten by a potential delusion! The art cues, visual design and pacing are great though. The last minute is a bit of a trainwreck in writing.. but just the build up makes this episode worth the watch. Kinda!

Episode 3:  Inside

A boy finds a Russian Nesting Doll and brings it home.  His mother is properly creeped out by the “toy”  and tells the boy she will get rid of it. Reluctantly the boy hands it over to his mother, but the next day he sees she still has it.. his mother’s behaviour slowly begins to grow more erratic as the boy decides to investigate.

One of the strongest episodes this season in terms of visuals and writing but that lacked the directional punchline to make it a perfect score on Pinkie’s Spook-o-meter. The episode has intrigue, cool visuals, a progressive sense of dread and it doesn’t require you to know a story by heart. By the way characters act, how visuals are presented it is perfectly clear what is happening here. It just misses that step beyond. You get the horror tale you expect when it’s about a nesting doll but it could have used a bit more subterfuge or a fake-out somewhere. A bit too straight forward but definitely a great story to tell around a campfire.

Episode 4: Wall Woman

A man has a crush on the woman living in the building next to him. He always stares at her during his studies wondering if she is single or not. Then one day he sees a creature enter her room. As he sees the woman walk onto the balcony again shortly after the two have eye contact for the first time when things get scary.

This episode reminded me a lot off the first episode of season 1. I deemed that episode mid-tier and for this episode I mostly feel the same. It has a bit more dramatic build up, but there is no real twist again. You know how the episode will end. This is more one of those slow burn episodes which can work great but you need a bit more time than four minutes to make it special. This director aims to end with the jump-scare on the final second.. every time where in season 1 the big event also usually ended in the final bit.. scenes sometimes lingered  allowing scares to take earlier than anticipated.. here you are more prepared. It has the dramatic build up from a coaster (often stronger than season 1)  but after that you only get that one expected drop. Not bad but nothing special either.

Episode 5: Locker

A girl is in love with a sporty guy and tries to ask him out.  While going home upset she did not talk to him she overheard a rumor about a magic locker in the underground passage of the school. If you leave a photo there in the locker that holds a weird statue you are able to have a happy future with that other person. The girl goes to try it out.. but hey that wishing doll looks kind of creepy.

Great episode! Yet again it is way too obvious but at least his one had some surprise elements still.  Even though you know where the plot will be headed you never know how or why until it is too late and it can still leave you in suspense. In that way this episode may provide you with the most Western like sense of horror where the tension lies in not if something ifs finite but how it will meet its end. With some gore and nice voicework as well as some proper  character building this episode does everything I want. It is not perfect but this one is up there with the better Season 1 episodes! Definitely top three! In fact this is the clear number 2. If you want to skip through the season this one is episode would be one of my recommended stops.

Episode 6: Nao-Chan

A family who sleeps with their son in their bed do not read him stories at bedtime but instead to sentai like shadow play. Late at night however the boy starts to begin talking to a spirit he calls Nao-Chan. As the parents try to figure out who that is.. every night Naeo-Chan comes closer to the family.

Great visuals , bad episode.This is one of the few episodes that doesn’t reach its climax at the end of the episode, instead this ending is supposed to show something subtle.. but it doesn’t connect.  Once more it feels like they needed an extra twist or a visual.. this time in the end. There are some cool things being implied here but the way the set-up scene cuts away too early and the ending scene implies anything through dialogue only it really feels like we are missing a piece of the puzzle here. Like with episode 2 a strange lack of communication makes the scene more awkward than it needs to be and for the twist line being said in the end there is a perfectly feasible explanation that takes the wind out of the sails of this episode entirely. It’s not unwatchable and for the visual you could watch it, but if horror is a punch to the face than this episode is a slap with a limp sardine.

Episode 7: Gachapon

On his way back from work a frustrated salaryman sees an old man playing desperately with a Gachapon machine. The old guy is completely fascinated by it and the man wonders why the old man would want all these toys.  The next day he walks buy and sees the Gachapon is not in use. The sign mentions a cost of 20 Y,. The box is blackened so he can not see what is inside. Curious the man pays 20 yen and gets a gachapon that holds the favourite eraser he lost as a child. How strange..but the scratch on makes him realise it is definitely his! As he wants to play more we are cued in that the price might be more than just 20 yen.

Amazing episode, number three spot for sure! This one is fascinating rather than scary but it is still kind of creepy to see unfold what actually happens. This episode uses irony to make the story so much stronger as well. Once more not ending on the “climax” but instead letting the  moment linger a bit.. making this pay off feel SO much more satisfying than almost anything else. Probably the best episode in overall quality but it lacks that spook factor that number one and two have. Still this episode is great to watch, the desire that fuels the protagonist is feasible and whatever supernatural forces are at work here can keep him from noticing certain things without it feeling forced. In this episode I did notice how this episode seems to try certain values to people. Don’t assume all rumors are true, don’t meddle into affairs, don’t get stuck in the past. It is a neat enough theme but once again a bit obvious.

Episode 8: Farewell Confession

A man is attending a strange type of funeral with long lost relatives. it is called a farewell confession. People sit with the dead and tell them a secret they want to ascent to heaven with them and liberate them.  Some of these are very innocent others go very far.. as in your daughter is actually MY daughter. When our protagonist offers his confession though the ritual goes Awry.

Horrible writing plagues this episode….unless of course the translation was off. If that first secret was not.. I was the one who made your wife pregnant not you…but instead half mumblings sounding like that.. I might be okay with this.. but as I had perceived it now.. and the line sounded pretty clear to me as well once more we delve into a very unlikely scenario and values. Strangely we only hear half the main character’s confession..but unless he did some REALLY depraved stuff with the confession target it doesn’t seem worse as .. your daughter is not your biological child…A second issue makes this episode a bit ridiculous .. which is the existence of a certain meme. I had a lot of fun with this episode reading the comments and everyone seemed to agree with how silly this was. This one is a bit so bad it’s a good variety..Alas for spook score that doesn’t count.

Episode 9: Ominie-san

A teacher from the big city transfers over to the school in a small rural town. When a strange lunch of purplish meat is served, it is named Omnie-san. Everyone digs into the meat like crazy devouring it as if they are mad-men. The teacher is off put by this and dumps her meat only to find people eating it in a restaurant as well. Losing her appetite she calls in sick. She and her worker now have to make sure she stays healthy..in this strange town.

This is another one of those strange episodes that clearly seems to be referencing something. Since the meat has an honorific.. was it a person they are eating? Do the kanji in the word Omnini-San mean anything? What is going on. It feels strange and macabre sure.. but there never is a real pay off. We see an effect happen near the end but what does that reveal? Maybe it is just that tasty that people pig out on it so much? Clearly there is something ominous implied about what we see in the end but I have NO clue what happened there. Once again due to the strange direction that doesn’t linger enough on some points and just adds cuts that help convey an emotion.. but not what is going on. I know I should feel uneasy.. the episode cues me in on that.. but it fails to cue me on on why. In the end I am working my brain to hard to be scared.

Episode 10: Bugged

A bitter man lives in a house and the only thing he does is work and then write about what issues he has about other people’s happiness. He tells he is bugged with women who let him in his eyes, he is bugged by a couple sharing an umbrella in the summer rain because it is too warm, he is bugged by everything. Then moths start appearing in his room, which he gasses and then burns. Because it bugs him there are bugs, when he writes about  what bugs him.

A strong albeit pedantic episode.  This one tells us about a bunch of metaphors becoming real all surrounding what plagues this man and how he responds to it. It leads into some of the coolest and most gruesome visuals in the series so far and I was really pleased and startled by that.  However this one again is so obvious that it just fizzles out by the end. One of those “count-down” episodes. I really support the message this episode is trying to send though but as Chandler Bing would say… could this episode BE anymore obvious?! It’s such a shame that this show both manages to dumb things down  and still keep some things so obscure. It’s two tones which clash and “Bugged” seems almost like a Polar opposite of Ominie-San. While I don’t think the episode is very flawed it does showcase an inconsistency in the show in general.. .all in all, the amazing visuals and relevant message keep this episode in the positive score range.

Episode 11: Picking Up

On his commute home a man finds a novel that was left behind in the train. He begins reading it and it is so good that he ends up in a station in the middle of nowhere just to read it in peace and quiet. While trying to search what station he is in, the man finds out about a writing competition which he enters with the novel he found. The organisation seems pleased and ask him if the novel is his and of course he says yes.

A solid enough episode that is a bit too morally preachy. I also saw another story than the comment section on Crunchyroll saw.  I saw a story about mistaken identity, while others saw a story of getting punished for a sin. The morale is the same though! Do not lie! In a way this episode reminded me a lot of the movie Drag Me to Hell and I really like that movie. It also reminded me of another horror story of mistaken identity.. It was a short story in a dutch book I once read.  And YET again that is this season shows that they lack the ability to let these episodes shine. It’s a solid story but not a single special thing is done about it. It isn’t that hard to add a little twist to make it a bit more special. In this case I can come up with four or five twiss just from the top of my head. It’s neat as it is .. but too neat.

Episode 12: Netsuke

A college student is helping her grandma cleaning up the store when she finds some heirlooms left by her grandpa. Grandma tells her that she can keep any stuff she wants but warns her that Grandpa never allowed her to even touch those Netsuke.  These are tiny japanese ornaments in this case shaped like two faces. The woman makes earrings out of them. Late at night when she heads home she notices two strange figures following her.

This is it! The number 1 episode! It feels so spooky, it has several scary moments, it has a twisted reveal and the morale of “don’t take what doesn’t belong to you”  is less hammered in here because  she was in fact gifted with these.. sort off. It isn’t pedantic this time around but more appealing to common sense.. slightly hidden away. Sometimes WE  do need to look a gifted horse in the mouth. This episode has such cool visuals, clearly ghostly figures, fear, music.. it has it all. In fact this episode might even come close to my top 3 of the season now that I have had some time to let it sink. This episode has some action and a strange but satisfying ending. If you watch just one episode of season 2.. make sure that this one is it.

Episode 13: Bringer Drums

A couple moves into a rural town that seems rather welcoming. On their way there they see the path is decorated with bringer drums. The village elder says that is a thing they do to bring good spirits and positive energy to new residents and that it will help them feel  and act like they were born and raised here.  Then late at night the drums begin to beat by themselves and the girl of the couple realised that whatever these drums might bring isn’t necessarily good!

This is one of those, you have to know the lore to get it kind of episodes as there is a myth of bringer drums out there that makes this story a lot more understandable and while you can go out and search for that it doesn’t make the episode that much more enjoyable because of the lame choice of a jump scare in the end. It just doesn’t work. I am pretty sure there are more myths about the bringer drums than the one I read as this also had another element that some others seem to recognise in the comments.  I knew neither.. So in the end all I saw was a vague myth that isn’t that much more scary then windchimes going off in a horror movie.  That is the entire scare and it makes it very one dimensional.  Had the drums been given a scary look.. or they wondered about the odd look at the very least .. but they just think it is cute.. untill these drums go off..very flat and the scare at the end made me laugh instead. I was drinking a coke so I regret that. Unfortunately I also regret watching this episode.

Ghost Costume

I rated quite a few episodes favourably still I would like to think but overall the quality did take a big dip down. The lows were lower than those in season 1 and only one high rivalled the highs of last season. I did kind of enjoy my time with this season but I can see why so many people really hated it and dropped the show from here on out. I’ll give the new directors one more season.. and if that is this quality instead of the first .. my last anime halloween review (if I have time)  will be something completely else., If it isn’t as good as this season I might even not do the review! The show really has potential but here the tone wasn’t right for horror, either to preachy and handholding or to obscure for the most of it. Mostly due to the direction and scene choice. Still it’s an interesting  series of tales but you can’t help but compare it to the first season.

Imagine being in one of those haunted theme parks for Halloween. The first one is a better than average and unique looking zombie that has a lot of gore and startling effects on it.. but it is also a very unique character in it’s narrative.. maybe a civil war guy.. that also pirated on the side. Or a slasher character that looks unique but as if he could have a tea party with Jason, Michael and Ghostface. It has some proper weapons to  chase you down with you running frightfully. This season.. is that guy that runs around with a blanket with two holes for eyes that has no cool stuff but just can yell Boo really loudly! He has some timing skills so he can catch you off guard and make you yelp once or twice.. but in the end it is still the soldier pirate zombie that haunts your dreams.. even if you saw him way before.

Now that we’ve seen enough Kami-Shibai theater for one week it is time to go pack some more stuff! If you want to help me with my move please consider donating to my Ko-Fi page! The funds will be used to decorate a small little writing space for myself! Or just comment something and be social! So I can relax read all the love with a smile after a day of packing and cleaning! Thank you and I hope you have a spooktastic October!

Scary Short Stories The Anime: Yami Shibai Season 1 Review

Anime is great! I love it! It has so many genres. Even when I compare them to western genres like action, sci-fi , romance and …… well…… there is one genre that I don’t think anime ever does “right”. With a few exceptions of course..but horror anime usually add additional genres like action or mystery and they tend to be heavy on that other genre and low on the horror. Which was weird to me! As anime has some amazing ghost stories! Luckily I found an anime for my Haloween month that I actually classify as Horror.. I even found it scary… I am just not sure it’s “anime”……….

The Devil is in the Details

Yami Shibai, whose official title is Yami Shibai: Japanese ghost stories is a fairly long running anime that actually still seems to be more or less ongoing. Currently having 7 seasons with  91 episodes in total. Each season being 13 episodes. It is produced by studio Ilca who almost exclusively produce horror content…. and the Love Live School Idol movie! However this year the same studio brought us Ninja Collection..which is a  summer anime but I am not sure if anyone is watching that. They also made a show about a fart solving problems like only a fart can do… but I am pretty sure I included that when I said they did horror. Each episode features a stand alone story but they are tied together by a masked Story teller voiced by Kanji Tsuda.. whom you might know from… Yami Shibai Season 1 through 7.. or as Kamen Rider Ryuki.   He did more things but none of it sounded familiar to me.. so he already is kind of like a ghost!

The concept of Yami Shibai is to mimic the Kamishibai theater storytelling. This is a traditional form of Japanese storytelling with picture boards being presented in a wooden cabinet. There is an old man telling ghost stories using a Kami-Shibai and his call for attention functions as the show’s intro with the stories being the actual episode. Each episode lasts for about 4 minutes. The show including the intro.. and a very creepy Hatsune Miku outro  lasts 5 minutes which means you can watch an entire season in about an hour if you skip out on the outro! The animation is very static, almost still as if an actual Kamishibai with only very minimal animation, think high budget Visual novels.. or the execution scenes in the Danganronpa games. But more on that later! Here we just factually describe the style!

Every episode is a classical ghost story, usually with a twist/bad or open ending.  For all intents and purposes I will exclusively be reviewing the first season giving episode summaries but not full on spoilers. Reviewing each unique episode in terms of how spooky they are.Micro-reviews! Yay!  I just might review other seasons throughout halloween month as well. So sorry for the spoiler.. but I did really enjoy this first season! The director changed and remained the same into the second season so I assume that is going to be even better.
Now join me as we enjoy some classical Japanese storytelling. Attention kids and adults alike come join us for story time this is Yami Shibai!

13 Ghosts

So before I talk about the entire show let’s talk about the episodes a bit first! And measure how spooky they are! The basic premises of an episode will be discussed here so if you think that is a spoiler …. which it is not… I would advise you to skip to the next section. 

Episode 1: The Talisman Woman

A man moves into a new apartment and finds a mysterious seal on his ceiling! When he removes it a mysterious woman stares at him from afar.  When he gets home the next day, there is yet another talisman on that same spot! Could it be there is something living in his house?

A great benchmark episode! It has some eerie vibes to it, some nice subversion and even a possible jump scare! Mind you that I do watch these after midnight with all the lights off to set a proper atmosphere when reviewing these.. but this one is a great standard. It is mid-tier for me which is a nice way to start this series off. It doesn’t peak nor does it disappoint. It makes you anxious enough to slowly raise your heartbeat!

Episode 2: Zanbai

A traveler/tourist gets himself hospitalised with a broken foot when mountain climbing. He has to stay overnight in a hospital. But some other patients in the hospital are whispering together..of making sure he does not escape?! Did he mishear, are they even talking about him? What is with that strange greeting they gave him?!

This one builds up tension but let’s it fizzle a bit..which weirdly kind of makes it work still. This one did make my blood a degree colder or so… but the ending is slightly too odd and very implied. Look up what Banzai’s true meaning is before looking at this one or things might go over your head a bit. Got uneasy but I never startled

Episode 3: The Family Rule

A man that married into an old family gets told that he has to perform  a ritual with his new family to keep an ancient demon at bay! However when his son wakes up to investigate the ritual  is put at risk!

Top 5 for certain! The build up was great, the visuals really worked wonders and  the resolution was both equally horrific as satisfying. This one cleverly uses fear to instill fear and to create an exciting incident that within four minutes worked very very well for me! You know exactly what happens, what people are thinking and what unfolds.. by minimal dialogue and simple but twisted expressions! Quite creepy!

Episode 4: Hair

A woman is working late trying to make copies for something that looks like a school newspaper or something. However when the machine is used black.. almost hair like streaks appear all over the paper.. and as the woman investigates the machine an incident of freaky events occurs. 

Great scares, great effects.. dumb woman! I mean I know work ethic is a bit stricter in Japan but if I saw something living inside the copy machine.. I sure as heck would not begin opening some drawers to reveal the creepy entity! I would dash out the room and come back  the next day. While I liked the story it is also the story that follows that western trope of stupidity the most which makes it less spooky..because well… serves them right for being this dense?!

Episode 5: The Next Floor

A man ditches his kid for his birthday!  Because he has work to do! When his wife gets angry at him for leaving his son on his birthday.. the man gets in an elevator, wanting to be left alone. Then suddenly goes below it’s lowest level.. and each floor the man encounters begins to be creepier and stranger.

This one is among my favourites as well potential top 3. It has a great sense of mystery, there is an ominous feeling from the get-go and there is a lot of cool stuff done with lighting and atmosphere in this one.  What is happening?! We are kept in the dark until the very end.
This one had a scare that actually startled me! So it is pretty spooky!

Episode 6: The Overhead Rack

On a subway ride home an overworked man hallucinates a fleshie mass staring at him from the overhead rack! He brushes this off as a figment of his imagination and long hours.. but when suddenly the subway hits a person and all electricity is cut off for the rescue workers to do their job..it is revealed he might not be hallucinating stuff after all.

A mediocre episode that uses the Kamishibai art brilliantly. But cutting a whole in a drawing they manage to project real human teeth on a drawn creature and it is unnerving as heck!  The static paper movement versus the more natural behaviour of the real teeth really convey a sense of confusion! Of being something from between two worlds. While not the most scary story due to the weird logic in some elements of the story it is definitely a noteworthy one.

Episode 7: Contradiction

A woman receives a disturbing phone call from her friend.. telling her boyfriend got possessed by something scary during a visit to a haunted hospital. She said her boyfriend changed and asked if she could sleep at her friend’s place that night. Yet she sounds strange. Then the boyfriend shows up at the woman’s house telling how his girlfriend got possessed by something scary during their visit to a haunted hospital. .both accounts are fully animated. Who can the woman trust.. only one of them is speaking the truth here clearly?! Right?!

A strong episode that had quite a bit of kick! Seeing both the male account as the female account offers a duality in choices that conveys an anxious decision at the likes of cutting the red or blue wire for defusing a bomb. We as the viewer are not cued in on the truth so we have to discover it along with the main character and it works very well. There are some uber creepy visuals here as well.. and because they only MIGHT be true.. it is even creepier for me! Where is the real monster? Definitely one of the  highlights in this season! 

Episode 8: The Umbrella Goddess

While visiting his friend during a sunny day a young boy sees a woman with an Umbrella in her mouth! This causes the friend’s boy’s father to seal the boy in a shed..giving him the key to unlock the door.. telling whatever he does he should not open the door.. and that what he has to do now has to do with the Umbrella lady! If the boy can hold out untill daylight he should be safe.

Another top 3 episode for me! While a classic story the four minutes short tosses everything in it’s arsenal at you to confuse you!  It had some amazing visuals, incredible sound design and the Umbrella Goddess is even in the siple drawstyle something that does genuinely seem creepy! The voice acting is great.. and  the cinematography is really amazing!  That final line the narrator tells at the end before saying “the end” might be my favourite line in the series.. no it’s stronger than that..it IS my favourite line in the series.

Episode 9: Cursed

A young girl is afflicted with terrible skin conditions. Someone else his hand is burned on her skin and she is filled with dark necrotic spots! So far no one has been able to help her but then her mother discovers a female priest that might be able to help! From there on out things do not go as one might have expected.

A very strong ending visual redeems this story from being “boring” but this one felt.. a bit cheap. It reminded me a bit of the movie Drag me to Hell but we never get the payoff.  It almost feels as if we have seen the wrong part of the story. I think this is because the workings of the curse are not clear enough, having a skin condition does not seem that harsh compared to what we’ve seen before. Visually strong but little spooks to be had from this episode.

Episode 10: The Moon

While at a baseball training camp some of the players reminisce about how they went to this camp when they were kids as well. Explaining how one of them fell in a pit toilet. (A hole in the ground but with a sort of bowl to pee and poop on)  all those years ago. The boy can not remember this and goes to the pit toilet to wash up and see if he can jog his memory… then he memorises.. he wasn’t the only presence in that hole all those years ago.

A strong story with some amazing scary visuals and some great atmosphere! It would be among my favourites if this basically was not a “poop-ghost” There is literally something evil living in a hole filled with crap!  It kills suspense for me.. a lot. I am  not exactly sure how pit toilets work and had I known I might have had a different visual in my head but for now.. this one is mid tier.

Episode 11: Video

While doing homework before the start of school after vacations three boys get bored and decide to watch a haunted tape completely covered in tape to seal it! It is said that a real ghost lives in that tape. The boys watch and see a fault in the movie..that might be a ghost..when one of the boys notices a statue seems to have moved. It might not be a statue at all upon closer inspection..his friends do not notice ..but no matter if he rewinds pauses or fast forwards through the video.. the boy begins to notice the ghostly presence is going closer.. and closer to the screen.

I expected the story of Ringu ..but instead I got something that had a much more immediate pay off. Seven days, my sitting-meat!  This is a potent video. Creepy visuals and vcr levels of details on the screen make you lean towards your screen to watch it more closely.. Something the episode uses to it’s advantage to make your heart skip a beat…or all of them!  A bit generic of a plot so a higher mid tier episode for my taste! Pretty sweet spooks.

Episode 12: Tomonari Kun

A girl exits school and sees a bunch of younger boys stare at a black shadow like mass, that is then named Tomanari Kun. They ask if the girl wants to play with them and she promises she will, but she has no time today! As time progresses the boys ..and according to them Tomonari Kun begin to grow more impatient and then one day they decide to play at her house instead. 

Another highlight! I had quite a few. but this episode might actually be in that top 3.. in fact it might be close to my favourite . The ending employs a technique I really love in horror , letting a part of the scary stuff happen far in the background.. it makes everything feel so much more inevitable ..  you as the viewer feel more powerless to stop it or will it away and then there is plenty of good stuff to fantasies about here in terms of what actually is happening there! We never get an answer but we do get a new mystery! How do we interpret the story ? It is left up to us to decide. The kids are pretty creepy and the voice acting is pretty nice here as well. Having some children of the corn vibes or Wicker man sensation through the story! (Not the Nick Cage one)  Great episode! 

Episode 13: Tormentor

Based on the ghost story about a dancing spirit whose moves you are doomed to repeat until you die from fatigue  this episode starts of with a Disturbia like scene of two boys playing with a pair of binoculars when they see a few blindfolded monks being up to something. A mysterious woman seems to be dancing behind them the boys try to take a peek when one of them starts dancing. The boy is retrieved by his parents but the binoculars are left with the other kid.. who goes to return them the next day… noticing everything is getting stranger by the moment.

This to me was the weakest story of the bunch! The dance used is very weird and almost just flailing your arms around. That is an effective way to kill someone.. but if you do not know the original story here.. like I did not .. you have no real idea what is going on it feels more unintendedly hilarious It tries to go for one final jumpscare in the end..but this one is blatantly obvious..It made me learn about some folklore though! Still not scary at all!

The Light in the Darkness

if you like this show will depend on three factors.  Firstly you have to like implied endings. Not a single one will tell you what really happened with maybe  Overhead Rack being the only exception and even then we aren’t exactly sure. You never find out the faith of a person and it is up to  you to assume if they got a good or a bad ending. Japanese ghost stories also have a bit of a different flow than western ones. Culturally they are a bit different and we will not know all of these things are based on actual ghost stories.  We will not know the subtlety in some shows as a western audience. The four minute format works mostly because these are urban legends people know.Not everything will resonate with us and you have to be ready for that. This show is vague and doesn’t hold your hand when it comes to narratives. I honestly hope you have enough depth to take a peek into another culture ..but if you just want a spooky Naruto clone.. this is not your show.

The second thing is the animation! It isn’t fluid! It isn’t fast and at times it looks cheap. On CrunchyRoll I saw a lot of people rip on the art style. Yes some drawings are “ugly” but that is the whole point. That water painted look is something that is reminiscent of an ancient art.. and they do great things with it. Making holes in the film to bring in certain creepy light effects or monster effects is all very unique and fitting. It disorients you as well. Because everything is basically slightly animated still shot jump scares hot so much harder. You can not see things approach.. not it is there when the creators want it it to be there! I adore this style! I love this style for this short show format. It has these extreme close ups that remind me of Ren and Stimpy suddenly showing something zoomed in to make it look extra horrible.  The music and the animation serve it’s exact purpose.. to unnerve you! Some of the creature design is really good as well but this is a show best watched in the dark after midnight!