Yamishibai - Tiny doses of terror / by shadebug

For the past few years my school chums and I have met up to record film review podcasts. Nobody listens to them and they are very much just an excuse for us to meet up now that we have real lives with real jobs and no school life to force us together. The important thing here is not to bring to light my crippling social inadequacies but that, in those podcasts, we never go to see scary films. We don't see scary films because scary films are not all that fun, they're mostly just poorly put together and leave us completely unimpressed.

This is in stark contrast to my experience with anime where horror is always really fun. I don't know if it's fun for the same reason that Japanese horror films always seem to be that much more gripping than western ones. Though there are some straight horror series like Another, the really fun part for me is in the classic folklore anthologies.These are especially interesting because the target audience in Japan would, presumably, be very familiar with these stories. They become more like mediaeval bards' tales where the task is not to tell a new story but to tell it in an interesting way.

These anthologies can work in two ways: either kid friendly like Kaidan Restaurant and Folktales From Japan or super serious like Ayakashi or Aoi Bungaku. The thing is that those kid friendly ones still manage to have some properly unnerving stories in them, so when the serious ones take the plate they have to really pull it out of the bag or find some other way to make it interesting.

This season brings us Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories which seems to take two approaches to making it interesting. The first is using a construction paper approach to the animation, like South Park if South Park were well drawn. It's a quite jarring animation style but Mononoke was better for its crazy animation and hopefully this will manage. The second is working in shorts, which is a great way to keep me coming back because I figure that if something's under 5 minutes then it's not a waste of my time like 23 minutes might be. This is especially impressive because a lot of the shows I've been mentioning have been made of shorts but they compiled them into groups which meant you still couldn't just use them to fill in a few dead minutes in your week. I always wished that Kaidan Restaurant was done like this so I could more easily show people just the good bits.

One of the things I'm not sure about is if they're going to have it be presented a la Are You Afraid Of The Dark or Tales From The Crypt. When this happened in Kaidan Restaurant and Aoi Bungaku I found it added a lovely bit of flavour and background to the stories but, though Yamishibai does appear to have a host, I fear that there won't be enough time in the short clip format to allow any sort of introductions to really take hold.

The first episode was a lovely dose of classic jumpy, pants pooping scares as well as good ol' fashioned, albeit kinda obvious to the genre savvy, twists. I'll be coming back for more and if you have five minutes to spare I think there are far worse ways for you to waste them than to pop over to crunchyroll and check it out.

That's it for now, I'm off to see what else is on.