Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories (Anime Series)
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Animated by I Love Computer Art (ILCA)
Suitable for 13+
Urban legends are only effective if one’s imagination can clearly picture them. If you’re lacking in that department they might not bother you at all. However, if you’ve got an active imagination, urban legends can give you a serious fright. The anime Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories caters to the crowd that might need a little help visualizing those myths. The series, consisting of two seasons, covers a plethora of Japanese urban myths. From the slightly unsettling to the absolutely horrifying—and often just plain weird— Yamishibai has it all.
Each episode of Yamishibai starts with the same scene. A group of children playing on a playground are called by an enigmatic storyteller. He raps on a drum and says, “Step right up and have a look… It’s time for Yamishibai .” This is an imitation of the Japanese tradition of “ kamishibai .” Described as “poor man’s theater,” kamishibai was a traveling oral tradition. A storyteller would cart his stage around on the back of a bicycle (exactly like the main character in Yamishibai ), and would tell a story using illustrated cards. Yamishibai ’s art style is an homage to the illustrations kamishibai storytellers would use. The characters in the anime are portrayed as paper figures, and move very simply through their environment. While this can be off-putting, especially for those who might already think Japanese animation is basic, it is still unique in the world of anime. Plus, the historical accuracy is novel.
Many creepy cultural stories are very short, leaving much for the listener to contemplate themselves. Yamishibai works in a similar manner since the episodes are only four and half minutes long. It’s hard to imagine that a plot could play out well in such a short amount of time, but Yamishibai does just that. Some of the stories do not have a clear conclusion, which again reminds me of many an urban legend, and allows Yamishibai to worm its way under your skin. It preys on some of our deepest fears and phobias, and everyone that watches it will react to it differently, with their own most memorable/nightmare inducing episodes.
While all of Yamishibai was haunting, it did become apparent that the first season was slightly darker than the second. Yamishibai ’s first season was eerier, relying on darkly unnerving situations, whereas the second season went more of a bizarre route. For example, Season One contains an episode that follows an elementary school teacher staying late to finish some work. Making copies of some paperwork, she notices long black lines permeate the printouts. When she opens the lid on the copy machine to try to figure out the cause, she sees a ghostly face with long black hair staring back at her. She jumps back, terrified, as the machine clamps shut. While the audience waits with baited breath, the teacher lifts up the lid on the machine again, only to find nothing there. Blaming the previous sight on sleepiness, she attempts to go back to making copies. It doesn’t take long for the same long black lines to appear on the pages. As they print out at an increasingly furious pace, with more and more lines appearing, the teacher tries to stop the machine. She eventually pulls the plug, and opens it once again, this time finding long black hair draped over its surface. Slowly, the hair retracts back into the paper feed drawer. The woman uncertainly opens the drawer, clearly horrified at what she might find. She breathes a sigh of relief when she finds nothing. But of course, as she closes the lid on the copy machine one last time, we see the same ghostly face from before staring at her from behind the machine. Thus marks the sudden end of the episode.
To compare, there is an episode in Season Two of Yamishibai that features another female teacher. This teacher has transferred to a small town from Tokyo, and sits down to eat lunch with her students. The cooks bring in a large pot of food, and the children excitedly cheer, “Ominie-san!” The teacher looks rather hesitant by comparison, and we soon see why as the lid is lifted from the pot. An ominous dark purple concoction issues steam from the depths of the pot. After the mysterious meal is served up to everyone, the students dig in hungrily. The teacher watches horrified as the gruesome sound of crunching bones comes from the children. She packs up her portion of the food to dispose of later, and when she holds it over the incinerator it begins to wiggle back and forth. As she gasps and lets go, the foul culinary mystery falls into the fire. Obviously still hungry, the teacher stops at a restaurant on her way home. As she beings to start eating her food, she hears two men behind her order the same strange meal, “Ominie-san!” She exits the restaurant to the same sound of bones crunching. The episode then cuts to the next day. The young woman is calling in sick to work. She tells her mother that she simply needs to rest, and then she’ll feel better. Some time passes, and we see the teacher sitting at the table about to eat a dinner her mother has made for her. It doesn’t take long before we find out that her mother has mixed in some “Ominie-san” into her daughter’s food. The young woman’s face looks crazed, and we hear an insane, low chuckling as she digs into the dish.
Much of Yamishibai ’s Season One is like the “Hair” episode, featuring rather traditional Japanese horror tropes. This is in stark contrast to Season Two, which moves away from classics in favor of “wtf?” land, just like the “Ominie-san” episode. The animation style was a tad different in the second season as well. The contrast in colors was more obvious, and the art style seemed more detailed and polished. Nevertheless, Yamishibai maintains a solidly cohesive horror theme throughout the series.
Yamishibai ’s short episodes make it a perfect series for binge-watching, and the variation in stories is sure to keep anyone amused. The fact that Yamishibai is keeping the traditional art form of kamishibai alive is reason enough to watch it. It allows you to immerse yourself in a culture completely different from the one most of us grew up with. While the art style might be too basic for some, its novel look allows the stories to be more memorable. If you’re looking for a quick spook to put some pep in your step, or want a series short enough to entice your friends into the world of horror anime, Yamishibai would be perfect.
Our Anime reviews come courtesy of Crunchyroll.com. Crunchyroll is the largest anime streaming service available in Western markets, with an ever-expanding library of anime series, movies, and manga. Any fan of Japanese animation and culture is sure to find a trove of things to love, and anyone new and curious couldn’t find a better place to start. We here at Dread Central are lucky enough to have been provided a link so that our readers can enjoy an extended 30-day free trial of the premium service, giving access to their entire library. Follow the link crunchyroll.com/dreadcentral , and check it out today!
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Theatre of Darkness: Yamishibai
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Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories is an artist and filmmaker’s dream! [Review]
Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories is the perfect series to watch if you plan to create videos online or in real life. The art style changes between seasons, and sometimes in the same season, some ghosts/monsters are beyond creepy, and each episode is about four minutes long.
But there’s also little plot to connect the seasons outside our narrator. Who appears in various locations, usually at 5 p.m., and calls out to us to have a look in a cheerful voice.
Until we reach season 10, where it appears he’s finally ready to retire from storytelling. But will the mask let him go?
What is Yamishibai?
Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories, also known as Theatre of Darkness: Yamishibai, Yami Shibai, or Dark Play, originally came out in 2013. It now has ten seasons and 130 episodes.
There’s also a spin-off series, Ninja Collection, and in a bold twist, Crunchyroll added the live-action series to the anime instead of listing it separately. Thus giving the show two seasons instead of one.
And everything works. The stories are based on Japanese myths and urban legends, but there’s rarely a happy ending.
Most characters aren’t doing anything wrong or deserve to be attacked, but death is a constant presence in the show. That said, Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories did surprise me several times.
The short duration of each episode helps focus the scares, and the viewer rarely gets the chance to figure out what’s going on. In this show, anything can get you killed or suffer a fate worse than death.
But that does leave room for more stories. One of the few complaints/wishes fans have is the inability to see the narrator’s face.
He’s always wearing a yellow mask that’s more than what it appears. If the mask is alive, then what fate has befallen the narrator?
Honoring the old while embracing the new!
Yamishibai is based on Kamishibai or paper play. It was very popular during the Great Depression, as a Kamishibaiya, or storyteller, would travel the streets and put on shows using illustrated boards and a miniature stage device.
Which is shown perfectly throughout the series. But the live-action takes it up a notch by producing longer episodes that have been cut into smaller segments.
Although some are taken from the previous seasons, the live-action also helps flesh out the reused segments. And there’s a shorter segment that isn’t revealed until the first one ends!
And the art style of the live-action uses static photos of the actors and their surroundings to give each episode a surreal quality. The expressions sometimes tend to be exaggerated, but everything fits together to give the viewer a decent show.
I’d recommend Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories to anyone who wants to experiment with visual storytelling and is an urban legend fanatic.
Yamishibai - japanese ghost stories: 10 best episodes, ranked.
Unveil the mysteries of Yamishibai by exploring its 10 best episodes, including gems like Copycat and Farewell Confession.
Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories is a unique animated series that harks back to traditional Japanese storytelling techniques, delivering spine-chilling narratives through its innovative paper-drama style. With its unique visual charm and suspenseful soundscapes, the series captivates the audience and transports them into a realm of supernatural horror .
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The show has presented many eerie tales for 10 seasons, leaving viewers in suspense and thrill. Due to their exceptional storytelling, intriguing plot twists, or bone-chilling conclusions, some episodes stand out as the best amongst the rest, demonstrating the series' capacity to transform seemingly ordinary situations into gripping tales of horror and mystery.
10 Tormentor - Season 1 Episode 13
In this story, influenced by the Kunekune myth, three elementary school boys spy on a house reportedly haunted by the Tormentor, an entity linked to disappearances. Shouta and Taichi, see a few blindfolded occupants and a disfigured figure.
After viewing it through binoculars, Taichi goes into shock and leaves. Shouta later learns that Taichi is mysteriously transferring to a school in Tokyo. Shouta visits Taichi's house and witnesses a struggling, twitching Taichi with the same blindfolded people. While leaving, Shouta spots Taichi through the window, transformed into a Tormentor.
9 Paintings - Season 7 Episode 4
A man attends a free but eerily empty art exhibit, intrigued by the grotesque, anonymous works. Despite being warned against photographing the art, he disobeys and shares the images on social media. Subsequently, the paintings vanish from their frames, and the receptionist, revealed to be faceless - admonishes him.
Suddenly trapped in a void filled with reaching hands, the man is dragged into darkness. The ominous ending features a new patron photographing a newly added painting at the exhibit, hinting at a repeated cycle of horror.
8 Capsule Toy Machine - Season 2 Episode 7
A businessman struggling with work stress becomes captivated by a capsule toy machine that produces items from his past. Each turn of the machine reveals a cherished memory - an eraser, a dog figurine, a figurine of his childhood crush.
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Unbeknownst to him, each turn also accelerates his aging; he loses hair, teeth, and his skin wrinkles. He is so engrossed that he doesn't notice his life slipping away until he collapses, having bought his last capsule. The story ominously ends as another businessman pauses by the same machine.
7 Fish Tank - Season 4 Episode 2
Three middle school boys explore a reputedly haunted mansion, where Shigeru encounters an abandoned, murky fish tank. Curiosity piqued by a mysterious bubbling sound, he peers into the tank, only to be pulled in by slimy, purple hands emerging from the dirty water.
When one of his friends comes searching for him, he finds only the fish tank. The suspense heightens as he hears a bang from within the tank, suggesting that a chilling fate similar to Shigeru's may await him, adding another chapter to the mansion's eerie legend.
6 Rat - Season 3 Episode 3
Kenta and Machiko, a young romantic couple , move into an old, cheap apartment, where they encounter a rat. After being bitten by one, Machiko is left alone as Kenta leaves for a business trip.
On his return, Kenta is met by an unspeakable horror: rats flood out of their bedroom, followed by a giant rat possessing Machiko's pigtails and a human-like face. In a chilling giggle, this monstrous creature reveals that the rats grew on her, indicating a horrific transformation, bringing a terrifying twist to their rat problem.
5 Cassette Tape - Season 4 Episode 8
A man returns to his hometown for a wedding. He finds an old cassette tape containing an audio diary from his childhood, including events he doesn't recall, like an altercation with an older man at a park. The entries grow increasingly surreal, culminating in his present-day voice.
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Horrified, the man removes the headphones, only to realize they were never connected to the cassette player. This twist forces him to confront the unnerving possibility that his past and present actions are not as he remembers, leaving him in existential dread.
4 Copycat - Season 5 Episode 4
Haru, a college freshman , reunites with her childhood friend Yukari, who was known for copying everything Haru did. Despite Haru's admonishments about the need for individuality, Yukari continues her mimicry, including their shared ambition to become teachers.
Suddenly, Yukari is hit by a car and killed after crossing the street against the light, revealing that Yukari made it off the college's waitlist due to her untimely death. Haru sadly realizes that in her persistent imitation, Yukari copied even her existence in a haunting twist of their intertwined lives.
3 Delivery - Season 7 Episode 1
A man house-sits for his friend Hasegawa and receives two parcels delivered simultaneously over two nights. A sense of dread builds when the delivery man ominously lingers, and Hasegawa's phone rings from within the second package.
Upon calling Hasegawa, he learns that his friend is supposedly home, despite his absence. As blood begins to seep from the parcels and the delivery man returns with more, the chilling revelation of what the packages might contain and who the real Hasegawa might create a terrifying climax, leaving the man in a nightmarish scenario.
2 The Dripping - Season 6 Episode 5
A man borrows a stranger's umbrella from a convenience store, unintentionally attracting the attention of a vile woman in white who appears reflected in a shop window. Frightened, he leaves the umbrella behind, but it mysteriously reappears in his house, accompanied by incessant dripping and a woman's wheezing.
His sanity slips away when he finally encounters the ghostly woman looming above him. In a chilling finale, another customer takes the haunted umbrella from the store while the man, now reduced to a mumbling, smiling shadow of his former self.
1 Farewell Confession - Season 2 Episode 8
Ken attends a unique funeral known as the Farewell Confession in his hometown, where attendees confess sins to the deceased to forgive their sins. Mourners share their confessions, including a man who impregnated the deceased's wife.
Having not seen his dead relative in years, Ken hesitates but admits to accidentally killing the deceased's dog. Immediately, a gust blows away, revealing the corpse's face, and extinguishes the candles. The corpse sits up, asking angrily if Ken's confession is true, creating an unsettling end to this supposedly cathartic ritual.
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15 Episodes of 'Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories' to Give You the Shivers
Your introduction to the bite-sized horror of 'Yamishibai.'
October is the time for watching all things spooky, from shows to movies and even musicals (looking at you, Little Shop of Horrors ). But binging those things can be time-consuming, and seasons of 30 to 60 minute long episodes and entire collections of two hour movies can make you restless . Plus, sometimes you just want to watch something quick, a little tale before bed or on a lunch break.
Enter Yamishibai .
Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories is an anime series that aims to provide that quick dose of horror. Each of its 117 episodes tells a chilling myth or legend from Japan in a style that mirrors kamishibai , a form of traditional Japanese storytelling and street performance that uses illustrations and narration. Don’t let the number of episodes scare you, though; each episode is only about five minutes long, and since they’re all their own individual story, skipping around in the series is definitely acceptable if you only want to watch the ones that interest you. To get you started, here are 15 episodes of Yamishibai that may give you goosebumps , chills, and spine shivers — oh my!
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Season 1, Episode 3: “The Family Rule”
“The Family Rule” follows a young boy named Toshiharu whose family has gone to the countryside to participate in a yearly family ritual called Calm Through Laughter that is meant to keep an evil spirit away from the family. Toshiharu peeks in while the adults discuss the ritual and is caught by his father, who explains that Toshiharu must sleep on his own tonight. That night, Toshiharu wakes up to use the restroom and is curious about the ritual. He peeks in and finds the adults performing something rather frightening…
The masks the adults wear for the ritual are scary on their own, but when added to the clearly fake laughter? A recipe for an episode that will give you goosebumps.
Season 1, Episode 10: “The Moon”
This tale centers on high schooler Daisuke, who is at a training camp with his baseball team. One night, his teammates mention a traumatic event from his childhood: falling into a pit toilet and being stalked by a strange figure. That night, Daisuke remembers that moment while he uses the bathroom and starts feeling unsettled, as
though someone is watching him…
The terror in this one is twofold. One, the thought of falling into a dark, disgusting pit toilet is appalling. And two, the creature stalking Daisuke is definitely the stuff of nightmares.
Season 1, Episode 13: “Tormentor”
“Tormentor” is the story of a group of young boys who are spying on a house with a pair of binoculars and hoping to see the infamous Tormentor that supposedly lives there. One of the boys runs away in fear, leaving the other two, Shouta and Taichi, to continue looking. Shouta spots a figure behind a group of blindfolded people, but before he can see the figure fully, Taichi snatches the binoculars. Taichi goes into shock from whatever he sees. The next day, Shouta goes to return the binoculars, only to see what has become of Taichi…
This one is great for fans of jump scares . The closing scene will definitely make your heart skip a beat or two. Plus, the urban legend it’s based on is incredibly fascinating as well, and definitely worth looking into. Have fun diving down that rabbit hole!
Season 2, Episode 8: “Farewell Confession”
“Farewell Confession” follows Ken, a man who has returned to his hometown to attend the funeral of one of the residents. However, he notices that the other attendees don’t seem to be sad; they seem almost joyful about the man’s passing. As they all go inside and the service begins, Ken realizes why: The funeral is a farewell confessional, where each person can confess a sin to the deceased and be absolved of it when their soul goes to the heavens. When it’s his turn, Ken is reluctant, but kneels beside the corpse and decides on a confession. However, once it leaves his lips, something strange happens…
Season 3, Episode 2: “Tunnel”
This tale explains why sometimes it’s better to take the road most traveled by. Two men are driving late at night when they notice the car is nearly out of gas. They reach a fork in the road and decide to go through a tunnel not marked on their map. The car runs out of gas and strands the men in the tunnel for the night. As they try to rest, they see the faces of two children outside their window. However, these children aren’t what they seem…
This is a great episode for the body horror fans out there, and it has some creepy creature designs in it that are sure to leave your stomach in knots.
Season 3, Episode 5: “Museum of Taxidermy”
“Museum of Taxidermy” follows a young couple trying to find shelter from the bad weather. The man sees a taxidermy museum and suggests they stay there until the rain dies down. His girlfriend is instantly unnerved by the museum; all of the other patrons seem to be obsessively looking at the exhibits, and the stuffed animals look almost alive. After the man scares her, she leaves the museum and returns to their hotel. When the man tries to get into their room that night, he finds that he’s locked out and has lost his key. He returns to the museum to look for it, but when he steps inside, it seems far more insidious than before…
Another one for fans of body horror! This tale is both unsettling and a bit gruesome, and the eyes of the taxidermied animals really do seem so alive that it’ll make you nervous.
Season 3, Episode 7: “Behind”
“Behind” is concerned with how dreams act as premonitions. It takes place at an inn during a school trip while three boys lie awake. One of them, Osamu, mentions that he can’t sleep because of a terrible nightmare he’s been having: he’s in class when a woman with long red fingernails enters. All the other students don’t pay attention to her, and Osamu keeps his head down, but her hand always grabs his head and forces him to look at her. The boys say it’s just a dream and they manage to go to sleep. When morning comes, one of the boys wakes and can’t shake off the creepiness of the dream. Suddenly, he begins to hear a cracking sound…
Season 3, Episode 10: “Merry-go-round”
This story centers around a young couple, Shinichi and Satomi, as they decide to check out a mall carnival they loved as children. A clown appears behind them and offers Satomi a balloon as an announcement comes over the PA system saying that the mall will be closing soon. The clown offers them a ride on the carousel before they leave, which Satomi accepts. She boards the ride as Shinichi takes pictures of her. Everything seems fine as the ride starts, but each time Satomi comes around again, things become more and more unsettling…
Season 5, Episode 1: “Wrong Number”
“Wrong Number” tells the story of the wife of an elite salaryman who is frustrated with him for never being home to spend time with her or their son, Hirofumi. One day, she begins receiving strange calls from a woman apologizing for being late and asking the wife to watch her child for just a while longer. Each time, the wife explains that she has the wrong number and grows increasingly angry. Finally, she receives another call from the woman, thanking her for watching Hirofumi for her. The wife is hit with a sudden realization that chills her to the bone…
Season 5, Episode 4: “Copycat”
An entry that’s as sad as it is scary, “Copycat” follows two childhood friends, Haru and Yukari. Yukari copies everything Haru does, from the way she dresses to the hobbies she takes up. She even goes to the same college as Haru, and when they meet for lunch, asks Haru to tell her what classes she’s taking so they can take them together. When Haru blows up at her, she begins to justify her copying, becoming increasingly maniacal until Haru gives in. As Yukari leaves the diner, she crosses the street at a red light, attempting one final act of copying…
Season 6, Episode 6: “Cherry Blossom”
This tale is about a man in the hospital recovering from a serious car accident. He’s become a bit lonely due to being unable to move around, so when he hears some children through the walls that ask him to be their friend, he agrees. The next day, he finds a cherry blossom petal in his bed and asks the nurse about the children and if there are any cherry blossom trees around. The nurse is confused, but says there’s a tree in the courtyard. That night, he asks the children about the tree in the courtyard and they ask him to hurry to their room to look at it. A nurse stops him before he can make it out of bed. The next day, he overhears a conversation that makes his heart drop…
Very much a tale about how loneliness can affect people, “Cherry Blossom” doesn’t need jump scares or gore to send a chill up your spine.
Season 6, Episode 7: “Frog Eggs”
“Frog Eggs” is about a boy named Takuya that struggles with social anxiety. His parents move them to the countryside in the hopes that it will relieve his anxiety a little since there will be fewer people around to look at him. While taking a walk, Takuya comes across a pile of frog eggs and becomes engrossed in looking at them until some other boys arrive. They tease Takuya a bit until he takes off, upset by all the eyes on him. That night, he has trouble sleeping and decides to go back to the river and bring the frog eggs home. His parents find him the next day, staring at the frog eggs as he says something rather peculiar…
The frog eggs seem to follow you around like eyes would, which makes you feel how Takuya probably feels about people looking at him. It adds to the twinge of unease you feel as you watch.
Season 7, Episode 2: “The Sleepless Child”
“The Sleepless Child” is the story of a woman named Sawako, who is home alone with her son, Takeru, for the night. She’s unsettled after seeing a story about a child abduction on the news, but she puts Takeru to bed. Later that night, she hears glass break as Takeru drops a cup in the kitchen. After cleaning up, she goes back to bed and tells Takeru he can sleep with her. She has a nightmare a bit later and wakes up as the phone rings. Her husband has called to explain that he won’t be home until later, but soon the call becomes more sinister…
Season 7, Episode 13: “Refrigerator”
Told from the point of view of a refrigerator, this story revolves around a seemingly perfect family. The father has a good job, the mother keeps the house tip-top, the kids are sweet and adorable, the fridge is always full of good food, and the family eats together daily. As the years pass, though, the refrigerator starts to notice that less and less food is put into it, and the family begins to drift apart and grow angry with each other. After some time, the fridge notices that the father hasn’t been around, and the family begins to fill the fridge with odd-smelling packaged meat…
The use of the refrigerator’s point of view makes this story one of the most unique in the series, and it definitely adds to the chilling vibe (no pun intended).
Season 8, Episode 8: “Viewing”
“Viewing” is about a high school student named Chie who receives a call from her teacher one day telling her the school will be closed for a viewing, and that she shouldn’t come to the campus. She discusses the message with her friends and they all agree to meet up and investigate what’s going on. Chie arrives at the school and receives a text from her friends telling her they’re waiting for her inside. When she enters the building, she finds the classrooms full of sorrowful students. She finds her friends in one of the rooms and goes to sit with them as an announcement comes over the PA saying the viewing is about to begin. However, as Chie soon finds out, this is no normal viewing…
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Anime / Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
Everybody loves a good horror story, don't they ? Well, maybe they got a little more than they wished for in this...
A rather peculiar animated series from Japan, Yami Shibai (also known as Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories or Theater of Darkness ) is a compendium of short horror stories based off Japanese folklore and urban legends, as told by an old man to the kids in a playground, through the paper theater (or "kamishibai"). The series through the ninth season is available on Crunchyroll , with a tenth set to release in January 2022. Oh, and there's also live action adaptation as well (also available on Crunchyroll).
- �And That Little Girl Was Me : The season 3 finale reveals that the child narrator from the third season is actually the old man narrator from the first two.
- Animation Bump : The only bit of conventional animation in the first season is from "Tormentor", which helps to illustrate who is being affected by a particular curse.
- Season 3 has notably better drawn character models, though still with the iconic stop motion animation.
- Once again in Season 4, to the point that some episodes look more like mainstream anime aside from the stop motion.
- And I Must Scream : Anyone who moves into the apartment in "The Neighbors" will be lured into the neighboring one and trapped forever with the tormented spirits of its previous victims.
- Artifact Title : In season 3, the original intro with the paper theater and the old man is replaced with a child drawing in a sketchbook on the playground, so the pun about "Kamishibai" no longer makes sense. Then the season 3 finale reveals that the boy was the old man all along. However, it's back for seasons 4 onwards.
- Art Shift : Season 3 features bouncier and more fluid animation, and slightly more visceral styles for monsters. In season 4, each episodes will have close-up shots in live-action, usually on a small object or a note. In season 5, the art takes on more of a stylized from resembling watercolor or illustration which varies from episode to episode, and some of the episodes feature film grain effects.
- The man in "The Next Floor" wanted to be left alone... So he's left alone in the closed-down, haunted mall at night (or possibly forever ...).
- Miki from "That Side Festival" wanted to stay at the festival forever...
- Babies Ever After : "Nao-chan" ends with Takkun's parents welcoming a new baby into their family, named after their old deceased college friend. By the looks of the face the baby is making, it very well was the Nao-chan shadow Takkun plays with, and heavily implied to be the real Nao-chan as well.
- Black Eyes of Evil : When even apparently normal human characters have these eyes, watch out...
- The Blank : The gallery attendant from "Paintings" reveals that she doesn't have a face when she moves out of the shadows
- Kotone from "Cursed" has one inflicted on her so that her skin is black and blue with bruises and has a red arm stretching around her wrist.
- Satomi from "Merry Go Round" is turned into a twisted merry go round horse, and is still alive .
- Breather Episode : "Flower Reading" in season 5. The episode as a whole has a Lighter and Softer style and is more colorful than the others, and ends on a bittersweet note rather than a Jump Scare or Downer Ending .
- Cats Are Mean : In "Tongue" a man is seemingly haunted by the ghost of a cat for the sole crime of burying it after it had been hit by a car. Except it's not the CAT'S ghost, it's the ghost of a woman whose body he DIDN'T find.
- Costume Copycat : Appropiately used by both Yukari and Haru in the episode "Copycat"
- The boy in the season 3 intro.
- Kotone in the episode "Cursed".
- The friends of the titular "Tomonari-kun", as well as the ghost himself.
- The little girl in "Give It To Me" starts out normal enough, but she gets increasingly creepy as the episode progresses. Then she suddenly appears in the protagonists car...
- The girl in "Flower Reading" is a bit creepy, but might be benign.
- Whatever was inside the titular "Snow Hut".
- Takashi in "Tree of Innocence".
- Creepy Crows : "The Crow Children". They're not actually crows...
- The Matrushka doll from "Inside" and also the doll inside the train locker from "Locker".
- "Taro-chan" from the story of the same name, particularly because he's heavily implied to be housing the soul of a little boy who died in a traffic accident .
- "The Empress Doll"
- Mikoto from "The Reception Room", though thankfully it doesn't seem to be evil.
- The old man telling the stories tends to always speak like this.
- The speaking voice of the Umbrella Goddess.
- The nurse in "The Noisy Hospital Room".
- Nakayama/Honoka in "Calling Crane".
- Creepily Long Arms : Whatever is inside the aquarium in "Fish Tank"
- Darker and Edgier : Season 6 has a heavy focus on ghosts as both antagonists and symbols for painful personal loss.
- Dark Is Not Evil : This trope comes into play at times, such as with the creepy neighbor in the first episode or the Crow Lady in Season 5.
- Dead All Along : The main character from "Copycat" is actually a ghost, which leads to her copycat friend committing suicide. The main character of "Flower Reading" might be this too, if he didn't just die at the end.
- Deathbed Confession : Inverted for "Funeral Confession". All of the attendants of the funeral go into the room of the deceased to tell them one secret they never were able to reveal when the deceased was still around.
- Death of a Child : No one is safe in this series, least of all children.
- Dem Bones : The creepy skeletons that appear when a character lies about writing a story he found on a train and they drag him down to Hell.
- Demonic Dummy : The ventriloquist dummy from Taro-chan.
- Demonic Possession : "Tormentor", "Contradiction", possibly "Inside". The same also applies to "Calling Crane" and "Tomonashi Cave". Also what happens to Satoshi in "Tree of Innocence".
- Downer Ending : For the most part, the stories told by the old man seem to be lack anything resembling a Happy Ending , even if a story doesn't end with an impending death.
- The second season's ending song is sung from the perspective of a middle-aged person who believes they've wasted their life and decides to leap towards the heavens (and their death) rather than stumble around for their remaining decades.
- Eastern Zodiac : The theme for season nine centers around the Chinese Zodiac.
- Eldritch Abomination : More than a few of the... things that appear in the show (read: those that aren't Humanoid Abominations or Animalistic Abominations ).
- "Public Phone", where a phone booth is haunted by a Humanoid Abomination , which lures in more victims by letting them call for help with a phone card inside the booth before killing them
- Evolving Credits : In Season 3, a new singing mask was added to the credits every episode, until all 13 of them appeared around the drawing boy with the thirteenth being worn on the boy's face.
- Exact Words : The ritual in "Swamp Offering" involves throwing away a most prized possession, not necessarily your most prized possession.
- Takuya does this to himself at the end of "Frogs Eggs" so he won't be scared of other people's eyes anymore.
- The woman from "Manga Cafe" sold her eyes to afford a valuable earring
- Failing a Taxi : "Red High Heel" starts with a salary man who's been working late finding it impossible to catch a cab home, and starts to walk home. Once a free taxi picks him up on an empty suburban road, he quickly wishes it hadn't...
- Fate Worse than Death : Anyone who doesn't heed the rule of not taking any pictures of the art in "Paintings" is trapped inside a painting themselves and added to the gallery. And judging by the creepy art, it's not a pleasant fate
- Four Is Death : In "Capsule Toy Machine", the salaryman we follow begins to rapidly age as he uses the mysterious and titular machine one night. He only manages to collect three toys, but as he reaches for a fourth he expires.
- Frequently-Broken Unbreakable Vow : In "Tomonari-kun", the main character promises the boys that she�ll play with the strange shadow they call �Tomonari-kun�, but never has time to keep it (and it's implied she's creeped out by the boys and doesn't want to uphold her promise). Unfortunately for her, Tomonari-kun forces her to enact on the promise, dragging her into him and turning her into another shadow.
- Genre Anthology : The episodes are all independent from each other, with no revisited characters in the stories or horrors.
- Ghost Story : A no-brainer, although in some cases it seems to play with the usual expectations.
- In "Video", three bored boys decided to play a cursed VCR tape they got from their friend. It doesn't end well for them!
- The main character in "Cassette Tape" returns to his parents home and finds one of the old cassette tapes he used to record audio diaries as a child. They start out normal, but the entries go on longer than he remembers doing the diaries, and become increasingly nonsensical and surreal. Eventually, it reaches his teen and adult years, long after he moved out of his parents home, and finally reaches the day he arrived back . He understandably freaks out and pulls off the headphones which he only now notices are not plugged in .
- The TV in "Notice Of Termination of Service" won't shut off, and starts listing people in the town who have died recently, finishing with the name and picture of the main character , accompanied by someone beginning to knock on the door.
- Haunted House : Several, most notably in "The Empress Doll", "Fish Tank", "Sewing Shears" and "Kitchen".
- Heartbeat Soundtrack : Quite often.
- Hellevator : "The Next Floor". It takes the protagonist to floor B4 , which is a totally dark floor that all the patrons (minus him) walk into as if in a trance. Then it goes to B13 , this one lit with a Red Filter of Doom , and a bloodied man tries to drag himself into the elevator, but the doors close just in time.
- Hell Is That Noise : The weird breathing sound the Umbrella Goddess makes.
- Hidden Disdain Reveal : Ayano from "Kitchen" becomes increasingly more unpleasant once she thinks our heroine doesn't like her cooking, ending with her admitting she found her annoying and breaking off their friendship.
- In "The Umbrella Goddess", Kenji is made to stay in his parents' shed and never open the door until morning after seeing the titular spirit. Aside from getting snacks from his friend Takeru, he keeps the door shut all night, throughout shakes, pleading from the spirit, and the spirit impersonating Takeru to get access to him. But just as he moves to go outside to rejoin his friends and family, the spirit seizes him. Well, he did open the door for Takeru earlier...
- "Cursed" makes the viewer think that Kotone's curse had been lifted by the priests once her curse marks went away. Nope. When the previous priests mentioned that there was nothing they could do to stop the curse, they meant it; it not only kills the priestess who oversaw the ritual, but also goes right back to Kotone to claim her life the day afterwards.
- Horror Hunger : "Ominie-san"
- Inescapable Horror : As with many Japanese horror stories, there is no escape once you're targeted by the supernatural, even if you survive the initial encounter.
- Lighter and Softer : Season 4 takes a sharp turn in this direction featuring less gore, tamer monster designs, and a gentle running narration by the old masked man's various voice actors.
- Live-Action Adaptation : Believe it or not, there have been live action adaptions of some of the episodes.
- Look Both Ways : The story Taro-chan tells has him getting hit by a car while riding his bike. Judging by how he sounds like he's sobbing when the policeman throws him off, it's likely that this was how the real Taro-chan died .
- Loss of Identity : Seems to be the Mind Screw ending of "Guess Who?".
- "Red High Heel" has the main character miss the train.
- Missing Mom : The main character's mother in "Thunderous Visitor" abruptly abandoned the family when he was a child. Much to his surprise, she calls him out of the blue during a massive thunderstorm. The call was an even bigger surprise to his father, who had actually murdered her
- "The Handshake Man"
- In-universe, we have "The Umbrella Goddess". The sun is rising, the mood is cheerful and the boy doesn't even notice the Goddess waiting right outside the door
- In "The Next Floor", a mannequin serves as the elevator girl of a hellevator in a department store. She drops the victim-of-the-day off at a floor where he's " left alone " forever, as per his wish.
- In "� Drawings �", a boy with the power to draw monsters into existence sics a handful of mannequins on the watchman. It's implied they murder him.
- Nightmare Face : Plenty of them!
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished : The main character of "Tongue" is haunted for giving a dead cat a proper burial. The ghost is angry that he didn't find her body!
- We never find out exactly what the spirit in "Death Day" is, as it's invisible to everyone except Sachiko, who can see spirits. What we do find out is that it's NOT the ghost of the Kunitake family's mother, as they've thought for the past ten years since it always visited on the anniversary of her death, and smelled of her perfume.
- It's never shown what takes away all the characters when the lights go out in "The Handkerchief Game
- No Ending : The stories that don't have downright Downer Endings just sort of...stop.
- Off with His Head! : Whatever is haunting the apartment in "Sewing Shears", as the top half of his head is missing.
- Rapid Aging : One of the stories in season 2 involves a young man who suddenly turns into an old man while using a cursed toy dispenser.
- "Rashomon"-Style : The episode Contradiction where a girl is called by her two friends who are trapped in a haunted hospital. Unfortunately her friends are both telling the truth about their dire circumstances .
- Together in Death : The main character and his wife in "Flower Reading".
- Trapped in Another World : Miki in "That Side Festival", Takuya and Miyako in "Don't Look Back".
- Spooky Painting : A whole gallery of them in the episode "Paintings". It turns out that they trap people inside them .
- Stealing the Credit : Haga finds a manuscript for a short story, and enters it into a Newcomer Writer contest under his name. The runners at least have the common sense to confirm the matter twice before accepting Haga as the real author, but once he cracks he's Dragged Off to Hell . Not like actually keeping the award was any less traumatizing, mind.
- "The Next Floor" - don't ever think bad things about your family, because some supernatural being is gonna take you on a trip down to hell and then leave you alone in a closed mall for the rest of eternity.
- The later seasons basically all have the moral of "Don't do anything or go anywhere, because you got a good chance of being brutally murdered by ghosts or yokai".
- Not a GHOST per se, but the long, stringy hair appears again in "In The Water", this time belonging to a monstrous fish woman
- Taxidermy Is Creepy : "Museum Of Taxidermy". It's especially creepy when the animal exhibits kill the visitors and staff and turn them into the actual exhibits!
- The Tooth Hurts : "Grinding Teeth"
- Thinks Like a Romance Novel : The protagonist of "Guess Who?"
- Voice of the Legion : Whatever entity's possessing the doll in "Inside".
- Wham Episode : The season 3 finale, which reveals that the little boy from the intro is really the old masked man from season 1 and 2.
- Wham Shot : Season 3 leans heavily into these, with the child's sketchbook featuring the ones used in each episode before the ending credits.
- Would Hurt a Child : Many of the supernatural threats have any qualms about harming or even killing children.
- You Dirty Rat! : The wife in "Rat" is scared of the rats living in the couples new apartment. She was right to be scared . You were right, Ken-chan. They really grew on me.
Alternative Title(s): Yami Shibai
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Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
- Episode aired Dec 7, 2014
The mysterious, yellow-masked Storyteller is a man whose true name and origin are both unknown. He appears at dusk where children gather and recites sinister tales based on Japanese urban le... Read all The mysterious, yellow-masked Storyteller is a man whose true name and origin are both unknown. He appears at dusk where children gather and recites sinister tales based on Japanese urban legends, to which his young audience eerily intakes. However, the Storyteller is no ordinary... Read all The mysterious, yellow-masked Storyteller is a man whose true name and origin are both unknown. He appears at dusk where children gather and recites sinister tales based on Japanese urban legends, to which his young audience eerily intakes. However, the Storyteller is no ordinary teller of tales. He incorporates a kamishibai, a traditional paper-scrolling device, to a... Read all
- Chris Stuckmann
- All cast & crew
- Production, box office & more at IMDbPro
- December 7, 2014 (United States)
- See more company credits at IMDbPro
- Runtime 30 minutes
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Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories (TV 12/2024)
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