‘Yamishibai’ Anime Review


Anime: Yamishibai Complete Collection

Released By: Sentai Filmworks

Release Date: April 19, 2016

Retail Price: $34.98


sentai filmworks

The anime series Yamishibai is a selection of short horror based segments that all focus on scary stories of Japanese myths as well as urban legends. These horror shorts are told using something known as kamishibai, a Japanese method of storytelling that depicts various paper scrolls (something that initially sets it apart from horror anime in general.) The different tales detail all entities of the horror genre such as demons, ghosts, hexes (or curses) and a slew of different avenues to explore. The man who hosts this platform of a mini horror theatre wears a yellow mask and holds his kamishibai prepared to get into the eeriest facest of Japan. The series can turn seemingly average objects, or people you may assume are average can have a deep rooted secret that awaits to shock viewers and characters in the midst of the horror series.

The rich adaptation of historical references and myths of Japan is what sets the dark mood of Yamishibai. Even though you may worry about potential cultural disconnects, they do find ways to address the different thematic elements without confusing viewers on the history. The episodes are definitely short (never surpassing a few minutes) but the plot is mapped out enough to keep you mostly understanding the concept as quickly as possible. Something that helps the comprehension is setting the anime series in modern Japan, where certain traditions are shifted better to others’ analysis of Yamishibai. The best comparison that I can use, would be likening Yamishibai to the Japanese equivalent of camp-fire stories. If you go into the series with that sentiment acknowledged, you will have a better understanding of what the energy of Yamishibai tries to capture in its own way.

What makes Yamishibai somewhat creepy is the atmosphere that the series presents. They don’t have too much time to elicit the spooked response that you hope for from a devout horror anime, but the darker ambiance of Yamishibai doesn’t go completely unnoticed. I can’t say by any means that the horror series achieves the success of the prime example of horror, Another – but they do their best to stay in the lane that thrives on scares. The series does stay (fairly) youth friendly, but even then it does have nods to storytelling that can be acceptable to people of all ages. There are moments that would be more than startling to children (without a doubt) from the suspenseful horror that awaits all viewers.

Horror is a delicate genre to take on and even harder to impress the dedicated fanbase, so Yamishibai Ghost Stories deserves some praise and recognition for trying to keep it alive (no pun intended.) It takes different methods of narrative with so many bizarre segments which means that at least one of them should be able to achieve a few moments of unsettling nerves. Even the more average inclusions have an effect from time to time, with the first “episode” including an average woman who radiates an ominous suspicion from a distance or up close. To contrast my previous point, there are certain episodes that don’t contain enough to desire a rewatch, making it slightly disjointed on occasion. Overall, the anime has many more strengths than weaknesses by providing us with a horror laced mood to accompany the twists and turns of Yamishibai.

Yamishibai uses a very different animation technique in opposition of the traditional anime stylings of most series. This anime isn’t meant to have a fluid appearance, instead in captivates with a motion comic direction that can be hit or miss with production. In this instance, the motion comic appeal is fitting (surprisingly) by showing the simplistic designs that are sometimes the most unsettling – whilst embracing a tactical method of scares to unsuspecting viewers. In the beginning, I wasn’t too keen on the concept of animation, but it proved to me that I was wrong about my expectations. The Japanese audio dub in Yamishibai makes the anime series all the more nerve wracking, in a joint effort with the subtle score to establish it as a well thought out anime. If you are a fan of the horror genre and are open to trying something new, pick up Yamishibai on DVD and Blu-ray now!

Overall Score: 7/10

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

– This series had fun new ways of trying to incorporate horror into anime, which I can appreciate.

– The short stories varied in terms of enjoyment, but there were enough aspects that stood out for the better.

– I hope that Yamishibai can potentially help with demand for more horror anime, we are seriously lacking!

Tonari no Seki-Kun: The Master of Killing Time (Review)

tonari no seki-kun

Anime: Tonari no Seki-Kun: The Master of Killing Time (Complete Collection)

Released By: Sentai Filmworks

Release Date: April 12, 2016

Retail Price: $49.98

tonari no seki-kun

sentai filmworks

If you are looking to enjoy a slice-of-life anime series with an overall lighthearted and carefree demeanor, the anime Tonari no Seki-Kun: The Master of Killing Time is most likely the perfect series for you! In the anime, it focuses on the mini-adventures that take place during class hours when two students detach themselves from their surroundings. Initially, we are introduced to Yokoi, a young girl and serious student who has a strong desire to learn from her teacher’s various lessons. Unfortunately (but not really) for Yokoi-san, someone she views as a major distraction makes it hard to invest in her education. The young man named Seki (Seki-kun) conducts his own random activities that make it impossible not to find interest in what he’ll do next.

Seki is always finding a way to entertain himself in the back of the classroom, whether it entails creating a game of his own or creating something new and original on a whim. Of course his creativity has no schedule, so he isn’t afraid to make the most of his school hours  (who can say that they haven’t channeled a little bit of Seki at one point in life?) To Yokoi’s dismay, she’s always the only one to notice his quirkyness – as if he doesn’t exist to the others surrounding them. To make things funnier, Yokoi can find herself so laser-focused that she is actually the one to get in trouble during the in class activities. Although she knows she could get into trouble or is missing out on school subjects, Yokoi becomes more invested in what he’ll do next with each passing episode of the anime series Tonari no Seki-Kun.

The tone of the anime stays at a constant heightened state of comedy, never straying from what the creators set out to do. Tonari no Seki-Kun is spaced out in a 21 episode series, but the episodes themselves only run for roughly less than 10 minutes. The short runtime is a perfect decision, giving it a better chance to blend with the short bursts of creativity that Seki exhibits. Since the anime thrives on brief story segments, there isn’t enough time to grow tired of the episodic nature that works so well as a selling point for new viewers. The series easily finds new and vastly amusing subjects for the short snippets between the two characters of Tonari no Seki-Kun without recycling other series’ comedy. The regular glances that are shared with Seki and Yokoi, in unison with his impressive craftsmanship creates a balance for the multiple comedic dynamics in the anime.

Because of the limited runtime and humorous approach, it doesn’t take a heavy focus at character development per say, but it feels plausible that enjoying characters in the rare moments is an actual asset to the Tonari no Seki-Kun anime. The diversely different characteristics and personality types between Seki and Yokoi make them the perfect two to focus on without drawing a major romantic inclusion. With that being said, the two could be viewed as a potentially sweet pairing, but the anime decides to stay as light as possible. Despite their deviations from each other, neither character seems to be annoying or extreme and feels like a fortuitous relationship that enhances the unique quality. Whether it’s in the middle of a elaborate domino setup, an extreme note passing mailroom or the most intricate game of shogi, you can witness the strengths of the imaginative anime series.

The animation is very subtle and perfect for the tonal tendencies of Tonari no Seki-Kun. Yokoi for example, is artistically depicted as your average school-girl, uniform and all, but has a distinguishable head of white hair as her most unforgettable animation attribute. Seki can most likely be seen making his focused and wacky expressions that make him the artistic standout of Tonari no Seki-Kun. The opening and closing themes of the anime series actually take up a decent chunk of the short runtime, but if you enjoy it as much as myself and others – you won’t mind the catchy songs on repeat. In all honesty, Tonari no Seki-Kun truly raises the bar for slice-of-life anime, finding the perfect technique to tell jovial stories in the right allotted time. I highly recommend you give the series a chance, it definitely wouldn’t take you very long to become interested! Tonari no Seki-Kun: The Master of Killing Time (aka My Neighbor Seki) is currently available for purchase on DVD and Blu-ray now, so make sure you check it out!

Overall Score: 8/10

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

  • Seki and Yokoi are a strong pair of characters to play off of for a fun-centric anime series.
  • Both the Japanese and English dubs of Tonari no Seki-Kun are well done, so fans of both will be pleased.
  • Even though I would enjoy longer episodes, there was something appealing about the contained humor that Tonari no Seki-Kun provided.

Horror Anime Series ‘Parasyte’ Season 1 Review


Anime: Parasyte (Collection 1 Blu-ray)

Released By: Sentai Filmworks

Release Date: April 5th, 2016

Retail Price: $69.98


sentai filmworks

If you enjoy a series that teeters sci-fi, horror and action/adventure, you may have heard of the popular anime Parasyte. In the anime, the world changes after a calm evening is interrupted by a nearly silent alien invasion. This spooky invasion is sparked by creatures known as Parasytes, deadly parasite like organisms that possess and consume every fiber of a human, using them as a shell for their own motives. Soon after, an average teenager named Shinichi Izumi becomes aware of the parasyte as it makes an attempt to take control over every fiber of his being – and make him a deadly predator on his home planet. The attack fails to achieve the results the Parasyte required, and is forced to reside within the arm of Shinichi and nothing more.

The creature that takes control of Shinichi’s arm is named Migi, and quickly takes various shapes to communicate with the host of the Parasyte. The two are forced to coexist with one another in a complex inter-species development that could result in more danger than either anticipate. Being viewed as neither human nor parasyte indicates that in order to survive a newly dangerous world, Shinichi and Migi need to work together if they intend on surviving the threats that continue to appear on a regular basis. The series introduces an unusual partnership that questions various life forms survival needs, and what they are willing to do to maintain their own future. The world of Parasyte successfully sculpts an anime that encaptures the necessary threat of death to signify the importance of enduring – and the hard requirements of maintaining life.

There aren’t too many prosperous anime series that accurately create a horror genre vibe, but Parasyte does its best to appease the genre fans. The creatures are lurking in every corner, and you never quite know what will make a move next. I wouldn’t say that Parasyte is a complete horror series, but the horror anecdotes are sprinkled in ambiance to keep viewers on their toes. The biggest theme that carries over throughout the anime is the notion of survival and the toll it can take on humanity as opposed to these parasitic creatures. The counterbalance between emotion (or lack of) is a great lesson in the coping mechanisms of grief. One moment in particular (it would be too spoilery) brings this to the forefront and plays with death in the most effectively and emotionally upsetting way possible. The series additionally creates a suspenseful tension that rears its head when it’s opportune, making Parasyte a great thriller in numerous ways.

Shinichi is the protagonist of Parasyte, and Migi is introduced to add a separate perspective – while connecting them to know more than another individual character would. Despire being an assumed villain, Migi is actually a great being to play off of Shinichi, making their dynamic entirely fascinating in the first 12 episodes. Migi is very set with a particular method of thinking, while humans are driven by other outside influences, so he can’t comprehend some of Shinichi’s reactions (excellent concept decision.) Shinichi starts as a goofy and semi-perky young man, but after realizing the darkness that the world holds it begins to chip away at his personality. This becomes the most clear after a loss that hits home, leaving the protagonist slightly numb to his feelings – and more like Migi (which he also acknowledges a difference.)

The animation in Parasyte has no choice but to impress viewers with unique and captivating art. The creatures vary in size and appearance which means there must be a choice to keep things consistently fresh for complete enjoyment. The eerie parasytes are the substantial insertions to reaffirm the series horror inspirations, with razor sharp teeth or shapeshifting capabilities to shock characters and alarm characters and viewers. Emotion plays a large part in the artistic choices in Parasyte, making it all important to understand what the protagonist is experiencing through his demeanor. It’s certainly a bloody anime, so you know that this isn’t an average run-of-the-mill, all ages friendly series. The Sentai Filmworks collection includes both the Japanese and English version of Parasyte, giving fans the choice to enjoy the traditional horror or the reworked dub for a different take as well. Parasyte collection 1 is only the first half of the series, so when things amp up for the concluding arc of the sci-fi/horror you can guarantee I’ll be excited to see how the plot pans out! Parasyte is available now on DVD and Blu-ray!

Overall Score: 8.3/10

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

-Shinichi is a sweetheart, but seeing him become emotionally tarnished towards the ending was hard to watch.

-Migi and Shinichi had a very dynamic relationship that only a few anime series have approached.

-The true horror in Parasyte is the gore and science fiction creatures that have importance in the 12 episode first season