I absolutely love horror anthology shows, as they were part of my childhood growing up. Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Tales from the Darkside, and Tales from the Crypt were just some of the ones I saw as a kid and later as a teen. So when I heard about Sentai Filmworks’ Yamishibai Japanese Ghost Stories: Complete Collection, I knew I was in for some thrills. Featuring twenty-six, five minute episodes on a single disc from both seasons of the show, the low budget presentation and cultural differences will get in the way of most, but those who can past those hurdles will find a wild and weird take on horror stories that only Japan could tell.
This series is just what is says it is, a collection of short stories dealing with ghosts, demons and other spooky stuff that goes bump in the night (or day) in Japan. From a guy moving into a house possessed by spirits, to another waking up in a hospital with demon-like people placing a curse on him as he checks out, to floating ghost heads and zombies haunting people, this is one wild collection of disturbing stories for those who enjoy Japanese horror stories that have become popular here such as The Ring and The Grudge.
The main downsides to this series is the low budget animation style it uses, as in barely animated at all. This is due to the show trying to mimic the traditional Japanese method of storytelling from the 1930’s known as Kamishibai, where a person would roll along with a push cart and entertain children with stories as they moved pictures on the cart, almost like a puppet show or a play. So those thinking they’re getting a full-on anime experience will be disappointed.
Also, the cultural differences tend to make things difficult to follow or understand unless you’re either from Japan or you’re well versed in Japanese mythology. If not, be prepared to do a lot of head scratching as some of these stories will go over your head and make you feel like you’re missing out on something. The Japanese voice actors do a good job with the characters, and the high definition presentation makes the visuals and audio come through without a hitch. Sadly there’s no extras aside from trailers of other Sentai releases. But the stories featured here should be enough to keep those who invest their time here satisfied.
Yamishibai Japanese Ghost Stories: Complete Collection won’t be for everyone, as the budget style of animation and cultural differences will keep most from thoroughly enjoying the stories here. But those willing to look past these things and watch with an open mind will find enough thrills and chills to haunt their thoughts for quite some time.