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Corpse Party Live Action (review)

liveaction-corpse-party-blu-rayreview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Corpse Party

Director: Masafumi Yamada

Studio: Kadokawa Daiei

U.S. Distributor: Switchblade Pictures

U.S. Release Date: September 27, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 94 Minutes

Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Mystery

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Corpse Party-Tortured Souls OVA

Fair warning: The following film contains massive amounts of blood, body parts, and entrails

Synopsis:

Horror Movie Lesson Number One: if you want to stay in touch with your friends, performing a binding ceremony on the grounds of a school that was demolished after a series of horrific murders may not be a great idea.

Otherwise, as a group of Japanese teens quickly learn to their horror, the simple ritual may open a doorway to an otherworldly dimension where the infamous Heavenly Host High still exists, and the demonic occupants within seek to redecorate the gore-soaked and carnage-strewn halls with a new set of bloody corpses.

Now, it’s a brutal education in supernatural survival as the students fight both the resident spirits and each other, where the odds of graduating alive, let alone in one piece, are sliced shorter and shorter with every heart-pounding second. Japan’s ultra-violent videogame and anime phenomenon becomes a shocking live action feature film as hell is unleashed at the CORPSE PARTY!

Commentary:

Corpse Party is a live action movie based on the anime series Corpse Party-Tortured Souls OVA and the game series by the same name. We all know how these are usually teasers to get you to buy the games. I don’t play games. I don’t have the time. Most have a tendency to end just as you are getting into it and when the story is getting interesting. I’m happy to say this was not the case. It’s complete, and in an hour and a half they are able to wrap everything up into a nice package and yet still leave something open for a sequel. This feels more like the late 1990s, early 2000s Japanese live action horror movie genre, which included titles like Dark Water, Grudge, Ring, Shikoku, and Suicide Club. It has the same ominous feeling and semi-predictability. But those are features that have endeared these types of stories to their fans. One thing is sure and that is Corpse Party does beat its predecessors with the amount of blood and gore that it shows. Makes most of the recommended titles seem tame actually.

This leads us to the storyline. Most live actions like Corpse Party lack a storyline and are not super original. They solely survive on how bloody it can be and will take another bloody death over a glimpse of story any day. That’s where it breaks from horror and goes into the mystery aspect. Corpse Party does have a couple of twists that you would not expect. Just as you think you know what happened in the past that leads to current events, it throws in something completely unexpected that makes you rethink the entire thing. The only complaint, and considering it’s only an hour and a half, is everything seems rushed. They had to connect the dots in very little time. I have to admit that I had seen the anime and they went into a little more detail in the anime, than they did in the live action. They also had to omit a few things, nothing too consequential, and they also changed up a few times when things happened. The story was pretty decent and you had to connect a lot of those dots yourself, with little explanation outside of contexts clues they give. In the end you will have a few questions left but I think they are not very large compared to the story itself. The other thing was the characters. Though not well developed (how can you with so little time) you get a general idea of everyone and you tend to figure out personalities. In the end you learn to like most of them, but don’t get too attached, as the title lives up to its name. The only other thing to mention is the music is perfect for the setting of the movie.

Because I did love Corpse Party in its animated form, I decided to give it a try in its live action form. I was not disappointed. Maybe one day, if I ever find the time, I will pick up one of the many incarnations of the game, and give it a try.

Extras:

Corpse Party includes scene select and Corpse Party trailer. This movie was released with Japanese with English Subtitles as the only language option.

Overall Grade: B-

Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories (anime review)

yamishibaireview provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories-Complete Collection

Director: Tomoya Takashima

Studio: ILCA

Author: Hiromu Kumamoto

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: April 19, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 26 Episodes / 117 Minutes

Genre: Horror

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Corpse Party and Ghost Stories

“Tonk Tonk Tonk” “Step right up and have a look… It’s time for Yamishibai.”

Synopsis:

Ghosts. Curses. Demons. If you crave tales of terror and seek mysteries that defy explanation, go to the park at 5. That is when the man in the yellow mask will arrive with his kamishibai, the paper theater, to tell his sinister stories of Japan’s darkest side. But be warned, this storyteller’s works may do more than simply send shivers down your spine. As they say, the more fascinated you become with the supernatural, the more the supernatural may become fascinated with you.

Enter a world where the closest of friends can become the deadliest of enemies, where the most mundane of objects can become hair-raising nightmares, and not even one’s own family can be trusted to remain human. Dare to pierce the veil of darkness and a realm of ultimate horror awaits as you discover Yamishibai – Japanese Ghost Stories!

Commentary:

You read on the outer cover “Complete Collection” “Seasons one & two”. You open the BD box to see one disc. “What darkness was used to cram two seasons on one disc?”

This is the story of a particular anime series called Yamishibai Japanese Ghost Stories, based on random horror story shorts, as each story or episode is 5 minutes with 1:15 eaten by the opening and ending. They are very reminiscent of childhood campfire stories, basically the same type of stories that you sat around a campfire, cooking smores and burning marshmallows on a stick, and told to try to scare the crap out of your friends. The stories, while being well within the G rating, tend to be more on the creepy side then really scary. There is nothing gory; no blood, guts, or anything like that, considering they are written for kids watching the afternoon cartoons after school. Nothing jumps out of nowhere and there is little sudden movement due to the style of the animation. While most of the stories will not scare you, and some may seem silly and predictable, Yamishibai Japanese Ghost Stories does a great job of manufacturing a creepy feeling. Regardless of age, most will enjoy them, if you like creepy, horror, or urban legend stuff. Most of the stories end a bit open and leave them for the audiences’ interpretation. The animation itself is choppy, has little movement in the way of people, mouths or constant changing of background. The animation is shaped after an ancient Japanese form of storytelling that started around the 12th century called Kamishibai (literal translation Paper Drama). The animation looks like paper cutouts moved around with a background behind them. It’s the Japanese version of the puppet shows. The animation does take some getting used to and at first I had a hard time with it. After a while the animation actually enhances the creepy aspects of Yamishibai Japanese Ghost Stories. This half of the review was written after watching only the first season.

Season one… A-

This is the story of a strange anime series called Yamishibai Japanese Ghost Stories. This is covering the second season magically graphed on the first season disk. They are still horror short stories crammed into a five minute run time. I can no longer compare them to the campfire story telling. I am not really sure what to compare them to. After Dark? Those silly spooky story books you got from the book fair at school? All the smores were eaten and all that remains are the ashes of the logs from the night before. You have now woken up to the horrors of packing up camp and heading out. The stories changed. Now more a PG rating, gory imagery replaced the subtle and very effective method of storytelling that had previously been used. Having replaced the dark imagery with more a macabre scenery and well placed silence with excessively ineffective and unneeded dialog, the stories lost the perfectly manufactured spookiness and left if for a more laughable place. The stories abandoned the open endedness and left nothing for the audiences’ interpretation, one of the strongest features that made the first season work. The other feature that made the first season was the kamishibai style animation. It changed to more a hybrid with a lot more movement and less eerie stillness that help make it all work.

Season Two. . . . .D

Extras:

Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories-Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations along with Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with Japanese with English subtitles as the only language option.

Overall Grade: B 

Season 2 did not detract from my enjoyment of season 1. Overall Yamishibai Japanese Ghost Stories lost some of what made it work well after the first season; I would still recommend it for those who loved being the one that told the story that made your friends unable to sleep in their sleeping bags for fear of what may have been inside the darkness held within.

When They Cry: Complete Collection Season One on Blu-ray (anime review)

when-they-cry-1Review provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: When They Cry: Complete Collection Season One on Blu-ray

Director: Chiaki Kon

Studio: Studio Deen

Author: Ryukishi07

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: March 15, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 26 Episodes / 650 Minutes

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Psychological, Supernatural, Thriller

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A+

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Elfen Lied, Another, and Future Diary

Synopsis:

Moving to the picturesque town of Hinamizawa is going to be a big adjustment for Keiichi Maebara. For all its beauty, it is also very small, so small that there’s only one school, one where most of the students have known each other all their lives.

Fortunately, he soon meets four girls… Rena, Mion, Satoko, and Rika, who are willing to let the new guy in town join their afterschool club. And for a while, things seem wonderful. Until Keiichi starts discovering strange things, like when the project manager for a controversial dam project was found dismembered five years ago.

As he digs deeper, there are whispers and rumors of other murders and disappearances, stories of a town curse, and mysterious rituals. And then people he knows start to die. What secrets have the people of Hinamizawa kept hidden from the rest of the world? Could his new friends somehow be involved? The shocking answers to these and other questions will be revealed in When They Cry: Complete Collection!

Commentary:

When They Cry: Complete Collection epitomizes how you should never judge something by its cover. It looks like a simple, generic harem series at first glance; however When They Cry: Complete Collection is anything but that. When They Cry: Complete Collection is nothing short of genius and the whole setting, atmosphere, and mood are incredibly well executed. The plot may seem simple at first with a new kid moving to a strange, new town and meeting new friends but beneath the exterior appearance of this seemingly tame series lays a dark story of murder, violence, and mystery.

When They Cry: Complete Collection has a plot that consists of arcs. Although these arcs seem disjointed at first, it is all part of the plot and is actually an important part of solving the mystery of the Hinamizawa murders. However, When They Cry: Complete Collection is not a simple, generic murder mystery where the solutions are force fed to us. It is up to us to decide between what is true and what is not. This way we think and interact with the story. Each arc has a twisted finish that will leave you saying, “What just happened?”.

While When They Cry: Complete Collection is full of mentally instable characters, however they are extremely well written and developed. Luckily, the mental instability of the main characters does not take away from their personality and interaction. Each and every character serves a purpose to the plot in some way, shape, or form so be sure to pay attention to what a character does in different arcs.

The animation was normal for the age of the series but the background animation was breathtaking. The opening and closing songs were amazing and fit the series perfectly. The voice actors filled the series with psychotic laughter, blood-curling screams, and extremely cute voices in order to bring the characters to life.

Extras:

When They Cry: Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. When They Cry: Complete Collection has both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: A+

I cannot begin to explain how excited I am that Sentai Filmworks licensed When They Cry: Complete Collection! I hope they release the rest of the series so that we can learn what else happens. I recommend that you watch When They Cry: Complete Collection if you enjoy the horror or psychological thriller genre. You will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

Corpse Party-Tortured Souls: OVA (anime review)

corpse-party-ovaReview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Corpse Party-Tortured Souls: OVA

Director: Akira Iwanaga

Studio: Asread

Author: Shoichi Sato

U.S. Distributor: Maiden Japan, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: January 26, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 4 Episodes / 100 Minutes

Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Mystery

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Another, Elfen Lied, When They Cry, Danganronpa the Animation

Fair warning: The following anime series contains massive amounts of blood, body parts, and entrails

Synopsis:

The horrifying events that occurred on the unhallowed grounds of the Heavenly Host School were so gruesome and shocking that the entire school was razed in an attempt to wipe the events from memory. But, foolishly, a new high school, the Kisaragi Academy, was built in Heavenly Host’s place, and the only thing true evil requires is an invitation. So when a group of students innocently perform a charm intended to bind them as friends forever, the nightmarish evil is unleashed once again.

Transported into a living hell where Heavenly Host still stands and undead horrors stalk the bloodstained halls, the students are now the prey in the most brutal test ever designed by inhuman minds. What follows is not for the squeamish or weak of heart, as they are hunted down in a savage game of torture, murder, and insanity. Japan’s most terrifying series of videogames comes to gut-wrenching life as the spirits of the damned host a Corpse Party!

Commentary:

Here we go again. Yet another anime based on a game where the game came first, the bane of anime loving non-gamers everywhere. We all know how these are usually teasers to get you to buy the games. I don’t play games. I don’t have the time. Most have a tendency to end just as you are getting into it and when the story is getting interesting. They hit you with the “Play the game to find out how it ends” part, the thing I have grown to hate more than anything I can name. Why did I pick this up knowing it was… Wait there was an ending. None of this having to play the game to know how it ended bull. In only four episodes they managed to get a story in.

There are not many horror stories in anime that are like Corpse Party-Tortured Souls. The paranormal/slasher genre is not common. With limited titles the story has to be decent. This feels more like the late 1990s, early 2000s Japanese live action horror movie genre, which included titles like Dark Water, Grudge, Ring, Shikoku, and Suicide Club. It has the same ominous feeling and semi-predictability. But those are features that have endeared these types of stories to their fans. One thing is sure and that is Corpse Party-Tortured Souls does beat its predecessors with the amount of blood and gore that it shows. Makes most of the recommended titles seem tame actually. Seems more like an older anime like Ninja Scroll, where it rains blood with half bodies falling from the sky. Corpse Party-Tortured Souls has lots of gore, and horrible ways of dying. With only four episodes they had to work to cram everything in and it did make it hard to follow. I have to admit I had to actually watch it twice thru and caught many things I had originally missed.

Which leads us to the storyline. Most anime series and live actions like Corpse Party-Tortured Souls lack a storyline and are not super original. They solely survive on how bloody it can be and will take another bloody death over a glimpse of story any day. That’s where it breaks from horror and goes into the mystery aspect. Corpse Party-Tortured Souls does have some amazing twists that you would not expect. Just as you think you know what happened in 1973 that leads to current events, it throws in something completely unexpected that makes you rethink the entire thing. The only complaint, and considering its only four episodes, is everything seems rushed. They had to connect the dots in very little time. This is why I watched it twice and had a much better understanding the second time around. The story was complex and you had to connect a lot of those dots yourself, with little explanation outside of contexts clues they give. In the end you will have a few questions left but I think they are not very large compared to the story itself. The other thing was the characters. Though not well developed (how can you with so little time) you get a general idea of everyone and you tend to figure out personalities. In the end you learn to like most of them, but don’t get too attached, as the title lives up to its name. The only other thing to mention is the opening and ending are perfect for the setting of the series.

I could not help but to look up the games because I enjoyed Corpse Party-Tortured Souls a lot. I have come to find out there are many versions of the game and many different ideas in the games, and the anime is completely original from them all, so even if you played the games, this is new and worthwhile to look up, rather be a fan of the games or a fan of the horror genre.

Extras:

Corpse Party-Tortured Souls: OVA includes clean opening and closing animations and Maiden Japan trailers as special features. This series was released with Japanese with English Subtitles as the only language option.

Overall Grade:B-

Brynhildr in the Darkness: The Complete Series (anime review)

Brynhildr-Darkness

review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Brynhildr in the Darkness: The Complete Series

Director: Kenichi Imaizumi

Studio: Arms

Author: Yukinori Kitajima

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: October 6, 2015

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes + 1 OVA / 350 Minutes

Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Horror

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Elfen Lied

Synopsis:
Haunted by memories of his childhood friend Kuroneko, Ryota Murakami has dedicated himself to discovering the truth behind the claim she’d made before she died: That aliens from other worlds walk among us. Believing that becoming a scientist is the path to the truth, Murakami pursues his studies by day and peers through a telescope at night. But when a girl named Kuroha Neko joins his class, the answers he’s sought may be closer than he ever expected.

For Kuroha looks exactly like an older version of Kuroneko, and seems to have abilities that no human could have. But the truth isn’t the only thing Murakami is about to uncover, and the secrets he’ll learn come with a deadly price. Because Kuroneko was correct in her claim, and there are those who will do anything to keep that knowledge hidden. And unless Murakami and a handful of unlikely allies can somehow survive their lethal purge, the entire human race could be doomed! Will Murakami and his allies survive? Is Kuroha actually Kuroneko? You will have to watch Brynhildr in the Darkness: The Complete Series and find out!

Commentary:
Brynhildr in the Darkness: The Complete Series is a unique combination of genres that normally do not belong together. Harem animes can usually be grouped with action pretty well, and also mystery. Drama and harem are a given as there is no harem without drama. But it’s not common to group a harem with a sci-fi horror. Most harems these days fall into the rom-com area, where there, the only serious thing that happens is the let down someone gets when rejected for another. Rejection seems so trivial compared to the ultimate fate of many of the characters in this series. In the end it made for a very complicated plot, with a lot of different side stories, and a bit of a twist in the end.

Brynhildr in the Darkness: The Complete Series starts immediately with scenes from the past, of a lost childhood friend and someone trying to cope with loss early in his life. Fast forward several years, Ryota has yet to come to terms with his friend’s death. The nightmares never stopped, nor did the guilt that he was responsible for her death and that he lived. This has made him a bit of a recluse by this point in his life, fearful of the pain he felt then. He focuses more on his studies, being top ranked in his class and 4th in the entire nation. His focus on his work is how he copes. That is until she walks into the classroom. She looked the same, sounded the same, and the name was very close to the nickname he called her. The trauma he never got over comes back full force as he tries to figure out if it’s really her. Life is about to get very complicated.

The plot was unique. Due to this, a few holes did pop up. Nothing you could drive a spaceship thru, but something that made you go ‘huh?’ Because the anime only got a half season (12 episodes) it did seemed rushed at times, as they had to get the story in. Overall it all worked out though. There was plenty of fan service, and 2 minutes later the walls were covered with blood. If you have seen Elfen Lied they are both by the same person, so you have some idea what to expect in the way of blood, guts and gory. But this series does very much separate itself from its older brother. The other thing is character development. They developed the four main characters well, but many of the others you don’t get to know very well. The art and music were good. I loved the opening theme for the first 9 episodes and the OVA. I personally did not need that second opening.

Extras:
Brynhildr in the Darkness: The Complete Series includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: B+
This was a very difficult series to review without spoiling the plot. Overall Brynhildr in the Darkness: The Complete Series will draw you in, make you feel anger and sadness, and ultimately deliver a twist that was not expected. Just be ready to bathe in blood and entrails.