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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.”


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!


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


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.

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