Yamishibai Series

Anime Hajime Review: Yamishibai Season 4

More from the Yamishibai series:


Original Run: January 16, 2017 - March 26, 2017
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Horror, Supernatural

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Yamishibai Season 4. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

It’s time to begin our fourth journey into the dark and the macabre, the strange and the creepy. Listen to the stories of the things that go bump in the night.

It’s once again time for Yamishibai.

The Stories
  • Tongue – A man finds a dead cat in the middle of the road and mistakenly takes pity on the poor thing.
  • Fish Tank – Three friends break into an old abandoned house where they find a disgusting-looking fish tank.
  • Sewing Shears – A woman moves into her new apartment, and under one of the floorboards, she finds an old pair of sewing shears.
  • Red High Heel –  A tired office worker hails a late-night cab with a single red high heel in the backseat.
  • Night Bus – On a bus trip, a man steps off for a quick bathroom break. When he returns, the other passengers seem a little off.
  • Guess Who? – A girl’s first date with her long-time crush comes to a close on the train platform.
  • Footsteps – While shopping, a man unknowingly steps into a strange bathroom stall.
  • Cassette Tape – A young man returns to his hometown for a friend’s wedding. While up in his childhood room, he finds an old cassette tape.
  • Grinding Teeth – Two friends are on vacation when one of them starts to suffer from a terrible toothache.
  • Calling Crane – Three friends gather one night to play a game to make contact with the dead.
  • White Line – A teacher notices a student in the courtyard marking the ground with a white line.
  • Snow Hut – A boy is visiting his grandparents during winter vacation when he stumbles upon a small snow hut.
  • Underground Walkway – A man is on his way home when the weather turns foul. He takes shelter from the rain in an underground pathway.

Series Positives

Oh, my god, we’re doing this again! I suppose it’s safe to say Yamishibai will be a series that won’t learn when to die.

Okay, that’s a little harsh. 

While Yamishibai is getting old, this season wasn’t bad. Compared to the last installment, that wasn’t hard to do. Was this chapter as strong as the original? Nothing has been since. The first season was a gem, and all follow-ups will exist in its shadow.

That said, season four was okay. It was different and different for good reasons. There were new things, new things that worked for the most part. Here we got a clear progression of the series. 

Season four learned from the mistakes of season three.

And as we have done so far, here are my top three favorite episodes from this installment:

  • Grinding Teeth
  • Fish Tank
  • Guess Who

We should note that season four was the most consistent Yamishibai installment to date – take that as you will. Each episode was about equal in terms of quality. Or, to put it another way: There weren’t any real standouts. 

Fortunately, that means there weren’t that many flops either.

As a reminder, season three failed because it showed too much. Part of Yamishibai’s brand of horror has been its short episode length. There has never been a ton of time to set up a scare. Therefore, every second is precious. 

Season one and – in many ways – season two focused on the intrigue. What was going on; what wasn’t adding up; what was the threat?

This series’s first two installments made it a point to answer those questions without worrying about the bigger picture. We never got a detailed understanding of what was going to get us. But we did understand this:

Whatever was lurking in the dark was something that should stay in the dark.

Season three threw that out the window; it focused more on the reveal, and it gave us plenty of time to have a clear look at the monster at hand in full motion and perfect lighting. That took the mystery away. 

Season four turned back to the original strategy.

However, what made this season a proper progression was the art style. 

Sometimes this season would employ Yamishibai-classic visuals. Other times things would be more realistic. Then a bit more cartoonish, and on a few occasions, straight-up “anime.” 

Grinding Teeth, for example, didn’t look like Yamishibai, but Yamishibai it was.

Art styles can either help or hinder horror. The mixing and matching of techniques can become distracting if abused. And yet, there was one stylistic addition I would love to see in future installments: Live action.

These moments were compelling. They were quick, they didn’t last long, but they added so much to the overall creep factor. Weirdly, the live-action segments felt the least natural. And for a show like this, that’s a positive.

It was great to see that Yamishibai still knows how to create an atmosphere.

Series Negatives

I’m hoping Yamishibai hasn’t peaked. Still, we’ve seen this series at its best, and season four wasn’t that.

Also, the existence of this installment felt like a cheap move.

For all its problems, season three at least had a solid farewell; I legitimately thought that was the final send-off. With the existence of this fourth installment, that effort has gone to waste. But since it would seem there is no actual end in sight, I am curious to see where Yamishibai will go.

Every episode was, at a minimum, alright. As proof of that, here is where I would have put my three least favorite episodes. The thing is, though, I’m not going to do that because, again, this was the most consistent of the four seasons.

Except for Cassette Tape, that one was kind of dumb.

However, the biggest problem with season four was how close it was to getting it right again. For the things that were different, many were welcomed additions, but not all of them.

The narrator and the narration were more prominent this go-around. 

I can understand why it was here. It did play up the kamishibai style of storytelling that inspired this franchise. Thus, had this been a legitimate kamishibai tale, then yes, the narration would’ve worked.

Unfortunately, this series was an anime, not kamishibai. The latter involves still images and requires the personality of the storyteller. You don’t need to say what’s happening; you can just show it.

Finally, where season three showed too much, season four sometimes failed to release its tension. What do I mean by that?

In seasons one and two, you knew there was a threat; you had a general idea of what was happening. Not enough to create clarity, but enough to know, “okay, yeah, that’s a problem.” You won’t get that in season four.

Many segments were all set up. Did this create a good atmosphere? Yes, some of these stories got rather nail-biting. They continued to build and build, and then the episode was over. 

Wait, you missed a step; as in, you forgot to add the scare. 

Final Thoughts

I understand if you’ve grown tired of this series. If you couldn’t get into the first season, things have only gotten worse since. So if you’ve been hoping that lightning will strike twice, season four doesn’t quite do that.

But it wasn’t what I would call bad.

This installment tried a lot of different things. It does add new life to the series. That alone makes it worth checking out.

Yamishibai Season 4 has earned a recommendation. 

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? How would you advise Yamishibai Season 4? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

More From the Yamishibai Series

Anime Hajime Review: Yamishibai
Anime Hajime Review: Yamishibai Season 2
Anime Hajime Review: Yamishibai Season 3
Anime Hajime Review: Yamishibai Season 5
Anime Hajime Review: Yamishibai Season 6
Anime Hajime Review: Yamisibai Season 7
Anime Hajime Impressions: Yamishibai Season 8
Anime Hajime Impressions: Yamishibai Season 9
Anime Hajime Impressions: Yamishibai Season 10
Anime Ichiban: The Top Ten Yamishibai Episodes – 2018

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