Original Run: July 2, 2017 - October 1, 2017 Number of Episodes: 13 Genre: Horror, Supernatural
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Yamishibai Season 5. Reader discretion is advised.***
It’s time to begin our fifth 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.
- Wrong Number – A homemaker must deal with a persistent wrong-number caller.
- Give it to Me – An office worker runs into the same little girl every day, and each time, the child asks for something of his.
- The Crow Children – A woman and her daughter visit the countryside where they pass an old lady in black.
- Copy Cat – Two lifelong friends enter college, but one has a habit of copying everything the other does.
- Shadows of Women – A woman can’t help but feel that her husband isn’t telling the truth.
- Okaishi-sama – A girl is distraught after her boyfriend dumps her, and she is willing to try anything to get him back.
- Hide and Seek – While passing by, a boy sees someone in the window of an old, dilapidated house.
- The Neighbors – A woman moves into her new apartment, but the place seems way too good to be true.
- If You Want to See Ghost – A woman learns of a trick to see ghosts and shows it off to her friend.
- Flower Reading – A man meets a child whose flower readings are never wrong.
- I’m the Only One – The story of one woman who values her beautiful hair more than anything.
- The Last Bus – A woman makes the mistake of falling asleep on the last bus of the night.
- Seductress – A beautiful woman is at the center of numerous missing person cases.
I’m not surprised Yamishibai is now in its fifth season; I can’t help but imagine this series isn’t going anywhere now.
However, a year has not even passed since season four.
This isn’t worth getting mad over. In fact, I don’t care anymore; bring on number six, come on number seven. Let’s see who outlasts who.
Cynicism aside, should Yamishibai continue as it has been for the last two seasons, then I would say it has found an acceptable groove. Season five wasn’t great; it wasn’t awful; it was all around, meh.
As is a tradition at this point, here are my top three episodes from season five. Except, I’m going to change the wording a tad. These are my top three “scariest” episodes of season five:
- Give it to Me
- Hide and Seek
And if you’re wondering why there should be a difference, I assure you, there is one:
Give it to Me had a good payoff. The lead-up to the scare was rushed; there’s no getting around that. However, the idea was solid, culminating in an unsettling resolution.
I don’t know about you, but the last place I ever want to see something unexpected is in my car’s rearview mirror.
The reveal in this episode was something unnatural yet not outrageous. At least, It didn’t turn cartoonish like other examples I can point to throughout the franchise.
Okaeshi-sama had a great structure. We learned everything we needed to know in a short amount of time. The events of the episode had an actual reason behind them. Sure, relying on misfortune can work; sometimes bad things happen, and there is no explanation why.
Except Yamishibai has been using this trick way too much. It was nice going back to a clear cause-and-effect structure.
Plus, I love how the episode didn’t show us what happened. It only gave enough to know whatever did happen was brutal.
Hide and Seek could have fit right at home in the first season. This episode was an example of what only Yamishibai can do.
In less than five minutes, this show can create a tense atmosphere. Most of that tension derived from the impending jump scare. However, the real upsetting bit came in the release. If the thing that was in that house were staring at me, I’d have pooped my pants.
I always need to acknowledge whenever this series manages to make me shield my eyes.
So, those were the three scariest stories. Except, none of them were my favorite. The one that holds that title is Flower Reading.
This episode was easily the most unique Yamishibai story of the entire franchise because it wasn’t meant to be scary. On the contrary, Flower Reading was super moving.
I go into this series expecting horror. But I have to give credit to good storytelling when I see it. This episode was sad and pleasant at the same time, there was no hint of malicious intent, and the ending put a humbling smile on my face.
I wouldn’t call it the happiest of resolutions, but I suppose that depends on your definition of “happiness.” If I had to guess, the character from this episode would argue he got something he wanted.
I’m not sure what it says when the best episode of a horror series isn’t even a horror episode. Regardless, I’m never going to forget it.
I no longer see the point in ranking my top three least favorite episodes. And yet, those that would make that list also have something in common. I never know what is going on during those kinds of stories.
For example: Wrong Number.
The episode could have left it as some random entity; that would’ve been fine. Instead, the story tacked on many unnecessary and under-explained details at the end, leaving the whole thing more confusing than anything.
Why was the woman so frightened from the last call? Sure, I can speculate, but given how much she freaked out, what I have in mind is extreme. And if I’m right, that would make this an incredibly heavy-handed approach. But if I’m not, then the woman overreacted for no reason.
Season five had two unique problems, and the first I started to see back in season four.
I can’t get into the direction this art style is taking. It will be weird to say this, but Yamishibai is beginning to look too good. Settings and locations are becoming more detailed, everything is sharper and easier to see, and characters look more like ones you might find in a typical anime.
Part of what made the first season so fascinating was its choppy animation. This style made the stories more intense. Not only were they scarier, but they were also hard to look at, given the chill they sent down your spine. It didn’t feel right (in a good way).
Also, it was a shame the quick bits of live-action didn’t make a return. That was a neat extra helping of creep factor season four had going for it.
The other problem was how rushed the episodes felt.
There were a lot of good ideas here. Too bad many of them got crammed into a five-minute runtime. If some of these stories had the opportunity, they could have been outstanding.
Give it to Me could’ve gone so much further. What if the woman met the little girl a few more times? Imagine if the plot had built up more. The leap from cute to kill-it-with-fire occurred way too fast. Add a little “off-putting” and “troublesome” elements in there, and you have the makings of nightmare fuel.
Some of these stories could have been the basis for an entire series. Seductress would’ve made for a decent horror anime on its own. Actually, it would not surprise me if such a show did exist.
Just because you can tell a story in five minutes doesn’t mean you should.
If you’re still watching this series, this is not the place to stop. This season was, more or less, par for the course.
Although the peak has come and gone, this wasn’t a return to the struggle that was season three. And yet, with each season, I can’t help seeing this series losing what made it what it was.
And though I may grumble about it, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little excited with each new installment. For what it’s worth, Yamishibai Season 5 has earned a recommendation.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? How would you advise Yamishibai Season 5? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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