Original Run: July 7, 2018 - September 29, 2018 Number of Episodes: 13 Genre: Horror, Supernatural
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Yamishibai 6. Reader discretion is advised.***
It’s time to begin our sixth 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.
- Thunderous Visitor – A man who hates thunder remembers his mother.
- Tomonashi Cave – Four “friends” ignore a Do-Not-Enter sign and venture into a dark cave.
- The Wind’s Warning – A lonely salaryman comes home, and it appears the wind is trying to tell him something.
- Swamp Offering – A newlywed woman moves to the countryside and joins an ancient ritual.
- The Dripping – A man gets stuck in a rainstorm on his way home and chooses to take someone else’s umbrella.
- Sakura – After a car accident, a man recovers in a hospital and befriends some of his fellow patients.
- Frog Eggs – A shy boy, who doesn’t like the stare of others, finds a nest of frog eggs.
- Sea Fortunes – A woman on vacation draws an unfortunate fortune.
- Mud Games – A mother goes to pick up her daughter, but she must hurry through a heavy rainstorm.
- Tree of Innocence – Twin boys are playing in the woods and decide to climb a big tree.
- Frozen Memories – A outdoorsman gets stuck on a mountain during a blizzard.
- Waterfall Drop – A group of friends comes across a waterfall with a supposedly tragic past.
- Echoes – Two college girls go hiking in the mountains as a fog rolls in.
Here we are — again. We have ourselves yet another entry in the Yamishibai franchise. Season six, and I’m astonished it took a full year for us to get this installment.
What? Is this series slowing down or something? In 2017, we got two. Don’t slack off now, guys.
I’m not trying to come off as annoyed or irritated. I am thoroughly numb to the fact that Yamishibai just keeps adding more and more stories to its roster. To let you in on a secret, it would actually be a lie if I said I wasn’t looking forward to this season.
Don’t be mistaken, though. I wasn’t expecting Yamishibai 6 to be good. All excitement I feel towards this franchise stems from a hope that there will be at least one good episode. Any more is just a bonus.
Since hitting its lowest point — thus far — back in season three, Yamishibai has managed to stay afloat. Most episodes from the past few installments have been bland, with a couple entries ranging from utterly stupid to infuriating. Fortunately, there have always been one or two standouts in every new batch.
Yamishibai 6 not only stuck to this consistency, none of its stories reached pure garbage levels.
Nevertheless, this season wasn’t in a great spot. Since this was neither the series’ worst nor was it anywhere close to its best, Yamishibai 6 was pretty forgettable. I had trouble remembering what happened in episode one by the time I got to episode thirteen.
(Not a joke, as I was writing that last paragraph, I totally blanked on what episode one was about.)
That aside, over the past few seasons, there has usually been one storytelling element worth praising. For Yamishibai 6, we got lucky. There were two.
First, the art design was nice. Please take notice: I’m not referring to the animation yet; I’ll come back to this point later. This series’ artwork has always been good. Although I would have preferred it if Yamishibai had retained its more grounded, less anime-looking art style, this wasn’t bad. This season still had plenty of creepy imagery.
Second, the music nailed it this time around. Not only did Yamishibai 6 know how to create ambiance through its soundtrack, it knew when to be silent. Any visual horror story that takes the chance to say something without uttering a sound is often making the wiser choice. For each episode in this season, the biggest spook was noticeably quiet. Even when a story wasn’t particularly scary, the lack of audio added something unnerving.
Although the art design and the music were steady across Yamishibai 6, there were three episodes where everything came together.
The first one I want to mention was Waterfall Drop. This was classic Yamishibai horror. The idea was simple, the reveal was eerie, and there was a moment in this episode that made me say out loud, “Wow, that’s actually terrifying.” This wasn’t the scariest Yamishibai story ever, but remember, this was episode twelve of thirteen. Before getting to this point in the season, nothing else had gotten the blood pumping with the sole exception of episode ten.
If Yamishibai 7 (prove me wrong) can perfect what Frozen Memories did, then this series has a promising future. This episode didn’t show a monster. In fact, I could make an argument saying there was never a monster. The only thing this episode did was say, “Do not open the door,” and this came from a possibly senile old man. The main character was hearing voices, but it was the voice of a precious someone he lost and would have given anything to have back. The point is, you, as the audience, couldn’t be sure, and in horror, not knowing can be the most frightening.
The third episode was Mud Games, and this was just good. Although it wasn’t what I would call “scary,” it was tragic. This was an interesting, non-horror take on a ghost story. This is yet another way Yamishibai can branch out. Spirits and supernatural entities don’t always have to be harbingers of fear.
After all, if you try forcing in a scare, then you will probably end up with Yamishibai 6.
The animation in this season made things confusing. Yamishibai takes inspiration from the Japanese storytelling method of kamishibai which employs static images to tell a narrative. This series has not been known for movement.
In season six, though, there seemed to be a lot less movement than normal. That wasn’t a problem when there was only one character on the screen. However, there were often multiple people, and since their lips didn’t move, I could never figure out who was talking.
For example, episode ten, Tree of Innocence, had a pair of twins. The first shot of these two kids was of them side-by-side, and they immediately started saying words. I was completely lost. It took me about half the episode (an episode with a five-minute runtime, I’ll have you know) to put a voice to a face.
Nevertheless, this was ultimately: Whatever.
The number one thing Yamishibai 6 had going against itself was its unoriginality. This was the sixth time we’ve gone through this specific brand of horror. If you’ve been following this series, you know what’s going to happen, and you know when and where a scare is going to occur.
What made this even more apparent: Sometimes in Yamishibai 6, a scare didn’t need to be used at all, but there was one anyway.
To make my point, I’m going to have to spill into some spoiler territory for the episode The Wind’s Warning.
A man came home and found that he had left his window wide open. He closed it, went about the rest of his night, and returned to see the window had re-opened itself. The man tried his hardest, but the window refused to shut. Then suddenly, the phone rang.
On the other end of the line, a ghostly voice kept repeating, “Die. Die. Die.”
Naturally, the guy lost it. After a quick freak out, the voice then started saying, “Don’t sh…Don’t shu…Don’t shut.”
That second message was a thousand times creepier than being told to die. What made it even worse, there was no reason for the voice to be as harsh as it was. The “don’t shut” comment, made a lot more sense by the end of the episode. Why would this series go to such an extreme if it didn’t lead anywhere?
I’m speculating, but did this episode add the stronger word because other scary stories tell their characters to die? While that is not fun to hear from a voice that shouldn’t exist, it doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t line up with what the voice is trying to accomplish.
This type of unnecessary addition occurred throughout this season. Even in an episode like Mud Games, the final shot took things too far. It didn’t need to end on something creepy, and yet, it did. That sucked because it took a ton of power away from the actual Mud Game story.
For any subsequent Yamishibai seasons, they need to learn to stop when they are ahead.
I’m recommending this series because this is the sixth installment. If you’ve seen the rest, why in the world would you suddenly stop here?
That said, if you’re thinking about making this your first experience with the Yamishibai franchise, you’re about to make a grave error. Start with season one. If you don’t like that then trust me, things do not get better.
For this season, the music and the art were solid. There were some excellent examples of where this series can go in the future. However, there was also plenty of indication that we may be about to hit a brick wall.
In the meantime, it’s Yamishibai, it’s Halloween, so why the hell not?
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Yamishibai 6? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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If you liked what you have read, be sure to follow Anime Hajime on our social media sights so that you never miss a post or update. Also, please share this review across the internet to help add to the discussion.
For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.
Post Editor: Onions
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