Original Run: July 8, 2019 - September 30, 2019 Number of Episodes: 13 Genre: Horror, Supernatural
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Yamishibai Season 7. Reader discretion is advised.***
It’s time to begin our seventh 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.
- Delivery – A man waits to accept a package for a friend.
- The Sleepless Child – A mother is restless due to past regrets.
- The Reception Room – An elderly couple dot over a doll as if it was the daughter they never had.
- Paintings – A man attends a mysterious art gallery.
- Notice of Termination of Service – A salaryman is surprised by the unusually high number of funerals in a rural town.
- The Veranda – A woman hears strange noises coming from her balcony.
- Public Phone – A woman receives a frantic call from her sister.
- Cough – A man is on bad terms with a fellow tenant at his apartment complex.
- The Woman in the Elevator – A woman and man find themselves stuck in a stopped elevator.
- Manga Café – A manga café employee encounters an odd customer.
- Little Sister’s Room – A brother learns why it is not a good idea to enter a sibling’s room without permission.
- Fitting Room – A woman finds a small fashion boutique that is carrying all her former styles.
- Refrigerator – A fridge looks on at the family that bought it.
I’m floored, as well as disappointed with myself.
I claim to be a fan of the Yamishibai series. Or, at the very least, I don’t hide my enjoyment of it. Despite that, I am the first to admit Yamishibai season one was an absolute gem and every subsequent installment afterward, not including the occasional hit segment, never successfully rose to meet the original.
As time passed, we got season two, then three, then four and five (in the same year), and then season six. Now, over half a decade since the airing of the original (as of the posting of this review), we have reached an unsurprising season seven. However, there is a crucial difference between this installment and its five predecessors.
This one was good.
I’m not saying season seven was good because it surpassed an already low bar. No, I’m saying this was on par with the first Yamishibai.
If you’re not a fan of season one, then naturally, me saying season seven was its equal won’t mean much to you. But if season one was what brought you into this series, and you’ve been waiting for the day when Yamishibai would throw out the scares en masse once again, well, that day has finally come.
There were four horror tools season seven used to full effect:
- Tight Spaces
The first point, simplicity, has been the key to all Yamishibai’s most successful stories. Each episode doesn’t have a lot of time to work with; thus, none of them have ever had the luxury of lingering on why A caused B to happen. With only five minutes to tell a story, “because of ghosts” is all the explanation this series has ever needed.
Granted, randomly jumping from point to point means disregarding a rational. In any genre, but especially in horror, there does need to be some logic. There should be a set of rules, and this is where horror has an advantage. Its rules can be barebones and still suffice.
This was prevalent throughout season seven, and one of its best examples can be seen in the story Public Phone. This segment never took the time to sit us down and explain how the monster operated. Nevertheless, the methods were obvious. With only a few critical pieces of information, we were able to see the whole picture. There was no elaborate trick; no reliance on unbelievable luck. The cycle of this horror was as smooth as falling dominos. And in just five minutes, Yamishibai had created one of its most frightening creatures to date.
Secondly, season seven finally did what this series has been trying to remember since it bungled it back in season three. Part of effective horror can, and often, includes a slow, methodical build-up. A monster is at its most terrifying when it is in the shadows. Fear lies in the corner of your eye. Then, when a reveal finally does happen, your brain needs a moment, even if a brief one, to register what it is seeing. How long this registration takes varies from person to person, but for argument’s sake, let’s say there is about a one-second sweet zone between showing and knowing.
Recalling season three, it had a horrible habit of lingering on its monsters. While they were typically gross, disfigured, and unnatural, season three gave you a good long time to see all the details. In horror, the initial shock of a reveal dissipates as quickly as it arrives. Season three struggled to have decent scares because it was more concerned with highlighting its monster designs.
Jumping now to season seven, this installment had the segment Little Sister’s Room. This actually managed to scare the s@#$ out of me. This monster reveal was so sudden, and so fast, I’m still not entirely sure what I saw. The last time I clearly remember this series getting me that much was back in season one.
Thirdly, season seven did away with big, open spaces. Everything was narrow, close, and constricting. There was no room to breathe or maneuver. Rarely did a threat start off in the distance. But it wasn’t just threats. This season would have an entire narrative play out, and we would only see it from one very limited viewpoint.
The story Refrigerator did this brilliantly. The set up sounds silly: A fridge giving its thoughts on the family that bought it. Be that as it may, this was easily one of the best episodes of the season. I think the phrase “family disintegration” is downplaying what happened.
Finally, there were this season’s visuals.
Throughout the franchise, Yamishibai’s look has gone through various iterations; often within the same season. Number seven remained mostly consistent, and I would consider that a plus. What this did was allow this installment to go creepy. Because the art style wasn’t constantly changing, a sense of familiarity formed, and therefore, when things took a turn, they turned hard.
All I can say to this is, watch Paintings.
I honestly thought it would never happen. This series had grown quite lackluster, and I have only stuck with it because why in the hell would I stop after going this far already? Thanks to season seven, I now know that Yamishibai, even if it takes a while, can have lightning strike twice.
Let me be real with you.
I was so impressed with this season I sort of forgot to take note of when things didn’t go quite right. I’m dead serious. This was a solid series.
For the record, I can tell you my least favorite episode was Fitting Room. Why was that? It was because I felt I had seen an iteration of this story already from Yamishibai. That, I suppose, is one “negative” I can associate with this season.
Many of the stories in number seven appeared to be retellings of previous Yamishibai narratives. Granted, nothing was ever one to one, but similarities did exist.
Using Fitting Room as an example, it was the tale of a woman who slowly lost herself to nostalgia. A shop carried all the clothes she had worn in her life which she had associated some meaningful significance. I won’t reveal the outcome, but this wasn’t dissimilar to Capsule Toy Machine from season two. The resolution to both stories was different; however, they were equally sinister in nature.
When side by side, I guess I would say Capsule Toy Machine was the stronger of the two. However, Fitting Room was, by no means, bad. Besides, just because two stories shared elements, that isn’t necessarily wrong.
Season seven, assuming it did take inspiration from what came before, was well within its right to do so. Two storytellers can take the same idea and come to two very different conclusions. That’s perfectly fine since it means good ideas don’t have to die when they are put in terrible stories.
And if there is one thing I have been trying to make clear with this review, its that Yamishibai 7 was as far removed from terrible as you can get.
Good luck to season eight.
The great thing about this series is, you can view it in whatever order you like. So, for once, I can encourage you to watch something without you needing to check out what came before it.
Regardless, this season was completely unexpected. If you were ready to give up on this franchise, I would encourage you not to let this one slip past you.
Yamishibai Season 7 gets a resounding recommendation.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? How would you advise Yamishibai Season 7? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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