Overall Rating: 3/5 moons
Yami Shibai is one of those short mini series where each episode is about 10 minutes each. Each episode is not linked to the previous one. Yami Shibai (Dark Play) the stories of each episode are told in a way that takes inspiration from the Japanese traditional way of storytelling street theatre, Kamishibai (Paper Play), where there would be a narrator travelling with his illustration boards to tell simple stories to passerbys.
Story – 6/10
Yami Shibai does initially give off what every horror fan seeks, weird unexplainable haunting. They do occasionally low blow you with the jump scares (those f*ckers). This series is great as an entry level for the horror genre because 10 minutes isn’t enough for any audience to feel attached or develop any psychological traumas after watching (editor’s note: we’re only half joking at this point.) At the same time, the show isn’t too washed down for kids and it does have its moments.
The show does bring in a lot of culture, folklore and old beliefs in Japan into their series. So if you don’t know anything about this sort of stuff, well, don’t expect those 10 minutes of show time to explain it to you. (That’s the show’s way of telling you to “git gud”). But not to worry, it’s quite rare that the series requires its audience to know too much in order to understand what’s going on.
Overall, it was a really enjoyable scare, but after the first season is done and you start to move onto the next, the series does die down a bit because everything starts to feel repetitive. It even got so bad to a point where I was able to predict the jump scares and story line for a lot of the episodes. As a horror genre show, that is absolutely the last thing you want your audience to start doing.
Character – 5/10
In each episode we’re presented with a new set of characters; all very different. The show for the most part does make it easy for us to understand the characters because most of them take on common everyday people you see and know of, like school students, working adults, parents and etc.
There are no real permanent characters in Yami Shibai except for the mysterious storyteller who wears that nightmare fueled looking mask (I MEAN, COME ON GUYS HE LITERALLY SCREAMS OF DANGER!!) but he doesn’t really hold any prominent position in the stories he tells.
Visuals + Audio – 7/10
The animation and visuals takes its concept from traditional paper puppets like how an actual Kamishibai (Paper Drama) would look like if they ever get to be shown on TV. The characters for the most part feel really strict and fixed, even thought the scenery looks traditionally drawn. The animation is really unique and different, something that really fits well with the atmosphere of the series.
Now the audio, this might come as a surprise but the end credit songs are actually done by your local talented vocaloid Hatsune Miku. I know this came as a surprise to me at first, because never once thought those two would mix this well together.
This short series isn’t really something I would recommend to horror veterans but it’s definitely a great entry level series for newbies. The biggest complain I would have for the story is that it gets really repetitive after a certain point. But if you’re just looking for something short to pass the time for this coming holidays, you can add this to your list.