Anime Review: Yamishibai – Japanese Ghost Stories


Anime Reviews Reviews
Studio: ILCA
Genres: Folklore, Horror, Supernatural
Number of episodes: 13 episodes (x 3 seasons)


Every week at 5 p.m., an old man in a yellow mask shows up at a children’s playground and tells them ghost stories based on myths and urban legends of Japanese origin. The man tells the stories on the back of his bicycle using a traditional kamishibai (Paper Drama) method and features a new tale each week.
In the third season, instead of the old man in a yellow mask and his kamishibai stage, a boy (later revealed to be the narrator in the form of a child) sits on a playground slide and sings, “Friends on that side, come to this side… Friends on this side, go to that side…” as he draws illustrations of the creatures in the stories. At the end of each episode, the narrator’s mask sings the closing song to him, multiplying in number as each episode ends.

Main Characters: 

 From left: Mysterious Story Teller (Not his real name)

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.


Oh yea. I can definitely see this not turning out bad

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.


They really do a great job in making things really weird

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.


No, by all means leave the damn mask on

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 looks quite similar to most of my family gatherings


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.



The face of total enjoyment

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