Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories: Episode 2 – “Zanbai”

Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories is a series of anime shorts, and the shorts run for about five minutes each. They feature an old man who shows up every week at a children’s playground at 5:00 p.m. to tell Japanese ghost stories.

This short tells the story of a man who was heading to a village in the country for a business trip. At the beginning of the short, he awakens in the hospital with no memory of how he ended up there. He sees three men dressed as patients who whisper among themselves and tries calling out to them, but they don’t respond.

However, the doctor comes over and explains that he lost his footing on a mountain path and was found unconscious at the bottom of a cliff. The doctor also says that all he found wrong was a broken foot. The man should be able to get out of the hospital the next evening, but will have to be on crutches for a while.

That night, the man tries to sleep, but the three men whispering amongst themselves stand outside of the curtains of his hospital bed scare him.

The next evening, the man is released from the hospital. He sees the three men standing on the roof, and they appear to be doing the banzai cheer. After getting into a taxi, the man comments to the driver about the banzai cheer, but that it appeared their arms were more down than up. The driver sees them in the rearview mirror and realizes they’re doing the “Zanbai.” The driver frantically tells the man to get out of the taxi now, because he’ll never make it out of the village alive. As he says this, something happens and the story ends.

This short kept up the feel and tone of horror that was in the first short that I saw. As I saw the conversation with the doctor, I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen, but I wasn’t sure what. And when you get to see in the subtitles what the three men are whispering to each other that night, it starts clicking together for the viewer what is likely to happen to the man at the end.

These shorts really do utilize their runtime well, and so far, I’ve enjoyed the two shorts in the series that I have seen. I will definitely be watching the next short for Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories to see what kind of story will be taking place.

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