Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories: Episode 3 – “The Family Rule”

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 boy named Toshiharu who moves with his family into his mother’s parents’ house in the country. At the beginning of the short, the adults are having a meeting, while Toshiharu sits outside.

The family talks about the “Calm Through Laughter” ceremony that takes place once a year for this family. The extended family gathers together on this day, and the adults have to stay up all night laughing to keep away the evil ghost of Toshiharu’s great-great grandfather who feeds on negative emotions. Toshiharu is not told anything about this, except that he will have to sleep by himself that night because his parents have to spend the night in his grandparents’ room.

That night, Toshiharu wakes up because he needs to use the bathroom. As he passes by his grandparents’ room, he hears a lot of laughter. He opens the door to see what’s going on, and he sees all of his family members wearing hideous masks. As a frightened Toshiharu backs away, something else happens that frightens everyone.

This short continues the feel and tone of horror that I’ve come to expect from these shorts. However, of the three shorts I’ve seen in this series so far, this one is probably my least favorite. Of these three, this one seemed to be the least riveting and the least interesting of the stories. Even saying that, though, this short still utilized its runtime well; this is the type of story where a longer runtime would have weakened it.

While I may not have liked this short as much as the previous two, I still intend to keep watching Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories.

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