Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories: Episode 9 – “Cursed”

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 features a girl named Kotone who is inflicted with a curse that causes much of her skin to be discolored. Her mother has been trying to find someone who can help, and she thinks she’s found a temple that can deal with the curse. At first, Kotone thinks they’ll just say that it’s beyond their control, just like every other person who has tried to help in the past. Eventually, Kotone’s mother convinces her to give the temple a try.

They arrive at the temple, and the priestess takes a look at Kotone. The priestess comments that it looks as though Kotone’s ancestors have incurred the wrath of someone quite evil. After Kotone’s mother asks what will happen to her, the priestess says they must begin preparations right away for a ritual. After the ritual, Kotone looks much better. When Kotone’s mother thanks the priestess and asks if Kotone is all right now, the priestess does not give an answer.

Next we see Kotone and her mom at home, and it looks like life has returned to normal. Kotone’s mother receives a call from the temple, saying that the priestess passed away the previous day. She is told that the priestess was troubled by thoughts of Kotone’s future until her final moments. Kotone’s mother is then asked to pass on a message from the priestess to Kotone. Kotone leaves the house before her mother gets the message. As it starts to rain, the curse begins appearing on the back of Kotone’s neck, as well as reddish-colored hand. Over this shot, we hear the message from the priestess: “I am sorry I could not help.”

After watching a short that essentially a retread of an earlier short, I was glad to see that “Cursed” is bringing something new to the series. I was genuinely riveted from beginning to end while watching this particular short. While I had a suspicion the curse might come back, I hadn’t anticipated the short ending the way that it did. I was also glad to see that this short didn’t use the formula that I’d seen appear in several of the other shorts.

If I’ve read something right, it appears there’s only three more shorts left for Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories. So far, this series of shorts has been rather “hit or miss” for me, but I will continue to watch the remaining shorts to see what other stories end up being told.

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