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 involves members of a high school baseball team staying in a lodge for a training camp. One of the players, Akinobu, comments the lodge hasn’t changed since he has last been there. Daisuke, another boy, is surprised. Akinobu comments that both he and Daisuke had been there before, back in first grade for a little league baseball training camp. Akinobus also comments that back then, Daisuke fell into one of the pit toilets; Daisuke acts as if he has no memory of any of this.
That night, Daisuke goes to the men’s restroom and has a flashback of the time he fell into the pit toilet. As part of the flashback, he remembers hearing a voice in the toilet; however, he never said anything to anyone at the time because he was already being laughed at for falling into the toilet. As he finishes, a face suddenly appears in the toilet, but Daisuke thinks he’s just imagining it. However, as Daisuke is washing his hands, he sees something rise out of the toilet in the mirror’s reflection.
While the setting and set up for this short is a bit more unique, it still follows a similar idea of a couple of previous Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories shorts: “Hair” and “The Overhead Rack.” Basically, it’s the idea of something unexpected teasing its existence until the very end, when it finally pops out for real. I had a similar complaint with “The Umbrella Goddess,” because it felt like a retread of an idea from a previous short in the series.
I think this illustrates the main failing of Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories. The horror genre can be kind of limited, and the short runtime really limits the types of stories that can be told. Because of this, we seem to be getting to a point in this series of shorts where the writers seem to be struggling to come up with shorts.
At this point, there’s only two more shorts left in this series. I will stick through Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories until the final short, since I’m so far into it now.
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