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 sees three middle school students trying to finish a lot of homework on the last day of summer vacation. When one of the boys suggests taking a break, another one says he has a tape that was lent to him that supposedly shows a ghost; according to the kid with the video, it was recorded during a test of courage, but that the person who shot the video forgot to bring the camera back home with him. The person who shot the video claims they saw footage on the tape that they didn’t remember shooting.
The kid with the tape takes it out, and we see that it’s covered with black tape. The kid takes all of the tape off and puts it into the VCR. As the way, two of the boys point out something that resembles a human face next to a gravestone. Takaaki, the third boy, notices a humanoid figure in the background. The other two friends don’t see it and accuse Takaaki of making it up.
As Takaaki continues to watch, he notices that the humanoid figure has disappeared. He rewinds the tape, and when he plays it, the humanoid figure is actually closer up than he had originally seen it, and the figure turns to look at him. As expected, there ends up being a creepy surprise right at the end of the short.
In some respects, the buildup of the short kind of falls into the storytelling formula that I’ve seen develop over the course of the Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories anime shorts. However, the idea of something being tied into a video recording was a new element that helped to disguise the formula and made this short a little interesting.
But after watching this short, I wondered what time period this was set in. Since this plot relies heavily on a videocassette and a VCR being used by pre-teens and teenagers, I don’t think it’s set in the current modern time. I mean, if the writers intended for this short to be set in the modern day, then it does make this short a little on the unbelievable side.
Outside of that little nitpick, though, it wasn’t too bad of a short. I’ll go ahead and keep watching Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories since there are so few shorts left in the series.
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