Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories: Episode 12 – “Tomonari-kun”

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.

One day, a high school girl returns home from school and sees a group of boys huddled in a courtyard area of their apartment complex. When she asks them what they’re doing, they say they’re playing with Tomonari. The girl sees a shadow-like mass in the center of their circle, and the boys say that is Tomonari; the boys also say that the girl should play with them. The girl says she has to go home and do homework, but that she’ll play some other time. The boys talk to the shadow-like mass and say that the girl can’t help it that she has to study, but she promised to play later.

At a later time, the girl goes to get her bike, and the boys are huddled around the shadow-like mass in the courtyard again. The boys ask her to play, but she says she has to go to her part-time job. The boys argue that she had promised, but she insists that she has to go to work.

When the girl comes home, the boys come to her door and ask if Tomonari can play, because Tomonari said he would be going to her house. The boys see a shadow-like mass on the ceiling of her house and try to point it out. The girl slams the door on them. Afterward, she sees the shadow-like mass on the ceiling, and then something unexpected happens; the unexpected happening ends the short.

Well, what can I say about this short? On the one hand, it doesn’t fall into the formula that some of the other Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories shorts have fallen into. However, this short, along with some of the more recent shorts, seem to have gotten stranger and stranger premises. Honestly, I can’t really come up with any explanation for how the final unexpected event happens. Yes, the other shorts have had some of these bizarre twists, but I could at least come up with some kind of explanation for them. The past couple of shorts, not so much.

And is it just me, or do the boys in the short come across as being possessed? I’m sure that characterization was intentional, but it sure made those boys seem awfully creepy! I’ve read some people say that the moral of this short is to keep your promises. Personally, I’ve got a better moral for this one: Stay out of other people’s business. If the girl hadn’t gone over and asked the boys what they were doing, she probably never would have gotten sucked into this story!

There’s just one more short left for Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories, and I’m very curious to see whether it will be more in line with the stranger shorts that have appeared recently, if it’s going to end up falling into a predictable formula, or if it’s going to end up doing something completely unexpected.

Additional posts about Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories:

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