Ayakashi - Japanese Classic Horror
If you are interested in learning more about Japanese folklore, then this series could be for you. Ayakashi is an anthology series of three stories occurring during feudal Japan that involve encounters with the supernatural. Each story appears to have been tackled by different staff teams at Toei which explains the varying differences in story direction and visual style. So rather than review the series as a whole, I'll be tackling my thoughts of each of the different stories in this anthology.|
This anthology series can be an acquired taste for anime fans as it is strongly influenced from Japanese folklore and history, as well as having varying styles in animation and narration. In addition, the delivery of horror that Ayakashi tries to convey in its stories tended to be hit or miss due to differing focus in stories as two of the three stories put more emphasis on exploring another genre besides horror. However if you are craving something different from the norm for anime and have a strong interest in Japanese folklore, then Ayakashi could be for you.
- Yotsuya Ghost Story- A story of greed and revenge focused around the sick wife of a ronin samurai suffering from poverty getting revenge on her husband who casts her aside for the young, pretty daughter of a wealthy feudal lord after her death. The odd thing about the direction of this story is that is narrated by the man who created the story based on actual events that he researched on it. However, this storytelling style wasn't used in the later two stories which creates some inconsistency in the way I was assuming the series would portray itself. The overall quality of this story is a bit rough where it hams up on the melodrama with the conflicts between the wife and samurai, as well as the visual presentation being a bit simple and unpolished in terms of character designs. I found this to be the weaker of the stories in this series.
- Goddess of the Dark Tower- The best of the three stories for me in this anthology. The conveying of dialogue here was more natural than the dramatics of Yotsuya Ghost Story and this is more tragic romance than horror as the fallen goddess in this tale is conflicted between her commitment to the well-being of her servants and desiring to experience the pleasures of love with a human. The human hawk handler and fallen goddess are fleshed out and developed enough where their relationship has credibility and you could buy the sacrifices they are willing to make in regards to their status and loyalties from their desire to be together. While visual details are still a bit on the simple side in this story, there is better polish to them as details look more smoother to look at.
- Goblin Cat- This appears to be the predecessor story to launch the character of the Medicine Seller from Mononoke that I've heard about. Like Goddess of the Dark Tower, this story isn't strictly horror as it is more a mystery story as the Medicine Seller tries to get details from the family concerning the actions that led to a demonic cat spirit to wreck havoc on them. Goblin Cat goes for a slow pace in slowly unveiling some dark secrets from the older members of the family that led to the cat spirit's havoc with tense moments coming from the Medicine Seller halting the advances of the spirit as he tries to piece together why it is attacking the family. The story is effective at conveying suspense from the fear felt from the family members fearing for their lives and the Medicine Seller doing what he can to halt the cat spirit's advances as he tries getting answers regarding the reason behind the attacks. However, the finale to the story felt a bit over-the-top in the way the Medicine Seller deals with the cat spirit as this wasn't consistent with how grounded the earlier two stories were. Goblin Cat adopts an animation style similar to Gankutsuou in which characters are seemingly drawn in watercolor with wallpaper-style designs implemented to blend in and move alongside the clothing of characters which tended to get distracting for me at points. This story also has the best animation to be found in this anthology with fluid and natural movements drawn, particularly from the Medicine Seller setting up defenses and fighting off the cat spirit.
Last updated Thursday, October 20 2011. Created Thursday, October 20 2011.