Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales

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Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales
Ayakashi DVD1.jpg
Cover of the first released DVD by Geneon Universal Entertainment
Genre Horror
Anime television series
Directed by

Tetsuo Imazawa (Yotsuya Kaidan)
Hidehiko Kadota (Tenshu Monogatari)

Kenji Nakamura (Bake Neko)
Written by

Chiaki J. Konaka (Yotsuya Kaidan)
Yuuji Sakamoto (Tenshu Monogatari)

Michiko Yokote (Bakeneko)
Studio Toei Animation
Licensed by
Network Fuji TV, Animax
English network
Original run January 13, 2006March 24, 2006
Episodes 11
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Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales, known in Japan as Ayakashi (?), is a Japanese animated horror anthology television series produced by Toei Animation.

The series is made up of three stories: "Yotsuya Ghost Story", an adaptation of the classic Japanese ghost story; "Goddess of the Dark Tower", based on the play by Kyōka Izumi; and Goblin Cat, an original story by Kenji Nakamura and Michiko Yokote.

Story[edit]

Yotsuya Kaidan[edit]

  • Episodes: 1-4 (U.S. DVD release episodes 5-8)

"Yotsuya Ghost Story" is a retelling of the classic Japanese ghost story, written by the 18th century kabuki playwright Nanboku Tsuruya IV.

In the anime, Nanboku himself becomes the narrator. Iemon Tamiya is a ronin samurai who marries a beautiful woman named Oiwa. Oiwa is happy with her married life and the birth of their child, but Iemon feels the burden of their poverty.

In return for the promise of a job by a rich man, Iemon promises to marry the man's daughter and conspires to murder his own wife. A servant is ordered by the rich man's daughter to poison Oiwa's food; the toxin permanently disfigures Oiwa's face.

Iemon then orders his servant to kill her after having his way with her. Oiwa commits suicide after coming to know of Iemon's treachery. Another of Iemon's servants is also killed and, along with the dead Oiwa, is nailed to a piece of wooden board and tossed into the river.

After Oiwa's death, Iemon marries the rich man's daughter, as promised. But Oiwa's vengeful spirit could not rest in peace, and she lays a curse on everyone involved with her demise. One by one, Oiwa's enemies die a horrible death, including the rich man and his daughter, and Iemon is plagued by visions of Oiwa's ghost.

Cast

Tenshu Monogatari[edit]

  • Episodes: 5-8 (U.S. DVD release episodes 1-4)

"Goddess of the Dark Tower" is based on Tenshu Monogatari, a play by Kyōka Izumi. It tells the story of a forbidden love between a god and a human. In medieval Japan, Zushonosuke Himekawa is a falconer who is sent by his master Lord Harima to retrieve a precious falcon named Kojiro.

Zushonosuke's search is initially fruitless, though it leads him to a chance encounter with a beautiful woman bathing in a lake. Zushonosuke falls in love with her at first sight.

When news reach Lord Harima that the falcon has in fact fled to the castle keep of Shirasagi-jo, Zushonosuke is ordered to go there to bring the falcon back.

Accompanied by two friendly demons, Zushonosuke makes his way to Shirasagi-jo, which is rumored to be inhabited by beings called Wasuregami (Forgotten Gods). At the castle, Zushonosuke is surprised to find the same beautiful woman he encountered before, who introduces herself as Tomihime (Princess Tomi), beginning their forbidden romance.

Cast

Bake Neko[edit]

  • Episodes: 9-11

The episodes are presented like a play, with sliding screens taking the place of curtains. The tale takes place in the Edo period, with Ukiyo-e style artwork.

Act one

A wandering medicine peddler arrives at the house of the Sakai Clan on a wedding day, however as he crosses the threshold to the clan household he senses something is not right. It's not a happy day. To save themselves from disgrace and the poor-house, the family sold their only daughter's marriage to the Shiono Clan to clear their debts. The peddler is not welcome, but Kayo the maidservant allows him in the kitchen. Grateful, the peddler shows Kayo some special "marriage aids" for the bride, Lady Mao. Kayo's bravery and good sense will aid the peddler throughout the tale. As the bride crosses the threshold to meet her wedding escort, she dies mysteriously. The peddler being an outsider brings him under suspicion, and so he is seized and bound in ropes. Odajima searches the Peddler's pack for poison, but finds odd medicines and curios before he finds a bejeweled sword, which the peddler explains is a sword of Taima which is used to kill demons. The house comes under a demonic attack. The ropes magically fall from the peddler's arms and he casts paper wards on the walls to protect everyone. The wards will not hold for long, so the peddler urges the family and their retainers to reveal the terrible event that has caused such a powerful demon to appear. As soon as the peddler can discern the shape (katachi), truth (makoto) and reasoning (regret, kotowari) of the demon, the sword of Taima will unsheathe and dispel it. The peddler and Odajima find black cat hair, so the demon has the shape of a cat, a bake neko.

Act two

To save their lives, the peddler must know the truth and reasoning behind the demonic attacks. No one will talk. While they stew in their fear, the peddler makes a protective ring of salt and magical scales. When the peddler returns, Kayo the maidservant confesses that she threw water on any cat that entered the kitchen. Kayo accuses Miss Sato of buying all the cats in the area. Sato explains that Master Sasaoka gave her the money and ordered her to do it. Sasaoka explains he had to give the cats to Lord Yoshikuni, the elder son. Yoshikuni explains he cut up the cats, to test the sharpness of his swords—a trivial matter. Enraged, the bake neko surges through the door and devours Lady Mizue and Master Katsuyama, her faithful retainer. The survivors flee to a secret room. They find a white wedding kimono, which turns blood red. Sato hysterically blames Clan Lord Yoshiyuki for the bake neko attacks.

Final act

Lord Yoshiyuki confesses there was an incident 25 years earlier. He kidnapped Tamaki, a peasant girl on the way to her wedding. He planned to return her, but she was friendly to him, so he kept her as his mistress. He gave her lavish kimono and fine foods, but she was secretly "full of regret and remorse." One day, Tamaki killed herself. As the bake neko breaks through the final barrier, the peddler attempts to unsheathe his sword, but fails. Mostly powerless the peddler laments that he is still unaware of the true nature of the demon, and nearly leaves. However Odajima calls to him for aid, as the remaining members of the clan are attacking Kayo and Odajima out of spite, which causes the peddler to erect protective barriers around them. While the peddler is still powerless the bake neko grabs and devours Yoshikuni, Sasaoka, and then Miss Sato.

The sword of Taima opens its mouth and reveals the truth in a vision from the demon itself. Tamaki was not a pampered, willing mistress. She was an abused prisoner--caged in this very room. Being a cruel man, Yoshiyuki butchered a mother cat and her kittens, which were living in this room. He didn't see the kitten hiding on top of Tamaki's cage. After Yoshiyuki left, Tamaki hid the kitten in her cage. Sato knew Tamaki was a kidnapped bride, but mocked her when she brought her a few scraps of food. Tamaki comforted and fed the kitten, so it would grow strong and escape as she could not. Tamaki told the kitten, he would be free for the both of them.

One day, Yoshiyuki caught his eldest son, Yoshikuni, raping Tamaki. To punish her for seducing his son, he beat her near to death. The kitten, now grown into an adult cat, came out of hiding and faithfully defended Tamaki. The cat could not win against armed samurai, so with her dying breath, Tamaki told the cat, "Run." The cat escaped. The vision ends with Sasaoka dumping Tamaki's corpse down an old well. The cat's regret from being unable to protect her, combined with Tamaki's sorrow, eventually turned the cat into the demon. With the shape, truth, and reasoning (regret) being known, the sword of Taima unseals itself and the peddler is able to draw it.

Disgusted by the family's evil deeds, the peddler begs the bake neko for forgiveness for what he must do. The sword releases the peddler's true spirit-nature from the human shell, allowing him to exorcise the bake neko's grief and release it from its vengeance. The confrontation and exorcism are spectacular. The demon returns to its dimension, the peddler returns to his human form, and the aged corpse of Tamaki's cat lies on the floor of the secret room.

Post credits epilogue

The only remaining member of the clan, Lord Yoshiyuki pleads with the medicine peddler and reasons that he was not deceptive. The medicine peddler agrees with him, but tells him that the "truth" he told was his own perception and that he should rethink how truthful his side of the events really is. Now knowing the clan's secret, Kayo resolves that she can no longer serve the household and will return to her parents' home. Odajima seeks to accompany the peddler, but the peddler tells him that he should seek his own destiny. Before leaving, Kayo and Odajima bury the cat next to the old well, which is Tamaki's grave. They leave flowers and pray for the two souls. As the peddler leaves someone asks him what became of the wedding which causes him to look back. He sees the spirits of Tamaki and the cat cross the threshold and leave the house of their torment and deaths. Tamaki is laughing with joy to be reunited with her cat, which is once again, just an innocent kitten. Silently the medicine peddler departs.

Cast

Production[edit]

Character design[edit]

The characters were designed by Yoshitaka Amano ("Yotsuya Kaidan"), Yasuhiro Nakura ("Tenshu Monogatari") and Takeshi Hashimoto ("Bakeneko")

Music[edit]

The opening theme song "Heat Island" is performed by Rhymester, while the ending theme "Haru No Katami" is performed by Hajime Chitose.

Broadcast[edit]

Ayakashi aired on Fuji TV as part of the Noitamina lineup from January 13, 2006 to March 24 of the same year. The series also aired on Animax.

A spin-off series based on the character of the medicine seller (Mononoke) aired in 2007.

External links[edit]