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
GenreHorror
Anime television series
Directed byTetsuo Imazawa (Yotsuya Kaidan)
Hidehiko Kadota (Tenshu Monogatari)
Kouzou Nagayama (Tenshu Monogatari)
Kenji Nakamura (Bake Neko)
Written byChiaki J. Konaka (Yotsuya Kaidan)
Yuuji Sakamoto (Tenshu Monogatari)
Michiko Yokote (Bakeneko)
StudioToei Animation
Licensed by
Original networkFuji TV (Noitamina)
English network
Original run January 13, 2006 March 24, 2006
Episodes11
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and Manga portal

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 (Yotsuya Kaidan)", an adaptation of the classic Japanese ghost story; "Goddess of the Dark Tower (Tenshu Monogatari)", based on the play by Kyōka Izumi; and "Goblin Cat (Bake Neko)", an original story by Kenji Nakamura and Michiko Yokote.

Story[edit]

Yotsuya Kaidan[edit]

  • The story comprises four 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 callous ronin samurai who marries a beautiful woman named Oiwa. While secretly killing her father who would not accept him, he encountered Naosuke, who believes he killed Satou Yomoshichi who was betrothed to Oiwa's sister-in-law Osode. They posed the two bodies to allay suspicion.

Iemon becomes disenchanted with Oiwa after the birth of their child and he feels the burden of their poverty. He accepts medicine for Oiwa from Itou Kihei, a local wealthy man, however it is a drug provided by Itou's beautiful granddaughter Oume that disfigures Oiwa. Meanwhile, Iemon is offered money to marry Oume and is told about the plot to disfigure Oiwa. Iemon then orders his servant Takuetsu to kill Oiwa after having his way with her, however she commits suicide when she learns of Iemon's treachery. Iemon then kills a servant who previously stole from him and has his body is nailed to a wooden panel along with the dead Oiwa then tossed into the river, suggesting they had been lovers.

Iemon marries the Oume as promised, but he is plagued by visions of Oiwa's vengeful spirit and kills her on their wedding night. It is suggested that Oiwa has laid a curse on the houses of Itou and Tamiya, and everyone involved with her demise will suffer a horrible death.

Meanwhile Osode, Oiwa's sister-in-law, learns of Oiwa's death and agrees to marry her suitor Naosuke if he will take revenge for her. However Satou Yomoshichi is still alive and he finds the couple. Osode then tricks the two men into killing her, although Yomoshichi is still bound take revenge on Iemon. Iemon continues to see visions of Oiwa, and people close to him die mysteriously. He flees in desperation and is confronted by Satou Yomoshichi who finally kills him. the narrator Nanboku Tsuruya then tells of misfortunes which have fallen on those who have staged the play, but claims that is still just a story.

Cast

Tenshu Monogatari[edit]

  • The story comprises four 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.

Prologue: group of bandits take shelter in a crumbling castle and are killed by spirits.

In medieval Japan, the falconer Zushonosuke Himekawa is sent by his master, Lord Harima, to retrieve a precious white falcon named Kojiro. His search leads him to a chance encounter with a beautiful woman bathing in a lake. She explains that she is a Wasuregami (Forgotten God) and kisses him.

When news reaches Lord Harima that the falcon has fled to the castle keep of Shirasagi-jo, Zushonosuke is ordered to go there to retrieve the falcon. Accompanied by two self-serving demons he enters the castle and again meets the woman who introduces herself as Tomi Hime (Princess Tomi), and tells him that the falcon is the spirit of her mother. They begin a forbidden romance and visit a nearby village and Zushonosuke asks her to live with him, but the Uma (matriarch) asks her to return to the castle. The presence of Zushonosuke badly affects the health of the Forgotten Gods community, including Tomi and she tearfully orders him to leave.

Zushonosuke returns home and marries his fiancée Oshizu. However Oshizu finds a comb from Yome, and she tells Lord Harima that the falcon is still at Shirasagi-jo. He orders the castle destroyed and Zushonosuke returns to it to warn Tomi just before Lord Harima's attack. Lord Harima's army is initially repelled, but because the spirits are weakened by Tome's relationship with Zushonosuke they begin to succumb. As the battle continues, Zushonosuke starts to become less human and eventually all but the two lovers die. Later, three white falcons are seen circling above the ruins of the castle.

Cast

Bake Neko[edit]

  • The story comprises three 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

Kusuriuri, a wandering medicine peddler, arrives at the house of the Sakai Clan, but he senses something is not right. To save themselves from disgrace and to clear their debts, Master Yoshiaki Sakai and wife Lady Mizue accepted money for their daughter Mao to marry the impotent head of the Shiono Clan. Kusuriuri is not welcome as it's the wedding day, but Kayo the maidservant allows him into the kitchen and he gives her some special "marriage aids" for the bride. When Kusuriuri sees a rat and many rat traps he asks Lady Sato why there are no cats, but she doesn't answer.

As the family cross the threshold to meet the wedding escort, Mao dies mysteriously. Kusuriuri immediately sticks a pair of paper ofuda (charms) on the wall, explaining that Mao's death was caused by a supernatural creature. However, Lord Katsuyama suspects the peddler, and he is seized and bound. A young samurai, Odajima Sakai, searches the Peddler's pack for poison, but finds odd medicines and curios before he finds a bejeweled sword. When Lord Yoshikuni and Odajima are unable to un-sheath the sword, Kusuriuri explains it is a Taima which is used to kill mononoke.

The house suddenly comes under a demonic attack and Yoshikuni sheds his bonds then he casts paper wards on the walls to protect everyone. Kusuriuri explains that when he can discern the shape (katachi), truth (makoto) and motive (kotowari) of the demon, the sword of Taima will unsheathe and dispel it. Yoshikuni and Odajima find black cat hair revealing that the demon has the shape of a black cat (Bakeneko).

Act two

No one in the household will talk about the possible makoto or kotowari of the demon, but Kusuriuri makes a barrier of salt to stop it. Eventually Kusuriuri finds that Sato bought cats so that the samurai could use them for testing the sharpness of their swords. Kusuriuri's devices detect the presence of the demon, and Lady Mizue becomes unhinged after grieving over he dead daughter, Mao. Her grief enables the demon to materialize, appearing as a woman in white surrounded by red cats who Mizue calls Tamaki. The demon consumes Katsuyama when he attacks it, but the rest are saved after Kayo throws a salt jar at it. The survivors flee to a secret room where they find a white wedding kimono, which turns blood red. Sato hysterically blames the aged Clan Lord Yoshiyuki for the cat demon attacks.

Final act

Lord Yoshiyuki confesses to Kusuriuri of an incident 25 years earlier when he kidnapped Tamaki, a beautiful sacrificial maiden. He says he kept her as his willing mistress, but she died young. As the cat demon breaks through the final barrier, Kusuriuri attempts to unsheathe his sword, but fails. The sword of Taima then opens its mouth and reveals the truth in a vision from the demon itself. Tamaki was not a pampered, willing mistress, but a caged and abused and prisoner. During her imprisonment, Tamaki took in a kitten. One day, Yoshiyuki's elder son, Yoshikuni, attempted to rape her, but he was caught by his father. Yoshiyuki savagely beat Tamaki, and the cat attacked Yoshiyuki in an attempt to protect Tamaki, but she died. The cat's regret due to its failure to protect Tamaki combined with the suffering she faced at the hands of the Sakai, turned it into the cat demon. Meanwhile, Tamaki's body was dumped in a nearby well by the young Sasaoka.

With the shape, truth, and motive known, the sword of Taima unseals itself and Kusuriuri is able to draw it. The sword releases Kusuriuri's true spirit-nature from the human shell, allowing him to exorcise the cat demon's grief and release it from its vengeance. The demon returns to its dimension, Kusuriuri 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 is left to consider his actions which caused the bakeneko. Before leaving the household, Kayo and Odajima bury the cat next to the old well, which is Tamaki's grave. As Kusuriuri departs, he sees the happy spirits of Tamaki and her cat cross the threshold into the sunshine outside.

Cast
  • Kusuriuri Voiced by: Takahiro Sakurai (Japanese); Andrew Francis (English): A Medicine Peddler and demon fighter.
  • Kayo Voiced by: Yukana (Japanese); Kelly Sheridan (English): A young servant girl who plays a prominent role in Kusuriuri's investigations.
  • Odajima Voiced by: Tetsu Inada (Japanese); Trevor Devall (English): A young samurai innocent of the events which created the cat demon.
  • Clan Lord Yoshiyuki Voiced by: Chikao Ohtsuka (Japanese); Scott McNeil (English): The Clan lord who kidnapped a young sacrificial maiden, Tamaki, 25 years earlier and kept her captive.
  • Lord Yoshikuni Voiced by: Naoki Tatsuta (Japanese); Paul Dobson (English): Older brother of Lord Yoshiaki and a lazy alcoholic so he was overlooked for the Sakai Clan succession.
  • Lord Yoshiaki Voiced by: Seiji Sasaki (Japanese); John Novak (English): Current head of the Sakai Clan, husband of Lady Mizue and father of Mao.
  • Lady Mizue Voiced by: Yōko Sōmi (Japanese); Alison Matthews (English): Wife of Lord Yoshiaki and mother of Mao.
  • Lady Mao Voiced by: Kozue Kamada (Japanese); Tabitha St. Germain (English): Daughter of Lord Yoshiaki and Lady Mizue, and betrothed to the impotent head of the Shiono Clan.
  • Katsuyama Voiced by: Yutaka Shimaka (Japanese); Ken Kramer (English): Manager of the Sakai household.
  • Sasaoka Voiced by: Eiji Takemoto (Japanese); Andrew Kavadas (English): An older samurai and Sakai Yonin of the house.
  • Miss Sato Voiced by: Yurika Hino (Japanese); Tabitha St. Germain (English): One of the ladies of the Sakai Clan and collaborated in the mistreatment of Tamaki.
  • Yahei Voiced by: Kiyonobu Suzuki (Japanese); Trevor Devall (English): An old Sakai Clan servant.
  • Tamaki: A beautiful young sacrificial maiden, who was captured by Clan Lord Yoshiyuki 25 years earlier and kept captive until he killed her.

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]