Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories

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Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
Promotional Poster of Yamishibai Japanese Ghost Stories.jpg
Promotional Poster of Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories featuring the Storyteller.
闇芝居
(Yami Shibai)
Genre Folklore, Horror, Supernatural
Anime television series
Directed by Tomoya Takashima
Produced by Naoko Kunisada
Nobuyuki Hosoya
Written by Hiromu Kumamoto
Music by nico
Studio ILCA
Licensed by
Original network TV Tokyo, AT-X
Original run July 14, 2013 – present
Episodes 52
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and Manga portal

Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories also known in Japan as Yami Shibai (闇芝居, Yami Shibai, lit. Dark Play) and Theater of Darkness is a 2013 Japanese animated series. The first season was directed by Tomoya Takashima, with scripts written by Hiromu Kumamoto and produced by ILCA. Each episode was animated in such a way so as to mimic the kamishibai method of story-telling. The series is organized into a collection of shorts with each episode being only a few minutes in length. Each episode features a different tale based on myths and urban legends of Japanese origin.

The first season premiered on TV Tokyo on July 14, 2013, and ran for thirteen episodes until September 29, 2013; it spawned a host of merchandise and a mobile game while also receiving mixed reactions at the end of its broadcast. A second season aired from July 6, 2014, to September 28, 2014, and was directed by both Takashi Shimizu and Noboru Iguchi along with scripts written by Shōichirō Masumoto. The third season aired between January 11, 2016, and April 3, 2016. A fourth season aired beetween January 16, 2017 and March 26, 2017. A fifth season will air in July 2017.

Synopsis[edit]

Every week at 5 p.m. an old man in a yellow mask (the kamishibaiya or kamishibai narrator) shows up at a children's playground and tells them ghost stories based on myths and urban legends of Japanese origin. The man tells the stories on the back of his bicycle using a traditional kamishibai (紙芝居, Paper Drama) method and features a new tale each week. In the third season, instead of the old man in a yellow mask and his kamishibai stage, a boy (later revealed to be the narrator in the form of a child) sits on a playground slide and sings, "Friends on that side, come to this side... Friends on this side, go to that side..." as he draws illustrations of the creatures in the stories. At the end of each episode, the narrator's mask sings the closing song to him, multiplying in number as each episode ends. As of Season 4, the kamishibaiya returns, telling the stories to children at a playground every 5 p.m., going back to the original format of Seasons 1 and 2.

Production[edit]

The series aimed to mimick the traditional art of kamishibai story-telling.

The first season of the series is produced by ILCA and directed by Tomoya Takashima along with script writing by Hiromu Kumamoto and narrated by Kanji Tsuda.[1] The series is animated in such a way as to mimic a traditional Japanese method of storytelling known as Kamishibai.

The second season was directed by Takashi Shimizu and Noboru Iguchi while Shōichirō Masumoto wrote the script.[2]

Release[edit]

The 13-episode first season premiered on July 14, 2013 on TV Tokyo during the station's 26:15 (02:15 JST) time slot, which technically resulted in the episodes airing on the days following the ones scheduled.[3] The series was later aired on AT-X.[4] Crunchyroll also acquired both seasons of the series for online simulcast streaming in select parts of the world with English subtitles.[5][6] On April 4, 2014 All-Entertainment Co., Ltd. released season one in its entirety on a single DVD volume in Japan.[7] The first season has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks.[8] A second season aired from July 6, 2014 to September 28, 2014.[9] A third season aired from January 11, 2016 to April 3, 2016.[10] A fourth season premiered on January 2017.[11] A fifth season is set to premiere in July 2017.[12]

Episodes[edit]

Season 1[edit]

No. Official English title[nb 1]
Original Japanese title
Original air date[nb 2] Refs.
1 "The Talisman Woman"
"Ofuda Onna" (お札女) 
July 14, 2013 [13]
A young man moves into an apartment building and notices a talisman stuck to the ceiling of his room. He removes it and notices a mysterious woman eerily staring at him from another apartment across the street. Upon returning from work the next day, he finds his apartment door strangely unlocked and another talisman stuck to the ceiling. Upon trying to remove it, the mysterious woman suddenly appears behind him. Afterwards, the woman is arrested for breaking and entering and as the police take her away, she appears to tell the man something, although he doesn't hear what she says. When the man returns to his apartment, he shockingly finds hundreds more talismans stuck beneath his dining table and upon removing them horrifically finds his room filled with a swarm of ghosts. As they approach him, the man tells himself repeatedly that it's not real. 
2 "Zanbai"
"Zanbai" (惨拝) 
July 21, 2013 [13]
A man wakes up in a hospital with no memory of how he got there and tries to question three men dressed as patients who whisper amongst themselves in a corner but they ignore him. The doctor explains what had happened to the man and that he would be able to leave the next day. That night unable to sleep, the three men seem to stand outside the curtains of the man's hospital bed, frightening him. The next day, as the man is released, he notices the three men on the hospital roof, seemingly performing the banzai cheer for him, which he relates to his cab driver. The driver notices the men in the rear view mirror and horrifically realizes they are doing a ritual called "Zanbai" to which he suddenly urges the man to get out of the car since he would not be able to leave the village alive, at which point the cab is struck by an oncoming truck. 
3 "The Family Rule"
"Kakun" (家訓) 
July 21, 2013 [13]
A young boy called Toshiharu and his parents move back to the countryside home of his mother's parents. As Toshiharu waits outside, his grandfather has a meeting with the main family explaining a ritual called "Calm Through Laughter" during which the adults must stay indoors and pretend to laugh and be merry all night long so that the evil ghost of Toshiharu's great-great grandfather who feeds on negative emotions would not come near. That night Toshiharu wakes up to use the bathroom and curiously peers into the room filled with all the laughing adults, horrifically finding them wearing hideous smiling masks. As Toshiharu terrifyingly backs away, the main door to the garden outside slides open and the group watches in horror as a figure approaches from the shadows and lunges at them. 
4 "Hair"
"Kami" (かみ) 
August 4, 2013 [13]
One night a lone elementary school teacher had remained in the faculty office a bit late to finish working on the school newspaper. When she starts making copies using the photocopier, the school bells eerily start ringing whilst the first test page comes out with strange hair-like lines. Upon investigating the scanner, she finds the head of a girl inside the machine, but upon double checking, sees nothing and deduces that she is just fatigued. The photocopier then starts behaving erratically and makes copies with each copy becoming more and more obstructed by the hair, forcing the teacher to pull the plug. Upon checking the scanner again, she sees a length of messy black hair being sucked into the paper loading tray and upon looking inside, finds nothing. However a ghostly pale white child appears upon closing the scanner's lid. 
5 "The Next Floor"
"Ikai" (異階) 
August 11, 2013 [13]
A family of three visits a shopping mall to buy their son's birthday present, until the father has to leave after getting a call from work. After some patronizing from his wife, the man steps into the elevator and wishes to be left alone. Upon noticing the elevator's rather gloomy-looking occupants, the elevator attendant stops at an unlisted Floor B4, where all but the man get off on the completely dark floor. The attendant then makes another stop at Floor B13 and the man witnesses a bloodied person hurriedly running towards the elevator which suddenly departs. Scared, the man demands that the attendant take him back to his original floor but horrifically finds that it is only a dummy. Arriving at his original floor, the man steps into the deserted mall, with the power being cut. As the elevator leaves, the dummy, strangely upright, wishes the man enjoyment of his solitude
6 "The Overhead Rack"
"Amidana" (網棚) 
August 18, 2013 [13]
A workaholic man rides the train home after a day spent working. Suffering from obvious fatigue and discomfort he starts growing annoyed at his fellow passengers' chatter. Just then he notices a grotesque flesh-like mass on the overhead rack to which he attributes as a hallucination. Suddenly, the train makes an abrupt emergency stop and the conductor announces that an accident had befallen a passenger, at which point the train's electricity is cut for the safety of the rescue workers. The strange flesh-like mass then reappears and starts enveloping the man while two passengers chatter about how that exact area had been the spot of recent deaths. The man starts panicking and goes through his options when all of a sudden he looses the strength to reject the monstrous creature, who remarks that the man would feel better soon. 
7 "Contradiction"
"Mujun" (矛盾) 
August 25, 2013 [13]
A woman called Yuuko is awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call from her frightened friend, Mayumi. Mayumi explains that she and their other friend, Tooru visited an abandoned and supposedly haunted hospital on the outskirts of town as part of a test of courage. However Tooru started venturing deeper into the building despite her pleas and eventually broke into a locked room where his personality seemed to change. Mayumi then fled in fright and phoned Yuuko, asking to come over before mumbling the strange phrase, "I can leave?" At that moment, Yuuko is startled by a knock on her door from which Tooru starts explaining the same story as Mayumi with their roles reversed, further adding that it looked as through Mayumi's face had been replaced. As Yuuko opens the door however, Tooru appears with a grotesque face repeating the same phrase. 
8 "The Umbrella Goddess"
"Kasa Kamisama" (傘神様) 
September 1, 2013 [13]

A boy called Kenji goes to the countryside to visit his friend Takeru. After some catching up, Kenji is left alone at the front of the house and notices a woman abnormally holding an open umbrella with her mouth and making a high-pitched squealing noise. Takeru suddenly appears with a plate of melons. Kenji looks up, only to find that the woman disappeared. After relating this to Takeru's father, he becomes horror struck, murmuring about the "Umbrella Goddess". That night, Takeru's father has Kenji sleep in a shed with a bowl of salt and warns him not to open its door for anyone until morning. Some time later, Takeru brings Kenji some snacks and apologizes for his father's measures before leaving. Just then, Takeru strangely reappears and asks Kenji to open the door, which the latter refuses and instead locks it in fear just as the Takeru-figure starts rocking the shed, all the while a high-pitched squeal echoes throughout the shed and the bowl of salt burns. Later that morning, unbeknownst to Kenji as he exits the shed in a sigh of relief, the Umbrella Goddess appears behind him.

This story appears to be based on the urban legend Hachishakusama or Eight Feet Tall Woman. 
9 "Cursed"
"Tatarare" (祟られ) 
September 1, 2013 [13]
A woman informs her teenaged daughter, Kotone that she had tracked down someone who may be able to help them remove a curse which befell Kotone's body. After a bit of hesitation due to the past failures of others who sought to help her, Kotone agrees. The following day, they visit a Shinto shrine where the priestess deduces that enemies of their ancestors had brought the curse upon their family and proceeds to evoke a ritual that night which seemingly cures Kotone. The next day, as Kotone and her mother breathe a sigh of relief, the priestess' aide informs them via a phone call that the priestess was killed as the curse was passed on to her and relates her finals words which lament her failure to help them. As the mother receives these words, the curse mark simultaneously appears on Kotone's neck on her way to school and kills her. 
10 "The Moon"
"Tsuki" (月) 
September 8, 2013 [13]
While spending the night at a lodge, a high school boys' baseball team discuss their current training camp and recall how their teammate, a boy named Daisuke, fell into one of the lodge's pit toilets during a little league training camp back when they were in first grade, although he fails to recall the event. As Daisuke uses the restroom later that night, he recalls the event while staring at the moon through the window, and remembers that there was some type of figure stalking him while trapped in the pit. In the present, Daisuke notices a figure staring at him from the pit before suddenly vanishing. Startled, he attributes the figure to his imagination and while finishing up in the bathroom, the door suddenly creaks open and Daisuke watches in horror from the mirror's reflection as a dark creature climbs out of the pit toilet. 
11 "Video"
"Bideo" (ビデオ) 
September 15, 2013 [13]
While trying to complete a huge amount of unfinished homework, three middle school friends decide to take a break and watch a recorded videotape, which supposedly shows things that the recorder didn't remember shooting. When the video starts playing the friends notice something which resembles a human face next to a gravestone and assume that was the scary footage. However Takaaki also notices a strange humanoid figure in the background, which his friends fail to see, and upon rewinding the tape, finds that the figure somehow moves to the foreground and starts staring directly at him. Now thoroughly spooked, Takaaki notices two more humanoid faces reflecting in the screen and turns around to find that his friends had morphed into strange humanoid creatures who continue to question him about what he had seen. 
12 "Tomonari-kun"
"Tomonari-kun" (トモナリクン) 
September 22, 2013 [13]
A high school girl returns to her apartment complex and notices five small boys sitting around a black, shadow-like mass in the courtyard, whom they personify as their friend, "Tomonari-kun." They claim that "Tomonari" invites her to play with them, but she declines and promises to play with "Tomonari" soon. The next day, they invite her again, but she uses her part-time job as an excuse. When she returns home, the girl finds the boys knocking at her door, who claim that "Tomonari" spoke of visiting her and point to a black shadow on her ceiling, claiming it to be "Tomonari". Spooked, the girl throws the boys out and watches in fear as the black shadow manifests eyes and speaks of her promise, before it pulls the girl into itself. Finally the boys look on and seem to be happy for "Tomonari" before sitting around two shadows in the courtyard. 
13 "Tormentor"
"Uzuki" (疼憑き) 
September 29, 2013 [13]
A trio of elementary students are expectantly observing a house in the vicinity of their neighborhood using a pair of binoculars, hoping to see the Tormentor, an entity that according to one of the students, caused his grandmother's childhood friend to disappear mysteriously following its appearance. The student, visibly unnerved, leaves on false claims. The remaining two, Shouta and Taichi, spot the occupants of the residence stumbling around wearing blindfolds, with an eerie apparition seemingly contorting its limbs barely visible behind one of the residents. As it is about to appear in the surveiling Shouta's field of vision, Taichi snatches the binoculars impatientantly and goes into shock upon seeing the entity, abrubtly leaving in a similar 'dancing' manner. Shouta meekly arrives at his friend's house the following day to return his binoculars, but is sternly told off by Taichi's father, who claims his son will not be playing with him anymore as he is transferring to a school in Tokyo. The student briefly glimpses past the father to see a group of people cautiously observing and attempting to handle a writhing Taichi, his mother weeping desperately nearby and someone reminding others to not to look at Taichi in the eye. Upon leaving Shouta notices who he believes is Taichi watching him from a window. Using his binoculars he views the window but no one is there. He suddenly spots the father, aghast, pointing alarmingly at something in his direction. Shouta then shifts the binoculars gifted to him by Taichi's father to the right and witnesses Taichi rushing at him as a Tormentor. The screen fades as Shouta looks into the eyes of Taichi through the binoculars. 

Season 2[edit]

No. Official English title[nb 1]
Original Japanese title
Original air date[nb 3] Refs.
1 "Taro-chan"
(タロちゃん) 
July 6, 2014
A police officer named Hatanaka is to give a presentation about road safety in a ventriloquism act with a doll named "Taro-chan" at a public meeting. The act begins smoothly enough until the doll's head jams and a talisman falls out. Afterwards "Taro-chan" convulses and seemingly gains its own consciousness and explicitly details a bicycle accident, much to Hatanaka's horror. As Hatanaka desperately struggles to remove his hand from "Taro-chan", the crowd believes it all to be a part of the act. However Hatanaka manages to throw "Taro-chan" down stage where it manages to say that the accident "hurt". 
2 "Kitchen"
"Daidokoro" (台所) 
July 13, 2014
A university student is invited to her friend's apartment to have dinner. Her friend is cooking the pasta when she arrives, so they converse at the dining table. As dusk falls, the student experiences the strange sensation of being watched. She looks closely at the air conditioner; she notices the sound of a man's sigh and an eye suddenly appears, looking at her. At that point, the electricity suddenly goes out and the student screams in surprise. Her friend casually mentions that electrical outages occur often and are nothing to worry about. The two then sit down to dinner. After the scare, the student makes an excuse to not to eat but her friend angrily accuses the student of simply disliking the cooking. From the corner of her eye, the student discovers a black mass with two eyes climbing out of the kitchen sink and moving towards the two of them. The student struggles internally over what to make of the black mass and why her friend can't see it. As the black mass begins to envelope her friend, still berating her about her reluctance to eat, the student shouts for her friend to escape with her before abandoning her friend and running outside. As the student climbs the nearby hill, the black mass is seen expanding out of the apartment building and overshadowing the student. The screen goes to black and the student's scream is heard. The story ends with a pair of eyes popping out of the blackness. 
3 "Inside"
"Nakami" (中身) 
July 20, 2014
A boy comes home holding a Matryoshka doll, or a Russian nesting doll. The mother inquires about it and the boy explains that he found it outside. The mother then insists that it's dirty and proceeds to take it outside to throw it away. Later that night, the father comes home and the boy is worried because his mother still hasn't returned from disposing of the doll. The father guesses that she's gone to the supermarket but the boy notices that her purse and handbag are untouched. Even later that night, the mother finally comes home and walks into the hallway holding the doll while speaking in a monotone voice. The boy glances at the doll. Some days later, the boy hears his mother crying downstairs and rushes to her only to discover her mother sitting with the doll next to her; she insists in a monotone voice that nothing is wrong. The boy then goes back up stairs, only to hear his mother laughing downstairs. The boy consults with his father, who brushes it off as the mother getting really into a TV show. One night, the mother goes to bathe, holding the doll. The boy sneaks next to the bathroom to try to find out more about the doll. He removes the top layer of the doll to find a small doll with a different emotion painted on the face. He continues removing layers of the doll to find other emotions until he comes across an unpainted layer with only a ghastly face drawn on with red pen lines. The boy opens the doodle-drawn layer and the screen fades to black as a loud mix of voices from men and women are heard laughing, crying, shouting, and screaming. After hearing the disturbing noise, the father charges into the bathroom to find the mother and son standing side by side with their backs to the door. The boy responds to the father in a monotone voice similar to the mother's, and the doll is now put back to normal, sitting on the table next to them. 
4 "Wall Woman"
"Kabe On'na" (壁女) 
July 27, 2014
A young university student is taking a break from his studies to look out the window. He stares dreamily at a beautiful young woman across the street, as she hangs her laundry on her balcony. When she goes back inside, the student prepares to return to his studies, when he witnesses a shadow scale the wall of the woman's building in a strange cat-like pose and disappear through her balcony door. A moment later, the woman reappears in the student's view and painfully contorts herself into the shadow's cat-like pose, and suddenly turns her attention toward the student with a contorted face. He tries to evade her stare and carefully peers out at the balcony to find that she had disappeared. Soon after, he hears strange scraping noises through his wall and follows them around the apartment to the bathroom. He investigates, finding it empty, but his bedroom window is wide open. He slowly glances around the room, when suddenly, a pale womanlike creature with long, gangly, contorted limbs drops from the ceiling and crawls toward him. 
5 "Locker"
"Rokkā" (ロッカー) 
August 3, 2014
A high school student longs to be noticed by a handsome senior baseball player, yet despairs in her inability to tell him how she feels. As she walks home from school one afternoon, she overhears an urban legend about a coin locker in the train station basement; if you place a photo of your beloved into the locker with a doll in it, your wish to be with them will come true. She decides to try it out, picking the locker with the baseball player's jersey number, to find a pale, disheveled, old-fashioned doll, holding a small black box. Assuming this must be the doll, she places a photo of her crush inside and prays that her wish comes true. The next day, she returns to the basement and opens the locker to find that the photo had disappeared. Suddenly, her crush appears, explaining that he wants to try out the locker legend, but is horrified when she mentions the doll. Before he can clarify, a dark shadow reaches out of the locker and envelopes him, crushing and contorting his body. The student can only look on in horror as the shadow drags the boy in and slams the locker shut. 
6 "Nao-chan"
(ナオちゃん) 
August 10, 2014
A family living in a small flat plays with shadow puppets on the ceiling while they prepare for bed. When the lights go out, the boy, Takkun, watches as shadows coalesce on the ceiling. Before happily drifting off to sleep, the little boy mumbles "Nao-chan..." Some time later, the woman asks her husband if he knows anyone named "Nao", since their son has been calling this name up at the ceiling at night, but to no avail. Takkun tries to point "Nao-chan" out, but his parents see only an ordinary ceiling, prompting the father to think Takkun just wants to play with shadow puppets again. After lights-out, Takkun calls out to Nao-chan again, but this time, a ghostly disfigured, sad-looking face appears on the ceiling. The face approaches Takkun's mother... The next morning, she awakens and remembers Nao as being a college friend of her husband's, who died alone shortly after contacting them. The narrator explains that this friend was responsible for Takkun's parents' marriage. A few months later, another baby boy is born with a face that resembles that of the ghostly figure... a baby whom they name Nao-chan. 
7 "Capsule Toy Machine"
"Gatcha" (ガチャ) 
August 17, 2014
A business man walks home one night after a bad day at work, when he notices an old man in a graying suit huddled over a capsule toy machine, with many empty capsules strewn about on the ground. A bit disturbed, he moves on toward home. The next afternoon, after another hard day, the man passes by the capsule machine again and decides to give it a try. When he opens the capsule, he finds a favorite eraser that he lost as a child, and his hair starts turning white and falling out. He marvels at the objects that appear in the capsules; a dog figurine of his childhood pet, a girl figurine of an old crush. Meanwhile, he ages faster and faster, with each turn of the machine's crank. More of his hair falls out, as do his teeth, and his skin wrinkles. He is so consumed by his obsession with the capsule machine that he doesn't notice another business man passing by behind him, deeply disturbed by the scene. He collapses as he buys his last capsule. The next day, the passing businessman stops by the machine... 
8 "Farewell Confessional"
"Kokubetsu" (告別) 
August 24, 2014
A man named Ken goes to a funeral in his family's hometown, where he notices the mourners' unusually jovial disposition. Everyone is ushered inside, where the atmosphere takes on a heavy aura. Just as Ken notices the absence of a priest, the first mourner, an older man, walks through the shoji screen door into the room with the deceased, which is lit only by two candles. The man bows, whispers that he impregnated the dead man's wife during an affair, bows with his finger to his lips, then returns to the mourners' room. A young woman follows suit, except she mentions breaking a branch on his plum tree. Noticing Ken's confusion, an aunt (?) explains that this kind of funeral is a "Farewell Confessional", where mourners confess to the corpse about something they could not tell the deceased in life, so that their sin can be absolved. She then promptly urges him into the other room. Not having seen the dead uncle (?) in some years, Ken is at a loss for a secret to admit. Finally, he hesitantly confesses to accidentally killing the deceased's dog. Upon doing so, a sudden gust blows the corpse's face shroud upward and extinguishes the candles. After concluding that it was just the wind, Ken prepares to leave the room... until the dead uncle sits up and angrily asks, "IS THAT TRUE?!..." 
9 "Ominie-san"
(おみにえさん) 
August 31, 2014
A young school teacher named Asako moves from Tokyo to teach in the country. One day, at lunchtime, they all excitedly clamor around a dish they call "Ominie-san", a strange purple mass that gives off black fumes. The students wolf it down hungrily with a strange crunching sound, but Asako collects it in a plastic bag and slips it into her purse. Later that afternoon, she sneaks the bag into the basement to dispose of it in the furnace, when it starts squirming! She tosses it into the furnace in a hurry. En route home, she stops at a small restaurant for dinner. There, she overhears two men at a nearby table order "Ominie-san", mentioning something about keeping up their strength, and stops dead in her tracks. Nauseated by the sight of them eating it with the same crunching sound as the students, she hurriedly pays and leaves. The next day, she calls into work sick. Her aunt wakes her up for dinner, which she eats with enthusiasm. Her aunt admonishes her to keep up her strength and says that, because she couldn't eat "it" at school, she mixed "it" with vegetables to make it more palatable. "It", of course, turns out to be "Ominie-san". Initially shocked by the deceit, Asako begins salivating at the sight of the pot, and charges at the stove. The episode ends with the same strange crunching sounds heard throughout. 
10 "Bugged"
"Mushitsuba" (虫唾) 
September 7, 2014
One midsummer night, a man complains about his boss in his diary, when he hears a loud mosquito-like buzzing noise. He looks up, but he finds no bugs. A few days later, his workplace complaints intensify in his diary. The buzzing returns, which stops again when he glances up. He lights a mosquito-repellant coil and resumes writing. A few days after that, his diary complaints about the rain are interrupted by a pair of moths flittering near the ceiling light. Out of spite, he kills them with spray and lights them on fire in his ashtray, finding it oddly satisfying. About a week (?) later, he writes about everything annoying him lately, including the incessant insect buzzing and his skin itching. He looks in the mirror and finds himself looking extremely disheveled... and that he has maggots crawling out from under his eyelids. He hallucinates about writing in his diary; his "writing" becomes increasingly less cohesive and more violent. Eventually, his room becomes a big mess, and he is dead at his desk. His head appears as though it exploded. An insect peaks its head out of his open mouth. His last diary entry- a messily-scrawled "Help me..." 
11 "Picking Up"
"Hiroi-gyō" (拾い業) 
September 14, 2014
A college student named Keita Haga is riding the train home when he notices a novel manuscript called "After the Festival" left on an overhead rack. He becomes engrossed in reading it, until he finds himself at an unfamiliar stop. Just as he is about to throw away the manuscript, he finds a flyer in the trash for an amateur literature contest with a grand prize of 3,000,000 yen. The next day, Haga receives a call informing him that the manuscript won the award, and asking to confirm that he'd actually written it. Haga lies and affirms. He arrives at the Awards ceremony, where the host asks one last time to confirm that Haga had written the novel. As the ceremony begins, Haga notices the audience's blank expressions and lack of attention, likening the scene to a funeral. The moment he walks up on stage, he sees the audience and the host have become bare, deformed skeletons clapping their hands. The curtain opens behind him, revealing a swirling vortex. Horrified, he confesses that he didn't actually write the novel, and the auditorium falls silent. But the host reminds him that he'd already definitively confirmed his authorship. He is then dragged into the vortex by skeletal hands, shouting "I'm sorry!" as the curtain slowly falls. 
12 "Netsuke"
(根付) 
September 21, 2014
A college student named Kaoru is helping to clean her grandmother's shop when she notices a strange box in a cabinet. Her grandmother explains that it contains a pair of netsuke (small Japanese ornaments) that even her husband never allowed her to touch. She opens the box; the netsuke are of matching faces, and she fashions them into earrings. That afternoon, she is waiting for a train, when she hears a distant voice whisper "Give it back". Finding no one trying to get her attention, she dismisses it as her imagination. As she takes an evening stroll, two shadowy figures in traditional clothing stare at her from across the river. She hears the whisper again, "Give it back". The figures follow her along the river, until a bus arrives and blocks them from view. Kaoru takes the opportunity and ducks into a nearby alleyway. When she looks to see if the coast is clear, the figures are rounding the corner towards her, shouting "GIVE IT BACK!" She flees, but they gain on her fast, stretching out their arms to reach her. She sees a bus come to a stop ahead of her and makes a break for it. It is then revealed that the netsuke have been doing the whispering; they now say "Give back my face!" The hands swipe at her shoulder, knocking one of the netsuke off of its earring and shattering it on the ground. She reaches the bus and turns back to see the figures stopped to pick up the fragments. Moments later, at the shop, Kaoru tries to give the remaining netsuke back to her grandmother, who mentions a visitor for her. Her grandmother then notices the visitor at the door. Kaoru turns around and sees someone in traditional clothes... with hollow eyes and a shattered face... 
13 "Bringer Drums"
"Yadorikiko" (寄鼓) 
September 28, 2014
A young married couple arrives at the outskirts their new town in the country, when the wife finds a small red Japanese pellet drum with its handle planted into the ground. When they arrive in town proper, they find two lines of pellet drums with their handles planted into the ground, leading up to their new house. Though the townspeople allegedly don't like city people, they find the town elder waiting to greet them and warmly offer a tour. During the tour, the wife asks about the drums; the elder explains that they are lined up to newcomers' homes as a town tradition, to bring them good luck. The couple is then led to a temple enshrining the town's protector god (perhaps a Jizo statue?), who will allegedly follow the drums to visit the newcomers' home. Later that night, the couple settles in for bed. The wife wakes up when she hears a strange distant noise. She notices the pellet drums playing on their own and the sound of babies crying, and tries to wake her husband, to no avail. As the sounds get closer and louder, she tries desperately to wake him. Suddenly, the drums and the crying stop. The husband stirs, and when the wife turns to face him, his skin turns ghastly pale and he wails in a distorted infant cry that echoes through the valley. Lights turn on in town, in the distance, but suddenly turn off as the crying continues and becomes more childlike. 

Season 3[edit]

No. Official English title[nb 1]
Original Japanese title
Original air date[nb 4] Refs.
1 "Lend It to Me"
"Kashite" (貸して) 
January 10, 2016
A young man notices a bathhouse he'd never seen before along his walk home from work and decides to take a bath. After getting his shampoo, a bucket, and a bar of soap from the elderly check-in woman, he settles in to bathe and realizes he's the only one there. Later, he hears footsteps on the other side of the dividing wall. He then hears a woman's voice ask for a bar of soap, which he accommodates by tossing his soap bar over the wall. Later, while he's bathing, the woman asks for a bucket since the others are in use. The man complies again and tosses his bucket over, but is curious as to how there are no others since they are the only customers. As the man showers, the woman asks for a razor, but he says he didn't bring one. She asks for some scissors, which he also didn't bring. The woman starts to mumble to herself about cutting something, much to the man's confusion and growing fear. Then the woman asks out loud if she could have his hair. Now scared, the man tries to hurry through his shower, trying to ignore her constantly growing and insane demands for random body parts. As she demands more and more, she shouts, "Lend it to me! Lend it to me! Lend it to me!" The man finally is about to run away when a monster with a melted face, long and stringy black hair, a soap bar in its mouth and carrying a giant pair of scissors leans over the wall and says in a calm voice, "Actually, let me just have all of you." The story ends with the man's feet being dragged over the wall... 
2 "Tunnel"
"Tonneru" (トンネル) 
January 17, 2016
Two men are driving their car to a hot spring, only they are lost, low on gas and getting nowhere fast on the mountain road. Eventually, they come to a fork in the road; one path leads to a tunnel that doesn't appear on their map. Eventually, the car runs out of gas forcing the men to push the car, but it seems the tunnel goes on forever. They stop to take a breather, but the driver notices trails of slime on the road and on the tunnel ceiling. As the men wait for another car to pass by, the passenger notices two smiling kids looking in through the window. However, the kids move strangely and don't even speak. Then it's revealed that the kids are nothing more than a pair of heads, but even worse, they are the feet of a giant spider with peoples' heads for feet that leaves a trail of slime as it walks. The men then notices one of the windows is barely open and try to close it but the spider manages to squeeze two of its legs into the gap and into the car... Some time later, a driver is going through the tunnel when he stops, thinking he hit something. He goes to check but only finds a trail of slime leading towards his vehicle. When he gets inside, he notices an abandoned car in the middle of the road. Then, he finds two smiling men in the back of his car, only to realize they are nothing but heads that are the feet of a giant insect. To make matters worse, he sees, to his horror, that the tunnel is a nest of giant insects with peoples' heads for body parts. 
3 "Rat"
"Nezumi" (ねずみ) 
January 24, 2016
A young couple, Kenta and Machiko, moves into an old apartment for cheap, finishing moving the boxes into their new home. They realize they have an unwanted roommate: a rat. While Machiko is scared, Kenta claims that it's no worry and that they'll have to get used to them. That night as the couple sleeps, a rat scratches Machiko on the finger, making her bleed. She hears squeaking coming from the walls, and wonders if they would be able to live with the rats. Some time later, after Machiko gets her wound treated; complete with a bandaged finger, Kenta goes out for two days on a business trip but not before placing a rat cage trap to calm down his worried girlfriend. But as soon as he leaves, Machiko hears squeaking, but she tries to convince herself that Kenta is right and that she'll get used to them. That night, she hears more squeaking, but again, tries to ignore them, despite her growing fear. As she sleeps, rats surround her bed... Two days later, Kenta returns and calls out to Machiko letting her know he's back. Machiko replies in a creepy voice, "Welcome home." A clawed hand opens the bedroom door and rats scurry out. Kenta screams in horror as a giant rat with a humanlike face and braided pigtails exits the threshold and says with a giggle and a toothy smile, "You were right, Ken-chan. They really grew on me." 
4 "The Noisy Hospital Room"
"Nigiyakana Byoushitsu" (にぎやかな病室) 
January 31, 2016
At 2:15 AM in a local hospital, a patient walks down a hallway, past a window where a truck outside is carrying what look like blank mannequins. As he walks down the hall, he hears what sounds like people laughing coming from a lit up room. When he opens the door, he sees himself reaching out while lying on an operating table, prepped for surgery and surrounded by laughing surgeons. The man then wakes up, and realizes it was just a dream upon realizing he's back in his hospital room. In fact, it was the same dream he's been having for a while despite the fact that he's only there for tests. Upon realizing that he's sweating, he tries to call a nurse to change his clothes, but the button does not work. He goes to the front desk, only to read a sign that says, "On rounds". Muttering at his bad luck, he sees a nurse with a flashlight walking down a dark hallway. He chases after her, but loses sight of her when he bumps into an older patient. Then he realizes he's in the same hallway from his dream and he sees the same clock telling the time: 2:15 AM. He looks out the window, and sure enough, there is the truck carrying the blank mannequins driving past the window. He runs down the hallway even further and sees the same lit up room with people laughing on the other side. He then recalls what a nurse told him the other night. "Don't go near that room. It's this hospital's rule." His suspicion fueled by what she said, the patient opens the door slightly for a quick peek when the door opens suddenly, pushing the man onto his back. Inside, he finds nothing. The lights are out, there are no people inside and the operating table is clean. He returns to his room to try to sleep, but hears people laughing outside his door and sees a flashlight passing by the door's window. He hides himself under the covers until the noise stops. But when he takes a peek to make sure they're gone, he finds himself on an operating table surrounded by four monstrous surgeons with huge mouths that make up their entire faces. As they laugh, tools at the ready, the man tells himself it's just a dream before laughing himself. Outside the operating room, the old man from earlier hears the noise coming from the other side of the door. The nurse asks if he's lost and escorts him to the bathroom, telling him, "Please don't go near that room. It's this hospital's rule." Outside the hospital, the truck carrying the blank mannequins drives away... 
5 "Museum of Taxidermy"
"Hakusei Hakubutsukan" (剥製博物館) 
February 7, 2016
One rainy evening, a young couple rushes down the street, the woman is a little annoyed that the weather has gotten bad. Along they way, the man spies a "Museum of Taxidermy" and decides that they should take shelter there. At the front desk, the desk clerk greets them in an almost robotic tone. As the couple explores the museum, the woman gets an uneasy feeling from the way the other guests just stare at the exhibits with full concentration and the way stuffed animals look almost as if they are alive, but the man brushes it off and even scares her when she stares at a stuffed dog. Annoyed, she leaves the museum and goes back to the hotel where they are staying. The man follows, but she locks the door on him. The man digs in his pockets for his room key, but can't find it. Believing that he dropped it back at the museum, the man rushes back despite it getting late and that it must be closed. To his surprise, it's still open and there are still people inside. When he goes to the front desk, the desk clerk from before is still there and repeats his greeting. Suddenly, his voice slows down as if he were a toy with its batteries running down. Frightened, the young man rushes inside and finds a guard, but upon closer inspection he sees that the man is a stuffed corpse along with all the guests and the desk clerk. As the man backs away in horror, he bumps into the desk clerk, who tips over and repeats the greeting until his batteries run down. The young man screams one last time as multiple pairs of eyes pop out of the darkness... The sounds of animals fill the museum as the shadows of said animals surround a new exhibit: the young couple, stuffed and sewn together. 
6 ""That Side" Festival"
"Achira no Matsuri" (アチラの祭) 
February 14, 2016
During the night of a festival, two girls: Miki and Asako, enjoy themselves at the stands, playing games and eating candy. Miki says that she wishes they could stay forever, though Asako says that's a little bit exaggerating. Asako then comes across a mask stand, and calls out to Miki to have a look, but Miki disappears and wonders where she went. One of the masks, a white geisha mask sitting amongst the oni masks suddenly darkens and says in a deep voice, "That side." Asako wonders if she was imagining it, but puts it aside as she has to find Miki. As she looks around, she sees that the people are all gone and the lights are dimming and turning green, all the while a deep, booming voice says in the distance, "Go to that side". Fog starts to roll and laughing ghosts come parading in with the sounds of bells and a monstrous float resembling the white mask with lanterns hanging from it and saying with a huge second mouth, "Go to that side." Terrified, Asako flees and runs into the goldfish game stand where she asks the man attending the stand if he's seen Miki. To her horror, the man now resembles a goldfish. She runs to the man at the cotton candy stand only to find him wrapping his entrails around a cotton candy stick. As she flees, Asako runs past distorted versions of the people and calls out to Miki. Suddenly, she hears and runs into her friend. Miki takes her hand and they run, but Asako asks where are they running to. Miki suddenly stops and her face turns into the white mask and says in a deep voice, "That side." Asako screams in horror as the sounds of laughter and the distant "Go to that side" echo throughout the dimly lit festival... 
7 "Behind"
"Ushiro" (うしろ) 
February 21, 2016
At the Kuchiya Inn, during a school field trip, everyone else is asleep except for three boys; one of them, Osamu, wants to sneak into the girls' room. Two of them want to back off because they want to sleep and are sure the girls are too. Osamu tells his friends it's because he's been having a nightmare recently. The two boys laugh at this before apologizing and ask what sort of nightmare he's been having. Osamu tells them that in the dream he's in class and everyone is laughing and having a good time. The door opens and a feminine figure enters the room and laughs as it walks behind the rows of desks, someone everyone knows they can't look at. As Osamu thinks to himself not to look up, a huge hand with red painted nails grabs and twists his head around as it forces him to look up at the figure's face... and that's when the dream ends. The other boys admit that that is scary, but assure him not to let it get to him. Osamu reluctantly agrees. Later, before dawn, one of the boys wakes up, and wants to go to the bathroom, but is afraid since being told that dream. He hears a cracking sound, and turns to see Osamu's whole head twist around, his eyes bugging out. As he screams in horror, the boy watches as all the other sleeping boys suffer this same fate. As he watches the boys now writhing in their beds, he wonders if this is what happened in the dream Osamu was talking about. Suddenly, a huge hand with red painted nails grabs his head and he finds that he can't close his eyes or look away as he is forced to look upward at the face of the laughing figure from Osamu's dream before his head is forcibly twisted: a woman with a twisted head, bugged out eyes and a great, muscular arm. 
8 "The Empress Doll"
"O-Hinasama" (お雛様) 
February 28, 2016
Two teenage couples pull over at an abandoned house for a test of courage. They find it unlocked and go inside, armed with flashlights, and tell each other that there were rumors that people who lived in the house vanished while others say they just skipped town. Entering one of the rooms, the teens come across a Buddhist altar and next to it are red carpet-covered platforms with Hinamatsuri dolls, obviously belonging to a girl. One of the boys says that the dolls protect the people that own them from misfortune. No one seems to notice that one of the three court lady dolls appears to be smiling at them. One of the girls, Yumi, points out that the empress doll is missing, probably the result of someone stealing it. As the other kids go to the second floor, the girl gets an uneasy feeling... In the upper floor bedroom, the kids come across a three-sided mirror and one of the girls, Nobuko, is dared to look into the reflections, but she knows that a ghost is supposed to appear in the reflections. Calling her chicken, her boyfriend, Haruo, decides to open it so they all have a look. The door behind them opens slowly in the reflection, but when the boy turns around, it is closed. At first everyone thinks it's his imagination until they see the door in the mirror open all the way despite the real door remaining closed. They take a look in the mirror again, and in the threshold is a giant Hinamatsuri empress doll. It enters the room, grabs Yumi and exits the room. The real Yumi collapses to her knees in fear. As they leave in fear, the couples take another look in the room with the dolls and find Yumi's body sitting haphazardly on the platforms as if she were thrown at it, her face painted to resemble a Hinamatsuri empress doll. They turn around and find the empress doll behind them when suddenly it cackles as its eyes become huge and its mouth opens revealing a set of big teeth. 
9 "The Fourth Man"
"Yonninme" (4人目) 
March 6, 2016
At the end of class, two high school students ask their teacher if she had heard of the Handshake Men. The teacher says she hasn't. According to the girls, a man stands by the roadside at night asking people to shake his hand but you can't tell him no or he will say that you are naughty and will crush your body into a meatball. The girls also say there are three more of them, but you should never shake hands with the fourth one otherwise, he'll bite your hand off. A third student, Haruko, silently thinks that the story is stupid. At home, while she's reading, her younger sister, Naomi comes in and tells her she forgot her notebook at school. The two girls go to the school and the younger of the two finds it in her desk, right where she left it. Suddenly, they bump into the janitor, who demands to know why they are there so late. Naomi explains the situation and he lets them go. The two girls walk back home, though the student is a little shaken by the janitor suddenly appearing. Along the way, an old man comes stumbling along, grumbling why two young kids are out this late. Haruko begins to question if the Handshake Men story is true. A while later, a man appears and asks for a handshake. Remembering the story, Haruko shakes his hand quickly and takes off running with Naomi. An officer suddenly asks to shake hands with her which she does. Then the third man asks for a handshake which she does. Suddenly, Haruko realizes Naomi has vanished. Terrified she wonders if she's run into the fourth man. Suddenly a hand grabs hers... but it's not Naomi who's now running up to her. Instead, it's a man ready to bite her hand off with his giant mouth. 
10 "Merry-go-round"
"Merīgōrando" (メリーゴーランド) 
March 13, 2016
A young couple, Shinichi and Satomi, arrive at a mall carnival (that looks oddly like the one seen in the opening for the second season) that they remember their parents bringing them to. Before they go on a ride, a clown appears behind them and asks if they want a balloon to which Satomi says she would. Just then the announcer says that the mall will be closing shortly much to Satomi's disappointment. The clown asks if they would like to ride the merry-go-round before leaving as it is free for the person who buys a balloon. While Satomi is excited, Shinichi says it's a little embarrassing and offers to take her picture instead. Satomi goes on for a ride, Shinichi notices a boy and girl also riding the carousel, and notes that they don't look happy at all; they look bored in fact. As Sinichi looks at his pictures, Satomi asks if he's watching to which he says yes, but pays no mind. When she asks again if he's watching, he notices that Satomi looks weak and wobbly and that the two kids are now smiling wickedly. When Satomi calls out again, Shinichi sees that her face has become deformed and her eyes have become googly. He hears laughing coming from all around and notices that the guests and the performers are coming toward him with evil smiles. When his gaze returns to the carousel, Satomi is gone. He rushes to the ride maintenance man and asks if he's seen her, to which the man says no. Then he asks the children and they say the same thing. Suddenly, the carousel starts to move again, and Shinichi notices everyone off the carousel clapping, slowly at first, then faster until they stop when a hand grabs him. Looking down he sees the hand belongs to a deformed, twitching merry-go-round horse with rolling eyes and a balloon tied to its right hoof and it asks, "Shinichi, are you watching?" The story ends with the mall's lights going off, the carnival's music winding down and people laughing... 
11 "Cuckoo Clock"
"Hatodokei" (鳩時計) 
March 20, 2016
Rumi and her mother visit their grandmother's house where she takes notice to the cuckoo clock hanging on the wall at the exact time the little bird pops out. Rumi asks why the bird doesn't come out of the house to which her grandmother explains that it's the bird's job to tell the time and won't come out until the appropriate time. Later that night, Rumi's mother has taken notice to her daughter's obsession with the clock (even making a tick-tock sound), as every time she hears the bird pop out she runs into the living room to see it. Rumi's grandmother says it must also make the cuckoo clock happy as no one seems to have paid attention to it for some time. Five minutes before midnight, while everyone is asleep, Rumi awakens to the feeling of going to the bathroom, but doesn't make it far before she hears the sound of the clock ticking. Almost immediately, she stands in front of the clock and makes the tick-tock sound, and her eyes start spinning around like the hands of a clock. At the stroke of midnight, the cuckoo bird doesn't pop out, however. Wondering if the bird is asleep, Rumi checks the clock, but it falls from the wall and breaks. Now worried, Rumi wonders how to fix it. Suddenly, the doors open and a fleshy, deformed bird with rolling eyes on one side of its head pops out and makes a distorted cuckoo sound to which Rumi smiles and laughs... The next morning, Rumi's mother awakens, but her daughter isn't in bed with her. Walking downstairs, she hears her daughter making the tick-tock sound in the living room. When she calls to her, Rumi slowly turns to face, her eyes now spinning like clock hands and her mouth turns into a cuckoo clock's door. When the door opens, the scene cuts to the exterior of the house as the sounds of choked cuckoos and Rumi's mother's screams can be heard. 
12 "In the Water"
"Mizu no naka" (水の中) 
March 27, 2016
Late one night, at a closed swimming pool, a teenage boy, Tooru, sneaks into pool, recalling how his gym teacher announces the prefectural tournament next week and doesn't expect anyone to slack off. He says to Tooru that he expects good results. In the present, Tooru figures that he can't be ready for next week, hence his late night practicing, though he notes how the pool looks creepy. But his remains deterred and dives into the water, awakening something... As he swims through the pool, winning the tournament on his mind, he hears something splashing nearby. Convinced it's just his imagination, he resumes swimming, unaware that he's being followed by black, hairlike tendrils. Finally, he reaches the end of the pool and it's then he notices the black hair in his hands. Looking up, he sees more of the hair in the center of the pool, hair belonging to someone, or something. Terrified, Tooru tries to swim away, but is entangled in the hair and even hears something cackling in the water. However, he manages to get away and exits the pool but when he turns around to face the creature, he sees it looming just under the water. Deciding to skip the practice, he tries to make a run for it, only for more hair to wrap around his throat. A splash is heard and Tooru sees the owner of the hair jump out of the water: a giant fish with a woman's head and glowing yellow eyes. The fish woman laughs as it pulls Tooru under the water. 
13 "— Drawings —"
"- E -" (- 絵 -) 
April 4th, 2016
This episode does not begin with the same opening as the other episodes in the series. Instead, the episode immediately begins with a scene of the boy in the opening title sequence from season 3 sitting on a playground slide drawing while other three other children are playing hopscotch. A woman comes onto the playground and it is revealed that she has just moved to this town to work as a teacher. She tries to talk to the boy, but he walks away. While teaching, she notices the same boy is sitting in the back of the class drawing. After class she asks him to draw her, but he claims that it would be boring. Immediately after, another teacher approaches her and says that three children were absent from class and were also missing. He claims that they were at the park that morning, but then walks away. The teacher walks home late at night and spots the boy sketching a picture of a monster assimilating a man they both see in a phone booth. She decides to follow him over the course of the next few days and observes many different monsters such as a giant heron eating a man and a clothing store manager being chased by an army of mannequins and the boy drawing them while laughing. The following day, she looks at his sketchbook and sees a picture of the three children playing hopscotch being grabbed by a monster, then realizing it was of the children that she had seen earlier that had gone missing. She suddenly sees the boy behind her drawing, who claims that he will draw her now, saying she's much more interesting than she was when he first met her. She becomes surrounded by the monsters from the entire third season and screams as the boy's face slowly fades into the mask that the kamishibaiya from the first two seasons wore. Then the kamishibai panel that was used as a ending card for seasons one and two slams and the storyteller says "the end" (oshimai) as he did in the first two seasons. The camera pans out and reveals the opening scene of season 1, and then to a group of children watching the story teller with open mouths and blank looks on their faces. The end card slams again and the camera pans out to the children again, this time their faces become more distorted and monstrous, taking on the characteristics of a frog, a prawn and a sea slug. This happens numerous more times with the children's faces becoming more and more hideous, until it shows the boy standing in front of the kamishibai theater wearing the original kamishibaiya's mask. The end card from season 1 and 2 comes up again, and this time, the boy says the words "The End..." 

Season 4[edit]

No. Official English title[nb 1]
Original Japanese title
Original air date[nb 4] Refs.
1 "Tongue"
"Shita" (舌) 
January 16, 2017
A salaryman walking home from work runs into two children, both of whom are sad that a dead cat is lying in the middle of the street. Not wanting to see it run over, he scoops the cat up and buries it next to a tree. Two girls walk by, muttering that something could follow you home if you take pity on it. The boys and the man say a prayer for the cat and they go on their ways. That night, while the man watches TV he hears what sounds like a cat meowing. This makes him recall what the girls said, but he shrugs it off and decides to go to bed early. He is just about to go to bed when he hears the meow again, only now it was coming from the room he was just in. The meows get closer and closer until it's right next to his bed. The cat licks him, but he feels something off... When his eyes become accustomed to the dark, he realizes the meows sound too human. In fact, it wasn't the cat meowing at all, but a pale-skinned, dark-haired woman with green eyes holding the corpse of the dead cat. "I'm so glad I got to see you," she says. "So, why did you find the cat, but not me?" 
2 "Fish Tank"
"Suisō" (水槽) 
January 16, 2017
Three middle school students are walking home from school, talking about an old abandoned Western-style mansion that is rumored to be haunted. Though they try to enter through a window, they find it locked. Just before one of them could break a window with a rock, they see that one of the second floor windows is open. One of the boys, Shigeru, climbs up into the window. Inside the dark house, the only presence is the sound of gurgling water. When he pulls on the tattered curtain to let light in, he finds the source of the sound: a massive fish tank that had been left dirty and neglected with plant life and murky water still inside. He thinks he heard something bubbling in the tank, but can't see anything in the filthy, murky water. But when he presses his face up against the glass, something bumps against the tank. Ignoring the foul odor, he looks down from the top of the tank and peers into the water so close he could see his reflection. A pair of slimy, purple hands pop out of the water and pull him into the tank. One of Shigeru's friends comes in looking for him, only to find the fish tank. Then he hears something bang against the tank from the inside... 
3 "Sewing Shears"
"Mishin" (ミシン) 
January 16, 2017
A college student moves to a new apartment (that oddly enough, resembles the one occupied by the salaryman from episode 1) because the rent was cheap and is willing to ignore the minor problems it had. She glances down and notices a spot on the floor that had a different color than the rest of the wooden floor. She realizes it's actually a loose floor board and when she lifts it up, she sees a rusty pair of scissors stabbing through a paper talisman with a lock of dark hair attached to it. She tosses them into the waste bin, having had enough problems for the evening. That night, she awakes to a strange sound coming from the floor board. It sounds like a human moaning. Slowly, she removes the board and gasps in horror at the sight of the top half of a head with long black hair staring back at her, only to wake up from the dream. As she heads for the bathroom, a quick glance from the waste bin makes her realize the scissors, the talisman and the lock of hair are gone. And then she hears it: the moaning from her dream coming from the floor board. She removes it only to find nothing. Suddenly the phone rings, and she is relieved it's her friend on the other line. She doesn't notice the figure of a man missing the top half of his head standing behind her... 
4 "Red High Heel"
"Reddohaihīru" (レッドハイヒール) 
January 16, 2017
A salaryman is running home from work having stayed overtime. It's 12:08 AM, and he's nearly late for the last train, but by the time he reaches the station, it's too late; the train already left. He regrets not hailing a taxi earlier, but since the line for taxis was currently long, he decides to hail one on the street. Finally, after hailing taxi after taxi only to see a "No Occupancy" sign on them, he hails a vacant taxi after walking down a dark, deserted road. He takes his seat in the back tells the driver where to go and relaxes. Suddenly, he sees something next to his foot: a red high heeled slipper... He asks the driver if a previous passenger lost her shoe, but the driver doesn't even turn around and asks if he could throw it out. The salaryman is confused at first, but is startled when the driver repeats what he asked in an impatient, angry tone. The driver looks more unnerved and he starts shaking. Then both men hear a sound coming closer and closer: the sound of someone running. The salaryman looks out the window and sees a blonde-haired woman in a red dress running next to the taxi at an impossible speed. The driver looks even more scared and repeatedly pleads to him to throw the shoe out. When his eyes adjust to the dark, he realizes the shoe is not red, but white; the red on the shoe is blood. With a scream, he throws the shoe out the window and the woman stops running. At first he's relieved, but then relief turns to horror when the driver runs over a blonde-haired woman in a red dress, killing her instantly. 
5 "Night Bus"
"Yakō basu" (夜行バス) 
January 29, 2017
Four friends are on the night bus when one of them suddenly gets a stomachache and asks the driver if he could stop at the next service area. Ignoring his friends' mocking, he heads for the restroom. After relieving himself, he walks to the parking lot, but there are so many buses like his own that he can't figure out which one is his. He finally finds what looks like his bus and gets on, only to realize the passengers' expressions look gloomy and are looking downward. He takes his seat, feeling slightly uncomfortable by the atmosphere in the bus. He suddenly gets a text message from one of his friends from a row behind him, Yūichi, wondering what was wrong. When he asks what he was talking about, the reply tells him to stop messing around. Then he gets a phone call from his other friend, Saeko, who's in an aisle next to his. But she's not holding her phone at all. He answers, and hears her voice on the phone asking where he was and that they were waiting for him. The girl sitting in the aisle next to his turns her head and looks at him with the same gloomy expression as everyone else. The man becomes afraid as he hears more of his friends' voices on the phone, yet the people on the bus are not talking to him. His fear grows even more when he realizes everyone on the bus is now staring at him... 
6 "Guess Who?"
"Dare da" (誰だ) 
February 5, 2017
A teenage boy and a girl sit on a bench at the train station. The girl was fond of the boy and one day she asked if they could go to the amusement park. They had a great time, and as evening came and they waited for the train, the girl thanks the boy for taking her. She asks him if he's going out with anyone, but a passing train interrupts her and he doesn't hear her. The boy goes to get a drink, leaving the girl feeling awkward. It's then that she notices a pale-skinned, dark-haired girl dressed in black sitting on a bench on the platform across from her. She can't make out the pale girl's expression but she's sure she's looking right at her. Suddenly, she gets up from the bench and walks toward the track. A train passes by, and the pale girl vanishes... The teenager is confused and scans the area, looking for her. Suddenly, a pair of hands covers her eyes and the boy's voice says, "Guess who?". She finally gathers up the nerve to ask him out, but the hands press into her face, so much so that it hurts. He asks again, "Guess who?". She tells him she knows it's him. But then a question pops into her mind. "Who is senpai?". She tries to remember that he's the star basketball player at school and that he took her to the amusement park. But now it seems he's been erased from her memory. Another train passes by and she sees, through the gaps of the fingers, in the reflection of the train's windows, that the pale girl is the one covering her eyes. At that point she can't remember the boy's face, voice, or his warmth. The teenager is then revealed to be covering her own eyes, her body and face transformed into that of the pale-skinned, dark-haired girl's. She asks herself in a voice that's not hers, "Who am I?" and vanishes as people walk by her and the announcer tells people to stay behind the yellow line as the train is arriving. 
7 "Footsteps"
"Kutsuoto" (靴音) 
February 12, 2017
A man goes to a department with his wife, Mayumi, during a closeout sale during one of his rare days off of work. It's pretty clear he does not like going shopping with his wife as he already knows exactly what she wants. He soon receives an email from one of his coworkers, Nagase, who invites him for a drink. Wanting to get away from his wife, he asks if he could use the bathroom. In the darkened room, he sits at one of the stalls and sends a message back to Nagase when he should come, he is going to be here a while. Then he sees what looks like a mark on his shirt. He realizes it's ink, and in the dim light of his cell phone, he sees writing all over the walls of the stall that appear so fresh, he could easily wipe it off. A text from Mayumi startles him a little, but he regains his composure. The message asks which floor the bathroom is. Just then, the man hears someone entering the bathroom and beginning to pace. Then he hears another set of footsteps and begins pacing as well. He becomes even more afraid as the sound of two more people entering and pacing around the bathroom can be heard and the sound grows louder to the point that the whole room starts to shake violently as if he was in the middle of an earthquake. Just then, Mayumi calls him and just like that, the footsteps stop instantly. The writings on the walls begin to stretch and the man sees four pairs of feet under the gap of the stall's door. He shakes in fear as the door opens revealing three men and a woman with pale skin, black eyes and dark hair staring back at him... 
8 "Cassette Tape"
"Kasettotēpu" (カセットテープ) 
February 19, 2017
A man visits his childhood home for the first time in many years after hearing his old friend, Tanabe Kouichi, is getting married. He returns to the room where he spent most of his boyhood, happy to see it's still the same as he left it. Further exploration of his old room leads him to find a cassette tape in his desk labeled, "What Happened Today". Always a fan of scary things and wondering if it still works, the man puts the tape in a player and presses play. He hears his boyhood voice and he remembers that as a child, he would record his daily life on cassette tapes. On the first entry, February 12, he talks about playing baseball and winning despite Onedera, a rival player, being an excellent pitcher. On February 23, he talks about Tanabe's birthday party at his house and receiving gifts from all his friends and admits he's a tad jealous. The man finds it coincidental hearing his boyhood self talk about Tanabe. On June 7, his boyhood self talks about being able to do anything in his dreams, including trampling over people, being invincible and crushing buildings. On August 8, he talks about his mother walking a lot and wanting to talk to her, but deciding not to. Suddenly, the voice on the tape sounds older. The man assumes he made this during middle school. On October 15, the voice talks about loudly yelling in class four times but no one was there to scold him. On January 9, the voice claims to have heard something rattling in a box and that he's happy. On February 16, the voice says he felt something, like fingers wiggling. He told no one. On April 11, the voice says he said good morning to an old man at a jagged park only for him to say, "No it's not." The man gets confused hearing that; he doesn't recall doing or even saying that. He can't understand what his younger self is saying anymore and the stories are starting to become more and more nonsensical and surreal. On February 23, the voice talks about how Tanabe and Tanabe were birthday plastic modeling at Tanabe's house. On June 7th, the voice says it thought it would stay the same if it stayed a long time, but when it looks closely lately it can see cracks and wondered why it was shaking. Maybe that's it. The man suddenly hears his own older voice. On April 7, the voice says it's a great day at work and how he can be happy about anything. But don't laugh, you'll make it shake. Then the man becomes horrified when he hears the voice talk about Tanabe's wedding tomorrow and then it starts rambling about taking a stick and beating Tanabe with it just like what it did to the old man in the jagged park and then the tape stops. Not wanting to hear anymore, the man takes off the headphones. That's when he realizes they aren't even plugged into the cassette player. The wedding the next day was as exciting as can be... 
9 "Grinding Teeth"
"Kensaku ha" (研削歯) 
Feb 26, 2017
An office worker, Miwako, is on a trip with her co-worker. The two women don't know much of the tourist spots but they find that enjoyable by itself. They soon come across a spot where the locals don't go: a cave with four Jizo statues with red cloths tied around their necks, one of which has a red string tied around one of its teeth. That night, when the two women go to spend the night at the hotel, Miwako complains of a toothache, a result of her grinding her teeth. Painkillers don't work so she instead calls for a dentist and finds one dentist's office still open. Miwako finds, upon arriving, that the dentist's office seems shady, but the pain leaves her with no choice. She's set in the chair, and the elderly dentist woman takes a look in her mouth; her expression grows dark. The dentist walks over to her assistants and whisper something along the lines of "Don't let her get away" and "It can't be helped" before returning with a pair of pliers, telling Miwako the tooth has to be pulled out. Miwako isn't comfortable with the idea of having her tooth pulled out by these old world dentists and tries to leave but is held down by the assistants. She manages to get away before the dentist tries to pull out the molar. She doesn't even hear the dentist warn her about something regarding the tooth. Back in the hotel, she checks her tooth in the mirror, only for it to pop out on its own. It appears to have an anguished face. Then she remembers the dentist's warning fully: "If you leave like this, they'll come for you!" Miwako looks back at the molar in fear, only to find that it's gone, leaving a trail of blood as though it got up and walked off on its own. She follows the trail to the bedroom her friend is sleeping in and hears a grinding sound. And the closer she gets to her friend, the louder the grinding seems to get... 
10 "Calling Crane"
"Kōrukurēn" (コールクレーン) 
March 5, 2017
Three middle school friends, Honoka, Yukari and Miku, get together to play a game that is popular at school. This game, Calling Crane, is a game where you talk to the dead and you're supposed to tie a red string to a razor blade, put it in a cup of water and leave it there overnight. A person then takes the tied razor out of the cup and with it, swallows a paper crane with a dead person's name written on it 49 times. After that, the summoned ghost supposedly would talk through the person who swallowed it. Rumor has it, a student from a neighboring school botched the ritual and it was left a deranged invalid. Yukari doesn't believe in this game, but she gets an uneasy feeling about the situation... Rather than give in to fear, she laughs and suggests they call Nayakama-sensei, a young homeroom teacher who used to work at their school. He was a fan of scary stories and is also the one who told the three girls of the Calling Crane game. He disappeared three months ago, and only a tied razor blade was found on his desk. Wanting to see if their old teacher died, Yukari writes his name on the paper crane and through a game of rock-paper-scissors, Honoka ends up being the one to swallow it. Unfortunately, the paper crane gets stuck in her throat and even worse, her friends think she's just fooling around, oblivious to the fact that she's choking. It's only when her coughs become more violent do Yukari and Miku try to help. Suddenly, Honoko finally heaves the paper crane out of her throat and Yukari and Miku realize that Nayakama-sensei's name is no longer on it, but Honoka's. As they try to figure out what's going on, Honoka stands up and says in a man's voice, "So, what shall we talk about?" 
11 "White Line"
"Hakusen" (白線) 
March 12, 2017
A teacher stays after school, grading her students' tests when she suddenly notices a child playing in the schoolyard. The boy, garbed in a worn out, unfamiliar school uniform, is drawing something with chalk used to make diamonds on baseball fields. She goes outside to tell him off, but he's already gone. Stranger still, the chalk line is leading away from the yard and into the school. She follows the lines through the first floor hall and up the second floor stairs, listening to the line marker's wheels scraping on the floor. Then she follows the line up to the third floor and finally to a door that leads to the roof. She opened the door, but the boy wasn't there and the line seems to have gone over the banister. She looks over and sees a mark of white chalk, almost as if the boy tossed a bag of chalk dust off the roof and onto the pavement... She turns around, and sees the white line now turning black followed by the footsteps of people. The door opens and five black chalk outlines come walking out and she realizes too late that the white line was meant to lure her to the roof, just like it had with its past victims. The last thing she sees as the black finally reaches her is the boy looking out the door and the last thing she hears is the sound of five thuds with a sixth following suit. 
12 "Snow Hut"
"Sunō hatto" (スノー・ハット) 
March 19, 2017
A young boy, Masayuki's, parents takes him to his grandparents' house during the winter break. He would always enjoy playing in the snow with his older cousin whenever they get the chance. As the sun started to set one day, the two of them decide to build a snow hut, one big enough to just barely fit both of them. They suddenly both feel hungry, so Masayuki's cousin offers to bring back the brazier and grill some mochi. While waiting, Masayuki looks out the hole and finds a snow hut almost identical to his own. He walks over to it, wondering how it got there and notices it has no entrance, but it seems to be glowing on the inside, like there is a light inside it. He calls out, asking if anyone is inside and knocks the side, only for someone or something to knock back... Wanting to see who it was, Masayuki takes a stick and pokes a hole in the wall and takes a peek. He finds nothing inside except for a single flickering candle and the inner walls have been entirely scratched, like something or someone had tried to claw their way out. When Masayuki calls out again, he jumps back in horror at the sight of an eye looking back at him through the hole and hears a boy's voice say, "It's your turn next." Masayuki's cousin finds him unconscious and in front of a collapsed snow hut. Masayuki comes to and finds himself in a futon in his grandparents' house. He hears his cousin talking to his family in the next room, saying how Masayuki kept saying there was someone inside and that he broke the snow hut, despite his cousin's protest. Masayuki gets the feeling that there is something terrible involved. Suddenly, the family opens the door, acting happy for some strange reason. The front of the house of the door is open, revealing an open snow hut and the family is telling him to go in. Masayuki gets an uneasy feeling like something really bad is about to happen. Suddenly, the same voice from the snow hut says, "You think so too?" When he turns his head, he sees a silhouette the size of a child poking their eye through the screen wall and saying, "Go on. It's your turn." 
13 "Underground Walkway"
"Chika tsūro" (地下通路) 
March 26, 2017
One rainy night, a college student heads home after leaving a drinking party when he realizes he had forgotten something back at the bar. He decides to just get it back tomorrow and uses a walkway that leads to the subway to get back home. The young man believes he hadn't taken this route before and starts to wonder if it really does lead home. He ignores his bad feelings and goes down the dark path any way. The curving path seems to go on and on, and just when he decides to turn around, he runs into a worker. The worker doesn't even acknowledge his presence, he just keeps looking down and keeps repeating over and over, "It's only dark at first." The worker points to the left, revealing a path that is even narrower and more darker than the one the student was taking. Feeling unnerved by the man's words and the path he's directing him, he slips past him and continues going straight. However, he comes across a gate, indicating the way is closed, leaving him no choice but to turn back. He walks down the tunnel, only to find that it seems to go on and on; he can't even find the path the worker from before had pointed to him. Absentmindedly, he looks down, and sees what looks like footprints and when he looks to his right, he sees, where the tunnel the worker pointed out should have been there is now a filled in wall with the imprint of a human on it. The shape seems to be moving and struggling in agony. Suddenly, it moves off the wall and starts going after the student, saying over and over, "It's only dark at first." The man is so terrified, he calls out for help to be let out... 

Media[edit]

Music and audio[edit]

The first season of Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories uses one piece of theme music: an ending theme. The soundtrack music was composed by nico. For all episodes the ending theme is "Kaikai Emaki" (怪々絵巻, Mysterious Picture Scroll) which was arranged by Teniwoha and AVTechNO! using the Vocaloid singing synthesizer Hatsune Miku.[14] The ending theme was released in Japan as a track on the Vocarock Collection 5 CD on December 25, 2013 by Farm Records.[15][16]

Other media[edit]

A mobile game for smartphones tentatively titled, "Yamishibai" was released by ILCA, Inc. on iTunes and Google Play.[17][18] The app was created Yuichi Ueda and allowed people to explore the urban legend of a particular town.[19] Numerous products including T-shirts, bags and coffee mugs were released in response to the series.[20]

Reception[edit]

The first episode was described as generally cohesive despite the relative inexperience of the members of Studio ILCA.[21] It was also compared to that of reading a moving book rather than watching an anime due to the animation style used along with the minimal movements of the characters. On the other hand, critics felt as though the series may have only been compelling to those interested in Japanese mythology.[21] The first season received mixed reactions following the end of its broadcast.[22]

Notes and references[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ a b c d All English titles are taken from Crunchyroll.
  2. ^ As season 1 premiered primarily in TV Tokyo's Sunday 26:15 (02:15 JST) time slot, the episodes technically aired the days following the ones listed.
  3. ^ As season 2 premiered primarily in TV Tokyo's Sunday 26:35 (02:35 JST) time slot, the episodes technically aired the days following the ones listed.
  4. ^ a b As season 3 premiered primarily in TV Tokyo's Sunday 26:35 (02:35 JST) time slot, the episodes technically aired the days following the ones listed.
References
  1. ^ 闇芝居|スタッフ・キャスト (in Japanese). TV Tokyo. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Grudge & Zaborgar Directors Make 2nd Yamishibai Anime Season". Anime News Network. February 4, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Yami Shibai Horror TV Anime Shorts to Premiere in July". Anime News Network. July 4, 2013. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  4. ^ "闇芝居 番組 AT-X ワンランク上のアニメ専門チャンネル" (in Japanese). AT-X. Retrieved September 26, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Crunchyroll Adds "SILVER SPOON", "The World God Only Knows: Goddesses" and "WATAMOTE" Anime to Streaming Lineup". Crunchyroll. July 6, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Crunchyroll to Stream "Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories 2" and "BARAKAMON" Anime". Crunchyroll. July 4, 2014. Retrieved July 6, 2014. 
  7. ^ "闇芝居|DVD" (in Japanese). TV Tokyo. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Sentai Filmworks Adds Yamishibai Horror Anime". Anime News Network. December 18, 2015. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  9. ^ 都市伝説アニメ「闇芝居」 テレビ東京で4月より再始動 新エピソードに清水崇、井口昇、増本庄一郎ら (in Japanese). animeanime.jp. March 3, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  10. ^ "3rd yamishibai horror anime season 2nd ad streamed". Anime News Network. December 21, 2015. Retrieved December 21, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories Anime Gets 4th Season in January". Anime News Network. December 3, 2016. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories Anime Gets 5th Season in July". Anime News Network. June 12, 2017. Retrieved June 12, 2017. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m 闇芝居|新着情報 (in Japanese). TV Tokyo. Retrieved April 7, 2014. 
  14. ^ "気味の悪い深夜アニメ『闇芝居』放送決定 テレ東が放つ大人向け作品 - Ameba News [アメーバニュース]" (in Japanese). ameba.jp. July 6, 2013. Retrieved December 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ "闇芝居|CD" (in Japanese). TV Tokyo. Retrieved April 7, 2014. 
  16. ^ "VOCAROCK collection feat. 初音ミク 公式サイト" (in Japanese). Farm Records. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  17. ^ "iTunes の App Store で配信中の iPhone、iPod touch、iPad 用 闇芝居" (in Japanese). iTunes. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  18. ^ "YAMISHIBAI - Android Apps on Google Play" (in Japanese). Google Play. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  19. ^ テレ東の新作アニメ「闇芝居」と連動したアプリで恐怖を味わう アプリオ (in Japanese). appllio.com. July 13, 2013. Retrieved December 22, 2013. 
  20. ^ "闇芝居 Design Official Market デザインオフィシャルマーケット" (in Japanese). Design Official Market. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b Cerjak, Kory (July 14, 2013). "Yamishibai Episode #01 Anime Review". The Fandom Post. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  22. ^ Beveridge, Chris (July 14, 2013). "‘Yamishibai Japanese Ghost Stories’ Anime Gets Second Season". The Fandom Post. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 

External links[edit]