Monday, January 3, 2011

Anime review: "Ayakashi - Japanese Classic Horror"

I stumbled across this anime few times before, but first time I seriously considered watching it was after watching "Mononoke". AniDB article about it claimed it shared one of the characters. It is relatively short (11 episodes), so I watched it last week, between "Daggerspell" and "Stonewielder" (post about it will be next).

"Ayakashi - Japanese Classic Horror" is 2006 anime adapting three Japanese classic horror stories. The three are completely different in setting and style, even in animation, so I will describe each of them separately.

"Yotsuya Ghost Story" is based on "Yotsuya Kaidan", Japanese most famous ghost story (at least according to Wikipedia). It is a tragical story about Iemon and Oiwa. Iemon is a ronin who wants to marry Oiwa, despite opposition from her father. He slays him and then uses his death as a mortar for his marriage, claiming he will help Oiwa as a husband to revenge her father. Everything is well for some time, but slowly Iemon's true face starts to show. He finally abandons Oiwa for richer and younger woman, who poisons Oiwa. This is the start of tragedy where everyone connected to two of them will end dead. Iemon refuses to admit any guilt and slowly sinks into madness, seeing Oiwa everywhere. There is also a parallel tragic story, about Osuda and Yomoschichi, which is interwoven with the first plot.

Story is interesting but not especially original. Probably you even saw it or parts of it, since it was adapted and partly used numerous times. It is not really scary also. Animation is decent, although looking older than 2006. Most interesting details it the way it is represented: story is narrated by the "original" author of the story, who claims he was inspired by Oiwa's ghost to write it. He also claims that the story is cursed and everybody who takes part in screening, acting or writing it ends dead.

"The Legend of Tenshu" is completely different kind of story. It is a love story between Himekawa Zusho-no-Suke, a young falconer, and Tomi-Hime, ruler of Forgoten Gods, kind of powerful and scary demons that feed with human flesh. This a complete mini-anime and I am wondering why is haven't been expanded to full-sized anime. It even has comedy-relief characters. Story is interesting and tense; there is action, comedy, romance... Again, animation is a bit weak, and design of characters could have been more original. But story is definitely good.

Last, "Bakeneko" is a star of this collection. It features the medicine-seller from "Mononoke" in one more exorcism adventure. Or better to say, this is the original story, that was later extended to whole series. It has original animation, original characters and great story. I loved it. This was only really scary story; not in visuals, but in setting and style. For those who didn't watch "Mononoke"; don't be put off by seemingly archaic animation. Definitely a recommendation!

My next post will be about "Stonewielder" by Ian C. Esslemont.

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