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Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror

A collection of three classic Japanese horror stories: "Yotsuya Kaidan", the story of a wife betrayed by her husband who seeks vengeance even in death. "Tenshu Monogatari", the story of forbidden love between a goddess and a human, and "Bakeneko", the story of a mysterious cat monster with a vendetta against a certain family.

Ranking 2098

User Count4792
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Start Date13th Jan 2006
Next ReleaseInvalid date
Popularity Rank2098
Rating Rank3316
Age RatingR
Age Rating Guide17+ (violence & profanity)


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Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror is a group of three different storylines, of which a couple are adaptations of classic japanese stories. As such, this review will naturally be longer than many I've done before as all three arcs deserve their own review, I believe. Also, not that I have not seen the original versions of the stories told in this series, so I have no prior knowledge of any material covered.The first story told "Yotsuya Kaidan" is about a woman being betrayed, and effectively killed, by her husband and her seeking revenge as a ghost. The atmosphere is effective, but the actual attempts at "horror" just didn't come off as scary or chilling. Part of this is because the characters didn't have any room to breath and, as a result their motivations and actions just seemed random at times and another is because the horror felt very very forced. It is possible to develop characters in a short arc, it has been done before in stuff like Aoi Bungaku's "No Longer Human" story arc so..when you don't care about hardly any of the characters, it's hard to care if/when they die or whatever. That said, the unfortunate Tamiya Oiwa was at least decently sympathetic and Tamiya Iemon was very very hate able...but there could have been more depth to the side characters as well.The art style and music for Yotsuya Kaidan is very well done. The realistic and dark edge the art has really goes a long way to set the mood the story has, particularly the life like appearance the characters have is agreeable. The music is a great mood setter as well, and the voice acting is great. Particularly Hirata Hiroaki, the voice of Sanji from One Piece, did a wonderful job as the down right bastard Iemon. The second story arc, Tenshu Monogatari, tells the story of forbidden love between a "Forgotten God" name Tomi-Hime and a human named Himekawa Zusho-no-Suke. The Forgotten Gods actually feed on humans and Tomi Hime's mother had actually met a sad fate for falling in love with a human as well, so it's at least an interesting subject in theory for a story.The problem, once again, is that the characters just don't have any depth to them and the actual love story is handled very..sloppily and is just rushed in general. When the viewer doesn't connect with the characters in some way, it's just really hard to care about their plight or whether they can make it out alive. That said, one interesting thing the story does is how it handles the actual wife of Zusho-no-Suke and how she reacts to his falling in love with a "demon" as she calls Tomi-himi. Of course, it isn't handled very well in the end but it still is somewhat interesting.Again, the music is very good and the voice work is top notch. Though there really wasn't much that stood out particularly well in the vocal department either, but the voice work did fit the characters and such. The art style is a bit different from the first arc, not quite as dark and, well, it doesn't hurt the tone of the story much at all. Though the actual animations seemed to take a hit, the art did fit the love story and all. The final story arc, Bakeneko, is as advertised: easily the best part Ayakashi as a whole. Ironically, it is also apparently the only arc to be original to this anime. Part of this is probably because of the fact that the creators could come up with their own story and could do as they wished since they didn't have to strictly adapt a famous work and thus were much more creative in their efforts as a result. And, oh boy, does it show. Telling the story of a family being haunted by a cat demon and a certain mysterious Medicine Seller's attempt to save said family and put the "Mononoke" to rest, Bakeneko is trippy, suspenseful, and oh so engaging. The story is effectively about how and why the demon is attacking the family, with the suspense being built throughout the first two episode and the last one does an excellent job at pure storytelling as you learn the circumstance of the "Mononoke."But, definitely one of the high points of this arc is the main character Kusuriuri who is a guy that just oozes cool and is genuinely interesting. You don't really learn anything about him, unfortunately, you just sort of get glimpses of his personality and ability. It's enough, though, to make the viewer wonder just who the hell is he. The other characters are actually interesting as well, with the families past getting a large amount of development. Ironically, this only serves to highlight the flaws of the other two story arcs as these characters are very well handled in only 3 episodes, which is ONE whole episode less than the others. Visually, Bakeneko is a treat. The art is beautiful, very detailed and does a great job of highlighting the atmosphere of the overall story. The character designs, particularly Kusuriuri, are very stylistic and just incredibly pleasing to the eye and much of the story is actually told through the art which makes the best of the animation medium to help the story. Really, I'd find it difficult to imagine anyone saying this isn't one of the best looking anime out there. The animation is very well done as well, Toei obviously pulled out all the stops here. As far as sound, the music is as excellent as ever and the voice work is great. Sakurai Takahiro does a great job as Kusuriuri, adding a great deal to his characters mystique and overall charm. The music in the last episode particularly should be commend as it was powerful stuff. Story: 7There is obviously some worth in the overall storyline for these tails as two of them are considered Japanese classics, but it feels as though something was lost during the adaptations. Feeling heavily abbreviated, it's just hard to really care about the happenings of Yotsuya Kaidan and Tenshu Monogatari. Though I will say that the formers take on what a story could possibly mean to a author and how a viewer/reader could influence a story is very interesting. Bakeneko's tale of a families dark history is just very well done even though it is actually the shortest of the three arcs. The writing was top notch and just did a fantastic job at building suspense.Art: 8Art is top notch for the most part throughout Ayakashi, though it does take a bit of a hit animation wise during Tenshu Monogatari. Still, for the most part the characters designs and such fit the mood of each storyline and most definitely do not hamper any enjoyment what so ever.Sound: 9Great sound across the board, particularly the OP and ED. Never would have thought rap would work so well for a historical piece, but "Heat Island"does. The ED song, "Memento of Spring", is excellent and is very nicely inserted into the end of each episode. The music used during the actual episodes are very nicely done, though not exactly memorable. Just good for atmosphere building.Voice acting is great with Sakurai Takahiro and Hirata Hiroaki being particularly note worthy as Kusuriuri and Iemon respectively.Character: 6The characters' actions are largely questionable for the first two arcs, the actions they take seem sort of random and can sometimes seem to come out of thin air with no buildup. It feels as though what ever character development that may have been part of the original was cut out and, as a result, the characters and the plot just moves way to fast.Bakeneko has pretty good development considering the story arc is so short, and Kusuriuri is a very interesting character who is great to watch. Enjoyment: 6I spent a good percentage of especially Tenshu Monogatari just randomly check how much time it had left to go each episode, that should say enough about enjoyment right there. I can tell there is a good story hidden inside, it just wasn't adapted very well that is painfully obvious. Pretty much the same for the first arc.Bakeneko was, predictably, very entertaining. Interesting characters and plot, along with great art and music add so much to enjoyment.Overall: 6Overall, Yotsuya Kaidan and Tenshu Monogatari are just plain weak and poorly adapted. This is very much worth watching for that final arc though, and I'd very much say watch this series in it's entirety. Who knows? The viewer may enjoy it much more than I did as a whole.

Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror/Samurai Horror Tales is a horror anthology of three unrelated stories: Yotsuya Kaidan, Tenshu Monogatari, and Bakeneko, the third of which received a far more successful spinoff in the form of Mononoke. Each arc was done by a different, and then-unknown director, though the director of the third, Kenji Nakamura, went on to make the critically acclaimed series "Mononoke" and "Trapeze" (He also made \[C\], though that fails to fall into the previous category). This review will mostly be split up into the three arcs. (NOTE: The R1 release of this series switched the first and second arcs around. This will be listed in the original order).Arc 1 - Yotsuya Kaidan (episodes 1-4)Yotsuya Kaidan (Yotsuya Ghost Story) is a story based on someone who died in horrific circumstances, due to being wronged by pretty much everybody around her, and manifests as a vengeful spirit, laying a curse on all those responsible. This tale is actually told as a story within a story, as narrated by a scriptwriter adapting it into a play.This arc happens to be the only one based on an actual Japanese tale, but that doesn't lend it many favours. It begins on very bad footing, the key reason for it being this: The characters actions make insanely little sense. Every character is a stunningly terrible person with absolutely no train of reasoning to follow. They could not be more one-dimensional if they tried. This was obviously an attempt to make us hate them more, and make the inevitable ramifications of the curse more cathartic, but it's done so ham-fistedly that it simply becomes stupid rather than cathartic.Unfortunately, the horror elements that could have made this halfway entertaining are botched as well, as a result of a limited animation budget and some really bad directing causing major corners to be cut, making large chunks of the arc funny instead of horrific. The art isn't terrible, but it's not impressive either, and it makes itself quite clear on how low-budget it was. There are also frequent live-action sequences as well, which would probably have seemed more impressive if it wasn't so obviously yet another corner-cutting method. At the end of it all, we have a poor-quality story with poor quality directing and terrible characters, giving Ayakashi a very bad start. The only redeeming feature of this arc is an excellent monologue in the final episode, detailing the aspects of this as a story in the real world, and how it transcends its existence as a story to be something much more real.Story: 4/10.Characters: 1/10.Production: 3/10.Overall: 3/10.Arc 2 - Tenshu Monogatari (episodes 5-8)Tenshu Monogatari (Goddess of the Castle), in spite of being in a horror anthology, is less a horror story and more a tale of forbidden love. While there are horror elements, courtesy of the Forgotten Gods the arc focuses on, it mainly focuses on one of the Forgotten Gods falling in love with a human rather than, say, the Forgotten Gods eating people as the arc starts off with. However, this change of style is somewhat welcomed after the overblown style of the previous arc.But unfortunately it's not very good either.While this arc does fare better than the first, it succumbs to a major pitfall quite common of romance series: We have to actually give a crap about the main characters for it to work. And in the course of a mere four episodes, which are far more plot-focused than they are on characters, this becomes an impossible task. This is a shame, because unlike the last arc, there is actually a halfway decent story to be told here.However, just like the previous arc, this story is damaged by blatant directing issues, corner-cutting, and a low animation budget. And wow, the animation budget really doesn't get much lower than this. The animation is amazingly cheap. While this doesn't make it funny like it did in the previous arc, it completely nullifies anything the action in this had going for it. Which is sad, because there were obviously some good ideas at hand here. With a decent budget and more episodes to develop the characters in, this could have been good, but sadly this isn't the case. So while Tenshu Monogatari manages to be better than the first arc, it still produces nothing of worth and is generally a waste of time.Story: 6/10.Characters: 4/10.Production: 1/10.Overall: 4/10.Arc 3 - Bakeneko (episodes 9-11)Wow. Talk about saving the best for last.The Bakeneko (Goblin Cat) arc is an enourmous departure from the last two arcs in every sense. The first, and most obvious, is that everything in it looks beautiful. Corner-cutting is obviously at hand here, but it is used to the arc's benefit in every single way. Its method of corner-cutting is to use an unmoving plaid style similar to that of Gankutsuou. However, it far out-performs Gankutsuou in that sense. The way that the Bakeneko arc is animated makes everything look as though it is a moving Edo-period painting, and is executed flawlessly. But the budget they saved on animation, rather than simply going unspent, is used to create absolutely mind-blowing action sequences.That isn't the only aspect of the production that is leaps and bounds ahead of the previous two arcs, however. The directing in the Bakeneko arc is absolutely mind-blowing. The transition in directing quality from one arc to the next is effectively the difference between Tommy Wiseau and Stanley Kubrick. Toei probably weren't even trying with the first two, and merely saving their resources for this arc. The amazing directing in this is responsible for the key factor in this arc: It's the only one in this horror anthology that is genuinely scary. This is as a direct result of Nakamura handling the tension in this arc amazingly. Every moment of fending off the titular monster is incredibly intense. This is also probably the best example of Monster Delay (not revealing your monster's appearance for a long time) that I've ever seen. And as mentioned before, every action sequence is brilliant. This includes what is easily the most beautifully-animated rendition of people being torn to shreds and having their remains splattered across a wall that I've ever seen, to name just one moment.Another aspect of this arc's excellence is our main character, The Medicine Peddler/Kusuri-Uri. This arc has taken a lesson from the previous arc in not trying to develop characters in too short a space of time. Instead, Kusuriuri relies on how little we know about him to be an interesting character. His otherworldly appearance, his strange mannerisms, and his charisma all make Kusuriuri an excellent character. But moreso, it is the method with which he needs to slay demons that makes him stand out. For him to be able to unsheathe his sword, he must know three things: The form the demon takes, the truth of how it came into existence, and the reasoning behind the demon's actions. Only once he truly understands the demon is he able to exorcise it. This, I believe, adds an excellent layer of depth to this arc.But while the directing behind this arc is certainly its most stunning aspect, it is carried by an excellent story as well. The aforementioned requirements behind unsheathing the sword cause the backstory behind the demon to unfurl, creating a stunning, tragic tale that I daren't spoil the details of.Story: 8/10.Characters: 8/10.Production: 10/10.Overall: 9/10.General:The music in Ayakashi is shared between the arcs, and is the only aspect that is consistently excellent between them. The background music is always fitting, is rather excellent, and in the Bakeneko arc's case, the absence of outside noise is used to more amazing effect than any of the music is. The only letdown in the case of the music is the opening theme, and even that is only hit and miss. The melody and beat to it is actually extremely good, and is a disturbingly apt mixture of classical Shamisen music and hip-hop, but is unfortunately let down by a terrible vocalist.The acting in the original Japanese is adequate, but mostly unmemorable. But it is still significantly preferable to the dub, which you may recognize as sharing the entire cast of Vision of Escaflowne. And if you ever saw the Escaflowne dub, you should know to stay away. The only character whose performance really matters is that of Kusuriuri, who is given an excellent, otherworldly charm by Takahiro Sakurai in the original track, and is given a terribly normal-sounding performance by Andrew Francis in the dub. In case you didn't get the point already, don't go anywhere near the dub.Overall, Ayakashi is two thirds poor quality and one third stunning. However, the last third is told in different format in the spinoff series Mononoke, and while I don't yet know which version of this arc is preferable, it's probably not worth watching the first two arcs of Ayakashi just for this arc as a result.Final Words: The first two arcs are very bad, but the third is amazing. If all of Mononoke is as good as the third arc it may well be one of the best anime ever made.Also Recommended: Aoi Bungaku, MononokeMusic: 9/10.Japanese track: 6/10.Dub track: 2/10.Overall: 6/10.

Ayakashi: Japanese Classis Horror is a series that has three distinct stories. The first involves a tale of a vengeful woman turned ghost that has been immortalized in the play *Yotsuya Kaidan*, the second story involves a forbidden love story between a goddess and a human (inspired by the play <i>Tenshu Monogatari), </i>and the third story an original tale called *Bake Neko*. This third story spawned the series *Mononoke*, which expands on the character of the medicine seller and his encounters with what can only be called human tragedies manifested into monster form. Now if you aren't the type of person looking for three distinct stories, this may not be a series you'd enjoy. I personally thought each small story was developed rather well, although sometimes I found myself wishing for more time with certain characters. The first two stories have solid ground they're based in with those aforementioned plays, although to my knowledge this series derivatives slightly from those older presentations. The third story was interesting enough to spawn another series, although having watched<i> Mononoke</i> I found how the Medicine Seller was represented here to be very interesting. I can see how things changed from this "prototype" to the main stories. The animation quality was pretty good, although the style is a tad "older" looking than most other series these days. If you aren't accustomed to it, you may be slightly put off. On that note, the last story made a radical animation and style shift than the first two stories. This style is visually very similar to older illustrations from Japanese bestiaries and things of that nature. Somewhat abstract at points as well. The sound quality was very nice! I think they utilized similar or the same soundtracks for each story. More traditional sounding pieces of Japanese music took the center stage here, with the opening track being rap-based and the ending track sounding absolutely stunning with the female lead's graceful voice. That ending theme had a sense of longing about it, which suited each story very well. When you got down to the bottom of each tale, there was a deep sense of longing and regret at what had happened to all involved. The ghosts were scary yes, but the tragedies that occurred to the various participants were much more poignant. I greatly enjoyed this series as someone who adores works that involve old myths and legends, and I think they "updated" the stories rather well. What intrigues me about these monsters is how they're utilized to bring forth certain emotions or understandings in the plots where they are involved, and I think <i>Ayakashi </i>really exemplified that. *Mononoke* goes one step further later on. I definitely think that anyone who also seems interested in these themes should check it out. **One final note:** If you are not as versed in Japanese folklore, you'll still be fine understanding what is going on. However, it really does<i> help</i> if you have a bit of background knowledge. You will catch a lot more subtleties if you do. This is one series where foreigners may have a<i> very different </i>reaction than native Japanese individuals. (I'm a foreigner mind you, so I am absolutely certain some things flew past my radar!)

The first story is based on a kabuki tale about a samurai who killed his wife in order to marry a rich young lady, and his ghost wife coming back to haunt him. The second story's about a legend about gods and hawks. Two episode long. The last three episodes are the only ones worth watching, since they are the beginning of the Mononoke series that spinned off from this episodes.

Three classic japanese horror stories in anime form. Episodes 1-4 is about a woman that gets betrayed and killed by her husband and returns to haunt people as a vengeful spirit. Episodes 5-8 is about a forbidden love between godess and human and the consequences it has. And finally episodes 9-11 are about a wandering medicine peddler that arrives to a house that is about to have a wedding and finds a spirit attacking the people there. This third arc also served as the basis for the spinoff series Mononoke if you have heard of that.  All of the stories have enough time to present their different spins on folklore and old horror stories and each manages to do so pretty well. Each story got its own flavour and focuses on different things. While the first arc is more of an suspenseful ghoststory arc 2 is more of a romantic fairy tale .  The artstyle in the first and last story fit well and presented this old timey japanese feel. The art was really bright and several different patterns were used to create a lively and moodful setting. The second story had a different kind of art which at times got pretty jarring.  The sound and music did its job, no more no less, and didn't bring that much extra to the show but since it didn't detract from it its ok. Voice actors all did a pretty good job and brought life (or death) to the characters they portrayed.  This is anime for those that wants to learn more about japanese culture and what traiditional horror tales are like over there. 

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