Mieruko-Chan Episode 5 – Seeing Isn’t Always The Same As Seeing

Mieruko-Chan Episode 5 Review

Mieruko-Chan spends episode 5 introducing us to Yulia/Yuria, another girl from Miko’s school and the one who was spying on the Godmother in the episode 3. Turns out she isn’t related to the Godmother but was trying to be taken on as an apprentice and she’s pretty saddened to see the Godmother’s shop has closed.

I’m not really sure how I feel yet about Yuria. On the one hand, she’s been appearing in brief glimpses since episode one and given her striking hair colour it was obvious she was going to become a character of note but her introduction here isn’t great as we meet a character who can see things but seems to think she knows a lot about everything and as a result is going to get herself into trouble.

Mieruko-Chan episode 5 - Yuria

Mieruko-Chan delivers another solid episode though not I’m not sure if I’m going to like Yuria.

The set up this week in Mieruko-Chan is simple and instead of progressing through a series of ghostly encounters instead we have Yuria’s story and then one other story involving Miko. We see how she meets the Godmother and asks to be taken on as an apprentice. The Godmother turns her down and then gives her some beads to make her go-away.

We then see some of Yuria’s personality. As she walks away with the beads she assumes that being given them means the Godmother has accepted her as an apprentice. This misinterpretation of events becomes a standard feature of Yuria’s as the episode progresses.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 5

When Yuria returns to the Godmother’s shop she finds it closed down and the guy across the road tells her that the Godmother shut it down after her last couple of customers, who just happen to be walking down the mall right then and there, and he directs Yuria’s attention to Miko and Hana.

Here we get a sense of Miko’s normal day as we see from the outsider’s perspective how a walk with Hana goes. Yuria is watching and can see a ghostly shape that Hana is about to walk through (seriously, Hana is always about to walk into or through a ghost) but at the last moment Miko calls out that there is a cockroach and causes Hana to swerve aside.

It’s a fairly clever scene and Mieruko-Chan makes sure that all the pieces are in place for Yuria to draw the conclusion that Miko can see ghosts without ever having Miko confirm it.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 5

Of course we then go from fun potentially supporting character to where I get iffy about whether I’m going to like Yuria’s character. To force an admission from Miko, Yuria essentially draws some little spirits into the equipment room in her school’s gym and then confronts Miko, who plays real dumb.

There’s a few issues with this approach in Mieruko-Chan. It kind of reminded me of the time Ishida wanted to prove he was stronger than Ichigo in Bleach and so summoned a whole bunch of Hollow’s to town. I mean, really? We still aren’t sure if the ghost things in Mieruko-Chan are actually dangerous (though some of them certainly look it) but why draw more of them to you?

Though again, the scene reveals more than it might have when we realise that yes, Yuria is seeing ghosts, but she isn’t seeing everything Miko can see. In fact, while Yuria is quite clearly seeing the small ghosts, there’s a great big thing harassing the both of them while they speak that she clearly cannot sense at all. So while Yuria might understand a little of what Miko is going through, Miko is clearly in a league of her own.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 5 Review

Now, there’s not a lot of comedy in the build up of this sequence in Mieruko-Chan however the fall-out after Miko essentially knocks Yuria out to protect her is pretty funny. Largely because we see the scene in the infirmary from both perspectives. Firstly we see Miko telling Yuria she might be better off pretending not to see in her usual calm manner accompanied by her usual thoughtful interior monologue concerned about putting Yuria in danger (even though the girl did just shut her in an equipment room with ghosts).

Then we see the sequence again from Yuria’s point of view where she radically reinterprets the situation casting Miko in the role of villain ordering her silence.

I somehow suspect that Yuria is going to continue to be a bit of a pain due to her own delusional take on things.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 5

The final segment of Mieruko-Chan this week has Miko assisting an old lady home but then encountering a ghost. This actually turns into a pretty heart-warming segment and I really thought this was a great way to wrap up the episode.

While I’m still on the fence about whether I like Yuria’s character, I really am continuing to enjoy Mieruko-Chan each week and episode 5 is another very watchable and quite enjoyable episode. They keep finding ways to keep the basic premise fresh and Miko really is a great central character who manages to make each scenario interesting. Very much looking forward to the next episode.

You can read the full season review here.

Images from: Mieruko-Chan. Dir. Y Ogawa. Passione. 2021

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Karandi James

Mieruko-Chan Episode 4 – Things Are Not Always As They Seem When Ghosts Are Involved

Mieruko-Chan Episode 4 Review

For four episodes now Mieruko-Chan has continued to surprise me with how it has used its simple premise and formula. While the fan-service is a little on the obvious side, and that continues in episode 4 with an extended bathroom scene, the rest of the story manages to feel fresh and interesting and actually pulls off clever twists and reveals in each of its segments that sometimes you see coming and sometimes you don’t.

However, regardless of what scenario Mieruko-Chan sets up, what remains true is that Miko and her reactions to the sudden ability to see ghosts is what sells this story.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 4

Miko is the heart of Mieruko-Chan.

While episode 3 had a heavy focus on Miko’s relationship with Hana and their friendship, episode 4 moves into family territory with Miko’s brother and parents appearing in a number of the segments this week.

The episode starts with Miko’s brother waking her after she has had a nightmare before we go to a short skit at the convenience store where she sees a ghost standing behind the cashier and she buys a pudding while Hana buys more or less every snack in the shop. It’s a pretty ordinary kind of segment and left on its own it wouldn’t even be all that memorable, except that each segment this week actually ties back in so the whole pudding shopping is more significant than it at first seems.

And, as usual the ghost design is creepy as.

Mieruko-Chan episode 4

What follows this week in Mieruko-Chan is an evening of Miko watching ghost stories with her brother and abruptly deciding to go buy a drink. It’s assumed this is because she’s seen something and wants to avoid it but you’ll have to wait for the post-credits scene to see how the TV looks to Miko.

While out and about Miko drops her 500 yen coin and when it rolls under a vending machine she spots a little ghost. Then she makes the superbly dumb decision to follow it.

You know, prior to this point Miko has been a pretty switched on protagonist but I guess even switched on people get tired or curious and occasionally just make dumb decisions. This one turns out to be pretty terrible however just when you think we’re finally going to see what happens if the ghosts know she can see them help arrives in a truly unbelievable form (and yet it fits within the anime so far).

Mieruko-Chan Episode 4

And then we get the connection to the next story as Miko returns home to tell her brother she doesn’t have drinks and because her lie about why not is so terrible, he decides she must be keeping something from him and his friends at school decide she must have a boyfriend.

Brother stalker segment begin.

This is a much lighter segment (not only because it happens during the day) but also because of the misunderstanding her brother has about why she’s acting weird. It ends with the extended bath scene and yet another ghost, but I think this segment of Mieruko-Chan is sold through the relationship being explored between Miko and her brother.

At their core, horror stories are all pretty much the same but what makes one stand out from another is usually the cast and Mieruko-Chan is spending the necessary time in really building up Miko’s relationships in these early episodes.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 4

There is one more segment after the bathroom one and it is very much about Miko’s family. However, other than saying it ties back to the pudding purchase and does a brilliant job with the cast, I’m pretty much leaving this one alone because if you haven’t watched this episode of Mieruko-Chan yet you deserve to see it for yourself.

It was the perfect conclusion to the episode and then the post credits scene where we see a different take on the earlier segment just stitched it all together.

Mieuko-Chan Episode 4

Mieruko-Chan continues to nicely balance out its sillier moments with some decent emotional beats and some good tension in the more horrific moments. Honestly, if they would tone down some of the fan-service that still feels a little intrusive and unnecessary in this story, there’d be pretty much nothing to complain about as so far each episode of Mieruko-Chan has delivered.

That said, I am glad I am watching this episodically. As each episode is already pretty split up into pieces I think binge watching this might not be the best way to really enjoy the story.

You can read the full season review here.

Images from: Mieruko-Chan. Dir. Y Ogawa. Passione. 2021

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Karandi James

Mieruko-Chan Episode 3 – The Bus, The Lover, and The Broken Beads

Mieruko-Chan Episode 3 Review

If I ever get around to doing a list of my favourite anime friends I kind of feel Hana and Miko from Mieruko-Chan will deserve a place on that list. These two characters are delightful together. While Miko is capable of carrying a scene all on her own (or at least on her own save for the creepy ghost thing) the trust, love and sense of fun that exists when these two girls are together in a scene is an almost unbeatable combination.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 3

Mieruko-Chan Hasn’t Been a One-Trick Pony

Despite my fears in episode one that Mieruko-Chan might become stale or formulaic, through good characters and clever writing each segment of each episode so far has actually worked pretty well. I’ve yet to feel like we’re stuck on repeat even if the running gag is that Miko is pretending not to see the ghosts.

Episode three is divided into three main set-ups with the final act being the longest and most complicated and actually doing a bit of world building.

Mieruko-Chan started this week with a simple scenario: Miko catching a bus and in the end missing her stop as she endeavoured not to see the multi-headed monstrosity that was at first sitting in the seat in front of her. It’s a straight forward play on the basic premise. There’s a ghost that Miko can see and she’s going to pretend she can’t.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 3

Though, perhaps its mocking laugh and text-like speech of O-M-G was more off-putting than its appearance.

Again, this is a situation very similar to the bathroom sequence we have seen previously or even the ghost in the school hall in episode two. However there’s some decent tension built up in the scene as Miko hesitantly reaches for the stop button on the bus and then steadfastly stares at her phone rather than getting off in order to avoid making the ghost aware she could see it.

The second segment this week was perhaps the most entertaining and kind of build off the idea from episode two that Miko can get a sense of someone’s personality from the ghost near them. Mieruko-Chan had Miko waiting in a café for Hana when she spots a ghostly woman hanging around a guy who clearly thinks he’s quite attractive. After Miko has stared at the ghost the guy gets the wrong impression and smiles at her.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 3

This is apparently sufficient to set the ghost woman off as she approaches Miko quite jealously.

I won’t spoil the punchline of how Miko managed to throw this ghost off but it was pretty hilarious and was perhaps my favourite scene so far in this series. Again, it is Miko’s deadpan delivery that really just makes it work.

And if that wasn’t entertaining enough, the girl the guy is actually waiting for then turns up with a host of male ghosts trailing in her wake. It’s just the icing on the cake of a very effective sequence.

Then, we move into the final act of episode 3 Mieruko-Chan. This involves the girl at school spying on a fortune teller and it’s pretty much implied that the fortune teller is related to her but I’m assuming that’s a later on plot line. Instead, the focus shifts to Hana and Miko who have been out buying prayer beads approaching the fortune teller because Miko’s beads keep breaking (of course Miko knows this is because of the scary ghost following her but Hana just thinks it is a shoddy product).

Mieruko-Chan Episode 3

I love the old lady as she at first aims to scam them and then decides she wants to help Miko. Just as you think this is a lovely redemption story for the little old-lady there’s another twist that leaves the fortune teller somewhat dumbstruck and Miko once again without a solution to her ghost issue.

It’s a solid segment and brings the best of Mieruko-Chan to the foreground with Hana and Miko’s friendship really shining through, a great ghost design, a punch line that really gets a laugh, and an unexpected outcome to the whole segment. It also opens up the possibility that we’re getting closer to a couple more characters coming into this story now that they’ve established the set-up.

Mieruko-Chan isn’t a laugh a minute comedy but there’s definitely a solid reward at the end of each section and the mix so far of creepy supernatural and humour is actually working quite well. I’m definitely sold on Mieruko-Chan after three episodes and I really hope it continues to build on this.

You can read the full season review here.

Images from: Mieruko-Chan. Dir. Y Ogawa. Passione. 2021

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Karandi James

Mieruko-Chan Episode 2 – Is She Seeing More Clearly?

Mieruko-Chan Episode 2 Review

I said in my review of episode 1 of Mieruko-Chan that there was a lot of potential for Miko and Hana as characters and episode 2 firmly cements their friendship and chemistry as almost the entire episode revolves around their interactions as Miko continues to pretend not to see ghosts. And it works incredibly well as the two complement each other nicely and it really does feel like a comfortable and genuine friendship.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 2

Mieruko-Chan is developing a solid friendship at the core of this story.

However, I also pointed out that some of the fan-service in Mieruko-Chan felt a little out of place and the pandering shots this week as the girls change in the locker room and the groping ghost both continue the trend.

While I’m not against nudity, the locker room scene the lingering camera on Hana’s bare middle didn’t add anything to the overall set-up of the scene. Basically, Hana and Miko are overhearing a conversation about a ghost show on TV and that prompts Hana to discuss something she saw on TV involving a severed head in a locker.

Miruko-Chan Episode 2

The set-up is solid and the pay-off, when Hana gets Miko to open her locker, works. You know exactly what to expect, and Mieruko-Chan is self-aware enough to point out that its a bit of a trope, but that doesn’t stop it working. Nor does it prevent the second round jump scare from working when Hana can’t reach her phone on the upper shelf and Miko needs to reach up to the shelf where the head is placed.

Sometimes things are classic for a reason.

That said, despite being set in a locker room, I’m not finding the scenes of the girls changing really adds much to the overall situation and really all it will do is put some viewers off. It isn’t the kind of fan-service that is actually going to draw in viewers so it just feels kind of there.

Then of course Mieruko-Chan introduces a ghost made up of groping hands and has quite a few more lingering shots of Hana’s over-sized bust.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 2

Which is kind of a shame because this sequence actually gives us Miko’s first real attempt at intervening with the ghosts and yet its marred by poorly delivered fan-service.

I can’t really figure it out given the handsy ghost crawling out of the desk is actually a pretty cool visual and it latching onto Hana is the right kind of creepy. The gratuitous focus on breast gropes though just feels again unnecessary and I think will put off more viewers than it really draws in.

We get two more ghostly encounters in this episode. The first involves Hana accidentally lining up in a queue of ghosts rather than the living humans when she goes to buy doughnuts with Hana. From start to finish this sequence works.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 2

Actually, I’m starting to see the comedy label for Mieruko-Chan. While not much is laugh out loud funny, the story is sequences more like a series of vignettes each with a basic set-up and then a punch line.

The punch-line of the line-up sequence is kind of brilliant and one of those moments you just kind of have to watch to really appreciate Miko’s thanks to Hana at the end of the sequence.

Finally Mieruko-Chan brings us a missing cat sequence where Hana picks up a stray and then advertises on social media that she’s looking for a home for it. Here we get the second time we see Miko really use her vision to change her behaviour and I’m going to leave it at that. I will just say I hope there’s more to this scene and that we see these characters again.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 2

There’s a lot to like about Mieruko-Chan in episode 2 and I’m loving the short snippet ghostly encounters. Miko and Hana are also great together and I’m curious to see what Miko will do next when she sees a ghost doing something she just can’t ignore.

You can read the full season review here.

Images from: Mieruko-Chan. Dir. Y Ogawa. Passione. 2021

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Karandi James

Mieruko-Chan Episode 1 – An Odd Approach To Dealing With Horror

Mieruko-Chan Episode 1 Review

Fictional characters who can see spirits, ghosts and all manner of monsters are pretty common particularly for people like me who watch a lot of supernatural stories. Despite that Mieruko-Chan still managed to feel not entirely derivative and delivered an interesting enough first episode as viewers are introduced to Miko, a seemingly calm high school student, who we learn throughout the episode is able to see some fairly grotesque creatures.

Actually, Miko kind of reminded me of some of the flash-backs we have of Natsume (from Natsume Yuujinchou) when he’s in middle-school and trying to pretend he doesn’t see anything because he’s kind of grown up enough to realise that people won’t believe him anyway and it just draws attention to himself.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 1

Mieruko-Chan delivered a measured first episode.

Despite the comedy tag attached to Mieruko-Chan, this first episode seemed very grounded as we were slowly drawn into Miko’s current situation. I loved the opening with the girl running in horror and the ghost emerging from the fridge before we get a blood-curdling scream and then realise we’re watching a TV horror special. Though points to whoever provided that scream because that was one nicely delivered shriek.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 1

Much of the rest of the episode has Miko going to school, eating with her friend Hana before walking home. It’s kind of at that point the episode decides to switch things up. Until Miko returns to the school realising she’s lost her key-chain, we had some atmospheric elements like a potential handprint appearing on a mirror and crows cawing loudly but nothing that really indicated a true supernatural presence.

After Miko leaves the school, this changes entirely.

What sells the scene at the bus-stop where the audience becomes very aware that there is in fact a supernatural element at play in Mieruko-Chan is Miko’s reaction. Her initial shock at the phone hijinks is quickly masked by a cool and calm expression but after the apparition apparently gives up asking her if she can see it, we realise Miko’s internal freak-out.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 1

There are three further ghostly encounters before the episode end and Miko remains solid as the protagonist as she becomes increasingly rattled but tries to maintain her calm-exterior.

Its an interesting premise and you have to wonder whether Miko can maintain her pretence of not seeing or what the reaction of the creatures will be if she continues to ignore them. There’s also another girl at school who appears briefly and was in the promotional images who will probably get involved or know something about the ghosts when she does join in with the main group.

However, as much as I liked the premise here and really enjoyed the main character, so far the comedy element is either lacking or is a female supporting character with physics defying breasts supposed to count as comedy? Or is it the fact that we get three separate scenes where the camera angle focuses squarely on Miko’s legs/thighs/butt as she bends over or walks away.

Mieruko-Chan Episode 1

As much as horror and sexualising female characters have kind of gone together forever, in this first episode of Mieruko-Chan the scenes seemed out of place and more like an after-thought. Or perhaps as though they weren’t convinced that an intriguing premise and interesting female protagonist wouldn’t be enough to carry the audience’s interest if we didn’t also see her butt wiggling in the air as she fished her key-chain out from under the teacher’s desk.

That said, there’s a lot to enjoy in this first episode and a lot of potential for Miko and Hana as characters. I’m looking forward to what Mieruko-chan does next.

You can read the full season review here.

Images from: Mieruko-Chan. Dir. Y Ogawa. Passione. 2021

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Karandi James

Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun Series Review

Hanako Review

Legends and Rumours Hide A Greater Story in Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun

At some point I feel I need to write a post about studio Lerche. It is a studio that when you look at their catalogue superficially you will see a number of similar titles where they aesthetically combine cute or bright characters with horrific realities and supernatural elements such as Assassination Classroom or Danganronpa, though even Gakkougurashi! (School Live!) wold definitely fit into this niche that Lerche seems to be carving out.

Yet at the same time there’s a range of other anime in the list that seem to entirely break out of this mould and do something totally different (Given).

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Either way, while there’s a some anime in Lerche’s line-up that I’m not particularly interested in, they’ve also managed to produce quite the catalogue of anime during the 2010’s that actually managed to just hit the right note for me with a number of them being among my favourite anime of the decade.

All of which is a long-winded way of me saying that I wasn’t actually all that interested when I read the premise of Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun however I did try a few episodes while it was airing after reading some positive reviews. What made me go back to it and complete it in 2021 was a curiosity about what this studio had produced this time around.

Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun image
Yep, curious.

Right off the bat I am going to say that this isn’t going to be topping any of my favourite anime even lists, not even in the supernatural category. There’s a definite charm to Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun and the jarring juxtaposition of over-the-top comedy and almost cartoonish visuals with some of the darker subjects and events that Nene and Hanako get themselves into with Kou often just along for the ride actually kind of works.

There’s a few genuine creeps along the way as well as a few laugh out loud moments as Nene learns about the seven wonders of her school and their fairly complex relationship with rumours and gossip.

Now, this isn’t the first ghost story that has manipulated supernatural elements through manipulating rumours, myths and legends, however the concept remains an interesting one to explore. Supernatural beings that exist only through the way they are remembered opens up a range of nasty story possibilities particularly when antagonistic characters are most definitely using the laws of this reality for their own nefarious (if reasonably undisclosed) purposes.

Hanako 5
Well, that doesn’t look like it is going to end well.

However, while in principle, I really like Hanako-kun and the world established in this anime, and I also loved the visuals and use of colour, and the music was fantastic (really that OP is exactly what this premise needed) and there’s even a lot of moments along the way in the story that managed to hit the right emotional notes, overall I have to come back to the fact that while I wanted to like this and at times did, a lot of it really just felt like I was detached from what I was watching.

Arguably, this isn’t something objectively wrong with the story in Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun but rather I just never felt like things came together for me and that feeling is only heightened when the series ends on a relatively inconclusive note between the main pair.


If I had to pin down the parts of Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun that really just didn’t click quite into place for me, I’d probably start with Nene, our central character who kicks off the story by making a wish to Hanako-Kun before circumstances push her into becoming his assistant. Again, not a lot new in that set-up as we’ve seen characters dragged into supernatural occupations before working alongside or beneath either a more knowledgeable character or one that actually is of supernatural origins.

With Nene the reoccurring jokes about her romantic fantasies, her appearance and lack of self-confidence really undermined her likeability for me and while she did have a few moments where she seemed to rise about bumbling human-plot-device who stumbled into any supernatural situation that existed in the school, these moments were few and far between.

And with not particularly enjoying Nene, Hanako’s attachment to her and relationship throughout the series wasn’t quite as interesting to watch as it may have been. I ended up finding Kou, an exorcist who ends up working alongside the other two, the more interesting character of the three and even then he takes a fair while to feel fleshed out and like a real person rather than a trope that exists to make the jokes happen.

Hanako 2
Hanako is all business – when it suits him.

While many of the episodes feature a wonder or ghost of the week, the story is actually an ongoing one that explores Nene learning more about the supernatural world but feeling a distance between herself and Hanako. Unfortunately just when we learn enough to actually be a bit curious about Hanako we hit the season end point. The antagonistic characters of the series have so far been impressive only in-as-much as they seem to be mostly getting their own way but personality-wise there isn’t one in the bunch that has actually made me want to know more about them.

As a point of curiosity, AnimeLab listed Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun under it’s horror genre whereas MAL plays up the comedy and school aspects as well as supernatural. The reality is it definitely gyrates between these two positions. I bring this up because there’s definitely death, dismemberment, suicide and abuse sitting behind a lot of this story. I mean, there’s a whole bunch of young ghosts in it and what we learn of their lives and deaths isn’t exactly pretty. Not to mention what some of these ghosts are doing to the current students as their legends get warped in fairly hideous ways.

Now, as a fan of horror, this doesn’t both me and actually was part of the appeal of Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun, but for those expecting a school-comedy while there is definitely a school and comedy in this anime you are going to get some dark subject matter as well.

The end result here is one that is a bit mixed. This is an entertaining anime that works and should we get another season is starting off a pretty interesting story in a world with well thought out supernatural lore. It didn’t personally work for me (at least not enough that I’d turn-cartwheels over another season being announced) largely because of the characters and that is a little disappointing because I really did want to like this as I watched it.

Images used for review from: Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun. Dir. Y. Higa. Lerche. 2020.

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Karandi James

Ghost Hunt – From Beginning To End A Viewer’s Journey

Ghost Hunt Episodic Thoughts

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Ghost Hunt is an anime series from 2006 that essentially goes through a number of story arcs about a team of paranormal researchers. While some stories are better than others, the whole series is actually pretty entertaining. What follows are my thoughts on each story arc after rewatching the series.

Evil Spirits All Over

The characters of ghost hunt
Here is the crack squad of would be ghost hunters minus the boss.

This arc nicely introduces Mai to Kazuya Shibuya, a 17 year old who dresses in black and runs the Shibuya Psychic Research company. She also meets his assistant Lin and a range of other spiritualists including a monk, a shrine maiden (kind of), a clairvoyant, and a priest (from Australia and I must say that accent is truly dreadful though that’s only a problem if you watch the English dub as the Japanese version has a different location and accent).

The case in this arc of Ghost Hunt involves an old school building at Mai’s school. A number of accidents have occurred and the Principal wants the building cleansed so it can be demolished. While the mystery in this arc isn’t particularly compelling, it is a nice backdrop to introducing the characters and Mai’s entry into the world of ghost hunting.

Without spoiling the conclusion of this arc, it is difficult to say anything more about what happens. We learn a range of facts about ghosts and poltergeists and are introduced to each of the characters specialties when it comes to dealing with spirits. We also see that they don’t always get it right.

This is a very satisfying introduction to the series.


  • The voice actress for Mai is a fantastic screamer. Very few screams in television are as satisfying as some of Mai’s.
  • Kazuya hates being wrong. He’s so cute when he is angry.
  • The show isn’t going for flash or gimmicky. It’s keeping a steady pace and measured tone but uses the characters and the atmosphere to keep you interested. It’s refreshing for a show to not feel the need to dress itself up and go over the top.


  • Already mentioned it, but John’s Australian accent is horrendous. To the point where I was showing Ghost Hunt to a friend of mine and she actually asked if his character was going to die soon so that we wouldn’t have to listen to it any longer.
  • A lot of narrative convenience, like most mysteries. If you pay attention, you’ll probably solve this case before the characters do because it isn’t that mysterious.

Anyway, you should definitely check out Ghost Hunt at some point. The opening theme is also kind of interesting because it has no lyrics and doesn’t use character images. Instead you just get a simple orchestral piece and a range of visual effects that set a nice, spooky tone. While the opening gets old after a few episodes, it is definitely different from the usual anime fare.


The Doll House

ghost hunt 3
Creepy doll.

The SPR team are hired to investigate a haunted house where a woman lives with her sister-in-law and niece in this arc of Ghost Hunt. The rest of our psychics, spiritualists and mediums show up to help out on the case.

This arc is a great creepy, haunted house story. You’ve got the creepy kid with the seriously creepy doll and a step-mum who seems mysteriously cold. Add in some thumps, bangs, furniture rearrangement and messages being written on walls and you have everything you need for an entertaining ghost story.

This arc does use a lot of the same techniques as the first, but it feels more like they are trying to establish a pattern before they get a bit more experimental in their ghost hunting.


  • Mai demonstrates some psychic ability of her own even while she continues to learn about the business.
  • Ayami is adorable as the creepy kid.
  • Minnie (the doll) is possibly able to hold up the horror end of a ghost story all on her own.


  • Why doesn’t Kazuya just tell the others what he is going to do? I know this becomes an established pattern, but it makes no sense and adds needless conflict.
  • The step-mum leaves and no one ever mentions her again. Hello, she just ditched her step-daughter and left and no-one thinks this is worth commenting on?

While the doll house isn’t one of my favourite arcs from Ghost Hunt, it certainly has impact and is effective as a ghost story.

The Afterschool Hexer

ghost hunt 4
Mai really nails the damsel in distress role at times, though isn’t always needing rescuing (just a lot).

We’re back in school again, although this time SPR were called in to deal with a string of incidents including a haunted desk and a cursed club. Turns out a girl named Kasai demonstrated psychic talent and was then harassed by certain members of the student body and staff and declared she would ‘curse them to death’. However, Mai insists that Kasai isn’t the culprit.

This arc of Ghost Hunt really brings out the investigative skills of SPR and friends as they are faced with what looks like a haunting and events that must be supernatural, but there are no spirits to be found. Thanks to Mai being clueless, many of the characters offer explanations of various phenomenon for the audience to get up to speed in a way that doesn’t feel overly forced, and the resolution is quite satisfying.

Also, while there is the investigation into the phenomenon, there’s a lot of discussion around how psychics and strange phenomenon are viewed by the public at large and how they are represented within the media.  While this discussion doesn’t really come to any kind of conclusion, it certainly gets the audience thinking about their own views and how people are accepted or not within society.


  • Mai continues to demonstrate growth in her abilities, even if she has no control whatsoever.
  • Kazuya is at his absolute sweetest in this arc and the way he comforts Mai is the most human you will see him in the entire series.


  • Takigawa and Ayako are at their most pig-headed in this episode. While they’ve butted heads with Kazuya in the previous arcs, there they seemed to have a point. Here, they seem to be objecting for the sake of keeping some tension in the group.
  • The case may be solved but a lot of the emotional damage from the events in the story will remain. No clue is given as to how any of that is going to be resolved.

As a stand alone story I find The Afterschool Hexer one of the most satisfying cases Ghost Hunt has to offer. It isn’t as dark as some of the cases later on, but it develops nicely and the couple of twists feel natural and planned. Well worth a watch even if you don’t watch the rest of Ghost Hunt.


Ghost Story in the Park

ghost hunt 5
A brief moment of excitement.

This stand alone episode is a refreshing change. We’re outdoors, in the park, and getting soaked by a petty and vindictive spirit who dislikes seeing couples in love. Honestly, it’s a filler episode at best but it does show Mai’s jealousy as Masako uses the opportunity to get closer to Kazuya. There’s not a lot more to say about this one but you can just watch it on its own.

A Silent Christmas

ghost hunt 6
Don’t turn into a ghost and possess everyone now.

While it only goes over 2 episodes, this arc hits a fair emotional punch. We’re dealing with orphan children at Christmas time and a possession by a child’s spirit. When the spirit possesses Mai things get even more distressing.


  • Lin actually speaks in whole sentences during these episodes.
  • Because the cases are smaller there is more focus on the characters in these episodes.


  • The storyline is pretty uncompelling as there is little mystery in what is going on.
  • Kazuya seems to take a back seat to some of the other characters during this story.

I must admit, I regularly skip right past this story when I’m rewatching Ghost Hunt. It doesn’t add a great deal to the series and doesn’t quite match the tone of some of the other story arcs. That said, if you’re watching the series for the first time, there is some good character development to be found.


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Forbidden Pastime

ghost hunt 7
Good dreams… Mai, stay asleep.

And for a third time Ghost Hunt returns to a school setting, but this time it returns for my favourite story of the series. Strange occurrences are happening on a daily basis all over the school and the students are panicked. Several aren’t coming to school anymore at all. However, the strict staff at the school think it’s all in their heads or that they are playing some silly game and won’t deal with any of the issues. When the SPR and friends arrive on the scene it is already chaos and within minutes of setting up a base a phantom dog attacks a girl in a classroom.

There are several reason why this is my favourite story but the first would have to be the introduction of a new character, Yasu. He’s a student who contacted SPR to try to get the situation resolved and he hangs around helping out with odd jobs and providing valuable insight to the location. He also stays on in a support role in the remaining narrative arcs.

The second reason I like this story is there definitely seems to be more menace in this story. We’ve encountered ghosts and curses and all sorts of other things previously, but there’s been very little sense of ongoing danger. The Forbidden Pastime turns that on its head and at time you genuinely wonder how things are going to be all right at the end.


  • Mai learns some magic. Not well and she doesn’t use it particularly well here but it is about time she learned something about how to defend herself from spirits given her current occupation.
  • Yasu is a fantastic addition to the cast and adds some genuine levity into scenes that are very heavily weighed down by the dark atmosphere of this story.
  • Lin finally gets to show off some of his expertise.


  • Kazuya continues to not tell people things for the sake of being Kazuya. Seriously, would a ten second explanation kill him?
  • A lack of any teaching staff at the school that express anything other than contempt for the ghost hunters. If phantom dogs, weird smells, fires and other strange events are occurring that often, how can all of the staff assume the students are lying?

There are some tense moments in this story. It isn’t exactly horrific but it will make you sit up and take notice and it definitely preps you for the arcs coming as Ghost Hunt takes a turn for the more creepy. Well worth a watch.


The Bloodstained Labyrinth

Okay, I’m not overly squeamish, but I found some parts of this story hard to watch. Probably because the story is being told from Mai’s perspective and she goes through some genuine trauma during this arc of Ghost Hunt. While the theme is still more mystery than horror, if you don’t like blood or dismemberment, you should probably give this arc a miss.

Kazuya and team are hired to investigate a mansion that has a very weird design and is known to be haunted. A teenager went missing while inside with friends and then a fireman who was part of the search team looking for him disappeared. However, Kazuya is not the only one hired for the job and so he asks Yasu to stand in as the company boss so he can get to work and not deal with the other teams. It’s pretty cold and pretty typical of Kazuya this far into the series.

Once inside the house, the weirdness keeps growing. The design is insane and without a floor map a lot of the earlier episodes are devoted to exploration and holding a séance (which ends about as well as expected when you are in a haunted house). Mai also begins experiencing some very vivid and very disturbing dreams. Once not one, but two members of other teams go missing, Yasu is sent away to ensure that everyone has someone with them at all times that can protect them.

There’s a couple of twists and turns in the dealings with the other teams that I won’t get into to avoid spoilers. The main mystery is solved but there’s definitely a sense that this wasn’t a victory this time around and Ghost Hunt shows us once again that dealing with spirits is tricky. This story is dark and highly affective.


  • Yasu is back and has some great lines early on when little else is happening. Without him, there’s a good chance the first episode in particular would have been snore worthy.
  • Mai continues to grow as a person and psychic.
  • Kazuya get’s put in his place a couple of times by a former mentor.


  • John’s presence in this entire story is almost completely pointless. So much so that at times you forget he is actually with the team.
  • Why are the other psychic researchers so useless? Surely even they can do some basic background checking on the house?

Once again, if you don’t like too much blood then maybe don’t touch this particular story. It isn’t horrific but it isn’t exactly nice either.

The Cursed House

ghost hunt 8
Cursed, possessed, whatever.

It’s going to be hard to really review this without spoilers so I’ll keep it simple. A family who own a certain property have been cursed and they hire SPR to look into it. Unfortunately several members of the family are already possessed which leads to some very violent encounters. You can tell we’re at the final as the body count in this story stacks up and the number of spirits encountered is quite extraordinary.

One key event that I am going to mention is that Kazuya is possessed in this story arc and then knocked out and kept unconscious by Lin until he can be exorcised. While we’ve kind of had indications before that Kazuya must have been dangerous, this is the first time we are overtly told that he has power.

Needless to say, he’s in a bad mood when he does wake up.

I’m going to leave it there because anything else is going to spoil this final story of Ghost Hunt for you.


  • All of the characters get a moment to shine in this final story, including Ayako who has previously had very little chance to show off what she can do.
  • It suitably ups the tension to leave us with a very satisfying conclusion to the series.


  • Talk about leaving you wanting more. It feels like these characters are just touching the edge of their potential and we could learn so much more about them.

Overall, Ghost Hunt is a great mystery anime with a focus on the supernatural. Its episodic nature works in its favour when you only want to watch a couple of episodes and this allows you to see a whole story quickly. However, I’d love to see more stories with these characters and watch them grow even more and encounter other supernatural events. It was just great fun watching them.

Images used from: Ghost Hunt. Dir. A Mano. J. C. Staff. 2006

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Shiki Series Review – My Kind of Slow and Creepy Horror

Shiki Review

Shiki is a horror anime that came out in 2010 set in the small isolated village of Sotoba where life goes on the same way everyday despite the number of characters that seem dissatisfied with their everyday life. The story begins with the disappearance of Megumi, a girl who is desperate to leave the village and to shine in a big city one day. We soon learn of the events leading up to her disappearance and follow the villagers as they slowly become aware of the danger surrounding them.

It’s a slow burn of a story until the end where the villages understand everything and the mob arms themselves and then it does what horror anime tend to do at the end and all the carefully built up suspense kind of gets thrown out the window in a shower of blood and pretty fire. That said, the ending is conclusive, character arcs do come to a close of sorts during that climax, and for those who appreciate the slow reveal it makes this series feel genuinely like it was worth the time.

Yeah, and the creepy eye thing doesn’t get less creepy while watching.

There seem to be three views on Shiki that I have commonly encountered:

  • It’s boring and nothing happens.
  • It reignites classic horror.
  • It’s a great character piece that then throws itself under a bus for a gore filled ending.

The problem is you can’t actually disagree with any of these positions as you can see the reasoning for each. I loved Shiki. I fell in love with the characters and the community of Sotoba and the way the individual struggles play out even while the horror slowly consumes the village. I feel there’s a lot we can take from this in terms of the way we all get too involved in our own individual problems and lose sight of the bigger picture, much to our detriment and the detriment of the world at large.

Shiki is a slow burn but well worth the wait.

I also think they did a pretty good job of interweaving these stories and cutting between them so that we had a feeling of being in this village and experiencing the different perspectives of those who knew early on what was going on but were not believed and those who knew but denied what was happening, and finally those who remained in the dark until it was too late.

So here is my attempt at reviewing Shiki; examining the good and the bad and ultimately my reason why I would strongly recommend this as at least a once watch to anyone who enjoys a good horror story.

Shiki’s Characters:

Shiki has a really large cast. You have the elderly villagers who either sit gossiping at the bus stop or go about their jobs. You have the children and teens trudging to school or pursuing their individual dreams. You have the police, the council, the doctor and his nurses, the tradesmen, the priests and on and on it goes. What I love is that despite the small amount of time devoted to these characters, they seem genuine. You feel like you could go to this village and meet these people.

Natsuno shines as the teen dragged from the city by his parents. His only desire is to finish school and get into college so he can leave the village. His cold views and analysis of other characters regularly puts him on the wrong side of an argument but he is a fascinating character to watch, particularly in the latter half of the series.

shiki 2.jpg

Muroi and Ozaki as the priest and the doctor to a wonderful job of creating opposing moral views on how to deal with the invasion of the village. Both ideals are flawed and neither side is really willing to compromise leading to the very tragic events at the end of the series. It’s interesting that Ozaki seems like the voice of reason for so much of the series but by the end becomes completely consumed by violence and Muroi who tries to sit on the fence is pushed into actions against other humans even as he realises he is in the wrong.

There are also some fantastic performances by the vampires (sorry, shiki) but it’s hard to really get into those characters without giving the plot away too much and in a horror/mystery you really don’t want to know too much about where it is going. That said, one of them does get a listing on my top 5 anime characters that creep me out so if you aren’t caring about spoilers, check that out.

But if the characters are the strength of the series, they are also what ultimately bring it down. The journey you go with these characters is long and you feel you know them, so as reason is tossed aside and they become involved in increasingly violent acts it can make you uncomfortable. Characters who are set up as good or nice meet tragic ends for no other reason than to play on the audience’s emotions and barbaric characters are seemingly glorified at times.

As for the main cast members, none of them could actually be described  as the hero of the piece. They are all just deeply flawed humans acting in their own self interest. While there is a great message in that, it does leave the audience with no one to really support during the final stages of the anime as even Natsuno and Ozaki, arguably the lead characters for the kids and the adults respectively, pursue their own vendettas in the finals episodes.


Shiki’s Plot:

I’ll try to avoid too many spoilers but the set-up involves a family of vampires (obvious to the audience from the start) have moved into the village and are using its isolated nature to their advantage as they believe no one would notice if the entire village became a vampire village. One by one the humans are dying and while at first they believe it is the work of an unusually hot season and then an epidemic, some members of the village begin to suspect more is going on.

This is a slow burning story that spends a lot of time building atmosphere and doesn’t try to do jump scares or excessive violence (until the ending – then it is the definition of excessive). Creepy music, long pauses, and dialogue full of double meanings abound while actual evidence is slow coming during the first half of the series.

The doctor’s exploration of the Shiki and their nature is incredibly cold and will have you questioning his humanity while the priest’s naïve attempt at bridging the gap between humans and shiki is equally doomed to fail. The kids just want to escape and the other adults just want to continue as they always have.

shiki 3

Once it is finally established that vampires are in fact present in the town, there is a dramatic shift in both tone and pacing. Time is divided between the various human characters and the vampires and their actions. The similarities between the two sides are continually emphasised.

Humans are faced with the prospect of killing their former loved ones (re-killing?) and the vampires are faced with the thought that they will need to kill, potentially their loved ones, to live. It is here we find the horror of Shiki. The questioning of the audience about what is right in such a situation. This is far more effective than any slaughter filled horror where vampires appear and devour their prey before being taken out in a shower of blood.

That said, early on you wonder why the characters are so slow to realise what is happening. You wonder what the end game could be. You also begin to wonder why the occasional absurdity is thrown in (such as the vampire run funeral which leaves the family of the deceased speechless). These moments that break the mood and disrupt the flow are frustrating. As is the ending itself. And while I won’t spoil it for those that haven’t already read about it or watched it, it just feels like they couldn’t think of any way to satisfactorily resolve the conflict.


Shiki Other:

I’ve already kind of discussed the village and its setting. The visuals are fantastic but the whole show leans towards a dark colour palette, so with the exception of Megumi  and Chizuru’s outfits, don’t expect much in the way of colour. The opening song is suitably creepy and the time skips forward and back are quite effective for showing multiple perspectives on events, and shining new light on events that you had already seen.

The entire anime is very much about building atmosphere and it is here that Shiki excels. The isolated setting, the sleepy pacing and creeping sense of horror, and the music all work together to weave together a fairly tight viewing experience with only a few moments that really break the flow.

Shiki Verdict:

I loved Shiki. I get why other people may find it boring and may dislike the ending. But for me, it was a great journey and gave me plenty to think about, and really, I can’t think of ending that would have been satisfying because it wasn’t that kind of anime. There wasn’t ever going to be a hero to swoop in and save the day, and if one had, it would have kind of invalidated everything that came before it.

What are your thoughts on Shiki? Or, what are some horror anime that have really worked for you?

Images from: Shiki. Dir. T Amino. Daume. 2010.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

High Rise Invasion Series Review

High Rise Review

Apparently an alternate English name for this one (at least according to MAL) is Sky-High Survival. I can’t help thinking how much more appropriate that title would have been.

High Rise Invasion is one of those horror, survival anime that come out every now and then and you decide, why not.

I have a long history of enjoying horror films that are by all objective measures pretty terrible and that enjoyment has most definitely carried over into some of my anime preferences. It is one of those things where even knowing that the Resident Evil movies are full of poorly realised characters, terrible dialogue, and ultimately plots that make no sense cannot, for whatever reason, stop me from enjoying just how cool some of those action scenes are and the general atmosphere associated with a schlock horror.

And certainly there are plenty worse movies than the Resident Evil franchise that I’ve utterly fell in love with over the years and have collected in a collection on a shelf that I reach to whenever I’m feeling too tired for anything but a few cheap laughs, a couple of gasps, and things that are either cool for the sake of being cool or are too stupid for words just because they can be.

So after reading Jon Spencer’s write up of High Rise Invasion, I moved this from my “I’ll get around to it” list of Netflix released anime that usually ends up being watched months after it is actually available because I just keep forgetting that Netflix actually occasionally does release anime and when it is an ONA (like this one is) there isn’t actually three months of delay because they still haven’t figured out seasonal viewing.

I did enjoy my watch of High Rise Invasion enough but to be honest, unlike so many other horror anime that have become favourite go-to series for rewatching, I’m pretty sure once is enough for this one and there’s a number of reasons why, despite it being very watchable and having some good moments, it just hasn’t left me wanting to dive in again (though I’ll probably watch a sequel should we ever get one given they did do some solid sequel baiting in the end credits).

Do not mess with Yuri and her phone access.
High Rise Invasion
Survival verses phone access?

The premise is pretty simple initially in this anime. There’s a city full of sky-scrapers that are connected by simple suspension bridges where access to the ground is cut off and various people just kind of appear in the city having been somehow transported from the normal world into this one. Some of those people end up either putting on a mask or have one forced upon them and then proceed to run around trying to force non-masked humans to commit suicide, and failing that they kill them.

It is kind of a bleak premise but suitable for the kind of brainless bloodfest this seemed to be setting up in its early episodes. I actually think I’d have been happy if the story hadn’t tried to be any more ambitious than this because we actually fairly quickly move away from any real fear of the masked guys causing main characters to commit suicide and that becomes an almost non-plot point by the mid-season.


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The first episode is actually pretty brutal as we open with a dark scene and a masked man finishing off one of many humans and a fountain of blood spurts in the darkness. While this visual will put some people off it seemed to be setting up a particular kind of story.

Yet, darkness plays only a minor role in one or two sequences throughout the rest of the story and the characters rarely confine themselves in the more claustrophobic interior settings largely remaining on rooftops, near large windows, or on the bridges. It kind of doesn’t make the most of what could be quite a tense and atmospheric situation allowed by the setting. I understand why though given they really wanted this to be an action/horror hybrid and the rooftops and bridges allow for significantly more impressive action set-pieces to play out (even if the animation isn’t quite up to the challenge).

Episode 1 of High-Rise Invasion - A very different aesthetic to the rest of the story.
Part of me kind of wants to see the anime that sticks with this aesthetic rather than all the open blue-skies we actually see.

That first episode also has the main character, Yuri, a 16 year-old school-girl because anime, being attacked by a masked character, rescued by one cop, then witnessing his brutal murder at the hands of another cop, before being attacked by second cop and nearly sexually assaulted, before second cop gets taken out by sniper mask guy (and we’ll discuss these names later) and then she sets the cops corpse on fire.

You’ve got to give them credit for really trying to push the horror aspect hard in episode one before they dial it all right back and we go more into an adventure/mystery tone with occasional shock deaths and blood splatter just to kind of remind us we’re actually in a horror.

When I think of anime like Shiki and Another that really stuck to their tone and atmosphere all the way throughout their run and I kind of feel that those ultimately appeal more to. If I go back to the Resident Evil comparison at the start, the first movie put you in the dark and maze like underground facility. Dark, closed spaces, plenty of atmosphere and making the action fit within that setting.

High Rise Invasion certainly has gore and horror elements, but doesn’t consistently try to be horrific and the end result is that what you are actually watching is a pretty average action movie with occasional horror nods and a bit of fan-service.

High-Rise Invasion - Yuri does not approve of being assaulted.
She’s standing really close to that burning corpse.

Another problem is that the basis of most solid horror stories is simplicity. Kill the monster or escape the island, etc. Btoom! got this 100% and gave the characters a really simple goal of survival or escape. While there was some character drama and backstory as to how individuals ended up in the game, the anime at least just kind of acknowledged that the characters couldn’t do anything about that until later and moved on.

Even something like High-School of the Dead kept it to simple survival against zombies and other survivors. High Rise Invasion also wanted to be a bit of a mystery and that means the simple set-up very quickly becomes more complex and to be honest, a little messy.


The initial set-up as I said is simple and works. We learn early on that Yuri’s brother is also in this world and we start running into other survivors who may or may not also want to kill our main character. If they’d kept it at masks bad, humans good (mostly) and just had the survivors running about and trying to find an escape, they could have made an enjoyable romp that would have been a pretty fun ride.

However we soon learn that some humans are ‘close to god’ and the masks don’t attack them. We also learn that a damaged mask allows masked characters some degree of free will but removing the mask entirely results in an order to suicide. Yuri’s brother, Rika, joins up with a number of other survivors before getting kidnapped by one of the many ‘close to god’ characters who is controlling a whole bunch of masks and is trying to in fact become god.

Meanwhile Yuri has teamed up with another group of survivors and while her stated goal is to bring an end to this world, there’s a lot of distractions such as her friend putting on and then removing a defective mask and Yuri herself becoming one of the ‘close to god’.

Mayuko puts on a mask.
Not one of the best decisions I’ve ever seen.

The problem is, the plot ends up a little bit convoluted, motives are confusing, and you need to take the plot more seriously than the characters really allow you to take it. Because the characters want to be in that cheap horror movie and yet they keep getting forced into this more serious and complex narrative that really seems to make little sense. Everything from Yuri becoming a virtual super-woman after powering up and Kuon, another young girl, being able to fire a giant rail-gun just screams standard action-horror story.

As do the names for the masked characters with them essentially being named after what they are wearing or their weapon. You can’t take ‘Sniper Mask’ seriously as a villain, or as another protagonist because he seems to be having his own narrative line for most of the story, because of his ridiculous name, and yet all of his actions, his voice acting, and even his emotional dives to find his memory are all asking me to take him seriously.

Basically, this could have been a good silly horror. It could have been an average action or adventure story. Depending on where they take their revelations, it could end up being a ridiculous mystery story. However I’m not sure these elements came together in these 12 episodes. They all seemed to be competing for screen time and trying to overwrite the tone of the other aspects and while I didn’t particularly dislike any one of these genres, it left me feeling less than satisfied with the whole package.

High-Rise Invasion - Riku
I think Riku also understands not being entirely satisfied with how the plot was developing.

I’ve been pretty negative so far so let me be clear, there’s definitely fun to be had while watching this and bingeing it is a good waste of a morning. While the animation for action scenes isn’t as polished as it might have been, there’s a good array of weapons and tactics and the characters keep things interesting.

Also, pretty much everyone outside the main characters is fair game for insta-death so there’s some moments that will catch you off-guard. I’m actually even interested in what is at the tower in the centre of all of this, though this season certainly didn’t answer it. However ultimately I think this is a case of trying to reach too far and trying to appeal to too many audiences and the end result is that they haven’t really nailed any one of their genres.

But that’s just me and I know from reading other reviews some people have really enjoyed this. So maybe seek a second opinion or just give it a watch yourself.

Images used for review from: High-Rise Invasion, Dir. M Takata. Zero-G. 2021

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
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Karandi James

Another Anime Series Review – The Horror, The Blood, The Shock, That Ending?

Another Series Review

Creepy School, Creepy Dolls, Creepy Everything

As has probably become apparent to those who follow my blog, I have a definite fondness for horror anime, even not particularly good ones. So imagine how happy I am when we get one that is vaguely competent at actually creating a sense of atmostphere and gives us at least some characters that feel like they are contributing more than just a number to the body count? While the Another anime may not be a perfect anime by any means, it gets a gold star for being one of the better horror anime out there or at the very lest is more in sync with the kind of horror I like.


Now given my love the Another anime I was absolutely certain I’d reviewed it already but it turns out I was just mistaking the thousand other posts I’ve referenced this anime in for having reviewed it. It made the list of top 5 anime with blood and gore (understandably enough – avoid umbrellas), also made an appearance on my list for best use of dream sequences, and even showed up as a case in my posts on man vs nature. Turns out I’ve added Another to a lot more top 5 lists and used it as an example copious times and yet never actually written a review. Well today I correct that oversight.

Another is a very good anime for a particular niche audience. That audience is one that likes their horror to be more about the slow build-up and the use of heavy atmosphere then rampaging blood and guts from the word go.

Because despite the deaths starting very early on in the anime, and they are bloody and violent, each episode feels almost languid in its pacing as we sit through stilted conversations and everyday interactions while all the while the visuals and music keep foreshadowing something about to happen that almost never does, and then suddenly it does happen and whether it is being impaled on an umbrella, suicide, near misses with glass sheets, or even head injuries, Another is going to keep you wondering just what will kill these kids next.

The Another anime does not hold back on gore.

Our main character, Kouichi, has arrived in town to stay with family as his father has travelled overseas for work. Unfortunately he was hospitalised right before school started and so meets his classmates from class 3-3 while lying in his hospital bed. It is an awkward situation to say the least and only gets worse once he joins the class and realises there’s one girl no one ever talks to or acknowledges. Naturally, he decides to go and talk to her.


What follows then is Kouichi trying to unravel the mystery of class 3-3 and once he has the full story rather than half-hints and vague mutterings, he turns his attention to finding a way out of the situation for all of the students who are still alive at that point. It’s during the middle phases when Kouichi and the other classmates start digging into the past and looking for answers where the story really opens up beyond just being creepy for the sake of it and you start to realise the full hopelessness of their situation.

The story then transitions into the third act which is probably the roughest part of the series. The opening act is that slow and rich atmosphere and half hints, the middle phase is the discovery section, and then we move to the climax where the teachers decide to take the remaining students to pray at a shrine on a mountain. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that idea in a horror story.

Sound advice.

Needless to say they get isolate by poor weather and then suspicions and distrust boil over. Soon it is classmate against classmate in an incredibly gory and over the top finale. On the bright side, you do get an actual answer to the mystery and the story is resolved, but that ending feels very much like the anime was worried it hadn’t made some kind of prescribed body count and was making up for lost time in those final episodes.


Despite what I feel is an over the top ending, I still really appreciate the care that has gone in to Another’s production. Visually it hits the mark perfectly finding that wonderful balance between being dark and gloomy but still making it easy enough to watch through clever use of lighting and colour.

The cast of classmates are interesting to get to know and while they definitely throw a few of the characters away cheaply at the end, prior to that most of the characters act in ways that are understandable enough given the situation. Basically it is a horror I enjoy watching and continue to feel is one of the best examples of anime horror (not that it has a whole lot of competition).

If you haven’t had the chance to watch Another and you are into horror at all it is worth trying. Maybe you’ll find the opening act too slow for you but if you get into it you might just find a new favourite horror anime.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Images from: Another. Dir. T Mizushima. P.A Works. 2012