Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales (Japan 2006)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 8/2/21

Divided into eleven episodes.

This mini-series contains three traditional ghost stories. "Yotsuya Kaiden" is a classic 18th century play about a scorned woman who seeks vengeance from beyond the grave. "Tenshu Monogatari" tells the tale of forgotten gods and a forbidden romance that leads to their doom. "Bake Neko" is a story about a "goblin cat" that terrorizes a household which harbors terrible secrets. While ghosts, gods, and demons are viewed as the "villains" in each story, it's always the wickedness and cruelty of men that is responsible for everyone's suffering and despair. The animation for the first two stories has a typical anime feel, while "Bake Neko" takes a radical stylistic detour. While I found the goofy character designs quite enjoyable, the criminally low and jerky frame rate is infuriating. The voice acting is very good and especially impressive in "Bake Neko," which becomes a horrifying scream-fest. The music is appropriately spooky and traditional, except for the opening credits, which inexplicably features an annoyingly inappropriate rap song. While the series isn't quite what I was hoping for, it's still a fascinating piece of historical Japanese horror.