Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to another ‘Crunchyroll of the Dice!’ As always we’ll start with a quick reminder of the rules that I set for myself with this challenge:
- I pick two series at random on Crunchyroll and watch the first episode
- If it has multiple seasons, I go with season 1
- I have to at least try to watch the episode, no matter what show I get
This time around, I went for a slightly more targeted pick. With one exception, the shows that have come up in my random picks have been full length things. This week, I decided to pick random shows from the selection of short shows that Crunchyroll is hosting. As a result, I drew two vastly different shows. Let’s begin:
Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
The opening shows exactly what to expect: the art is in a pencil drawing style and is animated in a similar way to motion comics. The very short opening is basically a little kid drawing in his art book and signing about people passing over to the afterlife.
The story starts with a young man walking home from work. He spots a public bath house up ahead and, despite not having noticed it before, he decides that t must be pretty empty at this time of night and so heads on in to relax. He asks the grey, wrinkly woman at the counter for a towel, some soap, and shampoo, and wanders off to get changed, thinking about how old the woman is. How rude. Anyway, he is surprised to see that he has the men’s baths to himself, and so proceeds to rinse himself down in order to get into the bath. There’s a nice little touch here where you can see the mirror behind him, and in the mirror you can not only see his reflection, but the reflection of his reflection in the mirror in front of him, all of which are animated in time with the young man. Very nice touch indeed.
As he finishes up, a voice drifts over from the women’s baths and asks him if he would mind lending his soap bar. The man says that he’s finished with it, so of course he doesn’t mind, and throws it over the wall (the wall doesn’t go all the way up to the ceiling you see). He gets in the bath and ponders show sweet the woman’s voice was, thinking to himself that she sounded about the same age as him. The woman’s voice comes again, asking this time if she can borrow a bucket. He asks if there are none on that side, and she confirms that they’re all in use, causing him to realise that there must be other people on the other side. He spots a bucket sat below the taps on his side and throws it over. Now the girl asks if he has a razor. The man apologises and says that he only stopped in on the way home from work, so doesn’t have one. The woman says that’s OK and asks if he has any scissors.
Beginning to sense that something is wrong now, he doesn’t answer, and instead wonders who would bring scissors to a bath house. The woman decides he must not have any and starts talking to herself, saying, ‘Too bad, I wonder how I’ll cut this.’ The man starts to tell the woman to ask the woman at the counter, but she ignores him and continues, ‘I guess I’ve have to use this … but what if it draws blood? So scary.” We have no idea what it is that she’s using. Now she starts to babble about how the man probably does have a razor and is just lying to her, then asks him if she can borrow his hair. And a finger. And an ear and a nose. An arm. Some eyeballs … the man decides something’s wrong with his fellow bather and decides to wash is hair and get out of there. Seems like a smart move. The woman continues, asking this time for his tongue, teeth, nails and toes, then starts yelling ‘lend it to me!’ over and over. The man is now in an absolute panic as he rinses his hair off. Suddenly, something slaps down in front of him. He looks up to see some sort of monster leaning over the bath house walls with a pair of scissors. It speaks with the woman’s voice and says, ‘Actually, just let me have all of you.” The episode ends with a shot of the man’s dangling feet being slowly pulled up over the wall, all shown in the mirror’s reflection. The ending theme is some sort of weird electro-dance thing. There was very little music until the end, but the sound effects were really good. For a four and half minute short, this was marvellous.
Orenchi no Furo Jijo
A blonde haired merman named Wakasa is reading a magazine in the bath. Tatsumi, the teenage house owner comes home, and Wakasa welcomes him. Then comes the opening. It’s kinda epic rock, and far more epic than I suspect the show actually is. Anyway, Wakasa is very happy that Tatsumi has given him a bath mix, because he’s apparently always wanted a pink bath. And it’s flashback time! Tatsumi takes us back to how he ended up in this mess.
Tatsumi was walking home and he saw Wakasa on the rocks, looking worse for wares. He begs for help, and Tatsumi picks him up to carry him home. Having not noticed the massive, shiny blue tail, he asks Wakasa to spread his legs a little and the merman smiles. As it transpires, Wakasa used to live by a damn upstream, but humans seem to have driven him out. So he asks Tatsumi to fill the bath with hot water, give him shampoo and conditioner, and as he takes long baths, supply magazine and manga.
And we’re back to the present. Tatsumi wants a bath too now, so Wakasa says “Sure, jump in, it’s your house.” Tatsumi tries to remove Wakasa from the bath and he panics, complaining that Tatsumi’s trying to dry him out. Mermen die without water, so the two of them will just have to bathe together. Tatsumi is not happy with this, so Wakasa thwaps his him in the head with his tail and proclaims himself Mr Duck. Tatsumi asks Wakasa when he’ll leave, so Wakasa, being a merry little freeloader, tells him that every meeting in life is a golden opportunity and … he doesn’t want to leave. His river was filthy, he got weeds in his mouth, and garbage sacks stuck to him. His pathetic shivering makes Tatsumi agree that he can stay, and so Wakasa celebrates by demanding hamburgers with eggs on top for dinner. The ending theme is classy and shows Tatsumi pondering if Wakasa is about 80% human and 20% fish. And so ends the four minutes of fishy fun.
Let the battle commence!
I will now compare each series on several different aspects. The winning series in each category gets two points, and both series get one point in the case of a draw. The battles will be: Best Opening Episode (in terms of achieving the goal of setting the series up), Best Main Character, Best Supporting Cast, Best Storyline, Best Animation, and Best Soundtrack.
So this is hard one to judge because from what I can see, Orenchi is the only one of the two that has an ongoing storyline, while Yamishibai appears to be a ix of standalone tales. In terms of setting up what you can expect from each show, they both do a good job of that, so while I did enjoy one more than other, I think it would be fair to say that this one is a draw as it pertains to the criteria. Best Opening Episode: Draw
The nature of Yamishibai is such that it doesn’t really have much to the main character. He’s just a generic young man on the way home from work. Orechi’s Wakasa is a fun little freeloader though, and his ‘Mr Duck’ line did make me laugh, so that takes it. Best Main Character: Orenchi no Furo Jijo
Orenchi has Tatsumi who seems to have very little to him at the moment other than that he is easily manipulated by freeloading mermen. Yamishibai is a little better in that the monster-girl thing was at least interesting in her creepiness. And oh boy was she creepy. That edges the win. Best Supporting Cast: Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
Orenchi’s storyline is pretty clear. Tatsumi has a freeloader, he wants him gone, but he can’t seem to kick him out. It’s a simple premise. Yamishibai is set to be a mix of storylines, so I’m going to judge this one based on the story on show. The ghost story was creepy. It was a simple tale, but it was executed well. It also makes me more interested to come back and see what else will happen, as I got the feeling that Orenchi may essentially fall into running the same joke each time. Best Storyline: Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
Technically speaking, Orenchi was way ahead in terms of general quality, but nothing about it really popped. Yamishibai was clearly very low budget, but the clever use of reflections was so noteworthy because it showed just how much care had gone into it. For the sheer effort put in, Yamishibai gets the points. Best Animation: Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
The opening and ending themes in Orenchi were better than the ending theme in Yamishibai, as that really just flew in the face of the mood of the show in an almost grating way. The opening theme in Yamishibai is a far better representation of the series than Orenchi though. In terms of the actual episode, Yamishibai has some really nice sound effects going on, and the one main instance of background music set the mood well. That’s quite an achievement, and deserving of the points. Best Soundtrack: Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
Final Scores: Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories – 9 points, Orenchi no Furo Jijo – 3 points
And there we go. Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories moves on to face Flying Witch in round 2. If I’m being honest, while Yamishibai was more interesting to me, Orenchi did seem like it may be quite funny. Perhaps not enough to make me want to keep watching, but I can see it being enjoyable for fans of the genre. Yamishibai was very impressive for what it managed to achieve with so little though, and that impressed me greatly. How will it do against Flying Witch? Who can tell. Either way, that just leaves one more first round match to go. Until then, see ya next time!