Horror always works best in short mediums. It gives you less time to screw up a story in my humble opinion. It’s why I love horror anthologies, in both book, movie, and television form. Here there be anime less than 10 minutes long! Each bite-sized horror varies from contained narrative to pure anthology, but each is creepy or weird in it’s on right.
Kyoufu Shinbun, or Horror News, (not the OVA) is likely the least known entry here. The animation is CG and the storyboarding is pretty unique. Many scenes will play out as a manga. It’s very reminiscent to Tales of the Crypt in that regard.
The genre flip flops a bit from horror to sci-fi in some spots. This show wasn’t binge worthy. Some episode are stronger than others and a few I outright zoned out during. Towards the beginning, an entire episode manages to be a floating ghost head exposition dumping the plot of the series. It wasn’t subtle.
Yami Shibai, or Yami Shibai because everyone and their mother just call it Yami Shibai, is likely the most popular on this list. The series, as of this article, continues on, now beginning season 8.
Yami Shibai’s entire art style takes after kamishibai, street theatres where storyboards are placed in a frame and traded out as a story progresses. It mimics kamishibai with its opening and closing bookend animation. The use of what looks to be geki-mation blends the old and modern styles nicely nicely.
Sekai no Yami Zukon
Sekai no Yami Zukon, or The World of Darkness Encyclopedia, is a straight up anthology series. While the art style and presentation is similar to Yami Shibai, Yami Zukon feels more like a traditional kamishibai.
Many scenes are just still pictures and the narrator stays on talking us through the entire story instead of stopping at the beginning and letting the characters carry it. With less than a 5 minute run time, though, it doesn’t hurt the story.
Speaking of bite-sized horror, Kowabon episodes last 3 minutes, making them the shortest on this list! The stories have no context or lead in narration, which takes advantage of the short run time.
Most shots in each story are pulled from cell phones or security footage and they use rotoscoping, which I really like. It gives each story an uncanny valley vibe. For those who don’t know, rotoscoping is when you record something live action and then trace it for your animation.
My only gripe is the mouth movement or lack of. Frequently we stare dead center into someone’s face as they are talking. Maybe they decided to add lines after everything in post or maybe someone decided not to animate lip movement to make life easier. But I noticed.
Kagewani‘s art style mirrors Yami Shibai’s. The run time makes it bite-sized but narratively it’s on par with shows like Supernatural. (also an anime) Each episode lasts about 8 minutes and follows a consistent cast in a monster of the week format until the over arching plot slowly takes over.
Weird creatures called Kagewani attack people and scientist Banba pursues them. But where Banba goes, his rival and the company he works for aren’t far behind. It ran for 2 seasons and wrapped up nicely. I highly recommend it.
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