SICK BEAT!!! Yamishibai is a long running Japanese horror series consisting of quick, five-minute stories with a simple animation style that varies in actual drawing style. With hundreds of creepy tales under its belt, the series can obviously be pretty hit-or-miss, many stories amounting to little more than "oh no...that was a ghost!"
YAMISHIBAI'S YOKAI GALLERY...PART ONE!
Its third season, however, had a little more focus than usual on monster stories, and in addition to the monsters featured in the episodes themselves, its intro and ending sequences - such as this fully extended final song - featured even MORE creepy crawlers and spooky specters flitting by the screen.
Delightfully, an official website included a gallery of every single one, almost a hundred in total, with magnificent higher-resolution artwork, a name, and a short bio! Holy cow!!!
We're going to go through all 99 of these fiends, in three parts!
"They sell their own internal organs in the form of thread. It is said that once you have eaten it, you can't stop eating it, and you can't stop eating it forever."
Yokai #001 isn't too remarkable in design, but it's pretty remarkable in concept; something or other that turns its own internal organs into cotton candy, and unless they like to sample themselves, I'm pretty sure the figure we're seeing is one of the human victims. The actual "organ seller" may very well still be unknown to us.
"He has a good personality and is usually smiling, but if you lie or betray him, his head swells with anger."
So he's actually just a great guy with a temper? I think there's a Japanese pun in here, because the Mochi monster in Yo-Kai Watch also had a theme of losing its cool.
"A taxidermy made by someone to become the ideal person of his or her choice. However, the strain of the original human's will has distorted him and made him look ugly."
This is the first of relatively few that actually factor into an episode's story, sort of; "Taxidermy Man" doesn't really appear as a monster, but there is an episode about a place where humans are taxidermied. It's fairly simple and straightforward, and doesn't actually go into any of the detail given as this yokai's profile.
"It's a merry-go-round, and if you close your eyes during the third lap, you'll be turned into a horse and go around forever."
HUMAN WOODEN HORSE
This one, on the other hand, features precisely as described in an episode. It's pretty over-the-top, but delightfully grotesque as a random, innocent carnival-goer becomes this grisly, moaning carousel horse.
"If you are constantly intimidating people, it is said that when you are sleeping, only your head will walk away and go to lower your head."
God, I love the concept of someone's entire head becoming a monster and walking away at night, without actually being the same person. It's a terrifying concept, somehow still terrifying while using a beard for legs and only bowing to people.
"A doctor continues to operate in an abandoned ward. It has been said that when doctors are provided with patients, their hospitals thrive."
These appear in a short story about a creepy hospital, which as you know is my scientific field of expertise. All we can see of the doctor's face is a large, cackling mouth, but the way the surgical hat bulges outward implies there's more underneath it...and also makes it look more like a chef's hat, which I think is probably intentional and pretty fun imagery.
"I put the needle to the wrinkles on my face and play the song of Ashira. If you listen to the last song of an angry face....df"
A ghostly grandma haunting a wrinkly, black vinyl record is a nicely zany monster concept. Interestingly, the continuity of these profiles appears to choose Ashira as the name of both the afterlife and the god of death.
"He has seen all the evil of people and is coming to pick them up to take them to the world of Ashira."
SEE YOU THERE
This appears to be the being that judges the dead in this "canon," appearing as a huge, angry, egg-shaped face carried by souls whose bloated stomachs might designate them as hungry ghosts.
"He will grant you 107 wishes. However, if you make the 108th request..."
Traditional, wooden Daruma come with one solid white eye, and you're supposed to draw in the pupil when you fulfill some sort of personal goal or wish. The idea of a Daruma with over a hundred eyes feels like an obvious twist for a ghost or monster, and I like that something is apparently wrong with exactly the 108th wish. This is especially strange if there are 188 eyes. Do the remaining 80 still grant wishes? And are those also cursed?
"They form the face of a dying person on their back. If it is a happy life, it is said to become a smile, and if there is a regret, it becomes a crying face."
HUMAN FACE BUGS
This is the first of several "human face bugs," which appear in an episode infesting a traffic tunnel. I've seen a lot of insects and arachnids with human faces on their abdomens, but I have to say I've never seen a beetle monster with a face forming from its elytra, which would split in half when it opens its wings!
"They suck human resentment and grow. The seed grows to look like the bearer of the grudge and lives on until the grudge is discharged, or so they say."
I like how the autotranslation named this monster "Around People." Just a sunflower with hundreds of tiny human heads instead of seeds!
"A cat bar mom who turns people into cats. The friendly cat you see on the street could be a human looking for help."
CAT BAR MOM
In other words, a mom who hangs out at or even runs a cat cafe...but the cats were people all along! This is a fun idea for a supernatural villain, and her design is actually pretty monstrous for a cat person, hairless and fleshy with a veiny, uncanny human-feline face.
"He appears in the street at night and forces the handset against me. "Moussanai, moussanai, moussanai! to save your life...."
PITCH BLACK PHONE
We actually get a glimpse of this telephone entity transforming a person's mouth into another phone receiver, but we have no idea what happens to victims from there. I'm not sure who would be dumb enough to use a little cyclops goblin man as a phone to begin with, but I guess they must deserve it.
"They grow up sucking the grief of children who have been ostracized by their peers. They say that if you play baseball with them, they get their legs tangled up in roots."
Just a creepy ghoul playing baseball, huh? Or is the monster supposed to be the grass??
"It is said to appear at the nape of the neck of a person who is constantly nodding off and begins to complain without permission."
This feels like a distant cousin to the apologetic beard walker, but now it's some poor guy's neck that grows into a bigger, angrier face when he falls asleep and loudly voices his frustrations, I guess. This one is SUCH a classical yokai-style concept.
"He lives in an old apartment and gently lights up the dark hearts of the poor. However, he will never allow himself to become cheerful."
I really enjoy the look of this simple eerie face on a presumably huge lightbulb. I also enjoy that this one seems totally benign, even cheering people up apparently, but for some reason "will never allow himself to become cheerful." What happens???
"She drifts her long hair and swims in the water. Don't look at the bottom of the water, which is unnaturally dark at night...."
Big fan of monstrous merfolk, and I especially like this one. Her elongated head, green-tinged face, puffy eyelids and fanged mouth are a particularly unsettling face to envision under murky water, and unlike a mere "mermaid," flipper woman is completely scaly and fishy from neck on down!
"It makes people feel better about their sorrow. The more you clear the head, the bigger and bigger the head gets, and when you see the "content" that popped out...."
...The what? What content? The Teru-Teru Boy's head gets bigger or your head gets bigger?!
"He reaches out from the game screen and grabs his face. The person who is grabbed doesn't notice, and the game is said to continue forever."
A haaauuuuunted video game!! A really neat idea for one, too, just getting sucked forever into playing the same game without thinking. It's not even one of the ones that traps you in the game's internal world or anything so elaborate, and I think that kind of makes it creepier.
"They drink a human being whole. They put a skin on the form of the person they drank from, pretend to be that person, and live in a different form."
While I've seen a lot of snake people, snake-headed people and people-headed snakes, I think this is the first time I've seen a fat, bulbous, sluglike snake with a snake-eyed human head for a rear end, or I guess it's kind of like a big wrinkly head with a snake face for a "hair bun?" But then it's the human mouth that has the forked tongue. It's just a really novel visual!
"It is said that she is longing to get out of the ditch and live as a human being in a brighter world."
THE RAT LADY
Sounds like the yokai form of someone who lives in such squalor she just felt like a rat. The design is a lot stranger than a mere rat person, though...she's got a face between rodent and human, sure, but the rest of her is just an egg-shaped mass with little arms? No legs or even tail?
"He invites women to join him with his eyes, nose, and mouth, just like the ideal that women talk about. They don't know that there is nothing else...."
So we have a three-heded figure, one hed missing a nose, one missing its eyes and one missing its mouth. I guess maybe it's some kind of cliche in Japan for women to talk about these features in a particular way?
"It bites into your fingers, replaces all of your bodily fluids, and takes over your body. The replaced ex-human is waiting for the next body, he says."
Fascinating concept here, possessing someone by "replacing their bodily fluids," and even in the human body, it's waiting for another? This doesn't appear to be a "ring" though. Just a yellow sphere with eyeballs and a nasty little round mouth. It makes me think of pac-man, except pac-man has a relatively large mouth suited for his niche as an active predator, while this subspecies has a smaller set of jaws more suited to its parasitic existence.
"They are watching from overhead, eating people they like, turning them into meat, and continuing to fly."
I, too, turn things into meat by eating them, but it has yet to help me sustain lift as far as I'm aware.
A really fun, really frightening idea for an aerial monster with the outline of an airplane, and its design is one of the creepiest things here. Definitely airplane shaped, yes, but unavoidably very phallic, and the huge face dominating its underside is made all the scarier by its expression of mindless bliss...like it truly loves to be flying, so long as it keeps refueling.
"I stand in the street and invite you to enter the world of Ashira. "No, no, no, no, no! And they say, "Ika naiyo, Ika naiyo" to help you...."
Another "takes you to the afterlife" yokai. I don't know what "OIDEOIDE" means in this translation but I've always liked yokai and ghosts based on these kinds of simplified street signs; it's a trope I've only really seen in Japanese media, I guess because they have a lot more signs in this style.
"When he falls, bad things happen to the person who was in the direction of his head. No matter how many times you wake him up, he says he will only fall towards that person."
A SPILL THAT DOESN'T GET UP
I don't know what this object is, personally, but I like the fae a lot. It looks from a distance like it has a frown, a pair of eyes and a pair of eyebrows, but all five features are the same slitted, black eyes with luminous pupils!
"A human-made flesh bug. It can be seen rolling around in a spherical shape and wandering around in search of new meat."
I don't think I've ever seen a monster with a design like this! It's like a big caterpillar or isopod of fused humans, but their heads dangle down between the limbs, and their legs are backwards. It's as if they're all bend over and their asses fused into the bug segments. outlandishly UNPLEASANT.
"They say that there are jellyfish in the sea that have the same pattern as your face. If you look at that jellyfish...."
This art is just a creepy baby face photoshopped onto a grey disk? You can do better than that! It's eerie, but "human jellyfish" calls something a little cooler to mind. I guess overall I still like it, and its ominous description.
"Their bodies are constantly melting, so they live off of body parts from humans."
Nice one! Melting clearly isn't the only thing messed up about her. She has no nose, slitted red eyes on the sides of her head, her elbows bend funny and her fingers are all the wrong sizes. She appears in an episode as a spirit or monster inhabiting a bath house!
"They live by luring and feeding on children with songs, but really they love children, they cry tears of sorrow, and they melt with salt."
THE SLUG THAT SINGS
The thought of something that preys on human children and sincerely cries about it is utterly, utterly horrific, but is it made more or less disturbing by also having the face of a cute, droopy, googly-eyed gastropod? I love that the rest of it is just a humanoid in a nice suit, and that it even has slick black hair halfway down the slug-head. Yeah, I think I'm going to say "more disturbing" for what a silly critter it is.
This was also, actually, the 21st monster in the gallery, but as a personal favorite I've bumped it up to spot #30 for the ending of part one!
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