Tag Archives: Yami no Matsuei

Five constructive ways to improve: Corpse Party: Tortured Souls & Yami no Matsuei

It’s been a while since I did one of these. As usual, I’ll look at my most recent review and one other. In this case, the most recent review was for something terrible so the other one is going to have to be good. As usual, there will be spoilers in this. So, if you haven’t seen Yami no Matsuei and are going to want to you might not want to delve further. I guess that’s also true for Tortured Souls, but its entertainment value comes primarily from its over the top goofiness, so spoilers are less important.

Corpse Party: Tortured Souls: 

  1. Tongue-in-cheek Dialogue. Honestly, the easiest way to make Corpse Party a better series would be to transform it into a straight up parody and, given how over the top the series already is, all you’d have to do for that would be to change the dialogue to be more aware and call it a horror parody. You could have the characters draw attention to the fact that Yuka acts like she’s four and use her to make fun of the trope of having teenagers or grown ass adults act like small children. You could also have the characters draw attention to how goofy the monsters look and how stupid the whole situation is. Alternatively, you could have them continue to act like idiots, but in a way that makes it clear that it’s self-aware.

2. More Subdued Gore. Let’s say, for a moment, that you still want this series to be “horror.” The first thing to change in order to make that more effective would be the gore effects. As is, they look ridiculous and over the top. Mayu getting slammed into a wall by ghost children and turning into a puddle of mush is really damn funny. The scene where the anatomical dummy is stabbing Yuka and takes out her eye should be grotesque, but it’s so over the top that it really comes across as more absurd than anything else. A lot of the other deaths are unintentionally funny too, but those two are the most poignant examples. The gore gets so overdone that it swiftly loses any potential dramatic impact. Sometimes, less is more and this would definitely be one of those cases. Instead of focusing so much on excessive gore that looks silly, just use a more subdued, realistic level. It will come across as much more disturbing and work much more effectively for a horror piece.

3. Smarter Characters. This is another factor that really needs improved for this to work as an actual horror piece. These characters are just too stupid. Whether it’s Naomi trying to get Seiko out of a noose by pulling her legs (because that’s how you stop the noose from tightening around someone’s neck) or Yuka acting like she’s four or five instead of fourteen or Mayu sitting with the stupid looking zombie ghost children and having a nice chat, because something missing the top of its head is surely trustworthy. These characters act absurdly stupid. It doesn’t make you want to see them get through this, it makes you think that they’re too stupid to live.

4. Emphasise the Madness. I touched a bit on how the space they’re in supposedly drives you to murderous madness, but the only characters they touch on that with are Morishige and Naomi. If the series had focused less on its goofy looking monsters and more on the characters being driven slowly to madness, then it could have served to really develop them into real characters instead of caricatures of stereotypes while creating a claustrophobic atmosphere in which they really can’t trust one another because one of them could snap at any time. Base the horror on that atmosphere and that psychological trauma and you’ve got some stuff that’s actually terrifying instead of just over the top and gory.

5. Show no Monsters. This goes along with the last point and the fact that the monsters look ridiculous. Show signs of subtly done gore, some corpses strewn about and have evidence that something went down but don’t show what happened. Thereby giving you a chance to build mystery over whether there are actually monsters or whether the people killed each other. You could keep that mystery up until the survivors actually encounter Sachiko at the very end.

Yami No Matsuei:

1. The Pacing. This was, without a doubt, the biggest issue with the series. There were several plot points that got barely glanced over or don’t get explained very well.The problem is that J.C. Staff does about the best they can with the time they’ve got and the arcs they use. Honestly, the only two ways to really fix it would be to have more episodes or to skip one of the arcs and use that time to better develop the others. Frankly, I’d be prefer more episodes because I’d like to see more of this in anime form.

2. Stock Footage Attacks. Having stock footage attacks can, somewhat, work in things that are more light-hearted like magical girl works, but they really don’t work in something like Yami no Matsuei that’s more serious and has a lot of darker elements.

3. Don’t call it Horror. This is a nit-picky one, but this is really a supernatural drama. It shouldn’t have the horror label.

4. The rape flashbacks. Okay, so part of Hisoka’s backstory is that he was molested by Muraki and Muraki spends a lot of the series trying to force himself on Tsuzuki. Overall, this is handled pretty well, respectfully and with the gravity it deserves. That being said, the flashback scenes where they illustrate what Muraki did to Hisoka without actually showing it can be a bit awkward. I’m not saying that they should actually show that in detail, because they really shouldn’t, but those scenes could have definitely been handled more effectively.

5. A romance arc without the leaps. This is a pretty minor one since the romance between Tsuzuki and Hisoka is really good, but their relationship does leap a bit. And what I mean by that is that it moves forward really substantially without any real reason. I’m sure that it’s mainly because the anime skips some story arcs and those probably show their relationship’s development more completely, but it’s still a bit of an issue in the anime version.

So, those are my suggestions for how these two series could have been improved. Feel free to agree, disagree or throw in your own ideas.

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Yami No Matsuei: All the Bishounen love Tsuzuki

Yami no Matsuei is a fantasy, horror, supernatural, mystery created by Matsushita Yoko. It was published in manga form from 1996 to 2003, when it was put on hiatus for eight years, resuming in 2011 and still going. In 2000 J.C. Staff took four arcs from the manga and adapted them into a thirteen episode series. So, how does the anime hold up?

Story:

Our narrative opens with a meeting of Shinigami. There have been unusual deaths in Nagasaki in which the victim’s have been drained of blood and left with twin puncture marks on their necks. The shinigami in charge of that sector, Tsuzuki, is sent to rendezvous with his new partner, Kurosaki Hisoka, and investigate. They find out that there’s a lot going on that isn’t readily apparent and have their first encounter with the villainous Doctor Muraki, which sets the stage for their partnership going into further missions.

The only major complaint I have about the story is the pacing. I will give J.C. Staff credit for trying to cover all the important plot details of the arcs they look at while leaving room for character moments, but it doesn’t always work very well. There are several plot elements that get skimmed over or that wind up being inadequately explained or rushed through. One minor issue I had was with the “horror” classification. While there are some dark and disturbing elements to the series, it’s really not scary in the slightest. Part of it is that it has a lot of comedic moments that are kind of goofy and part of it is that the characters largely face the dark situations with courage and the conviction to solve them. There are certainly times where you worry about them, but it really doesn’t work as horror when the characters have the power ad will to reasonably be able to conquer the problem.

Those issues aside, there is a lot that the series does well. It has a strong sense of dramatic tension, with every arc having some good build up and with the antagonists being legitimately menacing. The humour is also used to great effect. It’s used to wind down from tense moments or for character moments before the action starts rising so it doesn’t clash with the tension. It also helps create a good contrast between the serious, dark content and the lighter moments. Which helps make the dark moments more intense. As opposed to a series where the characters are always needlessly angsty and it has no impact when things turn serious. The series is also good about treating its dark content with gravity and respect.

Characters:

There are some really great characters in this series. I do like that Tsuzuki is a largely happy guy since it does enhance the effect when things do go wrong and he goes through a difficult time. I also like that he does know when to be serious, particularly when someone’s life is on the line. Hisoka plays perfectly off of Tsuzuki. He’s more serious and mature but not to an extreme point. As such, the two complement one another very well. Muraki is the type of villain who is just irredeemable and infinitely hateable. Rather like Tenzen from Basilisk, but more interesting. On a side note, Tenzen and Muraki have the same voice actor. The side characters have some interesting moments as well, although they are less developed. Watari and Tatsumi are both really good characters with some great scenes. The series also does well at developing the characters who need help from the shinigami so that you do get invested in them and hope for them to get out of their situations safely.

Art:

The art is really good. The character designs are spectacular and have unique elements to them without being really outlandish. Particularly characters like Muraki and Tsuzuki who have distinctive eyes. The backgrounds have great details and there are some really strong action sequences. However, there is one issue with the action. Some of the special techniques, though they look cool, do get reused without much change. Rather like the special attacks of a magical girl anime, but in a series that’s a lot more serious.

Sound:

There are some really good performances in this. Miki Shinichiro, Brotherhood’s Roy Mustang, does a great job as Tsuzuki. Hayami Show gives a very intimidating performance as Muraki. Asano Mayumi, Wolf’s Rain’s Blue, also gives a really strong performance as Hisoka. Really, there are no weak links in the cast. The music is nice and atmospheric.

Ho-yay:

This series has quite a bit of yaoi. Some of the scenes are screwed up and disturbing, specifically the ones with Muraki. Others are really heart-warming and adorable. Mostly the ones with Tsuzuki and Hisoka. There are also some other guys who seem to have crushes on Tsuzuki. The content isn’t really graphic, but there’s certainly quite a bit. The ho-yay factor is going to be a 7/10.

Final Thoughts:

Yami no Matsuei is a really good series, in spite of a few issues. It has a strong narrative, great characters, amazing art, and good performances. If you’re a fan of supernatural drama it won’t disappoint. My final rating is going to be an 8/10. Next week, horror anime month continues with Kousetsu Hyaku Monogatari.