By lydia in anime, horror, podcast, ReAnimeTion
Hey there. This is the counterpart to my podcast segment, ReAnimeTion on the Dead As Hell horror podcast. Today we are going to talk about Corpse Party. Not party as in the spring break party in Piranha 3D with boobs and booze, but party like a group of people. Like the Donner Party, maybe. With maybe just a little boobs anyway.
This is a popular video game that I have not played since I have not had access to a PlayStation for, like, ever. I’m an Xbox girl, and I don’t game on a PC either – I write on a PC and layout magazines on a MAC. If I spent another minute at a computer I’d probably fucking die. Honestly. So yeah. Maybe someday I’ll play it because I absolutely LOVE this show.
Listen to this segment on soundcloud
This anime is a year old now, having come out in summer of 2013. It is short, at only 4 installments of 30 minutes each, making it easy to watch in one sitting as a film in four acts. In fact, It would be a lot easier to follow without any sort of gap from one episode to another.
Corpse Party is put out by Asread who have not done a load of work. They did create the 11 minute short, “Corpse Party: Missing Footage” in 2012, and most of their titles are light hearted series with the exception of “The Enchained Spirtual Beast Ga-Rei” which is a supernatural drama I hadn’t heard of, but now want to check out.
Before I get into the particular episodes and paw through the guts of this anime, there is a little news.
The Japanese Government has appealed to fans with a viral ‘Arigato’ video. While I strongly agree that all creators need to be compensated I also know through my own experience that many fans first dose of anime or manga comes in the form of pirated goods. Mine was a bunch of bootleg VHS tapes traded among friends. Not so much with manga, and high-fives to the public library systems that carry such amazing selections now, but the internet… damn you internet. Peer sharing makes it so easy that people don’t bother looking for legitimate sources of anime. So many don’t even know how inexpensive it really is to pay a subscription service if you can’t afford DVDs. Personally, I don’t collect plastic. I prefer a subscription service. But hey, If you really like a series, pay the artists however you can.
Also, in horror gaming news, Silent Hills. But, you already knew that.
Corpse Party: Tortured Souls. This starts in just the way I like my horror to start. A ghost story with a little superstition. Eight high school students are in an academy classroom telling a ghost story. Years ago, several children were murdered at the Heavenly Host Elementary school on those very grounds. Even before that, a teacher died in an accidental fall and the principal committed suicide! Telling ghost stories like this at school is apparently tradition in Japan, and while most stories are myth or superstition based, these kids in this story have a lot of material to work with considering the grim history of the building they are in. There are nine of them, including a teacher and one younger sister. One of the girls, Shinozaki, is transferring and moving away. The nine of them finish telling stories then decide to chant a charm that Shinozaki found researching the murders. The charm is meant to seal their friendship, but instead it traps them in a parallel dimension populated by the ghosts of dead children doomed to re-enact the day they died. Surrounded by killer ghosts, and driven half-insane, not all of these students make it out alive. Sounds Fun.
You can really feel the video game story line in the latter half of the series. The first two episodes are really a great atmospheric gorefest with guts spilling, torsos splattering, literal buckets of blood and guts. While all of these things persist through the last two episodes, there are more quest type plot devices that make me just want to play the game instead of doing what feels like watching someone else play it for me. If I hadn’t known this was a game, I’d just be wishing that it was. Not that this is necessarily bad, just distracting. I had the same feeling watching Uwe Boll’s Rampage and The Raid: Redemption.
So, within the first episode, you have hauntings, boob groping, entity-like sexual assault, maggot-ridden corpses, puking, a very heart-wrenching suicide, panty shots, and people just generally losing their shit. And most of this occurs between two of my favourite characters, Naomi and Seiko. Another character I hate to love is Morishege. Since I have been accused of spending too much time on my own cell phone, and have taken photos of road kill on many occasions, I have a special affinity with Morishege who basically does just that… but the road kill are his friends?! Tsk tsk tsk.
The third episode revisits the kind of relentless gore you see in the first episode, and takes it to a new level. By the time you get into the fourth act, most of your favourite people are dead. It all moves really fast with no time for deep character development, which is a shame, because the nine core students are all very different. Then you have the ghosts. There are a few student ghosts around their age, then the preschool ghosts, and a few others. Their stories are told just enough to keep the story rolling, but could have been fleshed out so much better with just a little more time.
Some of the scariest parts are when anyone is being advanced upon by the ghosts of the preschool children. If you back a mangy squirrel into a corner, make it three feet high and tape knives to its paws, teach it to say creepy shit, then turn the lights out—that’s how I feel about these kids. They are dangerous.
Corpse Party really has something for every horror fan, without being too watered down at all. If you like a dramatic mystery, it’s here. A wall to wall splatter-fest of guts and carnage. Yup. Moody and thought provoking psychological terror? For certain. Occult and paranormal manifestations in a very active site? Off the charts!
I really enjoyed the flashback stories as they were approached slightly differently each time. Weather it was a story, possession, a vision, they did a different technique to keep the pace consistent and interesting as there is a lot of back story to cover. Even if only half of the story gets to you, by the time the remaining survivors are rallying to leave, you are a little wrung out. By the time it’s wrapping up, you feel pretty hopeless that anything good could happen. It’s very dark. Very bleak. And after all the death and madness you have just witnessed… well, the end left me staring at the screen for a good five minutes digesting what I’d just watched. I haven’t been that stunned watching a horror movie in a hell of a long time. The last one was likely Descent or Alyce Kills.
The colours, sound and voice acting are all very muted, warm and realistic. No real exaggerated gestures or colours, save a few kills and some of the gore. A nice blend of Hostel and Grave Encounters in story and tone, if you can picture that.
Now, the reason we all watch horror anime is the theme music, right? Well, it sounds like the theme to a Korean soap opera. Not memorable, but then, at only four episodes, you don’t run the risk of having it stuck in your head. This story does not rely heavily on sound or very splashy gore to set the atmosphere.
What works here is the fact that all the students were just about to bind themselves as friends forever are then get split up. They basically remain that way no matter how hard they search for one another. It’s tense, having them walking through those halls when within the first few minutes in the haunted school, you know what sort of fiends are around every corner. Also, the prospect that they could all be driven mad with each minute they spend in there. Even if they avoided all the ghosts, they would end up no better themselves given time.
I give Corpse Party 3 and 3/4 black stars out of four, since I wish it were longer by even just one episode. You can buy a region-free DVD on ebay, as they seem to be the same ones on the import sites for about 15 dollars. If you want a guaranteed purchase, ask if your local comic book shop can order it in for you. This title doesn’t appear to be available on-demand at the moment.
Next, I want to talk about Wallflower, which is an old favourite. While it isn’t horror proper, it explores horror fans from the outside, and is a highly entertaining anime. I’m still watching Tokyo Ghoul, have gotten a few episodes into Attack on Titan, and will start in on Elfen Lied soon.
The Demon Owen Garth asked if I considered Wicked City a horror anime since I mentioned it in brief last episode. I must say that yes, I do consider Wicked City a horror anime. The amount of very terrifying rape scenes notwithstanding, there are demons, spider women and tentacles galore, so I can’t think of another genre it rightly belongs in.
If there is anything you think I should be watching, let me know on twitter @typicallydia or tumblr, YouTube, wherever you hang out online. Leave a comment on the site at deadashellhp.com. This has been Re:Animation on the Dead As Hell Horror Podcast.