As the sun sets, a mysterious man comes to town. The children all gather round to hear his sinister tales based on Japanese urban legends. Along with his demented narration, he uses a kamishibai, a traditional paper-scrolling device, to add in visuals.
While the simple “paper dolls” animation takes some getting used to, right from the very first tale, you are in for a chilling ride with Yamishibai. Enjoyed the short scary stories that this anime told? Here are some anime recommendations can bring the same creepiness.
For Fans of Simple Paper Dolls Animation
What if someone was observing us through all our cameras and digital devices? What if they used this everywhere access for sinister means? That is the question Kowabon asks people in this digital age where people can’t go minutes without looking at their phone.
Essentially Kowabon and Yamishibai are the same show, they just have slightly different subject matter. Both are short format with a similar art style, but Yamishibai has just slightly better animation and a wide array of tales. Kowabon is more about Digital Age stories, but both feature some pretty effective jump scares.
Mysterious monsters appear and attack people, and not everyone is lucky enough to survive. Sousuke Banba is a scientist that seeks the truth of where these monsters come from and why they attack.
Directed by the same guy, you can find a lot of similarities between these two series. However, Kagewani is more of a monster of the week sort of show and is occasionally not as scary as it is scientific.
Middle schooler Rei Kigata does not believe in the paranormal, but one day, at midnight, a mysterious newspaper arrives in his room called the “Horror News”. The newspaper predicts violent, deadly, and eerie events that will happen the next day.
Both Yamishibai and Horror News are short story-like series that feature a new story each episode. They both have simplistic art, but Horror News is more chronological while Yamishibai is just random tales.
For Fans of Horror Through Folklore
Called the “Medicine Seller,” a mysterious man travels across feudal Japan not selling medicine, but slaying malevolent spirits called mononoke.
If you like Yamishibai, but like your anime with longer episodes, Mononoke can help to fill the void. It is essentially an episodic series about a guy that deals with ghosts and other supernatural things. However, while deeply steeped in Japanese legends, it is not quite as scary.
Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror
Ayakashi features three classic Japanese horror stories: The story of the betrayed wife and her quest for vengeance, the story of a forbidden love between human and goddess, and the story of a cat monster with a grudge against a particular family.
Like Mononoke above, Ayakashi is an excellent follow up to Yamishibai, especially if you crave long episodes. Ayakashi only features three stories, but they are spread across several episodes, allowing them enough time to fully get fleshed out.
Requiem from the Darkness
Tired of writing riddles for children, Tamaoka Momosuke decides to gather spooky and gruesome stories to publish them in an anthology called the One Hundred Tales. In his research for myths and legends, he happens across three detectives that reveal the truth behind the legend, bringing those who have done wrong to justice.
Unlike Yamishibai, Requiem from the Darkness doesn’t do many modern horror tales, but rather features folklore from the feudal period. Although the art style is older, it is also without the experimental art style that put so many people off Yamishibai.
For Fans of Atmospheric Horror
It is said that those who hold a powerful grudge can access a particular website at midnight. By entering a name here, that person can be ferried straight to hell. This is the tale of Ai Enma, the Hell Girl that carries out those orders.
Each episode of Hell Girl is a different horror tale telling the problems of the various characters, like Yamishibai. This is most likely the series you will enjoy the most as a follow up as it is beautifully animated as well as creepy, but the episodes are long enough to let the characters be explored more.
Umineko: When They Cry
Rokkenjima is an island owned by the wealthy Ushiromiya family. As is the custom, once a year the family gathers on the island to discuss financial matters. However, this year, because of the poor health of the family’s head, they are to discuss a successor. Things go south as soon as a violent typhoon hits the island, trapping them there, but things turn dire when a string of mysterious murders begin.
As the third installment of the “When They Cry” series, you can expect Umineko to bring the gore as well as to creep you right the hell out with its characters. Unlike Yamishibai, the story is told in several different arcs. So if you want a solid, singular horror story that you can really get into, this is it.
Taiyama Mai likes to exchange ghost stories with her friends at school, and one day she goes to the abandoned building on campus to do so. While over there telling stories, they are interrupted by Shibuya Kazuya, presidents of the Shibuya Psychic Research Company, a man who investigates ghosts. After accidentally breaking his expensive camera, Mai is forced to become his assistant.
Although occasionally more romance-oriented, Ghost Hunt tells similar ghost stories like Yamishibai, but in a more PG sort of way. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be creepy if it wants to, but you shouldn’t get your hopes up if you are a real horror junkie.
Have your own recommendations for anime series like Yamishibai? Tell us about it in the comments section below.