Sunday, August 26

JDrama Review:
100 Tales of Horror

candles for the game
1, 2, 3... shall we start?

By the way, no. It's not a hundred-episode drama. Don't want to tempt fate and actually invoke a spirit at the hundredth now, do we? I'm not sure I want to see a Sadako-like creature crawling out my screen.

100 Tales of Horror Poster
100 Tales of Horror
Kaidan Hyaku Monogatari 
Broadcast: 2002, Tuesdays, Aug-13 to Dec-03
Network: Fuji TV
Kawake Shunsaku
Hayashi Toru
Kobayashi Kazuhiro
Tsuruta Norio
Tajima Daisuke
Rating: 4 hearts

Period drama = samurai, geta, andon and no-wind-can-ruin-my-hair. Those plus a touch of eeriness and I'm sold.

Kaidan Hyaku Monogatari is a collection of some of the most popular “ghost tales” from Japan. The title is from a popular game where people take turns telling supernatural stories and extinguishing a candle after each. As the room gets darker and darker, the atmosphere becomes more inviting for spirits to join in. It is believed that after the last candle is put-out, spirits present will be seen if they are willing. That's putting it mildly considering some say ancient samurai loved using the game as a test of courage. *smirk*

The 11 stories feature a central character played by Naoto Takenaka, who I found absolutely commendable. He can really act the part of Dosan, an onmyouji. He, together with his daughter and, in some episodes, his disciple Jinta, finds himself involved or a witness in the stories.
Dosan Ashiya Onmyouji Kaidan Hyaku Monogatari
Though the tales are popular, the re-telling here put some very nice twists. Some became more cruel, some became more sentimental. I found them more endearing than most adaptations.  

Rolling-in my list of stuff that captured my attention... I'll assume the stories are already familiar so the following shouldn't really be considered spoilers. I think.

Hell is Waiting (or at least a soul-shredder)

Ugetsu Monogatari Shotaro
Shotaro in Ugetsu Monogatari
My main problem with him is nobody forced him to marry Isora AND to swear to heavens he'll take care of her forever, but he did both...and then he replaced her with another woman. After all her sacrifices, he left because he accuses Isora of faking her kindness and making his lover leave, without telling him. Yeah,she should've made a letter to what she did. Pssh. There are major differences here compared to the other versions of Pot at Kibitsu I've read before and one of those is that they made Shotaro more relatable with his struggle between doing good and doing what makes him a jerk, I mean happy. As much as I value fidelity, I rarely hate a person for deciding to leave. Here, I hated Shotaro. I didn't understand how his weakness overtook him when his wife is portrayed loving and kind..even to his mistress.

Yotsuya Kaidan Iemon
Iemon in Yotsuya Kaidan
Again, a whole slew of differences. I hated Iemon in other adaptations because he left Oiwa on account that her face became deformed. Here, I hated him because he had the nerve to throw in Oiwa's face that their marriage was a mistake because he thought he'd live an easy life married to a samurai's daughter. He was unrepentant and unembarrassed when Oiwa found him in their home with his new wife. Well, at least he fulfilled his promise to Oiwa to avenge her father's death by killing the murderer... *wink*

Kaidan Genji MonogatariGenji in Kaidan Genji Monogatari
He's already an established fictional playboy, I know. Still I hated him when he said he's simply living how the society expects him to live. You can't take special care of a harem, then you shouldn't have one.  

Ubasuteyama Rin

Rin in Ubasuteyama
I'm not sure if they very loosely-based this Ubasuteyama in The Ballad of Narayama (that is also based on a alleged custom of abandoning old folks in mountains, Ubasute) . There's really no carnality but it's my only explanation how Takichi ended-up with Rin. I just hate those who can be especially mean to old people. And can nag like her.

Far from friendly

Ugetsu Monogatari Isora
Isora in Ugetsu Monogatari
I initially hated her because she was too giving and dedicated to the point of being creepy. Her submission to her husband was too unreal for me. Then again I don't know much about their era. But when she confronted the mistress, I began to like her. I happily noted that she can be smart. She was again fooled by her husband and what she did next was the second best path for me (I'm not a fan of suicide). I loved how she sought revenge. Though I loved her, I never want to see something like her or be haunted the way she haunted Shotaro.   

I can't even...

The Taira clan in Miminashi Hoichi
Samurai Taira Clan Princess Miminashi Hoichi

While I almost pitied Shotaro's plight, Hoichi's encounter here is the one that made me imagine a lot of scary things peeking through my windows. Scare-fest in numbers. Let's not get into details of what the princess looked like. I needed to hide myself under my blanket, despite the humid, just to try shutting-out the images.

Tried to understand
Banchosara Yashiki

Banchosara Yashiki
Two suicides, none that showed strength. I don't know... this was really cruel for me. The changes made the maid more sacrificial and yet weak and the master more loving yet even more helpless. I should've liked the story because it is romance. But no, I didn't.

Welcome Roommate

Hoichi - Miminashi Hoichi
Hoichi in Miminashi Hoichi 

I understood his actions and I can forgive his impulses. I'd probably react the same way he did under the same circumstances, minus the self-blame. Regret for killing, yes. Regret for choosing to live and saying it is cowardice, no.

Yuki onna Oyuki
Yuki in Yuki-Onna

Uhm. A demon wanting to be human so she could love and be happy.. what can be more beautiful?

Ojousama Botan doroThe Ojousama in Peony Lanterns  

Sorry, I couldn't catch her name. I can hear Otsuya (and it is the supposed name) but I can't be too sure. She's hard not to like even though she almost killed Shinzaburo. She wanted to stop waiting so she went to see him... but when she realized she was hurting (fine, slowly killing) her beloved, she backed-off. There's something about her knowing which sacrifices to make.

Heart Tugs

It was the most beautifully told story in the series. I had to pause for some reflection after watching it.

Yuki Onna
Yuki Onna

I should mention I'm partial to anything that's related to yuki onna. I love how beautiful and terrifying they can be. The ending in this episode left me wanting for something happier but still satisfied with its bittersweet turn.

Kaidan Hyaku Monogatari is a beautiful collection of popular ghost (or strange) stories worthy to be watched, especially if you're a fan of ancient folktales or urban legends. You might even find yourself reading some other tales just for passing time. Start with this and you'll want to look for the rest that'll fill the hundred. The Japanese lore of kaidan is a very fascinating realm.  

Story 01: 四谷怪談 / Yotsuya Kaidan / A Ghost Tale of Yotsuya
Story 02: 雪女 / Yuki Onna / Snow Woman
Story 03: うば捨て山 / Ubasuteyama / Old Women Throwing Mountain
Story 04: 番町皿屋敷 / Banchosara Yashiki / A Ghost Tale of Broken Dishes at Bancho Mansion
Story 05: 耳なし芳一 / Miminashi Hoichi / Hoichi the Earless
Story 06: 狼男 / Werewolf
Story 07: かぐや姫 / Kaguya Hime / Princess Kaguya
Story 08: 雨月物語 / Ugetsu Monogatari / A Tale of Moonlight After the Rain
Story 09: ゴースト / Ghost
Story 10: 怪談源氏物語 / Kaidan Genji Monogatari / A Ghost Tale of Genji
Story 11: 牡丹燈籠 / The Peony Lanterns

Yotsuya Kaidan, Yuki Onna, Ubasetayama, Banchosar Yashiki
Miminashi Hoichi, Werewolf, Kaguya Hime, Ugetsu Monogatari
Ghost, Kaidan Genji Monogatari, Botan Doro

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