Tag Archive: Fatal Frame

What is it that makes us fear things from the very depth of our souls?

There is just something about the Japanese style of horror that leaves a lasting, and sometimes scarring, impression on people. A psychological brand of horror where oftentimes it is what you don’t see, rather than what you do, that you should fear the most. There certainly is no denying the terror of someone running at you with a chainsaw; but when you manifest a fear so deep and pure, it stays with you long after the fact – far beyond anxiety, past paranoia.

Although the topic of horror stretches to far out reaches, one aspect often used is through the concept of dolls. Dolls often represent a symbol of beauty and childhood; a toy played with leisurely or an elegant shelf piece adorning a young girl’s room. They are a picturesque effigy in porcelain with pristine clothes and impenetrable eyes that see everything and nothing. A human personification that stands to show us just how fragile we really are. Although there are many instances of dolls inclusion in horror and other dark genres, here are but a few marked examples:

So I think to myself: ‘Something different; a precious present for a precious person.’ The most suitable thing would be you yourself.

Black Butler

This may have been but a small arc within the anime, but it managed to stick out for me none the less. When young girls begin to disappear from the city at an alarming pace with the only evidence left behind being a small doll of their likeness in an old shop, Ciel and Sebastian begin investigating the case. It seems just like any other task from the queen, however, things become much more personal when Elizabeth falls victim as well. Locating where she is being held, they discover the whereabouts of the other missing girls…at least what is left of them.

No longer human, the girls have all been turned into reanimated dolls, following every command by the strings of their puppet master. As battle ensues and the girls fall in defeat, they do not bleed but rather sawdust, straw and other inanimate materials come apart from their seams. Their humanity left only as a memory. When they finally find Elizabeth held away in a tower, relief floods over them as they find she had not been completely transformed like the other girls. But all is not right in the world as Elizabeth mercilessly attacks Ciel, still being manipulated by invisible strings and unable to control her own actions. These episodes not only show the fragility of dolls but also the terrifying likeness to their human counterparts; or in this case, where they become one in the same.

“The dolls…dolls are hollow, you see. Completely hollow in body and soul. That void connects them with death, but hollow things seek to fill their emptiness. Don’t you feel as though this place is drawing something out of you?”


From the very beginning, the opening of this anime signifies just how beautiful yet breakable a doll can be. Broken, battered, entangled, and distraught – the dolls paint a beautiful and tragic portrait. One of the most intriguing places and scenes in this anime to me by far took place in the doll shop “‘The Hollow Eyes of Yomi at Twilight”. The setting was already mysterious, but this added another level of cryptic darkness to it all. The dolls found within are all effortlessly beautiful but what really stood out was their design and display. Some were posed specifically, some haphazardly sitting or with hanging limbs off of a shelf, and some laid out as if for a funeral viewing;  dressed in elegant attire holding a beautiful flower while others sat aside, forgotten and in disarray.

When Koichi finds his way downstairs he is startled by Mei, who emerges unseen from behind a small coffin. Mei is a character very otherworldly and doll-like in her own sense, and standing next to an almost identical looking doll gives one the feeling there is much more to it than simple coincidence. Mei explains that the beautiful doll is only a half representation of her, but says no more at that time. Even as they take in the remaining scenery and dolls of the small room, an eerie calm yet unrest settles around them. Although the dolls in this series do not cause fear directly, the imagery and ideals they represent add to an already anxious and suspense ridden storyline.

“Didn’t we always used to promise each other, that we would stay together?”

Fatal Frame

This survival horror series holds a special place in my heart and throughout every game the concept of dolls has played an integral role in some way or another. In the original game, dolls may not have been a major aspect of the story but there is one particular room of Himuro Mansion I am sure most people remember: the doll room. At the beginning of the second night, Miku awakens into a room filled with dolls. As you inspect them closer a doll’s head will roll off unexpectedly, a small puzzle must be solved, and a larger doll on a special pedestal in the back of the room is hard not to notice. This is only the beginning though as a child’s laughter soon breaks through the silence and Miku is thrown into battle with the child’s spirit.

Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly offered a much larger concept of dolls through one particular arc/area known as the doll makers residence. The basic story of this game is that in an ancient village, the townsfolk believed that to appease the gods they had to make a human sacrifice – but this sacrifice was something unlike any other. In this case it would involve identical twins, where deep underground at the mouth of Hell, one twin would kill the other and then the sacrifice would be thrown down into the pit. The remaining twin would go on living, though many would suffer extreme psychological illness and duress.

The doll maker’s two daughters were chosen for the ritual one year and after it was done the remaining twin, Akane, fell into a deep depression over the loss of her sister. Their father, torn with grief, built a life size doll of Azami and it wasn’t long after that Akane returned to her usual self – never separate from the doll. However, she became so attached to the doll that a malicious spirit took control and began to possess Akane. When her father realized what was happening he aimed to destroy the doll and the spirit within; but upon finding out about his plans, Akane, in her possessed state, killed her father in order to save the doll. Exploring this area of the game pits you against Akane and Azami at the same time, yet only one can take damage from the spirit camera. A very sad and haunting story. No matter how keen the resemblance, a doll can never replace a life.

Fatal Frame 3 also uses dolls as a means of representation and sacrifice. Wara Ningyo are a type of Japanese doll often used to represent a person or particular aspect and it is believed that a person could become cursed if a doll in their likeness is nailed to a sacred tree. In Fatal Frame, this practice was used through numerous rituals of various levels from only using a doll to transfer sin and misfortune to the other world to sacrificing an actual person through an impalement ritual in which the villagers sins would be taken with that person to the spirit realm.

Lastly, in Fatal Frame 4 a particular type of doll, called a hozuki doll, can be found throughout the game and photographed for completion of a lengthy side quest. These dolls  were made by parents who had lost a child and are generally considered to be extremely unlucky and bring disaster. Although merely used to represent the dead, the mere presence of these dolls adds to the overall feeling of dread as the player explores the island and slowly uncovers its bloodstained history.

Whether the story be one of horror, suspense or simply unnerving at times, there is no denying the effect certain elements can put into play. Dolls may not necessarily bring terror about instantly, but rather do so gradually…psychologically. Barely seeing a distinctly human-esque figure out of the corner of your eye in the darkness, knowing what meaning lies behind certain dolls, a reasoning for their presence; it isn’t that they are necessary terrifying unto themselves, but rather the thoughts and imagery that manifests within our subconscious that brings about a true horror. It is the same tactic that places us on alert in dark situations and similarly can make even the bravest of men jump at mere shadows.

Beautiful. Enchanting. Tragic. Terrifying.


Calamity – an event that brings terrible loss, lasting distress or severe affliction.

It all began 26 years ago when a terrible accident, its causes still unknown, occurred resulting in the unfortunate death of a popular honor student at Yomi North Junior High, 9th grade class 3. Distraught over the student’s death, the teacher and students continued on as if the dead student were still present; they left an open desk in class and even a seat at graduation. No one could ever explain how the dead student showed up in their graduation photo at the end of the year – a mystery that would eventually lead to malice, grief, and death.

Since then, every 9th grade class 3 has had to take special precautions to prevent the calamity from re-occuring. So long as the rules are strictly followed, the year will pass without occurrence…

However, when “another” student is added to the class or things that do not exist are tampered with, events begin to take a turn for the worst. Once the curse is activated, a student or family member will die every month of that school year until graduation. They say that the additional student is actually dead, but even they themselves do not know it and there is no physical way to tell who the extra or dead student might be. Although there are many rumors surrounding this curse, little is actually known except that it is a very real situation for those in class 3.

Transferring from Tokyo, Koichi Sakakibara is scheduled to start 9th grade at Yomi North Academy, class 3. Unfortunately, due to a lung condition, he is forced to start school a month late. Seemingly unrelated at the time, Koichi meets a strange girl with an eye patch in the hospital elevator. As the elevator finally comes to rest at the morgue, the girl gets off, pausing just long enough to answer that she is giving a doll to someone who is staying there.

The girl’s name is Mei Misaki, an enigmatic figure that doesn’t seem to be completely in touch with this world. Having spoken with Mei and a few classmates already, Koichi is soon thrown directly into the center of confusion and mistrust: no one will tell him what is going on, why people are horrifically dying, or anything involving the terrifying calamity that has begun. Everything soon rages out of control as students and family members begin to succumb to gruesome accidents and blame is thrown back and forth in anger and in fear. Nobody knows how to stop it; but if they don’t figure something out, it is uncertain who will survive to graduation…if anyone.

Another is a horror/mystery anime containing numerous elements of my hearts contentment. I somehow knew that I would enjoy this one, but then again I simply love anything within the horror category from utterly terrorizing to completely cliche. Horror, mystery, curses, strange relationships, death, violence, gore, blood, dolls and intriguing characters all make up this cruel story of unfortunate events. As the series progresses you will come to question nearly every character and their motives; never knowing who, if anyone, can really be trusted.

How far would you go to save a life?…to save your own life?

I know Another isn’t perfect, I will say this straight from the start, but I really did enjoy this one. The first few episodes set the mood and scene so well, you cannot help but begin feeling the dread and anxiety of the situation. The characters of the series also add a certain level of depth as you will not only begin to empathize with many of them, but it also enhances the overall fear and creates a more prominent impact when their lives come to such horrid ends. It is a bit slow in revealing what is actually going on, but at the same time this adds to the overall tension the series aims to create.  It is also more of a survival horror anime than a mystery series (not that I am complaining ^^), although the clues are there if you know where to look for them and can drag your eyes away from the numerous death scenes.

As for the ending, it is probably one of the most critically looked at parts of the series. It is not terribly difficult to discern where the final showdown will be taking place; but the actual climax and revelation of everything happens quite abruptly and ends with about as much flair. There are a few unforeseen aspects that add a nice touch to the overall bloodbath and chaos; and watching the students paranoia and complete collapse of sanity, even in the most sturdy of characters, truly adds to an atmosphere already filled to the brim with panic and suffering.

Despite its flaws, my love for the genre and everything it encompasses still places this anime high on my list. Another possibly unrelated note is that much of this show also reminded me of one of my favorite game series, Fatal Frame, in which I found many similar elements shared between them and perhaps also contributed to my instant attraction to this piece (“I wonder how long it’s been since my brother and I began to see things other people can’t see“, dolls, calamity, violent death…the list goes on and could probably be formed into a post all by itself).

If you are fan of this type of story then I would definitely recommend watching this. Be warned though, there is a great deal of blood, death and violence and absolutely nothing is left to the imagination. It may not be perfect, but see what you think for yourself.

After all, it’s only a fight for survival against a horrifying unseen and unstoppable force. Do you think you would make it out alive?

Death is not kind. It’s dark, black as far as you can see, and you’re all alone.

All alone…

Yes, but it’s no different when you’re alive, is it? No matter how many relationships we seem to have, we’re all alone.


…Some people will spend their lives trying to avoid making that one fatal mistake…





My heartbeat – or maybe my feet, it’s almost hard to tell anymore, as each step echoes off the hollow wooden floors with wild abandon. The intense sounds aren’t enough to keep me from my goal: to run as fast as possible towards whatever exit I can find.




‘My heart is going to beat out of my ribcage if I keep this up for much longer’.

But I can’t think about what I saw back there, I just can’t.  If I do, I will surely never make it out of here alive; and making it out of this Hellish place is all that matters anymore.

The decaying hallways never seem to end; every door I come across only seems to lead to another long expanse of hallway.  Every step creaking and complaining against my weight, hoping beyond all hope that the exit will lie just beyond that next door.  I hold my breath, sliding the old wooden door open just enough to squeeze through. Another door, another hallway – sighing I continue on.

A short flickering awakens me from a lucid daze and the horrifying reality strikes me like a brick. My flashlight, the anchor that keeps the shadow-made attackers at bay, is giving its final breaths of life – leaving me to complete and total darkness. My only saving grace now coming from the stray moonbeams peaking through small crevices otherwise unseen. Flashlight or no, I simply cannot stand around looking lost, I have to keep going!  How much farther could there be to go anyway?

Shuffling through a few more rooms and hallways I finally come across the doorway I have been so longing to find. The door that is my gateway to freedom, to safety, and to sanity.   Bounding over fallen pieces of rotted wood and debris littering the small set of stairs, I dash through a small opening created by an old broken Japanese screen. Somehow, in the short time I’d been in here someone had boarded up the door from the inside.  Three smaller boards now crisscrossed from one side to the other but upon further inspection those are not my biggest concern.  That small inconvenience is soon replaced by pure bewilderment as I stare at the large heavy beam set diagonally across everything.  A quick evaluation and it was decided: the beam would have to go first. With a burst of energy I wasn’t aware I had, I grab hold of the beam and pull with every fiber of my being.

The minutes tick by as I begin to feel my arms tire and lose their strength; my breathing far from calm and collected as ragged panic begins to completely take over.  Finally, with one final and desperate pull I feel the beam give, just a little.  Momentarily satisfied and collapsing on the floor I glare daggers at the offending piece of wood that is the only obstacle between me and sweet escape. 

There must be something amidst this mess that I can use to help wedge these boards loose. 

Looking around the only things I see are cobwebs, boarded up windows, a giant gaping hole in the floor, old Japanese screens – the list goes on.  However, anything that could have possibly once been helpful is far too aged and decrepit to serve of any use now.

Not like sitting on the floor of an old, rotted, useless room was getting me through that door any faster.

Mustering as much energy as possible I jump to my feet and prepare to attack the beam once again.  The sudden movement, however, earns me a disapproving moan from the hollow floorboards beneath my feet and to my horror I faintly here the neighboring floorboards across the room echo back in remorse.

There is only one word that could possibly describe what I felt then: bone-chilling.  It came over me as swift and strong as the first icy claws of winter, the kind of fear that grips your feet to the floor and dares you to try and move.  A sickening feeling hit me as I realized I had been lured here on purpose and they had no intention of letting me leave.  I couldn’t bear to look behind me, I didn’t need to; I knew she was there, growing steadily closer.

I had known that I would regret coming here; I knew it the first time I laid eyes on this horrid place, but that didn’t stop me.  Perhaps if I’d known I’d end up this way things would have been different, but it’s too late for that now.  Some people will spend their lives trying to avoid making that one fatal mistake, but not me…not anymore.