Tag Archive: ghost


“People don’t realize they aren’t able to choose whether or not to believe something. If they subconsciously believe something, therein lies the potential for a curse.”

Kanoe.Yuuko_.full_.1055797

The typical life of a middle school student usually consists of going to their average school, sitting through endless classes, participating in regular club activities and repeating. But what if the school wasn’t quite so average, the classes not so endless (well, maybe) and the clubs not entirely what everyone would expect?  Welcome to Seikyou Academy; a school built upon the ancient ruins of a shrine with mystery and horror strewn throughout both its abandoned and bustling halls.

Teiichi_yuuko_hold_handsWithin these very halls of the abandoned part of the school building lies the home base of the school’s small and mostly unknown paranormal investigations club – a club consisting of only a few unique members who investigate the numerous mysteries surrounding the school in hopes to uncover the truth about the greatest ghost story of all. The club members consist of Teiichi Niiya, the main protagonist and head of the club, Momoe Okinogi, an extremely enthusiastic girl always ready for the next encounter, and lastly Konoe Kirie, the remarkably less enthusiastic member. Then there is Kanoe Yuuko who just so happens to also hang around the club room and help the team explore the paranormal occurrences and find clues throughout the school. Yuuko does have at least one unique thing about her though and that is that only Niiya and Kirie can see her…oh, and she also happens to be the star character in the most famous ghost stories surrounding the academy.

These stories are said to originate from an event that happened in the old abandoned school building some 60 years ago. A story clouded in mystery involving a catastrophic epidemic and a young girl abandoned and left for dead below the new paranormal investigations club room. It is in that closed off room that Niiya first meets Yuuko and there begins their own story as they work to uncover the truth of what happened to Yuuko; because, as it turns out, Yuuko has no memory at all of the events.

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia is a supernatural anime encompassing a wide variety of genre from comedic romance to horror andtasogare otome x amnesia suspense. Yuuko may be dead, but her main persona is that of the happy, loving girl she was before her death; however, where there is light, there is shadow and darkness as well. The happiness Yuuko exudes on a daily basis is the complete opposite of the shadow who stalks the very same abandoned halls emitting negative emotions and memories – something the Yuuko everyone knows and loves, lacks.

The anime revolves around a story that has been done numerous times, yet it accomplishes it far better than many. It is a ghost love story with a darker, more tortured twist that checks nearly every emotion off the list as it goes through its 13 episodes. The beautiful art style mixes a sense of haunting dusk and gothic light and is easy to fall into its mesmerizing gaze. Additionally, the music accompaning the episodes as well as the opening and ending themes are fitting and help add to the overall atmosphere and setting.

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia, or Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, is a supernatural/love/horror/comedy that will surely catch and hold attention, though not to the point of keeping you awake for endless hours. Horror fans will surely find more intrigue later on in the show as the main mystery is deeper uncovered, yet it is an enjoyable experience throughout. Unlike Yuuko’s memories, it may just end up being something you would rather not forget.

Yuuko_tasogare

“Mysteries become dull once they’ve been solved.”

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?”

Another

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.

At times people harbor extreme fears, phobias, of things that appear completely harmless to others. Why is it that our brains were designed this way? Why were we made to experience reactions that are completely beyond our control? What sort of survival instinct is fulfilled by suffering chronic fear from things that cannot harm us? Why must even our minds lie beyond our control?

Why? What? Who? How? People have always had the desire to question things they do not understand – especially when it comes to the supernatural.  Some people easily dismiss anything mysterious, noting that there is no way it could be real and that to think so would be ridiculous. There are others who challenge what they do not understand, using science and logic to ground beliefs and superstitions to realistic proportions.  Then there are those who may not completely understand it, but accept unknown phenomenon in its own special way.

The supernatural anime Ghost Hound strives to challenge both the viewer and the characters within on things that many people do not, and in some cases do not wish, to understand. Sometimes you must face your fears head on in order to move on with your life; other times, even that may not be enough. Centering around a tragic event that played out years before, three friends are brought together as they try to mend their lives and prevent any further harm from being done.

The amygdala governs human emotions such as fear and hate; the hippocampus is the brains information processing interface. These adjacent organs are the core of the limbic system, the neuropathways that store our memories. The word limbic is derived from the Latin word ‘limbus’ or border. In the past it referred to the frontier between one world and the next, between the hidden realm and the visible realm.

The show itself moves at a fairly slow pace, especially when it comes to the main story; however, if you are even slightly intrigued by neuroscience or the preternatural than this show might be worth giving a shot. One of the first things discovered is that we all live in something called the physical or visible realm; however, overlapping this realm and often unseen lies the hidden realm – a place where spirits dwell and inhabit. There are certain people who know of both these realms and even those that can travel in between them via something called soul traveling (a form very similar to astral projection). In addition to that transcendental skill, the show encompasses a young shrine maiden who is possessed by the gods, an old abandoned dam and hospital where spirit forms culminate, an ancient religious sect revival, kidnapping, suicide, spiritual transformation, psychological study and scientific experimentation gone awry.

Ghost Hound ranges 22 episodes with much of the show simply introducing viewers to a variety of clues and slowly leaking information throughout the remainder of the episodes.  The characters are likeable enough with their own unique quirks and personalities; although aside from each character making some stride of progress towards their own personal growth, they are not too deep or complicated. One of my favorite aspects of the show actually occurs after the credits of each episode. While previewing the next episode, interesting facts and knowledge, each somewhat pertaining to the episode, are given – oftentimes incorporating real life case studies and situations that have taken place over the years.

Memento Mori – a Latin phrase meaning ‘remember that you shall die’. Even without this admonition, human beings cannot live without contemplating death. Regardless of ones beliefs regarding the afterlife, the pain of losing a loved one is undoubtedly universal to people of all religions and creeds. Memento Mori, even unspoken, perhaps this is one of the few concepts common to all of mankind.

This is probably a show that can just as easily be watched as not. Personally, I liked it well enough but I also know it is probably not going to make the top list of shows I tell my friends they have to watch. Loving the mysterious and supernatural already, I was more than intrigued by the plethora of enigmatic facts the show provided but the slow pace of the story itself often left me with a feeling of nonchalance by the end of each episode (in other words, I wasn’t going “WHAT!? No way that just happened! *plays next episode immediately*). So, tldr; if you find yourself with an unquenchable desire for the paranormal keep this one in mind, if not, it’s probably not going to be a huge loss if you pass it up.

Here are some additional fun facts: ^^

It is said that with proper training humans can learn to control the flow of their dreams. However, neuro-scientist Francis Crick asserted that dreams were meaningless. He maintained that dreams merely exist to dispose of needless trivia accumulated in the cerebrum. According to Crick, they are nothing more than a 40 hertz signal causing a sympathetic reaction in the brain. Dreams – their form and their world: the hidden realm.

Over the years doctors have devised many different techniques to treat patients suffering from psychological trauma. One approach has the patient move their eyes while recounting their traumatic experiences. With the use of bilateral brain stimulation, it is believed the patient can more fully process their traumatic experiences thus reducing their distress. But what is it that the patient truly sees while his eyes are at work? What secrets lie behind the therapist’s finger?

A Canadian neurosurgeon named Wilder Penfield succeeded in producing the sensation of an out of body experience by using electrodes to stimulate the cerebral neocortex of his patients. Although Penfield made remarkable advances in the localization of brain functions, he never relinquished his belief in Cartesian Dualism, which asserted that the mind and body were two separate entities; even when dealing with the brain.

In 1923, a French woman known only as Madame M reported that a secret organization in Paris was imprisoning a large number of people and replacing them with imposters. She also claimed that many people in her personal life had been replaced as well including her husband and eventually the very police she complained to. Today, this delusional mis-identification syndrome is known as Capgras Syndrome, after the doctor that documented the case.

In 2003, a group led by Richard Wiseman performed an experiment during a concert in an old music hall in London. During the show they exposed the audience to ultra low frequency sound played through a seven meter long pipe. They found that 22% of the audience reported experiencing unusual sensations. Wiseman theorizes that reports of encounters with ghosts are actually caused by exposure to low frequency sounds.



Fatal

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

Ba-dum.

Ba-dum.

Ba-dum.

Ba-dum.

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.

Ba-dum.

Ba-DUM.

BA-DUM.

‘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.