The 2021 Netflix animated show ‘Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan’ is about a Japanese Manga artist who experiences bizarre supernatural events and then turns them into stories. The first season only has four episodes which are about 24 minutes long. Each episode starts with Rohan sitting outside a cafe and recalling a paranormal story to a friend or colleague.
Right from the first episode, I wasn’t a fan of the kind of artwork used in this show. While the makers use bright colors, the art isvery exaggerated and creepy, which was perhaps deliberate because of the horror theme; but the characters have these unsettling large eyes that make them look like they are already dead. Some of the living characters in this series appear to be creepier than the demons.
What greatly works in the favor of the show is the fact that each episode is a ‘oneshot’, the Japanese term for standalone stories. So washing Kishibe Rohan is like watching four-short films. The first episode titled ‘At A Confessional’ is about how Rohan overhears a damning confession by a very rich man during a church visit in Venice. The story was slightly juvenile, with parody-like humor, and wasn’t very enjoyable. I almost gave up the show after the first one, but decided to resume watching the other episodes after two days. It wasn’t a bad decision because the second episode was really good. Titled ‘Mustu-kabe Hill’, the story was very classic Japanese horror manga style, with a lot of blood, gore and a twist that goes far beyond the average writer’s imagination.
The third and fourth stories were however underwhelming and uninteresting, for example the last story was about a young man who becomes an obsessive heath freak, so much so that he even steals his girlfriend’s money to pay for exclusive gym benefits. And things get a little out of hand in the end. The third one was just the weirdest and most forgettable of the lot, even though it had a bizarre moral about manners. I would recommend ‘Kishibe Rohan’ to those who have read or watched Japanese horror manga, because otherwise you might just be going ‘what the fuck’ all the time. It’s hard to rate this show, because it has 4 episodes, out of which I felt like one was great, but the other three were very disappointing. It’s all about what kind of bizarre appeals to you. The episode two was my kind of bizarre. I guess I will settle for a 5/10 for this.
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