Day 2: Kakurenbo (2004)
By Sam Reeve
For the second day of our Japanese Horror Month I bring you the short anime film Kakurenbo (“Hide and Seek”). The plot, in a single breath, is about a bunch of children that play Otokoyo (similar to Hide and Seek) in the forbidden city where demons roam at night. I won’t give away any more of it because the ending would be ruined.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: First off, I have to say that I generally don’t like anime and can be very picky about it. This, however, I did like. The art was probably the best thing about it. I thought it was beautifully done (the animation technique is called cel-shading, which is interesting enough to read up on), and it more than made up for any of the film’s faults. The story is good, and the tone and some of the imagery is all creepy enough to be very Halloween-appropriate. It also lacks gore or any brutal violence, so I would say it’s fine for both adults and kids to enjoy.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: The one thing I thought Kakurenbo had working against it was the length. At 25 minutes long and full of many action-oriented scenes involving the kids being chased down by demons, there really isn’t too much character build-up. It made me care a bit less about what happened to them, and since the children playing Otokoyo also must wear fox masks, they all felt mostly anonymous except for the main character Hikora, whose back story we hear a bit about.
At 25 minutes, it’s a quick thing to digest, and I recommend it for those who aren’t even really into anime. Below I’ve posted a trailer, and the last video is the full thing. If you can find a copy to torrent or watch on dvd, I suggest going that route since the Youtube copy posted here (which is what I watched) isn’t the best quality. It’s good enough though, so give it a shot.