This whole month, I’ve been trying to watch horror anime that demonstrates the range of the medium. We’ve had emotional stories, thrillers and impossibly weird non-linear storytelling, and all of it fits into one subgenre of horror or another. One thing we’ve been missing, though, is a mind-peeling, hair-whitening, balls-through-the-wall gorefest. One of anime’s most used tools in other genres is their depiction of violence. Where’s the ultra-violent horror been? That’s when I found a haunted school story that seems to take place in a dumpster behind a butcher shop. That’s when I found Corpse Party: Tortured Souls.
WHAT IS IT?
Based on the Japanese video game, Corpse Party, Corpse Party: Tortured Souls follows a group of school children hanging out with one of their friends for the last time before they transfer schools. To solidify their bond, one of them suggests they perform a friendship charm to keep their souls connected forever. Even as far away as Japan, we have teenagers willing to fuck with the occult for a good time. Obviously, the charm goes wrong and the kids wind up in an abandoned elementary school. Well, abandoned by everything but ghosts.
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE?
One of these episodes begins with a kid getting his eyes literally gouged goo-ily out by a giggling ghost child. That’s what we’re dealing with here. These kids? Not important. The story? Paper thin. The gore? Yeah, that’s the stuff. This show is riddled with hangings, stabbings, slicings, gougings, and organs being just randomly left out everywhere. It’s the kind of magic you find in a Friday the 13th movie or a Rob Zombie flick.
It feels like a meat delivery truck accident.
The characters find their friendships tested, their sanity stretched to the breaking point, and their bloody, meaty insides often on the outside of their bodies.
At a lean four episodes, Corpse Party: Tortured Souls tells a tight story with a falling dominoes-style cause and effect reminiscent of the, “Let’s all go the woods!” slasher films of the ’80s and early 2000s. The series raises the stakes, however, by doing what would likely be taboo in a live action medium. They kill the crap out of some very young kids.
It’s shocking. But the over-the-top scare factor of the ghosts and the celebratory depictions of the violence quickly desensitize the viewer into feeling like their walking through a particularly gnarly haunted house.
HOW “ANIME” IS IT?
Eighty-five percent of this show is uniformed schoolgirls whimpering and fighting with each other in between masterfully animated set pieces of violence. Its main vehicle for scares also alludes to Japan’s rich background of charms, spells, and supernatural mysticism. It’s pretty anime for sure, but it also evokes the hair-in-front-of-face creepy girls of Japanese live action horror films like Ringu and Ju-On.
For those “I’ve seen everything” horror fans with a night to themselves, there’s nothing better than Corpse Party: Tortured Souls. It packs so much violence, lore, suspense, and tension into its four-episode run time to keep even anime skeptics and gorehounds entertained. For anime fans, it’s a blood-red jewel that’s one hundred percent worth a watch.
Would you join the Corpse Party? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
Read AniMay Week 1 here
Read AniMay Week 2 here
Read AniMay Week 3 here