Written by Jonathan Wojcik
MORE YO-KAI WATCH: SHADOWSIDE YO-KAIIt's been most of three whole months since our first Shadowside article, and I still find the TV series less consistently entertaining than the original, but the Yo-kai themselves just keep on being great. So great, that even five or six of them feel article-worthy.
...But Shadow Noko is actually formed entirely from thousands of tiny eyeball-clover snakes, and can of course re-release swarms of them as an attack. Anything touched by these creatures receives a four-petaled red mark, and anything bearing the mark is cursed with incredibly bad luck!
Light side Tsuchinoko is a rather different design from the floppy, dopey one of the past, and I'm inclined to find the old one even cuter, but this is definitely really cute, and I'm glad such a cute little monster is snake-based. It's almost as cute as an actual snake!
The Light Side form of this new Hanako is if anything even spookier, really looking like a tiny porcelain doll. Is that just for the sake of looking cooler, or is that a joke on the fact that toilets are porcelain?!
For some reason this Hanako likes to play an anthropomorphic flower mascot at a carnival, but becomes distraight and takes on her shadow form when human children spurn her "creepy" flower character for a newer, cuter mascot.
In the end, the kids help rekindle the original mascot's popularity...by terrorizing innocent families with their other Yo-kai and giving Hanako the chance to play hero.
It seems as though the Shadow Side team felt similarly, on all points, because the new Komajiro ISN'T even a dog.
...He's a FROG! A frog that Komasan actually thought of as his brother back when he was a real, living dog, before the both of them were crushed to death by a broken statue. Komasan awoke again as a yokai almost immediately, but his tiny adoptive brother took much, much longer to reincarnate.
Komajiro's design not only captures what made the dogs so cute, but makes way more sense now as an amphibian than a canine, and curiously now has the mannerisms of his brother from the original show. Together, I think I now actually like the concept of Komasan and Komajiro overall better this way.
In a surprising and really funny twist, however, the "real" Leon isn't actually a medical-themed Yo-kai at all. He used to be a human television actor. He hated the fact that he was stuck in a villainous role, and believed that fans and co-stars alike were only creeped out by him. After falling to his death during a shoot, he reincarnated as a chameleon doppelganger whose shadow form is based on the same evil doctor he used to play on TV!
A "Sebastian" already existed in Yo-kai watch as a fancy butler known for making Whisper look incompetent (which he is) but Shadow Side's equivalent is oddly themed around a lady secretary, and specifically references the real-life digital assistant, Siri. Sebas-chan manifests as a mysterious cell phone app that can allegedly fulfill any possible request...but does so by possessing the victim and taking their words far too literally.
In Shadow mode, Sebas-chan wears a military-style outfit and attacks with a whip, which are characteristics you're more likely to see in a more traditionally "sexy" villainess, but instead we get a big badass purple ghost woman with jagged teeth!
Light Side mode is basically what you expect from a less monstrous version of the same character, and easily up there with all the cutest human-like Yo-kai. She's perfect both ways!
SHADOW SIDE UNCHIKUMA
If you don't know who Unchikuma is, he's a hilariously dreadful little teddy bear you can re-familiarize yourself with here, but all you basically need to know is that his name is a multi-layered pun that can be read as both "trivia demon" and "shit bear." His English name wound up being Poofessor, and they only get away with all his fecal humor by coloring the stuff a bright blue.
So, yeah, that's what's dripping and splashing all over this giant, horrible bear who could ONLY have been any more horrible if his tongue was always hanging out, which it is.
Light side Unchikuma is pretty much the same character he always was, now just a bit bigger and more realistically proportioned.
It's actually one of the creepiest episodes in the series, thus far; anyone who watches the movie sees themselves as characters on-screen, and as those characters are eaten alive by the alien fish, the victim's very souls are absorbed and imprisoned in the footage, while their real bodies are taken over by an unknown entity who uses them to lure even more victims!
That entity turns out to be Eigalien, a film reel crossed with a xenomorph whose name combined "alien" with "eiga" (movie.) Anyone who gazes into Eigalien's flashing projector arms is subjected to their greatest possible fears over and over, which are in turn played as horror movies on Eigalien's ghostly theater screen!
What Eagalien puts people through seems like a pretty traumatizing ordeal, but that doesn't stop this Yo-kai from having the light side form and tragic back story of any other in the series:
This adorable roll of spooky celluloid with alien arms and legs is Filmlin, from "Film" and "Gremlin," and actually a tsukumogami - an inanimate object Yo-kai - of the horror movie itself. Its director thought it would be his biggest break yet, and his whole life was banking on its success...but it turned out to be so gruesome, gory and sadistic that audiences hated it, his career was ruined, and the only copy of the film was trashed forever.
Reincarnating as a Yo-kai, all Filmlin now wants is for somebody, anybody, to finally watch him through to the end and finally appreciate his creator's artistic genius.
How fabulous is everything about this? An entire monster movie as a Yo-kai with fear-based powers and a Giger-inspired design?! It just wants you to watch it?! This concept is PERFECTION, and whereas any other anime I can think of might have cast this creature as a villain to be destroyed, this manifestation of pure horror is just another misunderstood sweetheart.
The kids even agree to sit down with all of their Yo-kai friends to give Filmlin a watch, certain that they'll make it through together...but sadly, even his fellow ghosts and goblins run out of the room screaming.
All that's left is one little girl, Ayame Himeno, who loved the entire thing beginning to end and earns the crest to summon Filmlin whenever she needs him.
There may be a reason why only Ayame could bear the supposedly unbearable horror, but it's only been hinted at in the new series intro sequence...
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