In celebration of Halloween, I’ve decided to review an OVA, Kakurenbo, a fitting psychological thriller for the mood. So, do join me for a game of hide-and-seek, will you?
Among the ruins of the city, there is a game only children can play. It is called “Otokoyo”; a game of hide-and-seek. But whenever children play this game, one by one they would disappear into the blinds of the buildings… The story begins when a boy enters the world of Otokoyo, to find his missing sister.
The story is simple enough: there is a game of Otokoyo that takes place in a desolate city, and children are spirited away. The OVA follows a kid who is searching for his sister, who supposedly disappeared in a previous game of Otokoyo. Now, I’m not going to spoil anything, since that’ll just take all the fun away for you viewers. So, instead I’ll just list the pros and cons of this good OVA.
Kakurenbo is very good at ramping up the creepy factor, as you’re thrown into this world with very little background. It slowly gets more scary over time, as you unravel the truths and follow the adventures of the children with no way of discerning their background, as they are all wearing fox masks as per the rules of Otokoyo. You get to learn enough about them within the time constraint of this OVA, and there have been some truly nice scary twists with them. Kakurenbo also borrows a bit from Japanese folklore, with some truly menacing oni (demons). There is no violence here, as it is more of a psychological thriller, so do expect some twists!
The art is certainly unique, as it is made entirely of 3D CG and cel-shaded animation. This style really fits the creepy atmosphere, and the designs of the demons are bold and exude fitting terror. The design of the city is also really nice giving a subtle steam punk style, with some extremely good use of lighting from the neon signs and fluorescent lights. As the story is simplistic, the spooky visuals and detailed animation really makes up for this shortfall. The music is pretty good at setting up the atmosphere and strikingly at the critical moments as well.
Now for the cons. This OVA is too short, around 30 minutes long. If it was longer, then it would be better at building up the suspense, since one element of horror stems from not knowing what you are up against. We see the oni right near the beginning of the OVA, and I feel that this made the show less spooky since they are seen clearly. Also, there weren’t as much characterization of the children, as they are mostly archetypes that we can identify with. The characters are decent enough, but not too great or worse.
This OVA is not downright scary, but rather creepy, so if you’re looking for a show that will scare you outright, this isn’t for you. Those who enjoy psychological mystery thrillers with a hint of Japanese folklore plus a subtle steam punk style will like this OVA, but don’t expect it to be perfect! I, for one, enjoyed this OVA very much for its nice use of visuals and mysteries. Now then, are you ready to partake in this frightful game of Otokoyo?