Friday, March 5, 2010

Japanese Horror

This week I chose to read several of the short stories from the Kwaidan short stories. These stories reminded me of when I was little, I liked to collect ghost story books. My family and I would travel around on our boat during the summers, so we would visit a lot of interesting ports. I would read a lot of different ghost stories, but in all of the stories I had read none of them had this "Japanese" feel. It was really fun to read something new that had that same "ghost story" feel yet with a new traditional twist.

Mind you there stories were weird. Because they were so different from anything I was previously used to. The first story in the book of Kwaidan was the most peculiar thing I had read in a long time. I really like the idea of humans interacting with spirits or the spirit world though. In man of the Ghost stories I had previously read it was how the ghostly world was vengeful or trying to break free, oh human interactions with this unknown, menacing force. In these stories the spirits or ghosts have a mind of their own, and do things that "Traditional" ghosts would not do. I always got the impression that ghosts had a one track mind, kind of like an invisible zombie, where it had one goal (no other thoughts of feelings) and that was it. Where as the Japanese stories, though the spirits might be vengeful, they have their own agenda and have a mind of their own. Ghosts can be curious as well as helpful, also they don't have to represent past dead people, they can represent spirits as well.

I really like the Japanese stories actually, thought they are really silly, I guess for their young audience (which typical ghost stories are told too) would find them scary. And they instill life lessons just like American ghost stories do. Though because the cultures are so different I find myself being a little judgmental and skeptical of some of these lessons. Take the story of the blind man who had his ears ripped off. I presume the story is trying to tell young folks not to wonder off with ghosts? But for the majority of people they have eyes and can see, thus you would notice if the person who approaches you is ghostly fire being, or a strange person none the less. I guess it would lean more towards don't wonder off with strange people. Though having eyes to help guild you and such would be a major benefactor in this situation.

I give there Kwaidan Stories a 5/10 because for what they are intended I find them rather silly.

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