Anime / Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales

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Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales is the less remembered anime series from which Mononoke originates. Eleven episodes long, it consists of three self-contained arcs, each with very different animation styles:

  • Tenshu Monogatari (Goddess of the Dark Tower), based on the Meiji-era Kabuki play by Kyōka Izumi. It tells the story of a forbidden love between a god and a human.
  • Yotsuya Kaidan (Yotsuya Ghost Story), an adaptation of the classic Japanese ghost story about betrayal, murder, and revenge from beyond the grave. Written by Chiaki Konaka.
  • Bake Neko (Goblin Cat), an original creation and the most famous of the arcs; it was later continued with Mononoke, featuring the Medicine Peddler as the main character. The story would appear again but in radically different form in the Spin-Off.

Not to be confused with Ayakashi Ayashi. For more tropes about the Medicine Peddler, see Mononoke.


Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales provides examples of:

  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Odajima had been nothing but an annoying hindrance to the Medicine Seller for most of Bakeneko. But while the survivors try to flee from the rampaging Bakeneko into the noble family's basement, Sato in the throes of madness tries to strangle Kayo to death. Odajima tries to save Kayo but the elderly patriarch forces the samurai to protect him or else he'll snap his neck. Out of options, Odajima desperately calls for the Medicine Seller's help and begs him to do something.
    Odajima: "I...I beg you, please! DO SOMETHING!!!
  • Animal Motifs: Every time Tamaki appears, she is always surrounded by cats. This foreshadows her involvement in the birth of the Bakeneko.
  • Art Shift: The animation in the Bakeneko arc is very different from the rest of the series.
  • Asshole Victim: Most of Oiwa's victims from Yotsuya Kaidan. And nearly everyone in Bakeneko.
  • Attempted Rape: Takuetsu (Yotsuya).
  • Blue Is Heroic: Odajima, one of the samurai retainers from Bakeneko, wears blue. He along with the family servant Kayo was revealed to be completely innocent of the aristocratic family's crimes against Tamaki and the titular Bakeneko.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Naosuke and Osode very nearly.
  • Cats Are Mean: The titular character of Bakeneko is a monstrous cat spirit bent on killing off an entire family and their servants. Though it didn't start out that way.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Tamaki from Bakeneko...as what the elderly patriarch's eldest son believed. When she died, her devotion to the elderly patriarch was such that when she died, her jealousy transformed her into a monstrous spirit as she attempted to ward off any chance of her former patron taking in another woman. Except that's not what happened at all.
  • Covert Pervert: The Medicine Peddler carries feudal-style porn (called shunga in Japan), as well as rather interesting medicines and "marriage charms". Kayo was intrigued.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Many of Oiwa's victims.
  • Dead Unicorn Trope: The author of Yotsuya Kaidan suggested, that Oiwa's curse may have been generated not by a real event, but by the people taking the story serious, being afraid and perpetuating the curse with their fear.
  • Deranged Animation: Oiwa's curse results in a couple strange sequences. The "Bakeneko" short takes it Up to Eleven by being made of this trope.
  • Driven to Suicide: Several characters from Yotsuya Kaidan, including Osode, Naosuke, and Genshiro. Oiwa's death may have been this or accidental.
  • Due to the Dead: At the end the "Bakeneko" short Kayo and Odajima (the family maid and samurai retainer, respectively) make a small burial shrine for the Bakeneko next to the well where Tamaki's body was discarded to reunite it with its friend as a way to apologize for the atrocities their family committed against them.
  • Duel to the Death: Between Iemon and Yomoshichi, whom the revenge quest was passed on to by Naosuke.
  • Fan Disservice: Tamaki, a very attractive woman, is naked in most of her appearances. Her body is covered in horrible bruises and she's repeatedly raped and beaten.
  • Flashback: How Tamaki's story is told.
  • The Forty Seven Ronin: "Chushingura" is mentioned in Yotsuya; the samurai characters were involved.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • For those who are familiar with the original story of Yotsuya Kaidan should know what happened already. for those who don't... Oiwa turned from a devoted wife to an extremely vengeful spirit after she discovered that her own husband and several other people were involved in a plot to poison her, causing her to commit suicide. She spends the rest of her arc horrifically tormenting and murdering the co-conspirators.
    • The Bakeneko from Bakeneko started out as an ordinary cat who was taken in by Tamaki, a young concubine, after its family was killed by the patriarch of a noble family. Tamaki, who was kidnapped and sexually abused against her will, dedicated herself to nurturing and feeding the cat so it would grow strong enough to escape and experience freedom for the both of them. One day, the patriarch's eldest son secretly tried to rape Tamaki and was caught by his father. The patriarch assumed Tamaki had been seducing his son and beat her to death. The cat tried to protect Tamaki but she bade it to run away so the cat wouldn't die senselessly for her sake. The cat's immense regret over failing to protect Tamaki from her killers twisted it into a powerful and homicidal spirit bent on revenge.
  • Gainax Ending: Yotsuya Kaidan.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Tamaki dies with a smile on her face after saving a cat from getting mauled by the people who kidnapped, sexually abused, and then beat her to death.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Kayo and Odajima (Bakeneko) are both extremely shaken and disgusted when they are shown the full story of Tamaki and the titular character.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Tamaki fed a kitten trapped in the family basement until it grew strong enough to escape, starving herself to the point of emaciation in the process. When her abusers beat her to the point of dying and the cat risked getting killed in protecting her, Tamaki bade the cat to run so it wouldn't die senselessly for her sake.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The samurai and their families after they are dishonored (Yotsuya). The two main female characters often allude to their fallen status.
    • The aristocratic family in "Bakeneko". By the start of the story, we learn that they have been made so poor by the matriarch's frivolous spending that they were willing to sell their daughter's marriage to the scion of a more wealthy neighboring family.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: The Medicine Peddler just turns up out of the blue with no explanation of who he is, how he got there or why he can do what he does. Then awesome ensues. And he's off again.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Oiwa keeps her physical disfigurement as a ghost so she can torment the people who plotted to poison her.
  • Jerkass: Odajima (Bakeneko) is not exactly nice to the Medicine Seller and remains distrustful of him until the very end.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While he does have his moments, Odajima (Bakeneko) is friendly to Kayo, a female servant, accompanying her to pray in the room where Lady Mao's body is held when she gets scared, and trying to rescue her from being strangled to death by an increasingly deranged Sato. Then it's revealed that he (and Kayo) were completely innocent of their family's crimes against the Bakeneko.
  • Lady Macbeth: Oume, although she's not married to Iemon yet. Iemon had disliked his current wife for a while but Oume gives him an excuse and the tools to get rid of her for good.
  • Lemony Narrator: Nanboku (Yotsuya)
  • Meaningful Name: Lady Mao's name is phonetically identical to 'cat' in Chinese. Guess what kills her.
    • Tamaki has this going on as well, though it requires some explanation if you aren't from Japan and aren't familiar with the humour. 'Tama' is a common name for a cat, which makes it funny anyway even if you don't have the kanji staring you down because "hee hee bakeneko lady has a cat name, awesome". But when you consider the 'ki' kanji they use means living or birth...? You can take her name to mean KITTY IS ALIVE/REBORN.
  • Medium Blending: Yotsuya Kaidan has a few live action sequences.
  • Mega Neko: The titular Bakeneko from Bakeneko (which represents its immense hatred).
  • Mind Screw: Just what was the deal with Nanboku, the live action sequence, and Oiwa's curse (Yotsuya Kaidan)?
  • Monster Delay: For most of the arc, the Bakeneko is invisible.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Oume from Yotsuya Kaidan tricks the object of her crush (Iemon) into poisoning his wife. It's a non-fatal poison, but the results were horrific and convinced the husband to discard the wife.
  • My Greatest Failure: The Bakeneko in its titular arc. Its feelings of guilt and regret for failing to protect Tamaki twisted it into a vengeful and homicidal spirit.
  • Naked First Impression: Zushonosuke first encounters Tomihime while she's bathing in a lake.
  • Never My Fault: The court lady Sato (Bakeneko) isn't directly responsible, but she refuses to take responsibility for her complicity and spends much of the story screaming that it isn't her fault.
  • Nightmare Face: Oiwa, because of the poison.
  • Ojou
  • The Reveal:
    • Bakeneko: The story of Tamaki and the titular Bakeneko.
    • Yotsuya Kaidan: Yomoshichi isn't dead; Naosuke had murdered another man by accident.
  • Revenge: A central theme in all three stories.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Bakeneko from Bakeneko is so full of vengeance and hatred that the Medicine Seller had to exorcise it in order to end its rampage.
  • Rule of Scary: Oume's poison, administered orally, can permanently disfigure someone's face in just a couple hours. note 
  • Spoiled Brat: Cranked Up to Eleven and lampshaded with Oume, a merchant's daughter.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Zushonosuke and Tomihime.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Oiwa from Yotsuya Kaidan is the original version.
  • Swarm of Rats: A common motif in Yotsuya Kaidan. A woman's corpse is swarmed by rats, and later another woman is eaten alive. Also invoked at Iemon's death.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Iemon rips out a fistful of hair from Kohei's head to torment the servant as punishment for stealing. Later Oiwa attempts to comb her hair after being poisoned and ends up ripping out whole chunks.
  • Unreliable Narrator: In Bakeneko, the elderly patriarch of a noble family who was ultimately responsible for the Bakeneko's creation believed in his version of what happened to Tamaki, despite it being completely bullshit and a total lie. The Medicine Seller calls him out on this before leaving him to reflect on his past actions.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Oiwa's baby.
  • Woman in White:
    • Oiwa from Yotsuya Kaiden started wearing white after her death and transformation into a vengeful spirit.
    • Tamaki from Bakeneko. Her few appearances had her dressed entirely in white, which is a symbol of death in Asian cultures. For the audience, this foreshadows her very tragic backstory.
  • Woman Scorned: Oiwa from Yotsuya Kaidan. When she learned that her husband Iemon was involved in the plot to kill her, she was Driven to Suicide...only to come back as an extremely vengeful spirit.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Oiwa from Yotsuya Kaidan was beautiful and the perfect wife who was entirely devoted to her husband Iemon. Then she discovered Iemon's plot to poison her and everything goes downhill after that.

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