Web Animation / Mystery Skulls Animated

This time, I might just disappear…

Mystery Skulls Animated is a series of official animated music videos for Mystery Skulls' songs. Alternate terms for it include Mystery Skulls Ghost and MSA.

Created by Big Name Fan MysteryBen, the first video follows Vivi, Arthur and their dog Mystery, a trio of paranormal investigators, as they traverse a haunted house and flee from a hostile ghost. The short video and a handful of character profiles provided by MysteryBen quickly developed a thriving fan community, with said video having eight times more views than the original official music video.

On the one-year anniversary of the video's release, Mystery Ben announced a plan to create a story arc of about five additional videos starring the same characters seen in Ghost and continue their storyline after the events of the video using other Mystery Skulls songs.

On midnight of April 15, 2016, the second music video of that arc was released, "Freaking Out", which introduced a new antagonist and further continued the story of Vivi, Arthur, Mystery, and Lewis after Lewis' death.

On June 7th, 2016, the next video, set to the song "Hellbent", was announced to have started storyboarding, and the length of the story was shortened to about five videos.

Story Arc (length subject to change)

  1. "Ghost"
  2. "Freaking Out"
  3. "Hellbent"
  4. TBA
  5. TBA

This work provides examples of:

  • Animesque: Very noticeably so when compared to the inspiration. Among other things, there are facial expressions that make it look like an episode of Bleach, as well as rather extravagant character designs.
  • Art Evolution: Lewis, Arthur and Vivi's character puppets got an improved redesign for "Freaking Out" and later music videos.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The brief glimpse of Lewis without clothes in "Freaking Out". Killer abs, though.
  • Big Badass Rig: the semi-truck that Lewis steals and magically transforms so that he can pursue the Mystery Van.
  • Brick Joke: The sixteen-wheeler that drives by the Mystery Skulls van in "Freaking Out" is the same one that Lewis turns into his Pimped-Out Car at the end of the video.
  • Cool Car: The Mystery Skulls Van.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Vivi is blue, Arthur is yellow, Mystery is red, and Lewis is pink. There's also green for the demon that possessed Arthur and white for Shiromori.
  • Dagwood Sandwich: Vivi and Mystery are on the verge of eating these when they get interrupted by Arthur and Lewis.
  • Demonic Possession: Arthur's arm was possessed by a malevolent green cave entity a la Evil Dead 2.
  • Disney Villain Death: Inverted. While Lewis wasn't a villain when it happened, he was still pushed off a cliff to his spiky demise, which caused the rage and desire for vengeance that makes him fit the mold postmortem.
  • Downer Ending: "Ghost" doesn't really end well. Everyone who wasn't already dead gets out alive, but Lewis is left heartbroken, and nobody is able to reconcile his tragic death and put his soul to rest.
  • Dramatic Irony: The audience knows that Arthur was possessed when he killed Lewis, and that the ghost the crew encountered was Lewis himself, but both parties are unaware of the respective truths; if they were, they would likely be inclined to reconcile, but instead Vivi and Arthur are afraid of Lewis and Lewis is out for vengeance.
  • Evil Hand: Evil arm in Arthur's case; something possessed it in the green cave and killed Lewis, and it's still crawling around.
  • Expy: The video features a cast that is a homage to Scooby-Doo with their own twists.
  • First-Episode Spoiler: Lewis is the long-dead ghost of a former member of the the Mystery Skulls and Vivi's boyfriend.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During the line "Fuck, it's you I hate the most", Lewis is pointing towards Arthur. Guess who murdered him while possessed?
    • See The Mirror Shows Your True Self below.
    • When the group enters the cave, everyone looks as you'd expect from their character. Except Mystery who seems to sense that something is very wrong.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During a flashback, at the bottom left of the screen, before Arthur is possessed and murders Lewis, you can see Vivi behind some green smoke, indicating she saw Lewis die.
    • In "Freaking Out", Arthur's laptop background is a picture of him, Vivi, Mystery, Lewis, and Lewis' family at the restaurant back before everything went wrong. Vivi's eyes glow as Lewis is being edited out, indicating she, rather than Arthur, is the one doing so, unconsciously.
  • Happy Ending Override: Inverted. "Ghost" concludes with Lewis's chances tying up loose ends being met with failure. "Freaking Out" provides Lewis a second chance to find Vivi and get (albeit unjustified) revenge on Arthur.
  • Haunted House: In "Ghost", the group's van breaks down in front of a very fancy mansion... haunted by a very dangerous ghost. By the end of the video it turns out to been an even more extreme example of this trope than it seemed: the entire mansion is a manifestation of the ghost's powers, and it ceases to exist when the ghost stops willing it to.
  • Heart in the Wrong Place: Lewis' heart is where his left lung would be. Justified because it's not really his heart — it's a locket.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Lewis steals a truck from an innocent passerby near the end of "Freaking Out" so that he can catch up to the Mystery Skulls' van; he's really not so much as a hero, though, as much as he is an Anti-Villain Protagonist.
  • Late to the Tragedy: In "Freaking Out", Shiromori shows up at the cave where it all went down only to find that everyone involved is long gone, one way or another.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Despite the seemingly wacky Scooby-Doo parody overtones, "Ghost" quickly becomes more and more suited to the lyrics, especially since it represents one of the main characters, who even practically speaks one of the lines.
  • Mickey Mousing: Everything in the videos move along to the music.
    • This is a Shout-Out to MysteryBen's earlier "Rhythm Heaven" work in which characters also "Mickey Mouse" along with the music.
  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: The video is nothing but a cartoon where the characters actually move along to the music, no matter what is going on at the moment. This leads to moments like the ghost chasing the trio after getting splattered with sandwiches and still moving along to the music.
  • Mind Screw: It has a lot of symbolism, to put it frankly, and it'll likely be difficult to decipher until MysteryBen clarifies what's actually going on.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: The gang passes by a trio of mirrors when they fall into a trap door. Vivi's reflection has no eyes, Arthur's is missing his robotic arm, and Mystery's mirror shatters when he looks into it. This is foreshadowing for their backstory, in which Vivi has a Heroic B.S.O.D. (and possibly Laser-Guided Amnesia), Arthur loses his arm to Demonic Possession and Mystery is not a dog.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: This is Arthur in the flashback when he realized that his possessed half had just killed off Lewis by pushing him over the cliff. Half of his face is in tears.
  • Mythology Gag: All four of the moving paintings are references to previous work by both Ben and Mystery Skulls: they feature the priest from Live!Ghost, Miles Edgeworth with Phoenix Wright's spiky hair in reference to Turntable Turnabout, and Rarity & The Wrestler in reference to Ben's Rhythm Is Magic animations.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Arthur takes advantage of Lewis' hesitation to grab Vivi and get the hell out of the mansion. This nearly gets the gang killed due to Lewis unleashing his rage in an explosion of fire, leaves Lewis heartbroken, and his soul likely still restless — an instance where the Lovable Coward tendencies he inherited from Shaggy have adverse consequences. Also Justified since from Arthur's point of view, the pink wraith wants him dead. Arthur has no idea that doesn't also extend to Vivi at this point in their adventure.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The possessed arm is so scary partly because we have no idea what possessed it.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When ghost Lewis is pointing a finger at him and puts on his hairstyle, Arthur starts running.
    • In "Freaking Out", when Shiromori realizes she's accidentally reawakened Lewis and that he's pissed.
    • Also in "Freaking Out," when Mystery finds one of Shiromori's petals.
  • Outrun the Fireball: The last scene of the Mystery Skulls escaping the mansion in "Ghost" has them jumping out just in time to escape a huge pink blast of ghost-fire.
  • Precision F-Strike: In "Ghost":
    Time for givin' up the ghost
    Fuck, it's you I hate the most
  • Punched Across the Room: Lewis to Shiromori in "Freaking Out". He's strong enough that he knocks her head clean off!
  • Purple Is the New Black: Well, more like pink is the new black, but the eponymous ghost is associated with the color, which also matches other supernatural phenomena within the house.
  • Raster Vision: Used in "Ghost" for a flashback in a picture frame.
  • Significant Background Event: The opening of "Freaking Out" has Arthur's detached demon arm slithering around.
  • Ret Canon: According to the video's creator, MysteryBen, the Mythology Gag to Live!Ghost was not the original plan. At the time he began working on the animated video, Live!Ghost hadn't been created, and the official one was to be MysteryBen's. Since it took a while to finish the music video, Mystery Skulls created their own video to pad out the wait between the video's announcement and its eventual release. MysteryBen decided to return the favor by including the preacher from the video.
  • Retcon: In addition to some general art improvements, the photo in Lewis's locket in "Freaking Out" was altered to hide his living self's eyes, rather than showing his eyes as in "Ghost".
  • Rule of Symbolism: EVERYTHING in "Ghost", from the colors (pink represents the supernatural, green represents evil) and a few weird happenings in the early parts (See The Mirror Shows Your True Self).
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: Naturally, in "Ghost".
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: After a bit of posturing, Shiromori decides to just leave in pursuit of Mystery instead of fighting it out with Lewis.
  • Shout-Out:
    • There are three haunted paintings featuring characters from sources MysteryBen has made videos of, namely Miles Edgeworth from the Ace Attorney series, the Masked Luchador from Rhythm Heaven, and a human version of Rarity from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
    • Before Vivi and Mystery run back into Arthur, they're seen in the mansion's kitchen about to eat two enormous sandwiches, a la Scooby-Doo. You can also see them running in the same style as their inspiration characters during the first hallway scene.
    • The head-bobbing and general rhythmic feel of the whole video was a huge one to Rhythm Heaven.
    • The severing of Arthur's possessed arm is a reference to Ash Williams from the Evil Dead franchise.
    • Lewis is wearing Thomas Bangalter's gloves.
    • Uncle Lance, aside from being a shoutout to the Arthurian Mythos by Theme Naming, has his character design as a Whole Costume Reference to Coop from Megas XLR, coincidentally one of Arthur's favorite series. In terms of personality though, the two are as different as can be.
    • Galahad, Arthur's hamster, is somewhat similar in terms of design to the hamsters from the Hampster Dance music video.
    • The fourth haunted painting is of the dancing priest from the Live Action video for Ghost.
  • Stealth Pun: The unnamed ghosts with Lewis who pulsate with the music are Dead Beats.
  • Surprise Creepy: It starts off as a cute and colorful homage to Scooby-Doo, before the Mind Screw and tragic backstory set in...
  • Sympathetic Magic: Shiromori uses flowers that match a person's coloring to track them, and it appears they have other properties as well, as Arthur reacted when Lewis stepped on his.
  • Theme Naming: There's quite a bit of Arthurian Mythos surrounding Arthur; the repair shop where he works is called "Kingsmen Mechanics", his uncle is named Lance(lot), and he has a hamster named Galahad.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Because of Arthur taking the opportunity to run, Lewis and Vivi lose their moment to reconcile, breaking Lewis' heart (literally). As a result, Lewis becomes enraged and cuts loose with his power.
  • Villain Protagonist:
    • The song "Ghost" takes place from Lewis's perspective, as he tries to get revenge on Arthur for his part in his death.
    • In "Freaking Out", the story focuses on Shiromori tracking down Mystery and Lewis still seeking vengeance on Arthur.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The music video is a bright and colorful Scooby-Doo-esque cartoon, but then we have the mysterious entity that forced Arthur to push Lewis to his death and eventually led to the loss of Arthur's own arm.
  • Wham Shot:
    • After the camera zooms into a painting Mystery notices, showing events before the video, the one driving the van is a human Lewis.
    • The Reveal that Lewis was killed by a possessed Arthur turns the first half of the animation from a funny Shout-Out to a complete tragedy.
    • In "Freaking Out," there's a shot of Arthur's computer showing different locations (including his uncle's auto shop). There are multiple pictures of Lewis; some of them are crossed out, while one picture (along with one of Ghost Lewis) has question marks next to it. This seems to indicate that not only did Arthur not recognize Lewis as a ghost, he doesn't even know Lewis is dead.
  • What Have I Become?: Lewis' reaction upon first waking up from his coffin.