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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:

  • Adorable Evil Minions: The ghost's deadbeats are rather adorable simple purple ghosts with glowing orange hearts on their chests, at least they're cute when they're not displaying nightmare faces and long skeletal arms with talon like fingers.
  • Aerith and Bob: Most of the characters have normal given names. The exceptions are Mystery, Duet, Shiromori, Paprika and Cayenne. Though Mystery and Shiromori are justified, since neither of them are human.
  • Affectionate Parody: It's basically Scooby-Doo with a cast of Expies. However, it quickly takes a tragic turn.
  • A Girl And Her X: Vivi and her glasses wearing "dog" Mystery.
  • All There in the Manual:
  • All There in the Script: According to a post on MysteryBen's blog, the trucker from "Freaking Out" is named Rooster, and the chicken under his hat is Lil' Sunny.
  • Amputation Stops Spread: In the flashback Arthur's left arm is shown turning green from the hand to the shoulder before he kills Lewis with it and the side of his face and eye are turning green before Mystery rips the arm off.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • Mystery tore off Arthur's possessed arm, but only after ??? used it and the other bits of Arthur it had gained control of to murder Lewis.
    • Lewis burnt Shiromori's arm to a crisp and as it started crumbling to dust he ripped off the hand that was holding his locket. She regrew it and her head, which Lewis had punched off, very quickly to his surprise.
  • Animal-Eared Headband: Lewis's little sister Cayenne has a horned headband and Lewis, Vivi, Arthur and Shiromori have been shown wearing cat ear headphones on official merchandise.
  • Animated Armor: Lewis has some suits of armor lining his hallways that he sets to chopping off Arthur's head.
  • Animated Music Video: The second music video for the Mystery Skulls song "Ghost" to be released but the first to be commissioned, also includes the connected animated music video for the song "Freaking Out".
  • 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.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: Lewis's glowing "heart" beats to the rhythm of the music and rests on the outside of his ribcage. It is eventually shown to actually be a locket though it is still integral to his continued existence as his ghostly form can retreat into it and its condition reflects his moods and state.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: The deadbeats look like purple pointy-headed bedsheet ghosts with glowing beating orange hearts, though their Game Face departs from the aesthetic somewhat due to their talon-like hands.
  • Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: The ghost Lewis gets hit by a trucker, though in this case he straight up steals the vehicle as his reaction is to start appearing at the wheel and the trucker quickly jumps out to watch his rig get a ghostly make-over before taking off without him.
  • Big Badass Rig: the semi-truck that Lewis steals and magically transforms so that he can pursue the Mystery Van.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Even though Lewis dies just barley off the edge of the screen, with the spire that tore through his torso and his torn clothes making it into the frame, and Arthur's arm is seen in Mystery's mouth directly after being torn off there is no blood shown. There has even been an on-screen decapitation, but the character that happened to is not human and likely has no blood to show.
  • 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.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: When Vivi, Arthur and Mystery first enter the dark haunted mansion their eyes are visible in the otherwise black darkness watching as a single magenta flame floats by and starts lighting the candles.
  • Cave Mouth: The cave in which Lewis was murdered had an eerie mouth like opening with four holes above it that looked like nostrils and glowing eyes due to the green entity in the cave, when it is next seen the glow is no longer present which makes the eye and nostril like holes more disguised.
  • 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.
  • Crystal Ball: They keep a crystal ball in their van on the shelf above the holy water and garlic cloves.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: A group of three armature paranormal investigators and their "dog" enter an eerie Cave Mouth to poke around despite the clear warning on the sign outside and the human skulls littering the cave. One of them ends up dead, another, who did not want to go in the cave in the first place, loses his arm and has some memory loss, and the third also loses part of her memory.
  • 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.
  • Enhanced Punch: Lewis's ghostfire-imbued punch is able to tear Shiromori's head clean off and send it flying.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Deconstructed. Lewis was killed by his possessed and horrified friend, Arthur, and now seeks Arthur's death in revenge.
  • Everything Dances: Pretty much everything dances to the beat, especially in Lewis's house.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: Takes place in Texas and the story is centered around the very tall ghost of a local young man, who has stolen and personalized a Big Badass Rig to chase down his old girlfriend and his murderer by the end of "Freaking Out".
  • 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.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: In the photo on Arthur's laptop in "Freaking Out" he can be seen in obvious pain with a trail of smoke emitting from his mouth from his spicy, ... milkshake? A closer look reveals Lewis's prankster sister Cayenne laughing under the table with a bottle of hot sauce in her hand implying she put hot sauce in the milkshake.
  • First-Episode Spoiler: Lewis is the long-dead ghost of a former member of the the Mystery Skulls and Vivi's boyfriend.
  • Fog Feet: The deadbeats are simple purple ghosts who taper off to a lightly transparent point in lieu of having legs or feet.
  • 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.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: The human and humanoid cast have only got four fingers on each hand.
  • 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.
  • Genius Loci: The entire Haunted House in "Ghost" is just an extension of Lewis's powers and it fades after Arthur, Vivi and Mystery flee and Lewis retreats into his locket.
  • Ghost Butler: After Vivi, Arthur and Mystery enter the Haunted House in "Ghost" the doors close behind them. In this case the entire house is just an extension or construct of the vengeful ghost within so presumably he closed the doors even though he was in the basement at the time.
  • Ghostly Glide: Lewis glides along rather than walking or running, though he presumably could if he wanted to since he at one point stamps a foot down when getting ready to pummel Shiromori.
  • Ghostly Goals: Lewis is a mix of both types as he both wants to reconnect with his girlfriend Vivi, a fairly benign goal, and kill his former best friend Arthur for killing him (he was possessed at the time by a malicious entity and not in control but either Lewis doesn't know this or doesn't care).
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Lewis points at Arthur to tell him he hates him before chasing him down to try and kill his former friend.
  • Glamour Failure: Lewis, a ghost, can appear as he did in life... but there's always something wrong with his eyes when he does. They appear as either Hidden Eyes, or as black pits with brightly glowing irises.
  • Go Through Me: Vivi puts herself between Arthur and the ghost when it catches up with them after a long chase. It works, because unknown to Vivi, the ghost is of her boyfriend, whose spirit hadn't been able to find rest after he was murdered.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Seems to be the case with Lewis' Disney Villain Death, but if you watch carefully, you'll see that it's actually a (silhouetted) close-up of him hitting the stalagmite. Given the series' Bloodless Carnage, it's just showing us the moment of death, and nothing terribly graphic.
    • Played straight with Arthur's arm, but averted when Lewis punches Shiromori's head off and we're treated to a shot of what looks like roots snapping. Again, given the nature of the videos, there's no actual gore to be seen.
  • 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 Fetter: Lewis's heart locket. He can retreat into it and materialize from it and it cracks when his heart is broken.
  • 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.
  • I Fell for Hours: Arthur, Vivi and Mystery fall for about 15 seconds past floating furniture and books after a trap door opens underneath them, how Vivi and Mystery land is not shown though they somehow slow down during their decent, and Arthur lands in the basement and looks quizzically up as though wondering about the physics ignoring fall he just had and where his friends might have landed.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Lewis was killed while exploring a cave by being pushed from a cliff and being impaled through his chest by a stalagmite when he landed. The suddenness and violence of his death is often interpreted by the fandom as part of the reason he came back as a vengeful wraith.
  • 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. Gets a another, comparatively less dramatic one when he looks back to find he's being chased.
    • 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.
    • Lewis realizing that he's about to be hit by a truck near the end of "Freaking Out". Fans have pointed out that he adopts the exact same stance as Arthur in "Ghost".
  • 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".
  • Revenge Myopia: Lewis has come back as a ghost hellbent on getting revenge on Arthur for his murder. Unfortunately he is either unaware or doesn't care that Arthur was possessed at the time and was visibly horrified at Lewis's murder at his own hand. Further complicating matters Arthur seems to have forgotten Lewis's death and is now desperately seeking his missing friend on a visible lack of sleep that may be causing hallucinations meaning he's not likely to recognize Lewis's flaming skeletal ghost and wouldn't be able to even try and explain what really happened if he did.
  • 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.
  • Security Cling: Arthur provides a couple of flavors, clinging to Lewis's arm in fear in the flashback and he catches Mystery and jumps into Vivi's arms when the portraits lean out of their frames to shout at them in the haunted house.
  • 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 which was done after the Animated one started production.
    • The scene where Vivi, Arthur and Mystery are falling by floating furniture and books after the Trap Door is a reference to Alice in Wonderland when Alice fell down the rabbit hole.
    • The truck driver who runs over Lewis at the end of Freaking Out bears more than a passing resemblance to Dave Lister of Red Dwarf, cases in point being wearing a cap, a leather jacket, and fingerless gloves, and having dreadlocks tied together at the back of his head.
  • Spikes of Doom: Lewis was murdered by being shoved off a ledge in an eerie cave onto the abnormally sharp stalagmites below.
  • Spooky Painting: A series of paintings in one of the halls of the Haunted House are among the things which gain glowing eyes when the interior lights up to greet the guests and when Arthur, Vivi and Mystery make it into their part of the hall they menace the trio before the painting of a duchess tugs on a pull string and sends them tumbling through a Trap Door.
  • Stealth Pun: The unnamed ghosts with Lewis who pulsate with the music are Dead Beats.
  • Supernatural Repellent: Vivi and Arthur keep a stash of various things to protect them from the supernatural in their van in including garlic cloves, dream catchers, ofuda and bottles of holy water.
  • 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.
  • Transformation of the Possessed: Arthur starts turning green starting with the hand that was first touched by the glowing green mist when he's possessed by the thing in the cave. His sclera turns black, his iris turns glowing green and his teeth start to turn sharper before Mystery tears off his arm.
  • Trap Door: After Arthur grabs Mystery and jumps into Vivi's arms in reaction to the paintings around them coming to life one of the paintings smirks and tugs on a pull-string, dropping the trio through the hidden trap door they were standing on.
  • 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.
  • V-Sign: Belle can be seen giving the camera a cheerful v sign on the photo set as Arthur's laptop background.
  • We Used to Be Friends: After returning as a vengeful ghost Lewis feels this way about the rest of the Mystery Skulls, especially Arthur who murdered him. It's unknown whether Lewis knows that Arthur was possessed at the time.
  • 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.
  • Wraparound Background: Briefly seen when Vivi, Arthur and Mystery are running down the hallway with the suits of armor, and again when Arthur is fleeing from Lewis down another hall in the Haunted House.

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