So, this blog will be a tad different due mainly to the fact that I have not yet made my ‘let’s play’ video. That will be coming sometime over the weekend I hope.
(Warning: This blog will contain spoilers for the game and anime series. Do not continue to read if you don’t want the main plot ruined. It also contains images that might be considered disturbing to some people.)
Part of the reason I wanted to play this particular game as part of my own personal autoethnography research project, was that my experiences of Japanese culture, through their anime, manga and horror films, has been pretty passive. I sit and I watch. I do not engage much past that. The decision to play a popular game, especially one of the horror genre, was about actively participating in the content, which I have since discovered, is heavily based on Japanese culture and is completely removed from my own understanding of the horror genre from a western perspective.
My personal preference for games has always been (and honestly will probably remain) fantasy, adventure, strategy, role playing, and action. I think the “scariest” game I have ever played was Theif: Deadly shadows, where one chapter you enter an insane asylum. Not going to lie, I was terrified of this section and it took close to a week to finish because I kept having to walk away I was so scared. So I have made the decision to step right out of my comfort zone in the hopes of understanding Japenese horror more.
Something about actively engaging in the horror genre adds an extra level to the scare factor. You’re no longer just sitting and watching, you’re part of the movie, and your own actions influence the results. For me, I just can not handle it, and even though Corpse Party is a simplistic, 2-bit pixel art, anime game, the ambient music coupled with the ‘slow burner‘ scares and the fact I already know the story. Well, it gets my heart racing.
One of the very first things I noticed is the animation style. Anime seems to make their protagonists look overly child like. They have big eyes, large foreheads, and long, lanky, legs. This little detail actually makes the horror series/movies far more disturbing. At least, this is what I feel. Nothing says true horror like little kids (even if they’re really 23) being slaughtered and mutilated. I also began to notice a lot of typical tropes being used. Little details like hair being in random places around the school, ghosts being portrayed as little blue wisps or surrounded by a blue glow. Their films also capitalize on our fear of the uncanny. Evil entities have extra wide mouths, their eyes are often completely white, or their face is obscured altogether. childlike faces become wrinkled and distorted. All of these thrown together can make for some very creepy scenes.
Corpse party really capitalized on all these stereotypes as well as incorporates typical Japanese cultural. In Japan the two main religions and Buddhism (introduced by China in 500AD) and Shinto (native). It is from both of these belief systems that much of their folk law stems, and how they prefer to represent the dead. Religious flexibility means that there is a wealth of legends and beliefs to draw upon (Chris, 2011) when creating content for films, TV series, Manga and other forms of entertainment.
The adaptation of Shinto beliefs towards the dead is where corpse party has drawn inspiration. Shintoists believe that the dead can become stuck on earth if they have not been given a proper burial. Once stuck, they are cursed with having to relive the horrors of their death and burdened with ‘excess emotion’ (Chris, 2011). In fact, this particular belief is incorporated in quite a few Japenese horror films and anime. The spirits that are often depicted are called Yuurei, they are the spirits that have been left stranded in the living world due to a death that is sudden, and often violent. Yyuurei have a singular purpose or mission, and they are very often malicious (Chris, 2011) lashing out at anyone who crosses their path even if they’re completely unrelated to the cause of their death. The spirits in Corpse party are either there because they fell victim to the first spirits rather, or, they’re there because of the results of the sadistic actions of one person (the first killer). The only way to stop these spirits is to find out the reasons they cannot leave and resolve the problem in some way. This becomes the main objective in the game once you realize it is what is keeping you stuck in the school.
Overall, I have really learned to appreciate the historical values and inspirations utilized in this game. The detachment from my typical western understanding of ghost stories makes playing the game that much scarier.
If you want more information on Japenese Horror then I suggest having a squiz at this little youtube video 🙂
Edited to add youtube video:
Chris, 2011, Chris’ Guide to Understanding Japanese Horror, viewed 11 Aug 2017,