OP Sequence

OP: 「幽世」 (Kakuriyo) by Luz

「寶月夜宵」 (Houzuki Yayoi)
“Yayoi Hozuki”

Dark Gathering was a huge surprise for me because it’s a summer show that can’t wait to make its way to autumn with its bleak brand of supernatural horror. While its aesthetic is bubbly and poppy, it doesn’t deter from the macabre terrors that Keitaro, Yayoi, and Eiko grapple with in the first episode.


Oddly enough, the show so far feels tonally and visually similar to the 2006 adaptation of Higurashi as the cuter designs are disarming enough to leave you unprepared for how eager they are to twist and distort how their world is seen. There’s a fascinatingly grisly feel to what Dark Gathering captures as it depicts a world where vengeful and malicious spirits wish to exact their revenge on the general populace any which way they can.

Keitaro’s reassuring return to society as a gifted class rep is quickly undercut when he’s roped him into tutoring his long-time friend Eiko’s little cousin Yayoi. While Eiko sees this as an opportunity for Yayoi to be treated more kindly after the passing of her parents, this is merely a ruse to help Yayoi find her mother’s kidnapped spirit and trap violent spirits into dolls.

And wow, do they get violent. In a similar vein as 2021’s Mieruko-chan, it’s easy to get caught off-guard by how grotesque the spirits and the circumstances of their deaths can be. This episode’s apparition was a hostess who was brutally murdered at a phone booth by men whom she scammed, trapping her soul into a phone booth that oozes blood and strangles its victims with the pay phone cord.

It’s fascinating to see whenever the anime leans into its horror elements as it becomes truly terrifying to see the kinds of cursed spirits that stalk and attack Keitaro. It loves leaning on slasher smiles and thousand yard stares, but I’m a sucker for how it adds to the edgy, bleak atmosphere that Keitaro finds himself trapped in, and how much of it winds up being part of his secret lust for fear.

I’m also pleasantly surprised with how it commits to making the atmosphere feel grimey to counterbalance its lighter-hearted moments. It makes for a startling experience to immediately jump from a goofy joke to seeing the extent of a spirit’s vengeful malice. The distorted screams that the spirits belt out, especially within Yayoi’s dolls, is genuinely creepy and disturbing. The main reveal of why spirits are scared of Yayoi was absolutely haunting with all of the wailing souls that are bound to the dolls she strangles and traps in her room. The concept of creating Kodoku is immediately unsettling as it means brewing poison for other spirits by trapping them into a doll where they can still feel the pain and fear from their entrapment.

Their shadow forms are so thin and wispy that they have a greater effect on making their surrounding areas outright death traps. It makes for an interesting power play where the true fear comes less from what the spirit looks like and more from how they effortlessly trap their victims into an agonizing, drawn-out, and fear-inducing end. Where the environments themselves prove to be even scarier than the spirits that possess them, and force Keitaro and Yayoi to be mindful of how they interact with a possessed space.

It also makes it a disturbing surprise to see the spirits that are powerful enough to let their presence be known. The spirit that captures Yayoi’s mother is extremely unsettling with its form resembling a giant embryo in the middle of fertilization. With how effective the anime’s commitment to being both comical and stomach-churning turned out with this premiere, I’m looking forward to seeing exactly how far Dark Gathering goes with its horror elements.


    1. I always found her voice to be very pleasant, and how, even when she’s in so many anime, her voice often has a distinct purpose in many of her roles.

      Where she gives off the illusion that Eiko is flighty and oblivious to the extent of Yayoi and Keitaro’s true nature up until it’s revealed that she can read the both of them like a book.

      It makes it all the more unsettling once her kind inflection abruptly shifts towards an ominous tone.


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