「幻燈河螢多朗」 (Gentouga Keitarou)
Dark Gathering’s second episode builds off of the momentum from the premiere by giving us even more reasons why Yayoi is as impressive as she is frightening. Unfortunately for Keitaro, Yayoi isn’t the only frightening presence he has to experience as a trip to his exorcist grandmother’s home grants him an unwitting trip to her murder doll basement.
GUYS AND DOLLS
I’ve been enjoying how disturbing a lot of the horror in this series is. It’s easy to get really bad vibes from just about any spirit-infested territory in the story with last episode’s phone booth, Yayoi’s doll collection, and Keitaro’s grandmother’s basement all looking and feeling absolutely condemned. Rather than leaning on jumpscares or gore, it places higher emphasis on how foreboding and disturbing a scare can be when the entire atmosphere of a place or person is oppressive and suffocating.
The latter point winds up being literally an issue for Keitaro as the first sensation he feels right after realizing he was possessed into entering his grandmother’s forbidden basement is gagging on doll hair that reaches down his throat. It makes it all the more intimidating to see the extent of how paralyzingly frightening many of the spirits in this show can get, especially with the hoops and ladders that both the grandmother and Yayoi put into containing malicious spirits.
Yayoi’s mindset is also incredibly frightening as her mind jumps to some really messed up conclusions on how to manipulate spirits. My jaw dropped when she took Keitaro’s shaved-off hand nerves and rigged them on her spirit dolls to cause the same pain of actual functioning nerves. As scary as many of the malicious spirits can be, I like how Dark Gathering never forgets how disturbing Yayoi can be, and conveys the exact reason why spirits are so scared of her that she can intimidate them into stepping down just by existing.
ED: 「灰色」 (Haiiro) by Hanazawa Kana