#1 Needed a better ghost
On the last day before their friend transfers to another school, a band of students from Kisaragi Academy are spending one last night together in their classroom. They tell ghost stories and say their tearful goodbyes, until one of them comes up with a “funny” idea. They decide to perform some silly ritual from a ghost story they read online. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
The kids and their teacher then awaken in a decrepit, old school. Separated from each other, but very much not alone. Ghosts prowl these eerie halls, looking to enact their vengeance upon the living. Even if they don’t kill you themselves, the horrors inflicted by these spirits eventually drive people insane. Survive for long enough and you may just become another psychopath wandering the halls of the accursed Heavenly Host Academy.
I got the impression that Corpse Party wanted to be a play on the classic high school horror story. The kind of cheesy tale that characters in anime would tell each other on a stormy night. It has all the classic staples: old school buildings, dark secrets, restless spirits. The only thing it lacks is a good antagonist.
Sachiko is just a creepy, black-haired girl with a sad past, turned murderous evil spirit. She brings to mind characters like Alma Wade from FEAR, but lacks any of the subtlety of characters like her. There is no psychological element to it. No hallucinations, no mind-games, no catching glimpses of her in the corner of your eyes. Sachiko is just a pale-skinned girl that smirks like a shounen villain or cackles maniacally, then stabs people with a knife. There is no subtlety to her character. Ikue Ōtani, massively talented as she is, also makes for a terrible fit for this character.
Even if you can get past her methods, Sachiko’s story is not very interesting. These classic horror stories live on their big revelations. The moment when the storyteller reveals the mystery just as lightning illuminates the dark room. Here the plot twists become obvious from miles away and the eventual resolution feels incredibly weak. What a waste of potential.
#2 Unlikeable protagonists
It’s a trend in horror to have protagonists make terrible decisions. Of course they’re going to split up. Of course they’re going to ignore obvious signs of danger. That’s just what horror protagonists do! Even by those standards, though, the kids in Corpse Party are particularly idiotic.
One dude is specifically told that the ghosts are looking to harm him, which he disregards completely. Even though the place is littered with other people’s corpses, he remains entirely unalarmed and proceeds with an open mind. When he then meets his first ghost, he decides to casually approach it. He follows it around for a while, follows its instructions, even leaves his kid sister alone with it for a while. The other characters aren’t the brightest either, but that was certainly the point where I ceased to care about the well-being of these protagonists.
They aren’t particularly endearing either. Corpse Party kicks off on the night of the ritual, after which the first casualties drop before you get any real idea of who these kids are. It gives the impression that they aren’t so much characters as they are generic victims. Something that I don’t believe was intended, because their profiles on the wiki and AniList are both extensive.
These characters were meant to have prior relations and interesting stories, but Corpse Party only brings these up the moment it plays a role in drama. For example, you don’t figure out there’s a romantic element to the story until somebody brings it up in a heated argument. Some more interactions between the various cast members or flashback scenes could have gone a long way towards salvaging this story. Something that I believe the original game does, going by the screenshots on Mobygames.
The “missing footage” bonus episode actually tries to retroactively do some of this. It has a few scenes that flesh out the characters more and show what the dynamic in this friend group was like. They should have done more of that and scattered it across the actual anime.
Don’t watch the missing footage before the actual anime, it features spoilers.
#3 Random, repetitive gore
Gore and ultra-violence are central to Corpse Party, which I didn’t expect given the humble origins of the video game. With the power of animation, retro-style RPGmaker visuals have now been turned into a blood-soaked spectacle. It’s genuinely impressive at times, but loses its luster as repetition sets in.
Just like the anime’s cast, you’ll quickly grow accustomed to the corpse-littered hallways and random piles of gore. Corpse Party absolutely loves to scatter intestines everywhere, even long after it has lost its effect. It’s all guts all the time, topped off with the odd cut-off tongue here and there. Granted, most horror anime won’t show you stuff this graphic. Then again, most horror anime also know that you can’t keep pulling the same scare over and over again.
I do have to admit that some of the death scenes made me feel squeamish; I just wish those were the norm rather than the exception. Lacking a reason to be invested in these characters already makes it hard to make their deaths feel meaningful. Then you see the actual murders and most of them are plain silly, to the point of making barely any sense. One main character is dragged off and instantly turned into a mush of organs smeared against a wall. Another disappears for half the anime, then pops in again real quick just to get instantly decapitated.
They feel so sudden and random, I’d almost think they were a joke were it not for the gore. However, even if that gore will let you down at times. Corpse Party is such a dark anime that much of it is near-impossible to make out. Some of the more gruesome moments are kept off-screen and the bonus episode is just outright censored.
More like this…
Blood-C: Horror anime with harrowing death scenes.
Ibitsu: Japanese ghost story with body horror aplenty.
Misu Misou: School children exposed to horrific violence.