19 June 2012 | wandereramor
Kenji Nakamura! And some other chumps!
Ayakashi is an anthology series adapting three classical Japanese horror stories into animated form. That makes it sound like an eat-your-vegetables series, but it's willing to anime-ify the stories enough to make them more palatable to a mass audience. There are lots of things you can fault the series for, but being too dry and educational isn't one of them. (It also reminds me of the superior Aoi Bungaki/Blue Literature.)
The first two stories are pretty humdrum, full of bad people doing terrible things to each other and being punished for them by supernatural entities. The animation is good, but not really interesting enough to be worth viewing by itself. The main issues is that these stories just aren't scary -- they're more of a historical tragedy and a fantasy story respectively, although they don't do too well at those genres either.
The third arc suffers from similar writing issues but is noteworthy for being the directing debut of Kenji Nakamura, one of the most striking and bizarre directors working in TV anime today. These episodes might be an example of some of his best visual work, with strange designs and beautiful effects, producing if not horror at least a kind of intimidation. This story (the last three episodes) is worth seeking out, if only as a visual treat. Since the arcs are completely separate stories, you can safely skip the rest of the series.