As strange as it may sound, I didn’t pay much attention to new anime until the summer season took hold. All I could think about or look forward to was 2016’s Berserk, and now that the season has concluded, it’s nearly all I’ve got on the brain aside from PriPara and other magical girl shows, as usual.
But it’s time to get down to business–and that’s exactly what I’m doing now. It might be surprising, but I’m most looking forward to digesting the hilarious and totally creepy Aooni: The Blue Monster this season, just in time for Halloween.
Aooni: The Blue Monster is a series of animated shorts based on the indie horror game Aooni by developer noprops. Originally produced in RPG Maker XP, it quickly became a cult classic that developed into both a light novel and anime series–and eventually a live-action film. It revolves around exactly what you’d think: a blue demon called the Oni.
He doesn’t resemble the stereotypical “demonic” image, having instead distorted humanoid features and freakishly large humanoid eyes. That’s one of the reasons I love it so much, and why I was thrilled to see an anime adaptation, even if it doesn’t strictly adhere to the gruesome sights and tension that made it such a hit. There’s a particularly spine-tingling chord in the game that blares as soon as the Oni appears and it’s such an unmistakably unpleasant sound that it sticks with you long after you turn it off. But that’s part of its charm. That’s part of what makes it so difficult to play alone, especially with the lights off.
Instead, the anime version Aooni: The Blue Monster is quite adorable. Plus, it’s a comedy. There are some similarities to the game, of course, to keep things cohesive. Like the original, Aooni: The Blue Monster follows teenager Hiroshi as he explores a haunted mansion with his friends Takeshi, Takuro, and Mika. Hiroshi has to figure out how to find a way out of the mansion and keep his friends alive in the process, like any good hero should.
There’s something innately appealing about taking characters and a premise that’s meant to terrify and turning it into something adorable, the Oni included. The anime shorts themselves will feature off-putting animation for the demon and adorable, super-deformed looks for the main cast. For all intents and purposes, it resembles any other typical cutesy short series, but it’s all based on something much more sinister.
Honestly, this is an idea that most horror games should try at least once. Imagine a cute Silent Hill anime series or something to the effect of cult favorite Yume Nikki being translated into a television show. It could work quite well, especially in a similar container. I’m hoping both critical and fan reception is positive so perhaps we see more of this ilk coming in the future.
I’m a fan of all things disturbing, bloody, and terrifying, and seeing as there aren’t any current horror series running I’m digging into, it’s going to fill the void for the time being and expand, I’m sure, into a unique blend of horror and comedy. Like the “creepy cute” aesthetic I like to incorporate into my wardrobe and the manga I greedily devour such as Franken Fran (and anything from the amazing Junji Ito), Aooni: The Blue Monster is right up my alley. And so, I’m ready to dig right in and plow through each weekly five-minute session with a devilish grin on my face.
I just hope that it doesn’t place so much stock in being cutesy that it completely avoids the elements of horror that made the game such a hit in the first place.
Aooni: The Blue Monster can be seen for free and with English subtitles in the U.S. on Crunchyroll.