If you’ve been keeping up with this anime season (or the articles here at ANIME NOW!), you’ve probably heard of Aooni The Blue Monster. It’s a new, comedic interpretation of a game called Ao Oni, a freeware horror role-playing game released back in 2008. 

While the two share a title, characters, and a portion of the same narrative, they are complete opposites, with Aooni The Blue Monster leaning heavily toward the silly and comedic and Ao Oni acting as a jumpscare-laden role-playing adventure that you can download and enjoy for free. If you’ve watched Aooni The Blue Monster but just have no idea what the source material is all about, have no fear! I’ll spell it all out for you here.

Ao Oni was created utilizing RPG Maker XP, a popular tool for game developers looking to cheaply and easily create video games based on an engine that’s best for making role-playing titles or things similar to the massively popular Corpse Party series. Despite its low budget and poor graphics (at least in comparison to other, bigger games), it quickly rose to prominence among video game streaming personalities and image boards online because of its bizarre blue monster and terrifying ways.

Players take on the role of the teenaged Hiroshi, who decides one day to investigate a haunted mansion with friends Mika, Takuro, and Takeshi. When they all enter the mansion, they find that it’s not all it appears to be, as the doors swiftly lock behind them and they’re harassed by a bizarre blue oni, a demon. Players, as Hiroshi, have to devise a way to keep all of their friends safe and then bust out of the mansion. Of course where this is funny in Aooni The Blue Monster, it’s a lot more dire of a situation in Ao Oni.

As you explore the mansion, you collect special items and solve puzzles in order to progress through the game. But you’ve always got to be on the lookout for the Oni, which randomly appears here and there throughout the mansion. When it appears, you need to figure out a way to avoid its gaze, including hiding in a locking cabinet or running from the demon in a library. If the monster finds you, it’s an instant game over, so you have to start back over from your previous save.

When the Oni appears, a dissonant chord plays to let you know you need to start high-tailing it out of there. You can either outrun the demon or hide from it (or just avoid the situations entirely, in some cases).

It may not sound particularly scary when you read about it, but given the solitude of the game, the lack of music in most situations, and the gory ends your friends seem to meet if you make mistakes, you’ll understand if you end up playing it.

The Oni’s appearances and behavior toward the character, particularly the game’s abundance of jumpscares, have made the game popular with streamers like Markiplier, and that’s only served to make the franchise more popular across the world.

Of course, it’s not without its own elements of humor aside from the anime series. There’s a special set of codes you can use to alter the game, including changing your characters up to resemble the South Park animation style or adding a timer to the screen while you play that displays how long the Oni is going to chase you, which ends up being pretty helpful.

There’s hardly anything to fear about the anime Aooni The Blue Demon, but nearly everything about the game Ao Oni can send chills down your spine, especially if you’re playing in the dark. If you’re interested in checking it out, it can be downloaded for free from the official site here.

Aooni The Blue Monster can be seen for free and with English subtitles in the U.S. on Crunchyroll.

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