Kowabon – Episode 1 [First Impression]



 Disclaimer: While I have been to Japan and studied Japanese in high school many years ago, my language skills are very, very basic. Like, I could probably handle talking to a kindergardener. Kowabon has not yet been picked up (and thus is not subtitled), so I am reviewing the raws. Thankfully the dialogue appears to (so far) be not too difficult, and I was able to roughly follow along in this first episode, but I did not fully understand everything being said. If I am summarizing something incorrectly, please feel free to correct me in the comments (I just ask that you be gentle).

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Here’s what anyone should know about me regarding anything in the horror genre: I’m a total chickenshit. I’ve seen movies like Jeepers CreepersThe Ring and The Grudge, and hated them all; having my pants scared off me is just not something I find entertaining.

The second thing you should know is I’m a sucker for good graphics, or at least interesting animation. This is where Kowabon comes in.

Kowabon is a series of Japanese horror shorts, and each episode is 3 minutes long. This show has been created using a technique called “rotoscoping,” which is when animators trace over every single frame of live-action footage. I saw the preview for Kowabon before the beginning of the fall season and thought it had the potential to be really interesting, depending on how the animators handled the rotoscoping.

This first episode depicts a video chat between two female friends, “fuumin” and “haru2sachi,” who look to be of about high school age. They have some technical issues with their connection but establish that yes, despite some apparent issues, the video chat is working. “haru2sachi” then starts showing off some of her recent clothing purchases, and as her friend looks on, the computer screen starts to go flicker and the picture goes wonky again. When it clears “fuumin” can see a shadowy figure standing at the back of the room.  “fuumin” asks her friend who that is standing behind her; “haru2sachi” insists there is no one with her and tells her friend to stop joking. However when issues with the video connection persist, in addition to “fuumin” insisting that she can hear loud thumping noises, “haru2sachi” leaves the room to see if her mother is home. And while she is gone, something falls from the ceiling, then stands and turns to face “fuumin”…. [cue the Psycho shower stabbing soundeffects]  Moments later “haru2sachi” returns, calling for her friend, but there is no longer anyone to talk to.

I was pretty satisfied with this episode. Because it is from the horror genre and I am a scaredy-cat, I’m glad that it was just three minutes long. I really like how the rotoscoping turned out; it is a simple style of animation, and yet with how everything was coloured and shaded, it still looked “real.”  The music did a satisfactory job of setting the mood and keeping me in suspense, so that’s a big positive for me. I also enjoyed watching some of the live-action footage and behind-the-scene moments that aired at the end when the credits were rolling.

I will be giving this series a three episode grace period, during which I will see if I can overcome my anti-horror tendencies to continue blogging the show. So far, I am impressed with what I have seen and am looking forward to the next episode.


Possibility of watching: Moderate (as long as I am reviewing the show)
Possibility of blogging: Moderate


Stay tuned for MidnightDevont’s first impression!




Just an animanga-loving social worker. I've been watching anime for almost 20 years - ask me about my favourites! I've been to Japan twice and would live there in a heartbeat if I could.

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