Of course it had to contend with 100 Demons 18, which is something of a classic.
Cloud Atlas gave me the same unfocussed anxiety that NAmerican films do. Horrible things can happen at any moment and will, even in the most domestic of Disney comedies, and I never know when those moments will come because evidently the cocktail of suspense and violence is this continent's
100 Demons OTOH is much lower grade, much more domestic, in its oogies. Things are just ever so slightly *wrong* most of the time (apart from swollen bellied Things under the stairs and the occasional zombie; and in the latter story it wasn't the zombies so much as the tottering doll trying to walk along the road.) Places you can't get out of; smiling people with debatable motives; and that classic and reassuring Japanese shoujo-horror trope, menacing energies born of the fact that someone just doesn't like you but of course can't say so.
Repression breeds monsters and has since Freud. This is why I find the Victorian period, and stock bourgeois Edwardian, so kimoi in the west. Repressed sexuality plus patriarchy turns to abuse and violence: nasty things in the woodshed, vicious and terrifying ghosts. It works differently in Japan, at least for gaijin me. The chronic everyday emotional repression of Japanese society doesn't produce any dark energies that I can see; the energy just drains away into... somewhere. One may be surrounded by empty husks, but they're civil empty husks (and so are you, of necessity.) It kind of approaches Buddhist self-abnegation, and everyone floats along on the restrained tide of not-being.
Except in manga. The Hallowe'en imprints do The Ravages of Repressed Feeling over the top, all blood and gore and inky black shadows and fangs, to the great consternation of the nice girl whose repressed negativity has sparked these things. Ima Ichiko does it at a more everyday level. And even then-- Ritsu walks perennially in the calm eye of the hurricane of human feelings, even when Things are aiming at him and crows flop dead at his feet, even when he falls into featureless kekkai from nowhere, even when bulbous headed grues go marching past his sickbed. Just one of those things-- goes with the territory-- and anyway he has a report due. It's a pleasure to see him shaken for once, though (no spoilers) not by anything supernatural. Very satisfying: I generally find him rather unpleasant in his detachment from anyone outside his family. A bit short on general empathy, is our Ritsu.
So would this volume please get itself translated into Chinese so I have someone to talk to about it, in the perennial fashion of What *happened* in the first story? and OMG that last story! and my feelings about the ooogey Customs of Our Ancestors that exercise paleaswater so much and me so little because, well, even when horrors happen in Japan they feel different from horrors that happen at home; as if even Japanese ghosts practise self-abnegation and restraint and temper their urami with large doses of shou ga nai. Western ghosts are malignant pretty much by definition; they're out to terrify and do damage, and there isn't enough of them left to reason with. Hysteric children, Alzheimer patients. Japanese ghosts are sad; they just want to be understood and sympathized with and/or buried properly. Quite rational in their fashion. Is why western ghosts scare me (irrational and violent) and Japanese ones don't. And western human sacrifice is all Holdstock yuck, and Japanese human sacrifice is... well, like the Onmyouji story about the couple that became the 'human pillars' of a bridge that was being built, so yuck nasty death source of urami you'd think. Except when the bridge was about to break, their spirits kept bugging people to puhleese go look at the bridge there's something *wrong* with it. 'Admirable,' says Seimei, 'that in spite of their deaths they remained faithful to their duty.' Uh, yeah.
(And speaking of urami, a fillip for paleaswater. Tsukasa comes in a taking to Ritsu's house to tell his father, 'Ritsu's under suspicion of murder!' 'Always thought he'd do it some day,' says Aoarashi, unmoved. 'Kai, right?' So where is your OTP now? ^_^)