FUNimation is really leading the way when it comes to marketing anime.
For years fans have been clamoring for shows to be released in reasonably
priced season sets and FUNimation is doing just that (nearly.) They've
released a few shows in half-season sets, which is close enough for this
otaku. Their latest half-season release is Ghost Hunt, a supernatural
investigation show. While it's not nearly as scary as I was hoping,
this program has some interesting characters with a nice mix of humor,
mystery, and just a dash of romance.
Mai Taniyama leads the life of a normal high school student until the
day that she wanders into the old abandoned school that is said to be haunted.
Some heavy bookshelves come falling down upon her but she's pushed out
of the way by a man named Lin. He injures his foot in the process
of saving her, so Lin's boss, the attractive Kazuya Shibuya who is barely
older than Mai herself, says that Mai has to take over Lin's job as his
assistant until he's healed.
Reluctantly she agrees and finds herself immersed in the world of ghosts,
poltergeists, psychic phenomena, and vengeful spirits. Kazuya,
whom Mai soon nicknames Naru since he's so egotistical, owns a psychic
detective agency. He investigates odd happenings, like Mai's abandoned
school that is said to be haunted. Kazuya is aided, on occasion,
by a Buddhist Monk, Housho Takigawa, a TV medium Masiko, a Shinto Shrine
Priestess, Ayako, and an Australian Catholic Priest, John Brown.
Though they all have different personalities and often clash, the group
works together to solve some mysterious enigmas.
In this first half of the season, the group investigates a haunted school,
a possessed doll, a school that appears to have been cursed by a student,
a haunted park where lovers are mysteriously doused in water, and an orphanage
where a child who disappeared years ago starts possessing the residents.
This show isn't scary, which is what I was expecting going into it.
It's more like Case Closed with a supernatural twist. As with
Detective Conan, the mysteries aren't necessarily fair, and there's a fair
amount of unrevealed knowledge about the supernatural that leads to the
solution. That's not a big deficit for the show however because this
is more character driven than revolving around the plot. The most
enjoyable aspect of the series is seeing the various characters, especially
the mysterious Lin and even more enigmatic Kazuya, interact with each other.
As the show progresses Mai starts to develop feelings for Naru, even though
she still thinks that he's an egotistical pig. She has to compete
with Masiko however, though Kazuya doesn't seem romantically interested
in either of them.
Animation was okay but not outstanding. Some of the designs and
effects were good, I especially liked the why the girl who had been possessed
by her school desk looked. They do cut some corners however, panning
and zooming in on still images to give the illusion of motion and most
of the action scenes take place off camera.
The first 13 episodes of the series are presented on two single-sided
DVDs. These come in a pair of thinpaks which are housed in an illustrated
The series offers viewers the option of the original Japanese language
or an English dub, both in stereo. The show is mainly dialog based,
with only a few action scenes that would have benefited from a 5.1 mix.
I alternated audio tracks for the first few episodes before settling on
the Japanese track for the rest of the set. The dub track was fine
and the English language actors did a good job but the Japanese track just
seemed more natural and 'fit' the characters better. There weren't
any problems with either track as far as distortion, background noise,
or other common audio defects.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic image was very good with only a few minor problems.
The lines were tight and the colors were deep. Blacks were fine though
not outstanding, and the level of detail was good. There was a little
aliasing, which mainly manifested itself in the backgrounds, and some minor
posterization. Aside from that the show looked fine.
As far as bonus material, this set has some but none of it is really
exciting. They are all located on the second disc and include a textless
opening, some pages from the manga, "Ghost Sightings" the brief scenes
involving ghosts strung together, and text profiles of the main (and some
I went into this show thinking it would be a scary or at least suspenseful
anime, and I was wrong. Though I was initially disappointed, the
show did turn out to be an enjoyable mystery show with some fun and intriguing
characters that's suitable for viewers of all ages. The mystery behind
just who Naru is will have me looking forward to the next set. Recommended.