Most anime shows are pretty even. If they start out strong, chances
are the show will be pretty good. Yeah, sometimes the creators take
a good premise and mess it up so that the ending is a let down, but that's
the exception rather than the rule. Ghost Hunt is an odd series
in that it gets significantly better as it goes on. While the first
half of the season was good, the second half really ratchets up the creepy
factor (something that was pretty much nonexistent in the first set) and
makes for some eerie and fun shows.
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 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 second half of the show, the mysteries are a bit creepier and
actually start getting to be a little scary. The set starts out with
the group investigating another haunted school. In this one a desk
seems to be causing all of the problems, whoever sits at it suffers from
a bad accident, but as Naru looks into it he discovers that there's more
than meets the eye. People start getting seriously hurt, and one
of Naru's assistants ends up in the hospital after falling down a flight
of stairs. This set doesn't have any ghostly happenings explained
by natural phenomena. The ghosts are much more dangerous this time
around, and sometimes they kill.
The second of the three stories presented in this set if the best of
the show, and most suspenseful. Naru and the gang are hired, along
with two other psychic detective groups, by an ex-prime minister to discover
why young people are disappearing in one of his mansions. They
set up a base camp and start investigating the house only to discover that
there are a series of rooms in the middle of the sprawling structure that
have been sealed off. Before then can investigate further, members
of the other groups start to disappear. And so does some of their
The final multi-part story is also excellent. The stakes are very
high when Naru takes the case of a seaside resort where strange things
are happening. He soon learns that three other psychic investigators
have been called in, and all three of them have been killed. That's
not enough to scare him off, but when Naru becomes possessed by a ghost
and has to be sedated it's up to the others to solve this case.
I enjoyed this second half of the show very much. There's more
tension with people being seriously wounded or killed in each tale.
The events are creepier are more blood-filled too. In one story a
creature bathes in human blood to keep himself alive, and flays people
in a Silence of the Lambs-type house of horrors. There's another
section where Mia has one of her precognitive dreams that she's being butchered
alive. She can feel the knives slitting her open and even though
it's only a dream, it was very real to her.
There's a little bit of background information in this set too.
While not everything is explained or spelled out, viewers get to discover
at least partial back stories to some of the characters. While this
sometimes raises more questions than it answers, finding out a little extra
about Ayako and seeing just what Naru brings to the table besides his ample
knowledge of the occult is a lot of fun.
Like the first half, the 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 last 12 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
This is one of those rare shows where the second half takes things up
a notch and really improves the show. With more horrific stories
and events the show really ends on a high note. It's too bad that
there isn't a second season. This show gets a very strong Recommendation.