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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Ghost Hunt: Season 1, Part 2
Ghost Hunt: Season 1, Part 2
FUNimation // Unrated // November 18, 2008
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted November 20, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Series:

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.

Series Background:

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.

This set:

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 own.

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 DVD:


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 slipcase.

Audio:

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.

Video:

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.

Extras:

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 minor) characters.

Final Thoughts:

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.
 

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