The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Ghost Hound

Title: Ghost Hound
Company: Production I.G.
Genre: Drama/Horror
Format: 22 episodes
Dates: 18 Oct 2007 – 3 Apr 2008

Synopsis: Komori Taro has had the same dream every night. It starts with him flying around until the scene transitions to a dark room abuzz with flies. The room is mostly empty save for a girl’s corpse on a bed and a boy, presumably Taro himself. This dream comes every night because Taro and his sister had been victims of a child kidnapping ten years ago and while the victims were quickly murdered, Taro was spared, but his sister was not. Something deep within his mind has caused Taro to repress that memory and it falls upon Dr. Hirata, a psychiatrist, to draw forth that memory. In the meantime, other strange events have been occurring in the small town of Suiten including sightings of spirits and monsters. Only with the help of his two classmates, Nakajima Masayuki and Ogami Makoto, will Taro finally be able to unravel the mystery and how this relates to Miyako, a mysterious girl capable of channeling spirits.

The Highlights
Atmosphere: Would not have been as creepy without the sound effects.
Pacing: Slow and deliberate, keeping the viewer engaged.
Cast: Large, but fairly well-developed.
Ending: Leaves much to be desired.

Part mystery and part psychology lecture with a dash of the supernatural, Ghost Hound is quite a novel series. By blending the psychological drama and the mystery together into a coherent narrative, this series succeeds at being exciting and enthralling. Unfortunately, its faulty execution at the end leaves a bitter aftertaste, giving the viewer the impression that the scope of the series was simply too large to fit within the 22-episode framework, turning what could have been one of the best horror/mystery series into one that is worth watching, but ultimately flawed.

From the onset, Ghost Hound is able to capture the audience’s attention through the way it molds its ominous, creepy atmosphere. The fuzzy camera work and dark colors shroud enough of the mystery from the viewer to create a sense of anticipation and tension, thereby keeping the viewer on edge and provoking their curiosity to find out what happens next. The electronic sound effects like the buzzes and voice distortions contribute to creating that atmosphere because the noise is unsettling and what it helps conceal leads the viewer to speculate macabre possibilities with regard to the mystery. By relying on the viewer’s imagination to fill in the holes, the creepy atmosphere, which the show heavily depends on, is amplified, making it a gripping experience. The pacing strikes a good balance between advancing enough of the plot without revealing too much of the mystery too soon, allowing it to captivate its audience while giving the audience time to ponder and speculate over the whole affair. It also doesn’t hurt that the characters have interesting, varied backgrounds and personalities, and that watching their interactions to discover more details about them and shed light on the overall mystery is something to look forward to in each episode.

So while Ghost Hound is able to cultivate an aura of mystery and horror, it’s the resolution of that mystery that proves to be its undoing. The problem lies in the plot’s loss of focus. From the beginning, the viewer expects the series to be about solving Taro’s kidnapping and the horrifying past that comes to light as a result. As the series progresses, it brings two additional plot points into the picture: the mystery behind the new biological research lab and the revival of a local cult. The two additions are connected to the kidnapping, but the connection is tenuous at best and irrelevant at worst. So what ends up happening is that Taro’s kidnapping gets a brief resolution that is far from earth-shattering and is subsequently brushed to the side, the mystery behind the biology lab evolves into a question on the ethics of bioengineering and whether it’s alright to “play God,” and the story of the cult’s revival muddles between the separation of church and state and the assertion that cultist behavior is a bad thing even though the series never makes an attempt to address why it’s so terrible. In short, Ghost Hound’s attempt to expand in these horizons dilutes the whole experience, leaving none of the plot points resolved satisfactorily and the viewer irritated.

Because of the way its ending was executed, Ghost Hound is a flawed gem in every sense of the word. It showed an excellent amount of promise for three-fourths of the way through, but it ultimately fails to close all of its loose ends properly. So while this show’s positive attributes make it worth checking out, this recommendation is a cautious one because Ghost Hound leaves the viewer with the feeling that it fell far short of its potential.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: zzeroparticle

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