Ghost Hunt

Title: Ghost Hunt
Genre: Drama/Horror
Company: J.C. Staff/Marvelous Entertainment/TV Tokyo
Format: 25 episodes
Dates: 3 Oct 2006 – 27 Mar 2007

Synopsis: Taniyama Mai, a first year high school student, encounters a mysterious man while telling ghost stories with her friend. One thing leads to another, and Mai quickly finds herself swept up in the Ghost Hunting business of Shibuya Psychic Research.

The Highlights
Animation: Smooth and consistent
Ending: Epic, but inconclusive.
Pacing: Episodic, but unrushed.
Plot: Fast-paced and entertaining.
Characters: Full of potential, but ultimately underdeveloped.

From the very first episode, Ghost Hunt enthralled me with its sharp camera-work and precise execution – each action and event occurred quickly, with everything fired in a machine-gun-like onslaught, which eventually managed to leave me with a grin on my face, waiting in anticipation for the next story. This sums up Ghost Hunt: the anime itself doesn’t try to be overly deep or complex, but focuses on provoking that visceral feel in the audience. And how does it succeed.

The first hint of the stylized and exciting nature of the anime can be seen immediately from the animation. While overall the animation is good but not top tier, the camera-work makes up for any deficiency in animation. Polished and unique cuts to entries from characters, black and white overlays, and shaky simulations of hand-filmed scenes convey a sense of exactitude and add immensely to the overall feel of the animation. Furthermore, the quality of animation was maintained throughout the series, and the consistency becomes very apparent in an anime as reliant on effect and action as this.

The episode format is very cookie-cutter and entirely unremarkable, changing arcs about every 3 episodes as the Psychic Research team garners new clientèle. However, interpolated between the stock format exist some truly exciting plots. The anime finesses the “Monster of the Week” cliché by keeping the pace frenetic and swift, with new plot twists to solve the mystery around every corner, keeping the anime from degenerating into boredom. Furthermore, each arc is spaced out almost flawlessly, without too much rushing needed to conclude each (albeit small) storyline; this allows for great storytelling without reaching the glass ceiling that other anime tend to hit nearing the end.

The episode execution lends itself well to the characters, who act more as an extension of the anime than of realistic individuals. One character in the troop of psychic detectives represents each of the major religions of Japan: there is a Buddhist Monk, Shinto Priestess, and Christian Priest present in each new mystery, and each character provides different methods of exorcism and spectral banishment contingent on their religious representation. However, the major problem ultimately lies in the growth of said characters. While they appear to be at least somewhat unique to the anime, they ultimately develop very little throughout the anime. The problem can easily be pinpointed back to the plot – while excellent in execution and style, it overshadows the characters, and thus we see very little development. While romantic relationships between some characters are hinted at early on in the series, it ultimately ends up going nowhere and feels inconclusive.

The character development aspect becomes most apparent in the conclusion of the anime, or more accurately, the lack of conclusion in the anime. While the final plot arc is the fiercest and most exciting one of the series, it ultimately exists as nothing but another plot arc, which leaves the series ending up feeling extremely unfinished and disappointing. However, the last episode did hint at another series; and if J.C. Staff decides to release another episode, I’ll be waiting, popcorn in hand.

The Rating: 7
7/10

Reviewed by: royal crown

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