Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Running Time: 276 minutes
Rating: PG 14
Release Date: November 18, 2008
The hunt continues and it just gets better and better.
Thank you, Ghost Hunters … because of you I can’t hardly sleep at night. I just lay there in my bed wondering if my shoe closet is haunted by the ghost of Mr. Blackwell. Yet I turn to the SciFi Channel’s original show every chance I get. This also explains my love for FUNimation’s Ghost Hunt … my new anime crush with a lot to offer fans of the genre.
The first volume in this Complete Series set introduces us to a young freshman named Mai Taniyama who comes to discover that her dreams have a major significance and that it’s somehow connected with the ghosts. Yes, yet another character who sees dead people. Yet was separates Mai from other characters that have a similar psychic connection with the spiritual world, Mai isn’t quick to embrace her gift nor does she come to fully understand it. If anything, Mai is frightened by her unique abilities to the point that she does the most reasonable thing … she joins a group specializing in paranormal activity to find out more about it.
As a result of joining the Shibuya Psychic Research team, however, Mai comes to become interested in all things paranormal. The reason is mainly because the group’s leader, “Naru” Shibuya takes her under his wing in hopes that she would embrace her gift rather than be fearful of it. Still, it’s hard to really embrace psychic abilities when the dreams are of a gruesome and bloody nature. Even with a team that includes an ex-monk, a novice Catholic priest-in-training, two seasoned psychics and a knowledgeable researcher, it’s hard not to freak out when the dreams start making a lot of sense.
In Part 2 of Ghost Hunt, the 12 episodes are set up into three new story arcs with multiple chapters for each. The first case involves a high school familiar to Mai. The President of the Student Council at the school (named Yasu) turns to the SPR gang in hopes that they would do something about a confirmed haunting on campus. The group is eager to help despite the fact that the heads of the school faculty don’t want anything to do with them. Meanwhile, the students claim that a demon that has taken the form of a dog is attacking them and that there are strange apparitions seen in various places around the school.
I won’t get into too much detail about the case and how the problem is solved but the good thing about Ghost Hunt is that it slowly peels off the layers of an intricate case without losing its pleasant pace. The story might not be terrifying but it doesn’t force the horror elements either. It’s also in this story arc that Yasu joins the SPR as a regular member. Yasu actually adds humor to the show and the following story arcs and is actually a likeable fellow who is actually open to the type of research the group follows closely.
In The Bloodstained Labyrinth (the strongest and most clever of the three cases found in the set), the group breaks in the new member by taking him along on a complex case involving and old mansion that is linked to the disappearance of the mansion’s staff and visitors. Naru’s team isn’t the only paranormal research group there, however, seeing as renowned psychics and other supernatural investigators have also been invited to discover what happened to a recent mansion visitor and then a search party member that was looking for said missing person. The ghost in the mansion also become quite vocal and Mai has visions of what looks like a torture chamber within the mansion grounds.
Finally, there’s The Cursed House story arc that is actually quite good as well. A client drops a dangerous case on the group’s lap that resulted in the deaths of three psychics that attempted to tackle the case. The gang does take the job, only to find a connection between the household’s family members and a curse that does cause Naru to be in harms way. In fact, he’s possessed by the spirit of a member of the household. I would be spoiling the story if I said more so I’ll leave it to the viewer to enjoy this final story in the collection.
The three stories do feel connected thanks to the fact that the characters do mention the events in the other story arcs so it’s not like anybody suddenly forgets what happened to a member of the group. Mai makes another observation about the kimono-wearing Masako who resents Mai’s growing relationship with Naru. The two even get into a pillow fight … and not the good kind of pillow fight either. We even come to know a few things about other SPR members such as Lin and, most importantly, about Naru himself. It’s always great to find an anime series with such well-rounded characters with an actual history.
Part of the reason we have come to love Mai is that she’s far from being the typical main character that bravely storms into dangerous situations. Mai is genuinely frightened by the things she sees but despite her fear she tries to be a functioning member of the group. She’s insecure yet doesn’t want to let the others down. She’s intrigued by the supernatural as well as frightened of it at the same time. Another part of the reason she’s so likeable is that voice actor Cherami Leigh (who can also be seen in the movies “Stephen King’s The Mist” and “Fast Food Nation“) simply does a magnificent job of displaying the emotion behind Mai’s voice.
Part 2 of Ghost Hunt: Complete Series is certainly one of those volumes that is required viewing for anyone who likes a good supernatural tale with a cast of genuinely enjoyable characters. It’s scary at times but not over-the-top scary but it’s also clever and fun enough that you’ll be hooked from the opening chapter. In other words, Ghost Hunt is scary good funny that shouldn’t be missed.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
The 12 episodes weave three different tales but The Bloodstained Labyrinth story arc is the darkest of the two as well as one of the most surprising. With the introduction of a new SPR member, we dive deeper into Mai insecurities as a psychic and a paranormal researcher. Even broken into parts, the story doesn’t lose steam.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
The video quality is excellent and consistent throughout the two discs. This isn’t high-definition but the quality in this set is pretty close. Also, the animation is simply lovely.
AUDIO QUALITY: A+
The Japanese voice work in this series is great but you just have to give credit where credit is due because the English dub is downright impressive. The credit is mostly aimed at Cherami Leigh who does a great job of injecting personality into Mai. The music isn’t bad at all either.
Character profiles, textless opening theme song and a few trailers make up the set’s extras. The real treat comes in the form of several pages from the Ghost Hunt manga by Del Rey Manga. The Ghost Sighting section simply contains screenshots of the ghosts that appear in each episode.
Just try not to like this series … I dare you. While the first part of this Complete Series set was an awesome introduction to this ghost hunting anime, Part 2 simply establishes all the elements that make this an entertaining and likeable series that is sure to hook fans into its supernatural universe.