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Chibi Review: Ghost Hound (Collection 1)

A dark surprise

 
 

When he was three, Taro Komori and his sister were kidnapped, but the kidnapper was run over and killed before the ransom could be delivered. The police eventually found Taro, but not before his sister had died. Eleven years later, Taro still has nightmares of the events surrounding the kidnapping and is haunted by a tall, featureless specter.

Now Taro searches for answers together with two unlikely companions: a brash transfer student from Tokyo who is himself haunted by the memory of a fellow student who committed suicide by jumping from the roof of the school, and the son of a man who committed suicide after being accused of being involved in the kidnapping. Unseen spirits, ghosts, and out-of-body experiences all combine in an intriguing exploration into the workings of memory and our perception of the world.

Vital Stats


Title: Ghost Hunt, Collection 1  
Studio: Production I.G.
Licensor: Sentai Filmworks
Japanese Audio/English Subtitles
 
 
Discs: 2
Run time: 275 Minutes (11 episodes)
Release date: 10/20/2009
SRP: $59.99

 
 Viewable Online: YES (The Anime Network) 
 

Discussion:

First off, love, love that opening. My instincts were all saying... Serial Experiments Lain, and that's not an entirely off base comparison. Combining the director and script writer from that show, Ghost Hound is a highly stylized story with very little dependency of verbal dialog. So much so, I'm sure you could turn off the English subtitles and still immutably know what was going on. To say I loved the "style" is an understatement. I loved the style, loved the music, loved the expression. What I'm unsure of is "if" I love the story. 
 
Episodes 1-4 had me watching because I was intrigued, but the series took a direction decidedly different than the introduction. See, the series starts off with these incredibly aloof characters.
  • Taro was kidnapped as a 3 year old. His sister died as a result.
  • Makoto was the son of the man accused of kidnapping Taro. His father committed suicide as a result, and he's being lead by his cult leader grandmother. 
  • Masayuki, well, I don't actually know much about him. He's a transfer kid with a bunch of things going on with his family. He has a fear of heights due to a friend(?) who committed suicide. I expect more from him soon.
 
  Masayuki tends to get on people's nerves
 Masayuki tends to get on people's nerves
Masayuki kind of acts like glue to the group. While he initially appears the most socially affluent, he is obsessed with the others, and addresses the things that have tormented him. In this perverse circle, they create a strong connection. What results is a great blend of affection, anger, and anguish traveling between them. I mean, Makoto hates Taro because of his father's death, yet its not like Taro did anything other than be abducted. By the same token, Makoto is an indirect victim, and is subject to the rumors/accusations of being the son of a criminal, much different then how the kids are afraid of dealing with the "victim" Taro.
 
The fact that they have complex, tragic stories, yet strangely fit together is what really drew me into the show. Like, I enjoyed how these three characters, despite having a degree of obvious trauma, manage to be relatively played down. They are all effected, yet not entirely crippled by their issues. While they might not be entirely healthy, they deal with their problems in a relatively mature matter.Of course, eventually the "ghost" in "ghost hound" had to show up...
 
Don't get me wrong, the show is still exploring these themes, but they are of a seemingly secondary concern. I can't blame them, ghosts/spirits are cool and all, but I feel like we're getting distracted by these elements. Jarring, would be the word I'd use. I intend to finish out the remaining episodes, though its only to see if this new direction can reclaim the intensity/somber reality I found so intoxicating about the introductory arc.
 

Screenshots:



Pros and Cons

Positives
  • Great music
  • High style
  • Dark, physiological tone
 
Negatives
  • Strong directing, unsteady direction
  • High SRP for only half of a series...
  • Could be hard to follow, as the series strings together only small details across many episodes.
 

If, Than, But...

If you like these series, you might like Ghost Hunt, but... 
   Serial Experiments Lain: Style and tone are spot on, but more techno religious than "spirit"ual
 Serial Experiments Lain: Style and tone are spot on, but more techno religious than "spirit"ual

   When they cry: Unexplained oddities in a weird town, but decidedly more "Child of the corn" town
 When they cry: Unexplained oddities in a weird town, but decidedly more "Child of the corn" town

   Mushishi: Episodic and focused on spirits, but considerably less... depressing
 Mushishi: Episodic and focused on spirits, but considerably less... depressing

Konandaon April 23, 2010 at 6:58 p.m.

Hmm sounds interesting and the visual style is pretty cool.

Liminalityon April 24, 2010 at 11:05 a.m.
I'm watching Sakura Taisen now, this could be the next one.

Dig Deeper into Ghost Hound

A supernatural horror tale set in a rural village on the verge of being upgraded due to the building of a nearby plant.

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