Ghost Hound

Alt titles: Shinreigari Ghost Hound

Reviews

skankfish's avatar By on Jun 27, 2010

Demograph: 18+

Story 8/10

Only on the penultimate episode did I discover that the original suppose for this series was penned by Masamune Shirow. It doesn't really show, although as that was in 1987 it isn't so surprising. Why it took 20 years to make it to screen is anyone's guess.

Anyway, the story is very good. A dark and moody tale at heart, this anime mulls through the lives of its protagonists and a semi-real world of astral projection and spirits. It does so in a way immediately attributable to Nakamura Ryuutarou's (Serial Experiments Lain) direction. I enjoyed SEL's rasping static sensory deprivation, and I love it here too. The bassy atmosphere death rattles the viewer through several inter-connected disturbing backstories, and drapes the leads characters in harsh, heavy shadows.

The story revolves in the "unseen world" of disconnected spirits, and is played out as part mystery, part science. The exposition and investigation is mainly from the perspective of juniour high school students, connected by those dark backstories; and this is perhaps one of the small blemishes on the series. While the "difficult past and large responsibilty on young shoulders" plot element is powerful despite its regular use in anime, I think the children retained a little too much of their childish appearance during the progression of this series. Indeed it was not Shirow's intention to have such young protagonists.

Animation 8.5/10

Simulteneously beautiful and slightly wrong.

The quality is very high, as you would expect from Production I.G. But perhaps the tones and designs of the children, again, bring the show down slightly. The atmosphere created by the backdrops, creatures and settings throughout was exceptional, but the flat-coloured characters distracted slightly from that and just felt a little out of place. A few bad choices were also made during astral projection. The initial "baby" characters look a little too silly, as do some of the later apparitions.

Overall, though, the designs and smoothness need some applause for their left-of-mainstream quality. Very well put together; sometimes even creepy.

Sound 8/10

Like SEL, one of the things that brings the atmosphere and animation and script together is the sound used to bind them. The fuzz, the buzz, the scrapes, the dinks - all work fantastically with the mood and direction. Although you could argue that the general impression is almost too similar to SEL, it works very well regardless. OP is also well suited. Japanese VAs are good, and mild-mannered enough to pull off the roles very professionally and convincingly.

Characters 8.5/10

The very believable story within what is something of a fantastical show is exposed beautifully through the main cast. Common personality types crop up but remain under-done to perfection, easily escaping the horrible tendency in asian media to ham-up emotions. The leads are well defined and maturely designed. There could be a little more conflict in there, and some things perhaps shouldn't go quite as smoothly as they tend to do for those characters, but I was very satisfied with the way things turned out. All but one or two characters are important in their own way, and most hold themselves together well and deserve their screen time.

Overall 8.9/10

With such good all round scores it's tempting to go even higher with the overall mark, but all I'll do is recommend this to anyone who enjoys a mature anime. Though the series runs for 22 episodes there were no points when I felt cheated because of that. There's no filler in here. The fascinating story unfolds generously, without recourse to distraction. Although I felt a couple of things could have been explained a little more, the ending was a satisfactory finish for what is literally a one-in-a-thousand anime.

Now to hunt out the next classic hidden within swathes of soggy cardboard and freaky pillows.

8/10 story
8.5/10 animation
8/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
8.9/10 overall
StevenSAKUJO's avatar By on Jul 5, 2012

Story 4/10

Ghost Hound is a strange anime, however to what section of this review I can attribute this to I'm unsure. The storyline is quite vague, it's almost episodic because it's so vague, but it's very blatant at times yes but it's so simplistic that I don't know where to put everything. Miyako is a girl with shamanistic powers, she acts as a vessel for gods and spirits to communicate to the real world, a dying religion/cult who's leader just perished suffers from having no new leader as Makoto hates his grandmother. They try to steal Miyako so that she can revive their dying religion. However three teenagers, Makoto, Masayuki and Taro begin to discover their own powers in the so called "unseen world" and they intervene to save Miyako. However very few episodes are really devoted to relevant plot points to this main storyline, most of the time is swallowed up by the slow pace of the anime. Some episodes are long explanations of things that have little overall relevance to the split, sometimes we stray off into a big sub-story line and take out of it only a tiny bit of information regarding the main plot. In this sense, it's like sagas or episodic, not really a wholesome plot for me.

Character development although a lot of time was spent on it, didn't really go anywhere interesting.. The end results could be predicted from introductions to the characters, on one side the story line had sensationalistic aspects, like spies and thugs but on then it also had very mundane and uneventful aspects. At the end of it all, I knew what I saw was nothing like a mindf*ck, nor a psychological, not even close to a horror... but what had I seen? A slice of life with a strange tiny sub-plot that some people may think is the main one. However even as a slice of life, it wasn't funny, dramatic or interesting. Characters were just there, they didn't necessarily exist for any reason yet they were mundane. The finale didn't make much sense and there were a lot of plot holes, but the end explanation seemed so half-assed that to say the main plot was actually a side plot wouldn't be a stretch, for me, these two objectives conflicted, slice of life + psychological mindf*ck don't mix at all.

Animation 6/10

I have been trying to be more critical of animation instead of just saying "miyako and taro were so kawaii!! Motoko looked sooo cool!" I am going to try to look at it comparitvely. Was the animation good? Yeah it was, but it was also boring and plain. The depiction of the "unseen world" was very uninteresting, such ideas give you space to go crazy but instead it was very dull and safe. The spirits were just transparent flying bugs, Snark was the only remotely creative construction in this entire anime, if the anime wanted to go towards creating a colorful, inspirational and chaotic mindf*ck then the animation was the first place to start. And in asserting the "slice of life" component, it was just as plain and mundane as the story-line. The anime can't avoid depicting the story, otherwise it would be just a black screen, this anime depicted the story but it did absolutely nothing more. When it comes to "I like how the Characters cried" or "I liked how **** looked", there's nothing beyond it, and the rest of it is just subjective.

Sound 5.5/10

I didn't mind OP, I didn't mind OST I guess, a lot of it was very invisible and irrelevant, faded into the back ground. Sieryuu's didn't do a bad job at all though, some were pretty good. I don't think music was really meant to play a big role in this anime and so I won't critique it too heavily, especially since I'd need to youtube the OST to completely remember what they did with it, and this anime's not worth that dedication.

Characters 7.5/10

Okay so I submit, some of the characters were a little interesting, while their finales were rather anti-climactic there were some deep ideas thrown around. While for most of them I didn't sympathize well, and such as Miyako's had her insecurities been thrown into a character where they were more abstract, it would have been sick. However feeling scared of losing control of yourself and going through an identity crisis when you're being "possessed" is kind of natural. Makoto was the only character with some real depth, the rest were very dominated by one or two ideas.

Overall 4.5/10

My rule is that anything I bothered to watch to the end gets 5/10 at least, however I watched this through to the end because I wanted to write a review on it. I was also interested as to what path the anime would take in the end; slice of life or mindf*ck, you know like a NGE ending but it was pretty shit. If I hadn't had pedophilic feelings for Miyako and Taro, I'd probably give the anime 3/10 and those 3 points would go to the limited but existing, psychological scenes that actually barely interested me because they were too short but showed promise. I don't recommend watching this anime no matter who you are, but I will also concede that the anime has a nice flow that you can kind of get swept away on if your mind is at 10% capacity, so yeah, that's my charity comment.

Don't be afraid to leave a comment, I like to read them.

4/10 story
6/10 animation
5.5/10 sound
7.5/10 characters
4.5/10 overall
Pratisalva's avatar By on Sep 30, 2014

Im not gonna lie. Im not a big fan of this anime but why did i waste my time watching 22 episodes and dying to know how it goes. Well its very simple, its the very fact that Ghost Hound is a fiction based story that deals with scientific explanation, psychological and paranormal phenomenons. For those who thoroughly researched "astral projection" "near death experience" or out-of-body-experience" this is quite informative. Well just ignore some scenes that doesn't really make any sense.

As for the story, it is rather interesting than boring, imagine that even spirits can cause anomalies. Experiments can rather resort to distrubing results. Stuffs like that.

Animation so far is a little bland. The concept is there but why turn it into something that a 7 year old can watch. Kinda dissappointing.

For the music, good but not catchy.

Characters, well. Sad to say, im not really a fan of junior students, talks about crappy life in school etc etc. There was a mystery and it doesn't really tell you that much.

Overall, i would recommend this for those who wants to explore a different approach of psychological and paranormal aspect in life. Its worth a try.

9/10 story
7/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
7.8/10 overall
Gzerble's avatar By on Feb 21, 2015

Ghost Hound is a show you feel like you should be in awe of, but kinda sucks, but is kinda awesome, but kinda sucks too. It's like the Christian Slater of anime, somewhat famous and somewhat obscure, and is equal measures of great and mediocre. On one side, it has some of the strongest features of all times, and on the other it fails to give a coherent vision that amounts to much. It has plenty of atmosphere, but little depth despite that huge potential.

All problems aside, Ghost Hound is interesting and has a quality to it that just makes you want to see more. People say it is a horror show, and while it has some rather dark themes, it isn't that exactly. There is a psychological aspect to it, but it is not the central theme either. It is both character and plot driven. There are the obligatory creepy organizations, weird relationships, dark backstories, and plot holes disguised as unanswered mystery. Still, these things are effective at capturing the imagination.

Philosophical and scientific ramblings are the main problem I have with the series. As someone that knows a bit of science and some about psychology, the amount of BS tossed around is really annoying. The philosophy isn't deep, the science is between iffy to plain disingormation, and the psychology is at times flat out incorrect. That shouldn't matter to most viewers as it is nothing more than a handwaved explanation as to why things happen the way they do in Ghost Hound, but I found it incredibly grating.

That being said, Ghost Hound is overall a good series. It isn't awesome unless you are willing to accept bad science as fact, have plenty of plots which don't really go anywhere, and character designs that are somewhat subpar. It is a great atmospheric view, and definitely has a unifying vision which molds the art and writing together nicely. There is plenty of upside to the series if you aren't a natural born nitpicker.

Writing (Story and Characters):

What a weird combination of horror atmosphere, slice of life structure, supernatural mystery plots, and character driven story Ghost Hound is. Say what you will about it, there is definitely some unique work done by the writing staff. There are heavy influences from Serial Experiments Lain and Texhnolyze in the show, but it is more grounded than the first and more interesting than the second. That being said, it has less depth than the first and less grit than the second.

I've already touched on some of the weaknesses of the show, such as the semi-episodic structure failing to give depth to the smaller arcs or making the overall story a completion of the small ones. There is a strong character driven element to the story, but it isn't too deep and at times is badly executed. A lot of the smaller arcs are left incomplete, which on one hand helps give a deeper feeling to the story, but on the other just makes things feel like a waste of time. Chekov's Gun is a classic literary technique that gives a story strength, which is that things mentioned should be used. It's basic writing technique, and the writing staff ignores it.

Characters in a semi-character driven show are critical, as they are supposed not only to be the guides through the story but also give depth to the plot. But here we get everything from inconsistencies in the personalities to lacking character development in some cases. That being said, some of the characters are interesting and have some depth, and manage to hold up certain parts of the plot. There is a definite balance to the cast, and no morality is forced through them down the throats of the viewers, and sometimes you actually want to either cheer for them or slap them silly.

When the writing combines the character and story elements, it ends up being a lot better than the sum of its parts, but still not quite deserving of unreservered praise. As a whole, the writing is more than adequate and definitely special. There are too many loose threads and holes in the script for it to be truly great, but it manages to be evocative without being needlessly provocative. It is a missed opportunity to take the extra step in which both philosophical discussion and psychological aspects unite into coherent questions for the viewers to ponder, but is still interesting enough.

Art (Animation and Sound):

Ghost Hound has a mixed bag when it comes to artwork. There is a definite vision behind it all, and it manages to give a creepy atmosphere that makes the show far more titilating than it has any right to be. From an artistic perspective, it isn't just a product but also has some creativity to the execution. While there are some problems with it, overall the art takes a show that would be incoherent and makes it work somehow. In short, the creative execution of the writing takes it a few levels beyond what you'd expect.

Perhaps the weakest point of the art is the animation. The backgrounds are interesting, the color palette is a perfect choice, and more than that, there is some real exceptional artistic ideas that are incorporated well. Now to the bad side, the character designs are nothing special and overly simplistic, and do some things that are annoyingly stereotypical. There is an occasional lack of fluidity to the movement (an overview of a scene which is just scrolling through a picture where no one is moving, stuff like that). Overall, the animation is well above average and fits the writing like a glove, but has some technical issues that don't allow it to be spectacular.

Getting it out of the way: the opening theme is seriously awesome (big band for the win). I'm not sure it is a great fit for the series, but has both style and class without being pretentious. Actually, the sound of Ghost Hound is incredibly all the way, except a couple of characters whose voice acting isn't particularly good. The aggressive use of ambient sounds and effects makes the atmosphere so much more powerful than it should be. While those take the forefront, the soundtrack gets pushed into the background to set moods when it feels right. The creative people were allowed to run rampant with creativity and boy does the risk pay off in spades.

Usually the artwork brings a world to life, here the artwork is a world in itself. The sound is daring and creative, the animation effective and uses clever tricks to make everything work together, and both of them are in perfect sync, and not only that, are a perfect match for the writing. Where the writing has major issues and the animation minor ones, overall, the art manages to make the issues far less significant for the larger part.

Overall:

Ghost Hound is a pretty good show. It is well above average in many things it does and spectacular from an audio perspective, but the story has too many issues to even be considered mediocre. What can be said is that the show is stronger than the sum of its parts, and has a rather unique feel in a field of bland anime. Well worth a view for people who want something a little creepy, a little dark, a little artistic, and don't mind scientific mumbo-jumbo to give supposed depth.

4/10 story
7.5/10 animation
9.8/10 sound
5.5/10 characters
7.8/10 overall
Aranneas's avatar By on Oct 31, 2012

Story 5.5/10

Ghost Hound starts off strong, establishing an isolated small town setting that comes off creepier than Hinamizawa and a world with intriguing mysteries and mechanics that we want to explore. It's easy to see now where the more recent Shiki gained a lot of its stylistic inspiration.

Tarou Komori is a young boy dealing with the pressures of dealing up and apparent symptoms of a post-traumatic or similar disorder stemming from his abduction and imrpisonment at an early age. Howevern there appears to be more to his out-of-body experiences than a 'mere' troubled mind attempting to sort itself out. He becomes our vehicle for exploring the interactions and conflicts between the spirit world and that of humanity in a story that looks at the dynamics of broken families, broken psyches, and the cost of progress.

Unfortunately, while the outset is interesting, the story loses steam in the third act heavily. Instead of a logical and well thought-out conclusion to the intricate plot threads, we get to see what happens when the writers give up and say 'fuck it, dragon.' The twists truly do come out of nowhere. The carefully built up horrific (yes, it succeeds at being horrific) atmosphere starts to unravel after the first half, and simply proceeds to self-destruct from there. The conclusion is nothing short of mesmerizing in its banality and stupidity.

Animation 6.5/10

The main portion of the series done in a somewhat fogged out, pastel-like style that I found to work very well. Character designs are nothing special, but they mostly do their job. Except for a couple of the female characters. Unless that job is 'fanservice'. In which case they work, but still don't correspond very well to actual human anatomy.

There's also some 'otherworldly' scenes which occur that should probably be mentioned. I feel like some opportunities were missed along the way to really create something that would make the viewer freak out and ground the story once again in its ostensible horror genre.  The show gets better at this as it goes, but still leaves a fair bit of room for improvement by the end. For a 'ten year anniversary' production it just seems like they made a lot of really... safe... decisions. The result is... safe. Not great. Just... fine.

Sound 8/10

The score is a very solid effort. Minimalist, rhythmic, almost tribal at points, occasionally avant-garde. On its own, you could probably forge a couple of neat club tunes out of it. As an accompaniment to the series it is flawless. The composer remembers that occasionally silence is the most effective way of building tension, but doesn't hesitate to hammer away at our hearts when he needs to. The OP is particularly noteworthy, establishing the creepy and mysterious tone of the early portion of the series without giving away a thing.

Sound is meaty and effective, just what you need for a high action-show. Some of those warbling watery voices every episode opens with actually did give me goose bumps. Voice work is mainly quite good, particularly from the supporting cast, but a couple of the main characters just make me want to punch them in the face every time they open their mouths.

Characters 7/10

The cast is large and diverse and brings a wide array of their own personal and psychological problems to the table. Some are given the treatment they deserve (Makoto's arc is deliciously angsty, Tarou is a bit overblown but effective in the end). Some are... not. Nakajima starts out creepy and mysterious, then we learn more about his problems and do, in fact, discover there's a person under that... and then he just kind of falls apart by the end. The treatment of our female lead is, in my opinion, almost unforgivable.

Secondaries tend to follow a similar pattern, some being delved into very effectively in the screentime they have, and some, unfortunately including all of the villains, just don't get any exploration worth mentioning.

Overall 6/10

The biggest problem with this show is that in the end nothing whatsoever is lost. For many series a happy ending is not a bad thing. For a series that firmly establishes itself in a well-developed horror setting this is nothing short of a betrayal. Horror is the place for victories that are dragged by the barest of inches from the gaping jaws of defeat that threaten to destroy everything you hold dear. It wouldn't go amiss to lose an arm or a leg or a little sister along the way. None of that here. In the end, Ghost Hound unfortunately betrays its premise and fails to deliver on its excellent opening, but still does deliver some enjoyable character studies and a halfway decent story.

5.5/10 story
6.5/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
6/10 overall