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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The story got off to a slow and somewhat boring start, but after a few episodes I really got into it. It has a pretty original storyline. I really enjoyed watching Ghost Hound.
The show starts out with a really creepy opening of something flying around and only getting glimpses of what’s happening from his eyes. We find out that it was all a damn dream from our main character. Taro Komori seems like a rather normal boring guy who lives with a family of brewers. And yet they bring up strange things about his past that seem to be bothering him. I can’t lie, even with knowing the description of the anime, this all was a bit confusing in the beginning. They jump around a lot and the only thing I really got was that Taro was able to astro project and has dreams of the past. As the show goes on, it does get slightly better and there are times that they kept me on the edge of my seat but it is extremely logical and have a mountain of dialogue before something gets done.
Masayuki seems much more like the person we should be following. He is the outsider who is gathering information on what goes on around the other two. He seems to have more of an understanding that things are happening then Taro and Makoto. It’s that or Taro and Masayuki’s stories should switch a bit. Miyako is pretty silent but is also one that I wished we could get more info on right up front. She seems to have even more understanding as to what is going on about the spiritual world.
I like how they show the outer body experience like being in water to where you can’t really hear anything around you. What I don’t like is that they seem to have only one goal throughout the whole show and that’s to find out what went on a long time ago. It just makes the characters sound like broken records at times. Now I’m not saying it’s no good. I did like it but I wish that they had more episodic ghost show with the overall plot mixed in with it.
A lot of this show talks about the mind and how philology plays a big part in what happens when you have trauma at a young age. Unfortunately, it seems that they try to base it all on ghosts and astro projections. Sometimes it feels like they are just trying to make up excuses to what’s going on with the kids. At some point, they even talk about the destruction of nature though I really don’t see what it has to do with all of the supernatural ideas or the children turning into strange beings.
The animation lacks just a little, making it look a little like Sayonara Zetsubo-Sensei with a little bit of CG mixed into it. Sometimes it looks a bit on the plain side, not really standing out from any other anime or even lacking from others. Still, I have to give it props for trying to be different then the others. The close ups give a very creepy look to the show. Unfortunately, some of the characters look like they have large heads even when not in a spiritual form.
The music is really hunting and creepy in the opening, but set the mood well. What doesn’t set the mood is the basic clips from the show. It just seems like a lack of love was given to the opening in this aspect. The scripting is a bit odd; sometimes the characters seem to talk to someone even if they haven’t said anything at all. There are also some strange passes in the way sentences are said and sometimes the volume isn’t right. Even with the strange script, I still like how the voices are. They have voices I would imagine them to have.