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.