Once upon a time, there was this new show on Cartoon Network called "The Othersiders." It was about a group of kids who went to haunted places, trying to decide whether or not spirits really resided there. The show was not actually scary, it was more the suspense (and heavy breathing of those poor middle schoolers) which made it creepy.
Why do I mention this? Because...
Story: ... In premise, "Ghost Hunt" is a lot like the anime version of "The Othersiders." Or, "The Othersiders" is the live action of "Ghost Hunt." In the anime, a group of people (ranging from young to young adult), well, hunt ghosts.
Taniyama Mai is living the normal life of the Japanese school girl. But on one fateful day, she sees a camera in an abandoned building. Momentarily forgetting that curiosity killed the cat, she walks in and stares at the camera. The whole building explodes (no it doesn't, but I'm trying to make it sound cooler) and the roof collapses. Mai is royally screwed, except a man jumps in and shields her. When she awakens, Strong and Silent, Jr. is there. As it turns out, Strong and Silent, Sr. is the one who saved her life. So, as payment (and because he is kind of a douche in the beginning), Strong and Silent, Jr. makes Mai join his ghost hunting syndicate-thing... SPR (Shibuya Psychic Research).
Cool and all, but this arc storytelling gets a bit repetitive. And, of course, we have a filler episode. But it's an entertaining filler, so I can forgive the series.
Animation: It looks like an anime. Of course, there is nothing WRONG with an anime looking like an anime. But the idealized, pretty faces and simple shading make for a generic-looking anime. Some of the designs of the ghosts, particularly the labyrinth one (the name escapes me), are a little more imaginative, but not much. Sure, the girls look cute and the boys look handsome (or, in Naru's case, pretty damn hot), but you don't need to watch this anime to find that. The animation is a step above par.
Sound: I am in love with both OP (actually, you can watch one of them on my "Best Anime Openings..." blog post). They do not show the characters; they're more "surreal," with haunting music in the background. The ED... whatever. Not NEARLY as memorable. The OST is good enough. The Japanese seiyuu do a fine job: Tai Yuuki gives a sensual and fitting voice to Naru, Nazuka Kaori performs well as the stubborn (and almost tsundere) Mai, and so on. No one really stands out as excellent, though. The English cast fell short. Of what I've heard of it, most people give good performances, but Mai's voice is very, very annoying. Oddly enough, the English VA cast is all-star--Todd Haberkorn, J. Michael Tatum, Travis Willingham, Colleen Clinkenbeard, and Jason Liebrecht all lend their talents to the main team (none of these people were Mai, though). Ah, and, at one point, true English is spoken (in the Japanese dub). It just may be one of the scariest moments of the anime.
Characters: Note that development is practically nonexistent, so I won't mention that for each individual character.
Characters: Brown-haired girl--Mai; Black-haired boy in foreground--Naru; Black-haired man in background--Lin; Black-haired girl--Masako; Blond boy--John; Man with ponytail--Bou-san; Woman with ponytail--Ayako.
Shibuya "Naru the Narcissist" Kazuya: Aptly nicknamed, he thinks of himself as incredible, but he doesn't say it so much that it becomes annoying. It's more an implied thought. He certainly becomes more and more of a badass as the series goes on. And yes, he is Strong and Silent, Jr. I mean, the guy hardly says a word, and he never (SPOILER almost never END SPOILER) smiles.
Taniyama Mai: The undisputed heroine of "Ghost Hunt," she endlessly needs to be rescued. If she isn't trying to seem more epic than she is, she's saying how much she hates Naru (we TOTALLY believe you). You will either find her annoying or not mind her. Her interesting power is a nice asset to the team.
Koujo Lin: As Strong and Silent, Sr., he is practically Naru, minus the "I'm-so-hot-I'm-setting-the-room-on-fire" narcissism. He is constantly rescuing Mai. Oh, and on a side note, one of the schticks of the anime is that Lin is so tall he has to duck when entering a room.
Hara Masako: A soft-spoken girl with the ability to see spirits. She is practically useless and quite irritating. Her not-so-secret love for Naru kind of makes her Mai's rival in love, but the anime didn't play out the romance that well, so it doesn't matter.
John Brown: The monk who seems to like Mai. He is kind of an odd character; he doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose. One of the flaws of "Ghost Hunt" is that they didn't use his character to more of an advantage of the story.
Takigawa Houshou: Rarely called by this name, he is known as either "Monk" or "Bou-san." He seems to like Mai, too, but in less of a pedophile way and more of a fatherly way. His dynamic with Ayako is very hit-or-miss.
Matsuzaki Ayako: Unfortunately, she doesn't help the fact that all females in the team are pretty close to useless. She is, at times, a little too big-headed, but it's obvious her heart is in the right place.
Overall: It's actually quite easy to marathon this anime. It's entertainment value is pretty high, and there are a few truly creepy scenes. Unfortunately, there are too many pitfalls for it to be rated higher.
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