Mai Taniyama is a first year high school student who lives a carefree life telling ghost stories with her friends. One day, she meets Kazuya Shibuya, the head of Shibuya Psychic Research (SPR); and together, she tags along to help him investigate paranormal activities in a haunted school building. His assistant Lin was hurt during an incident to protect Mai from danger, so what more can Mai do than to take the job as Shibuya's assistant? Along with a team of other ghost hunters, they will uncover the mystery of a strange case coming their way, while Mai starts to discover her own abilities.
StoryIn many ways, Ghost Hunt reminds me of Jigoku Shoujo. The two anime each start out with a relatively interesting premise, but ultimately are undone by their absolute unwillingness to take any sort of risks with their story. Instead, both series dutifully trudge along the path of least resistance, and the result is depressingly conventional. Granted, Ghost Hunt is not nearly as monotonous as Jigoku Shoujo. The series’ several plot arcs are distinguishable enough from each other to not be absolutely mindnumbing, and some of the best arcs are actively engaging. Moreover, Ghost Hunt actually attempts to keep the audience guessing, and provides plot twists that, while predictable, help to keep the show moving. The best scenes only allow the audience to sense the ghosts indirectly. A ghost in plain sight is seldom scary, but implicit signs of the supernatural (shifting objects, strange noises, falling temperature) can be genuinely creepy. Ghost Hunt realizes this, and uses such tricks to good effect well before the spirits ever fully show themselves in a given story arc. Still, the series is nonetheless trapped in a very rigid framework, which hurts the narrative considerably. By the end of each story arc, the audience can be completely sure that: 1. Every major character will still be alive. 2. The case will completely solved. 3. Everything will have returned to the way it was at the beginning of the arc. This kind of story structure has traditionally suffered from poor character development, and Ghost Hunt is no exception. However, an even more devastating consequence is that this almost completely kills the suspenseful mood that the series is going for. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, a superior horror anime in almost every way, is notable for having no such self-imposed restrictions. While both series have arc-based storylines, in Higurashi, anything could happen. Major characters could die, mysteries could be completely explained or remain utterly unsolved, and even the roles certain characters played could shift erratically. The result was riveting. On the other hand, Ghost Hunt makes no such leaps of creativity, and the conservative approach dampens the excitement almost to the point of being unwatchable. Throw in some sterile, out-of-place humor, and the resulting plot is middling, at best.AnimationWhile the colorful, clean, standard anime-style character designs are fine in a vacuum, they don’t mesh well with the supernatural elements and should have probably been toned down. Furthermore, most of the actual ghost character designs are not only disappointing, they’re flat-out lame. That said, the backgrounds tend to be detailed and nicely drawn, character movement never looks too awkward, and there isn’t much reused animation.SoundThe OP is a nice little instrumental track very much along the lines of the X-files' theme. Voice acting is fine, and the background music is serviceable, albeit somewhat forgettable.CharactersAs mentioned earlier, the characters in Ghost Hunt are very much a victim of the plot structure. There is almost no character development whatsoever, and the development that is there is irrelevant to the actual storyline. Moreover, what is there to begin with isn’t all that interesting, either; rather, they’re familiar character archetypes with almost no memorable traits. Granted, some may be willing to forgive the mediocre cast as a necessary evil given the story structure. However, no one is going to actually like the show because of the characters.OverallIn the end, Ghost Hunt has some creative individual story arcs, but it suffers from frustrating predictability, sub-par characters, and awkward comedy. As a result, this is a tough series to actively recommend. A lot of people seem to like this one, and to some extent I can understand why. The individual story arcs were entertaining enough, after all, for me to finish the entire series. At the same time, however, there are too many flaws to simply ignore.
Let’s start by making clear what this show is and is not. Whatever the title may imply about the genres, you must be aware that it is not mainly a horror title with some girly romance but in the contrary it is girly romance with some horror. If you expect to find super creepy stuff in it, you are not going to find them. If you are not fans of pretty boys and airhead girls in love with said pretty boys, you are not going to like this anime very much. Now that we clarified this, I can freely say that Ghost Hunt is your standard shoujo formula, combined with something else for flavour. It has been done many times and it usually creates a far more enjoyable and memorable overall, just because it is not just shoujo. Plain girly romances tend to get boring very fast. And thus, just like Vampire Knight had vampires, Library Wars had libraries and Chihayafuru had Chihara… err, card games I mean, Ghost Hunt uses ghosts to flavour its setting.The animation is done by J.C. Staff, the studio famous for its low in context and high on shallow fan service shows. Their budgets are usually good but their shows are most of the times softporn garbage nobody even cares to keep around or watch a second time. In this particular case though they had a much different approach. The production values are NOT that eye-catchy and there is some context to pay attention besides oversexualized underage girls. It is a very uncommon work for their standards. The direction is done by Mano Akira, a guy who only did this and the very dull second season of Gunslinger girl. Definitely not a promising name. So, as you begin to watch, you basically get average to good production values, an unimpressive director, and a girly romance with some ghosts in the background. What do you think will happen? Hmmm… The overall artwork is nothing impressive and the characters are rather cop-out figures of shoujo clichés. There isn’t much fluent animation but at least there is consistency in the figures and no sudden quality drops or deformities. The saving grace lies in the uses of visual effects, in a way that doesn’t pass as overdone or dull. They are used properly to bring out whatever emotions you are supposed to feel in a situation (fear, anxiety, laughter) and they are doing it right.The sound part is nothing impressive in terms of voice acting or most cases of BGM. It feels like it’s there for the sake of being there and the actors aren’t doing an exceptional job but I can’t blame them for the roles they were given. What really stands out are the opening and ending themes. They are gorgeous! So dynamic and attractive to the point they make you think you are going to watch an action-horror movie by Tim Barton or something. To be honest, they don’t exactly fit with the show as the plotlines are hardly THAT exciting but whatever, I liked them a lot. The story is a bit of a let down if you fancy on-going scenarios. It is just stand-alone mini arcs where the teenager heroes seek for the solution to some creepy mystery. Although there is a solid ending to each one of them, the very loose arcing is what makes the whole thing lacking an actual built up towards something specific. Basically, there is no actual progress outside an arc and the final episode is just the ending of another case. Nothing solid to prevent a sequel from popping up. The characters are ok if you like shoujo casts but definitely don’t stand out in any particular way. You get your standard airhead female and your standard snotty pretty boy allying with a few other rather eccentric people with a speciality in the supernatural and head to solve weird cases. And that is pretty much all you get since aside from their quirky behaviours, they never develop to anything further than they appear to be. This is also the result of the style of narration, as you basically get stand alone arcs and no actual build up towards a goal and to allow some actual change about them. They are fun to see them act alright but nothing past that. I don’t find much value in this show. Although the shoujo/ghost combo is indeed helping to make it memorable, at the same time there is very little to gain from watching it a second time. You already know the answers to each mystery and the characters don’t develop in any way so you are not motivated to do so. So, did I enjoy this anime? Yes, but only in very specific areas. I really liked the use of darkness and visual effects, I really liked the opening and ending themes, and the characters were fun to look at on a standard level. But that’s all of it; I wasn’t really amazed about anything in terms of animation, BGM, characters or stories. It is an ok show for anyone who can stand shoujo clichés but hardly amazing or something you will remember in a few years. And now for some excused scorings. ART SECTION: 6/10 Analysis: General Artwork 1/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 2/2 SOUND SECTION: 7/10 Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 3/4, Sound Effects 2/3 STORY SECTION: 4/10 Analysis: Premise 1/2, Pacing 1/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 1/2, Conclusion 0/2 CHARACTER SECTION: 4/10 Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 2/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 0/2, Catharsis 0/2VALUE SECTION: 2/10 Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 2/4 ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10Analysis: Art 0/1, Sound 1/2, Story 0/3, Characters 0/4OVERALL : 4/10
This anime is great! Lets start with the looks. The drawing is really, really good. You will love it, if you like this style. It actually remind me of Sword art online. The most important thing: the female characters actually look humanoid and not like two balloons on a stick. Everything looks great. The characters. Almost every character is pretty complex and well done. We have a lot of character evolution and everyone gets really useful at some point. They act pretty smart all the way. The main character is really calculating and smart, reminds me of Lelouch. Mei, while pretty useless at first, gradually becomes a pro. And lets not forget about the humor. They all have great humor and are really likeable.You want proof? Look at the first scene when our aussie friend makes his entrance. Hilarious. The sounds: two words: perfect match. The story. Some stories are a bit weaker than the others, but they are all great. Each of them is 3-4 episodes long. Each of them is really different. The first mini-story is a pretty good introduction and we gradually get more serious and dangerous. The story with the kid who got lost playing hide and seek is actually really disturbing. Even if the whole thing is more or less child-friendly, the cases are actually pretty damn hardcore. If you ever watched the "Supernatural" TV-show and liked it, I strongly recommend watching this. It reminds me of the first 2 seasons of the show. One of the best series I ever watched, with 1 huge flaw. Its basically missing an ending right now. I honestly dont understand why didnt they continue the series, at least for a couple of episodes, just so we can find out the background story of Naru. Missing an ending is a huge flaw, and thats why my overall score is not consistent with the others. The other small problem is the weak intro. Basically nothing happens, it doesnt change, stays the same for all the episodes. It was good to establish atmosphere at first, but gets boring really fast. I consider this really, really underrated. It actually is in my top 6 behind Death Note, Code Geass, Sword art online and on the same level as FMA Brotherhood and Log horizon. Its a horror, its a comedy, its about friendships, its about psychopathic murderers, dead children, etc.. It has everything. I really hope that some day they will give it at least one more season. A must watch! Have fun! PS: dont look at the poster for the series on IMDB. Only looking at that will basically destroy the last plot-twist.
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