Ghost Hunt follows Mai as she takes on a part time job working for Shibuya Psychic Research under a guy she ends up nicknaming Naru the Narcissist for obvious reasons. With the help of other psychics/spiritualists/etc they take on a number of cases involving ghosts and spirits and work to bring them to a resolution.
It occurred to me recently that despite having reviewed the individual stories within Ghost Hunt I never reviewed the show as a whole show (though I can’t imagine why not). So if you want to know my thoughts on the individual cases, click here. Admittedly, you can watch an individual case from the show and have it make perfect sense, but the series manages to bring about some nice character progression for most of the characters so watching it in sequence gives the better viewing experience.
I really love Ghost Hunt. It is one of those anime I genuinely enjoy revisiting every so often because it knows exactly what it wants to be and it doesn’t attempt to be anything else. It is a mystery. Each episode starts with the date coming up and Mai giving us an introduction into the current case they are working on and then we see how the case unfolds. Along the way the characters meet set backs, have interesting asides, occasionally some banter and insults with a low key possible romantic tone between Mai and Naru, and very short bursts of actual supernatural activity or action sequences.
Right from the opening theme you know this story is pretty laid back and heavily focussed on the mystery aspect. It isn’t really a mystery that is asking for audience participation though, it is more the mystery of ‘isn’t this mysterious’. We end up with haunted schools, ghost children, dolls that change location, creepy messages appearing on walls, and all the usual staples of ghost stories will appear throughout the series. There are some moments that go more for horror and the final two cases both really escalate the amount of blood and the unsettled feeling you get while watching, but for the most part this show isn’t about shock and gore. The show is very much about feeling unnerved. And it manages that feeling spectacularly. While it isn’t making you cringe or hide under the chair, it certainly will have you looking at dolls a bit differently and that old house that you thought was empty…
The characters are all pretty fantastic in their roles as well. You have Mai, the ‘normal’ high schooler taking on the part-time job who acts as the audience’s guide to the world of spiritualists as she asks the questions needed to get explanations that the other characters would have no reason to give one another. Mai also turns out to have some not so normal aspects as you would imagine as the show continues and it is a shame the show doesn’t have a second season because developing this would be fantastic.
Naru is pretty standard for overly confident and young boss type, but he works really well due to the cast surrounding him. Plus his chemistry with Mai works really well and the two of them together (even when they are involved in a silly argument) is just great fun to watch. Of course, dream Naru who helps out unconscious Mai is always more fun and again it would be nice to see further development of Naru in another season but he’s great nonetheless.
The Priest, Shrine Maiden, Exorcist, and Medium all make for a great supporting cast with each one serving their role in the team as well as bringing their own personality quirk to the table. Ayako as the self-styled Shrine Maiden is probably the most annoying of the group, but even she has some truly great moments particularly during the final case. Honestly, John as the Exorcist is probably the one who annoys me the most and that’s only because of the accent in the English dub. Wow, that is bad. I will point out though, I’ve only ever heard the English dub of this anime, it is one of the very few I’ve never watched subbed or heard the original Japanese. For the most part the dub is fantastic and really great to listen to, but John has the kind of Australian accent that people who have learned Australian accents by watching TV think Australian’s have. It hurts just listening to it.
There’s definitely some down sides to this story though. The animation and art are definitely looking dated and it isn’t that old of an anime. While this isn’t really a problem because the story works regardless, it isn’t exactly visually appealing and the overuse of purple to make things look creepy seems to scream Sailor Moon villain from the 90’s.
The story is also decidedly slow paced. The characters take their time setting up base each case and while a case might go for multiple episodes, by the end of the series you have to wonder just how many times you watched the characters setting up a camera or running a cable. Regardless of how quick a response the characters claim they are getting from the ghosts, there is still a lot of sitting around and talking, interviewing people, musing about the possibilities, and just a lot of nothing really happening moments.
Still, if you like a good ghost story, and you don’t mind some blood and gore, Ghost Hunt may be just the thing for you.
If you’ve seen it I’d love to know your thoughts.
Thanks for reading.
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