Psychic Detective Yakumo Series Review – The Dead Might Speak


Pyschic Detective Yakumo Overview:

Yakumo is a university student who pretty much just wants to be left alone however it is rumoured that he is a psychic.

Haruka believes her friend has been possessed after they went into a supposedly haunted building and asks Yakumo for help. Even after that case is solved, Haruka continues to involve herself with the unsociable Yakumo and learns more about his particular gift and his tragic past.

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Psychic Detective Yakumo Review:

Pyschic Detective Yakumo is a show that should be a lot better than it actually is. I really enjoy watching this show but know that if asked I wouldn’t recommend it as a must watch. It’s the odd curiosity piece that you recommend to someone who claims they’ve seen it all and you know they have a thing for psychic detectives.

However much like Kiznaiver and several other anime that have had pretty cool premises and established plots I am curious about, Yakumo never really capitalises on its strengths and the lacklustre conclusion does little to really leave you feeling all that keen on jumping back into a rewatch.

Psychic Detective Yakumo - follow the little ghost girl.

So let’s start with the concept.

It’s fantastic. Yakumo sees the spirits of the dead and they aren’t monsters or overly chatty, sarcastic guys reeling off one-liners for comedic effect.  They aren’t, for the most part, particularly concerned with the living at all and a lot of their interactions are incidental or are acts of convenience (living people in wrong place at wrong time).

And Yakumo, while he can see these ghosts and talk with them, isn’t particularly keen to do so (due to a general apathy about life in general) and he isn’t a ghost buster or super-powered human. He can see ghosts but unless they choose to move on, there isn’t a whole lot he can do about them.

The way the show treats life, death, and the spirits of the dead is generally very respectful and it is all constructed in a very matter-of-fact manner. It isn’t trying to sensationalize the hauntings and it doesn’t try to tug your heart-strings for the sake of a cheap emotional rise.

While there is a clear message in the show about the value of life and living, death is not seen as the ultimate tragedy either. Characters confront death (both natural and unnatural) almost every episode and it seldom feels cheap.

As a character, Yakumo is interesting. Yeah, he has the typical tragic childhood and absent parents of anime protagonists everywhere and he has the lazy and disconnected attitude toward things that is becoming more and more common amongst anime protagonists (social disconnect is becoming a much bigger issue after all), but he feels like a real character in the way he slowly responds to Haruka and the Gotou and the other characters who try to draw him out of his shell.

Psychic Detective Yakumo - Yakumo's eye

Haruka, doesn’t fare so well, as she seems entirely in the story for plot convenience, which is a shame given so much of the story is filtered through Haruka’s perception and at times she shows some genuine spunk as a character.

However, all to often someone needs to act as a catalyst for Yakumo to change and to drag him out of his room. When she isn’t serving that role, she is the dumb assistant asking questions so the audience can have explanations, and she also plays the obligatory innocent bystander and victim at times.

That isn’t to say she doesn’t have some good moments, but her character is inconsistent and her motivation for continuing to interact with Yakumo is never all that clear.

Psychic Detective Yakumo saves Haruka

Gotou, as the police detective with marital problems, is interesting as is Yakumo’s uncle, Isshin. These two kind of substitute father figures play different roles and represent different ideals in Yaumo’s life. I found this a nice touch as at least it gave Yakumo a lot of ground in between to find his own path, and the glaring flaws of both of these characters meant they didn’t feel like they existed only to be that mentor figure.

The villains of the piece, Nanase and Yakumo’s father, are menacing and have interesting stories, though their actual plot and goal seems a little too doomed to failure to have ever been considered all that much of a threat. Still, they work well in the background for most of the series and certainly step up their activities at the necessary time to lead to a climax and resolution. Though someone needs to take that taser away from Nanase.


Also, the actual final confrontation was somewhat less than thrilling with the mystery behind these two figures being much more engaging than the actual answers. Oh well.

Psychic Detecive Yakumo - Nanase is going to zap the detective.

So, with an interesting concept and some quite solid characters, why isn’t the show as good as it sounds like it could be? Three main problems:

Firstly pacing: Individual episodes of this series tend to focus on their own story, until the midway point where it becomes a little more serialised, but some of these episodes drag, or rather inconsequential parts seem far too long whereas the resolution or conflict is rushed over.

Also, we don’t really get enough time with any of the characters. They are solid enough and we learn enough about them to know who they are but we don’t spend long enough with any of them to really connect the way we need to for the final few episodes to have the appropriate impact.

Secondly, the quality: This is not a pretty anime. And yes, with the subject matter, it was always going to be relatively dark with a subdued colour palette, but everything about this anime just seems unpolished. The backgrounds, character designs and the action. Even the opening of Psychic Detective Yakumo is just kind of dull.

And finally the Luke, I Am Your Father moment. Okay, they don’t go so far as to replicate the scene with Yakumo screaming ‘no’ but it’s one of those shows where the bad guy is actually the father and maybe the uncle knew that all along and just conveniently didn’t tell anyone until it was too late, etc, etc. And while this by itself isn’t a deal breaker and it actually makes a great deal of sense as to why any of the events in the show actually occur, it still feels like slack writing.

Psychic Detective Yakumo - Yakumo and potential father

Should you watch this show? Honestly, if you like murder and mystery with the occasional supernatural element and you don’t mind a slower moving plot, you will probably quite enjoy this show. I know I find it very relaxing to watch Yakumo and crew resolve the various problems and help the dead pass on. However, if you are new to anime or if you are looking for something really exciting, you are probably better off passing on Psychic Detective Yakumo.

Images from: Psychic Detective Yakumo. Dir. T Kurokawa. Bee Train. 2010.

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Karandi James

Ghost Hunt Series Review: Episodic, Mysterious, Awesome



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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Karandi James.