Ghost Hunt (ゴーストハント) is a 25-episode mystery horror series from 2006 by JC Staff adapted from a manga adapted from a novel by Fuyumi Ono.1
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A high school girl, an omyougi, a Shinto priestess, a Buddhist monk, a Catholic priest and a psychic all walk into a house looking for ghosts…
Thats basically Ghost Hunt at its core. Tamiyama Mai is a 16-year old girl who ends up working for a ghost hunter tagging along with him on cases while an assortment of other spiritualists help out too solving mysteries and trying to put ghosts to rest or get psychic people’s powers under control.
While this month we’ve looked at series covering the karmic punishment side of horror (Franken Fran and xxxHolic) or brutal violence (Higurashi) Ghost Hunt is much closer to pure horror. Especially on the cases involving actual ghosts and not just someones PK running wild it knows how to go for the heart making things suitably creepy and dangerous without going overboard.2 It really knows how to hit the highlights too, having one story involve evil dolls, ghosts of murdered children chanting, and a mothers grudge cursing a house all at the same time.
The characters really help matters here, as while Kazuya may be a ghost hunter he’s not like the ghost hunters you see on TV. He won’t instantly call every creak he hears a ghost and usually spends most of his time insisting things aren’t spirits until he’s shown otherwise since he knows most cases are just humans. This leads him to do actual research so that he can solve whatever central mystery is going on each arc giving pay off to people who just like mysteries being answered.
About those mysteries… while the show does try to use red herrings at times in true mystery fashion its implementation of them leaves quite a bit to be desired. Theres at least a couple times where the true identity of who’s behind things or a major clue is being obviously overlooked which can be frustrating to the viewer since it means we just want to see the “why” and not spend another two episodes running around looking for the “who” at that point.
Animation wise things are serviceable. This is a low action series so we don’t need things looking super sharp and the subdued color palette helps with the atmosphere, but characters do come across as flat at times with some off-model breaks. There’s also an issue with cuts where multiple times something major will be happening (such as a bookshelf falling on someone) and in the middle of it it will jump to some time later with the characters talking about the event as though it was no big deal. Its a very odd directing choice that I wonder if its at least partly the result of its novel roots.
Weeb Level: 2/10- Despite Mai being a high schooler very little time is actually spent in schools (to the point I started to wonder if Mai had dropped out with how little she actually goes) and most of the ghosts are more generalized spirits instead of uniquely Japanese ones.
Fanservice: 0.5/10- There’s chaste, and then there’s Ghost Hunt which doesn’t even show any characters kissing even.
Violence: 1/10- Most of the more brutal violence is all stuff from well in the past, and thanks to those odd cuts you don’t even see incidental things happening in the present. Some people do get attacked by ghosts or fall down stairs but its all fairly mild.
Quality: 7/10- A very obscure show which is quite good for a genre (mystery horror) that can be very hard to do well, yet alone right.
Where to watch: Licensed by Funimation back in 2008 its still available to watch on their site or DVDs. Check it out now before the license expires.