Saturday, December 18, 2010

Anime Review: Ghost Hound

Funny, thought I had another idea for today but I can't think of it so I'll just go ahead and review Ghost Hound. Ghost Hound is a little unusual since it's my first blind buy after I found the first half going for $30 at my local used book store (although I had reviews for it before, actually I think I had read reviews for the entire series).

Ghost Hound
 Summary: In a small backwater town in modern day Japan, Taro suffers from PTSD after he and his sister were kidnapped 11 years ago, Makoto is a standoffish youth with issues of his own (mainly from finding his father after apparently committing suicide over kidnapping Taro and his sister), and newcomer Mayasuki has his own issues after helping bully a kid to commit suicide. The three grow closer, originally bonding over the fact that they all started having out-of-body-experience, later because of a growing interest in the spirit world and the strange incidents in town that seem to be affecting everyone, from super secret research facilities to the resurgence of an old cult

The Good: All three of the leads manage to feel likable and understandable (even if a few have social issues) and the cast includes a surprising number of adults as well (who are not useless!). Each character managed to get their fair share of plot and screen time (even though I suspect that Taro was actually the "main character") and the scenes were none of them were present came off strong as well with the minor characters holding their own. Also interesting was that the show, at least tried, to juxtapose the spiritual and scientific reasons for everything that was happening. So many stories just blow off science (or do "it's the same thing!") that it's nice not only to see science cropping up in different areas but to also see characters get better due to therapy (how many times does therapy help or even happen in a story?). It was also nice to have a character go "I think there's something wrong with the town" and "there's no way this was all planned, it's gotta be coincidence." I can't count how many times I've thought that about a show and it's just accepted as normal, having it lampshaded actually lent some credulousness to just all the crazy stuff that was going on.

The Bad: The ending wasn't as strong as it could be but I must say that didn't come as a surprise, the series did so much building up that there just wasn't any way for the ending to live up to all of it (also might've helped if they started things moving half an episode earlier). And yes, the science in here isn't close to rock hard and I'm told that the next episode previews are especially soft (still doesn't explain why a show airing in 2007/2008 and planned even earlier is referencing 2008 scientific theories). The show really does try to balance out magic with science but, by the end of it there's no explanation but magic and even the scientists can't offer any theories*. It probably would've been in the shows best interest for things to be a bit less fantastical and spend a few minutes in the end explaining what the heck just happened.

The Art: The art isn't super detailed (except for the backgrounds, Production IG really does love their super detailed backgrounds) but it was pleasing to the eye and the art fit whatever scene it needed. It managed to be both creepy (and I suspect all the spirits were CGI but they looked natural so I could be wrong) and uneventfully normal when needed. One thing that did stand out (besides the backgrounds) was that the characters eyes were very expressive, they were still drawn in the same simple lines but the artists had fun making just a few lines shift and convey everything needed. Oh, and Taro is one of the few characters that I would call moe (and that was before the crossdressing!).

The Music: I am in love with the OP here, it's a jazzy number that sounds a little creepy but not "hide-under-the-covers" creepy which fits in pretty well with the show. I can't decide if the ED is creepy or just sad but that one I warmed up to after a bit. I have the sub only version here and the voices all worked well, especially considering the kids needed to have a bit of range, and the trick of showing recaps at the beginning of the episode with a white noise version of the sound was pretty neat (although I was a little puzzled why the characters always had the weird voices in the Unseen realm even after they stopped looking like ugly naked babies).

So I loved the series, even if the ending wasn't as great as it could've been the build up was worth it. Section 23 is releasing a dub for the series now and putting it on Blu-Ray so I plan on getting that as soon as I can but I'm not going to sell my DVD just yet, wanna show this to my anime club first but after that I'll try to sell it quickly while it still has re-sale value (I just need to stop freaking out and reassure myself that TRSI is going to have this in stock for a long while and I can go a few months without it, especially since I'll have to wait for a sale on it**).

*And that's ignoring the big-lipped alligator moment about "global warming isn't human fault." I was so bemused to see that listed under "did not do the research" on tvtropes.
**$90 MSRP?!? Even for a Blu-Ray that's expensive right now, I've seen more and maybe it only seems expensive since that's the whole pack. But geeze, the set could've used a few extras.