I'll be the first to admit that in the grander scope of things, I've never really been enthralled with paranormal-themed entertainment. Sure I enjoyed The Sixth Sense well enough when it was new and I may have even reviewed some anime titles in the past that bordered on supernatural, but I consider myself the type of guy who enjoys science fiction over mysticism and action over horror: In other words Star Trek over X-Files. That said, it's tough to argue with what an intriguing property Ghosthunt really is. But before we get ahead of ourselves here, let's take a look at the hard facts.
Originally released in individual season sets by Funimation, this set represents the first time the company is getting a Complete Series release out to the public. Coming in at a total runtime of 600 minutes, Ghosthunt The Complete Series spans 4 discs and comes packaged as a pair of thin packs within a cardboard slipcase.
The show wears an appropriate TV MA (14+) rating, which is due to some disturbing imagery and horror-themes over bad language or nudity.
Language options are typical sub & dub meaning the option of original Japanese dialog trackor an English dub (either of which is in stereo) and English subtitles available under either language choice.
Extras are quite thorough and include scans of the original manga pages, character case files, ghost sightings, textless opening, and of course, a nice host of Funimation trailers.
To explain the show to someone who has never seen it would go something like this: Take the mystery solving elements of say, Case Closed only center them on supernatural occurrences (ranging from ghost possession to legions of zombies).
Some of the scenarios are more realistic than others but each maintains a sort of creepiness throughout that is hard to dispute. The viewer follows the exploits of Naru, the founder of Shibuya Psychic Research, while he attempts to tackle such mysteries with John, Ayako, Houshou, Lin, Masako, and Mai.
Yes the names are a mouthful, but not to worry, they are easy to keep separate thanks to some unique and well assembled character development.
The cast is well rounded and plays well off each other (part of the show's charm): Naru represents levelheaded-ness and business aspects of running a Psychic Research operation. Ayoko is the intelligent and quick-witted shrine maiden (priestess). Housho gets the distinctive honor of being both a monk and a bassist for a rock band. John Brown (no, not the Sheriff) is an Australian priest straight out of the seminary (with Australian accent to boot), and a kimono-sporting psychic-hotline ghost buster Masako rounds out the crew. In other words, you'll have no trouble telling this motley crew from one another.
The source material was adapted from a manga that was itself based on an original novel series by Fuyumi Ono and pays homage to the material from which it was spawned surprisingly well (don't take my word for it, the manga pages are included here in this collection for your viewing pleasure).
Pacing is pretty slick as, and unlike most anime serials, Ghosthunt is actually a collection of several (two-part) self-contained mysteries. Once the individual case in question is solved, it's on to the next one. This formula works out thanks to the fact that the mysteries are pretty unique, save for the fact that they all involve the supernatural of course.
Voice work is a pretty even toss up between the languages. The Japanese version succeeds in terms of its dynamic flow while American counterpart introduces some interesting accents and ethnic touches.
In all, Ghosthunt is sure to appeal to fans of horror-mysteries and the paranormal alike. While a bit of the priest versus entity stuff comes off as a little too, um, cliché Americanized occult horror (over the generally more intriguing Asian thought-provoking stuff), on the whole the show meets some pretty lofty goals. It's especially nice to note that Funimation is bundling together the entire collection for the same price each of the two individual seasons has been selling for until now- An extra star for that!