Who do you call when there is a suspected spirit haunting your school, home, or church?
Shibuya Psychic Research Center
SPR is the vehicle for the characters in the anime Ghost Hunt. It really focuses around Ayoko and her powers to see into the spirit realm. However, she, up to a few months ago, was just your average high school girl. Other than the fact that she really liked talking about ghosts and sharing ghost stories. When weird things start happening at her school she meets Kazuya Shibuya who runs the SPR. She ends up helping him and she gets hired into SPR as his assistant. She meets the rest of the cast of characters who are also looking into the paranormal and together, they end up taking on a lot of different cases.
This anime has a few moments where it has that harem style anime feel, but it’s interesting because it’s offset from the main character. Ayoko does seem to pull people to her in some ways, but Kazuya does more so, so the group is focused around him. However, the story is clearly focused around Ayoko. Also the surrounding characters are less stereotypes and more focused and developed characters in their own right. So while I’d normally say anything that uses that harem trope is a bit cliched, this one works and feels better developed than most.
One thing that I do really like about this anime is the case structure. In typical television I feel like there are two standard ways to do a show where people take on a case to solve. You either are doing the case of the week so it’s wrapped up in the 20 or 40 minutes depending on the length of the show, with an occasional two part episode at the end of a season. Or you have a big case that’s running through the whole season, and the season might only focus on that, or it might be the case where it’s the case of the week as well as story line running through the whole season. In the case of Ghost Hunt, each case takes between three and six episodes. So you’re able to get a little more meat into the plot lines and they definitely do that by creating some quite creepy stories and interesting character development. But it never feels like you’re stuck in a single story too long though, you always know the case will be coming to the end and they’ll be moving on to the next thing.
Another thing that stands out to me about this anime as compared to a lot of others is that it is a true suspense/horror type of anime. It doesn’t rely on blood and guts to make itself terrifying but instead uses twisted and psychological situations as well as imagery effectively that is unsettling or off putting. That’s some of the reason that I picked the anime, one it was something different looking than the normal anime but more so, because it seemed to lean into the horror and spooky side of things.In my opinion it does that horror quite well, and while it isn’t going to give you many jump scares, the balance between normalcy and unsettling is well done, and the cases are well crafted. And this is something I want to see in more shows, but anime and live action.
Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable anime. I thought that with the characters in the show, it developed into something more than it could have been, which was pleasantly surprising. There are some definite creepy moments in the anime and how creepy they episodes might be would depend upon the case as some cases are a bit tamer or funnier, but that was done for balance in the show which could have just been dark, darker, and darkest if they hadn’t been careful. I think the uniqueness of the feel of it, the fact it did the suspense and horror well together is what will make it stick out for me. The downside is that there was only a single season of the anime. Looking on Amazon, there is clearly more manga printed for it but there was only a single season for the anime, and since the anime came out in 2006, I don’t think we’re going to get a second season.
Now, who is going to like this anime? I don’t think that this will be one for everyone. While it won’t be too spooky for most people because it is more psychological, a fair number of the cases might have things that are a bit much to handle. The more you unravel in the cases the more disturbing things you generally uncover. But it isn’t particularly horrific, it’s more that it’s unsettling.
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