Thursday, October 29, 2009

Review | Anime | Toradora!

TORADORA! : As a new school year rolls around, Ryuuji Takasu is faced once
again with the unfitting title of the school "delinquent" because of his
fearsome facial appearance. In class with him is his best friend Yasaku
Kitamura, and Ryuuji's secret crush, Minori Kushieda. Also in their class is
Minori's best friend Taiga Aisaka, who holds the school label of "The Palm-Top
Tiger" because of her terrifyingly fierce and stern demeanor despite her small
physicality. It just so happens that Taiga has a secret crush on Yasaku. Ryuuji
and Taiga begin seeing each other as a valuable ticket to their own respective
crushes, and agree to support one another in their pursuit of their love.

I had previously done quite a bit of research into this anime (and watched quite a few AMVs) and was expecting no more from Toradora! than just another shojo anime stuffed tightly with fanservice, ecchi, and just a hint of fanservice. I'm pleased to say I actually stand quite corrected. I'm happy to acknowledge that there is actually not as much of such content in this anime as there are in many shojo animes I've seen.

Toradora! is ranked #61 on's highest rated animes of all their thousands of listings, superceded by the Miyazaki classic My Neighbor Totoro, which stands at #60. Fan fiction and fanart suggest that this anime is borderline hentai (though, nowadays, you can't really hold any credibility to those), but this anime is not even ecchi. The only ecchi you're likely to encounter is from busty supermodel Ami Kawashima; you can thank her for any such reputation you take away from Toradora!

Toradora opens with the life of Ryuuji Takasu; living in a small apartment with his single mother and playing Mr. Mom by completing all chores and doing all cooking (eventually, we discover that he could even be bordering on OCD, as he'll lose the battle with his urge to clean any mess he encounters...especially unsorted socks). Ryuuji's a very determined and well-behaved student; however, he is feared by his school because of his "murderous eyes", and is therefore labeled a "delinquint" despite being a diligent student. For some time, Ryuuji has had a crush on his eccentric schoolmate Minori, after Ryuuji's best friend Yasaku introduced them. He has never had the nerve to tell her, and thus keeps his feelings to himself.

At the start of the new school year, he accidently runs into (literally) a girl in the hallway, and realizes it's Taiga Aisaka, the fearsome "Palm-Top Tiger". Though she is nearly half his size, she has no problem pounding Ryuuji for running into her, followed by a "watch where you're going."

Ryuuji returns home, and while rummaging through his school bag, encounters a letter addressed to his friend Yasaku, signed by Taiga Aisaka. Tempted and curious, he opens it. No sooner does he tear the envelope open is his apartment infiltrated by Taiga, armed with a kendo sword, determined to get her letter back after placing it in the wrong bag. His apartment, his belongings - and nearly his body - are thrashed by Taiga, before he finally calms her by telling her that her envelope was empty. Taiga tells him that she has a major crush on Yasaku and is embarrassed by this fact. Ryuuji steps in and assures her nothing is embarrassing, and does so by showing her a box full of mementos of Minori, and reveals his crush to Taiga, not knowing that Minori and Taiga are best friends. Taiga eventually goes home by walking onto Ryuuji's balcony, climbing over his railing...and climbing into her apartment window?!

The next day, Taiga and Ryuuji walk to school together (being next door neighbors and all), and along the way they meet up with Minori. It is at this moment that Ryuuji discovers how close Taiga and Minori are, and Taiga looks back at him with an almost evil smile curled up on her face. Ryuuji translates this smile as: "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Help me with Yasaku, and I'll help you with Minori." The adventure begins.

Though this may not hold a child's attention, I'd thoroughly watch Toradora before you make your decision. Ami Kawashima is certainly no help to the rating factor; she's seen several times in revealing clothing or bikinis, and boys make suggestive comments about her and/or what they'd like to do with her. One male character hears a scream and jumps out of the shower to investigate; other male and female characters look over and see he is naked, covered only by a towel he holds limply in his hands, and a girl jokingly takes pictures on her cellphones (calling them "scandalous nudies") right before he accidentally drops his towel (a male character grabs it and holds it back up before it fully falls; the girl mentions that "she thought she saw something black", the second male character quickly covers by saying she may have saw a seaweed ghost, as she saw a prank earlier involving a pile of seaweed hanging from a string.). A girl is embarrassed about being "flat" in a bathing suit, and so a boy creates fakes to go under the suit.

Armed with a bubbly and bouncy theme, Toradora! delivers a cross-pollination between Azumanga Daioh and Love Hina as Ryuuji and Taiga pursue their dreams of happiness - with disasterous results. It's up to Ryuuji to keep the peace before Taiga's ticking time bomb goes off and she inevitably destroys the setting around her in relief of her rage. Despite the satire and blunt comedy within, this anime also manages to show a sentimental side, perhaps even more than a comedic one.

While it may be too shojo for the gentlemen out there, fans of such animes as Love Hina, Negima?! and Azumanga Daioh may enjoy Toradora! just as much.

Overall Rating:
/ 5


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Friday, October 16, 2009

Review | Anime | Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni

HIGURASHI NO NAKU KORO NI : Keiichi Maebara transfers to the small, peaceful town of Hinamizawa, where he befriends four girls in his class; Rena, Rika, Mion and Satoko. His new friends tell him all about the town, including the town's fearsome guardian god Oyashiro-sama, and its fury over any who dare enter its shrine. Keiichi is doubtful of the god's supposed wrath at first, but when he enters Oyashiro-sama's forbidden shrine, he becomes wrapped up in the town's horrible secret, and falls victim to the god's deadly curse.

I watched the live action movie adaption of the series, and several of the OST songs have been bouncing around in my iPod for years...I finally decided that perhaps it was time I clamped onto the series that started - or at least fueled - the yandere craze.

Through the grapevine I'd heard warnings about its graphically violent content, and was a little hesitant at first. Repetitive, pointless blood, as I mentioned in my review of Le Portrait De Petit Cossette, is not only ridiculous, but diluting as well. While you think you're making a great show by adding a maimed head here and a missing arm there, you're actually turning a potentially good anime in a terrible one. Finally, however, I lost my fear of ultimately hating Higurashi's motiveless violence; I decided, after picking up the Kara no Kyoukai series, I could pretty much handle anything. I was actually surprised to find, upon completing Higurashi, that Kara no Kyoukai was actually quite a times more graphic.

The hit show that put a psycho killer into the image of every seemingly innocent anime character tells the story of Keiichi Maebara, who transfers to the tiny village of Hinamizawa, where everyone knows your name - literally. Keiichi befriends four girls named Rika, Rena, Mion and Satoko (and later meets a fifth, Shion), and though he has great fun with his new friends at first, he learns about a very delicate subject the girls haven't discussed: A halted dam project that supposedly resulted in the deaths of several people. Prior to the story, the people of Hinamizawa protested against the creation of a dam, which would cause the entire village to be flooded with water. The project was eventually canceled following the deaths and disappearances of the project's team members. Despite the project being canceled, the villagers of Hinamizawa carry a blind hatred of any who supported the dam...or had such connections. Inconveniently caught in the middle of it is Satoko, whose parents supported the construction, and in turn, Satoko is treated poorly by the villagers. The villagers warn that any who assisted the construction in any way are cursed by Hinamizawa's ruthless god, Oyashiro-sama. Rika's father died of a mysterious illness, and it just so happens that he gave shelter to Satoko's terrorized parents, who themselves later fell of a cliff and died. Eventually, Satoko's older brother, Satoshi (whose name alone sends our ladies into a brutal trance) disappeared mysteriously.

Naturally, Keiichi has lots of questions, but his new friends aren't willing to give him too big of an explanation...not without a fight. Finally, when new disappearances begin to occur, and more strange murders take place on the ill-fated night of the annual Watanagashi festival, Keiichi begins to suspect that his friends may play a bigger part than they let on.

Killer middle school and high school girls? Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni's overall plot is enough to make you curious. Just hearing the show's eerie theme song of the same name was enough to draw me in immediately. Much like Hinamizawa and its certifiably lunatic school girls, the songs of Higurashi take different tones throughout, providing an innocent and cheerful mood at one moment, and moving alone to a fearful and ominous tune right afterwards.

Though it is not as graphic as I was made to understand (as I stated before, Kara no Kyoukai has raised the bar rather high for me now), it is certainly not going straight to Nickelodeon anytime soon. The series opens with a boy beating two of his dead female classmates with a baseball bats (we hear crunching and see blood), several characters have their faces beaten in (it is either shown from behind or not shown onscreen at all). A girl slices a man's head with a cleaver (we see the deep wound), we see the same girl cutting up the man's body and one other body). A boy buries the body of a man he killed. A girl uses a device to rip out her fingernails (we see her severed nails again several times later), a girl threatens to torture a boy by driving nails into his finger joints. A girl beats her dead grandmother. Throughout the series characters are killed or severely injured.

Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni is every bit the credit fans give it; haunting, gruesome, and dishes out the unexpected. Demented moe school girls? Check. Blood and gore? Check. Twilight Zone little city in the middle of nowhere? Check and check. If you want to stay up-to-date in anime, Higurashi should certainly be on your list. Stuck indoors? Spend Halloween with this one.

Overall Rating:
/ 5


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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Preview | Movie | Kara no Kyoukai 7: Satsujin Kousatsu (Part 2)

The seventh and final chapter of the Kara no Kyoukai movie series. The movie features additions to the story played out in Kara no Kyoukai 2: Satsujin Kousatsu Part 1.

Set for a DVD release in Japan on December 9th, 2009, subs should be available very soon around that time. We look forward to completing the chilling Kara no Kyoukai series with the 7th movie. A review will be available shortly after. Stay tuned!

Preview (raw):

Monday, October 5, 2009

Review | Anime | Pandora Hearts

PANDORA HEARTS : Oz Bezarius, the heir to one of the four
powerful duke households, is celebrating his coming-of-age ceremony upon his
15th birthday. During his ceremony, a strange group of cloaked figures intervene,
and Oz is condemned for an unknown crime and cast into a surreal underworld
known as the Abyss. To escape, he makes a pact with a "chain" named Alice, and
they both return to Oz's world, only to find that 10 years have passed. With the
help of Alice, Oz's friends Sharon and Gilbert, and an odd man named Xerxes
Break, Oz sets out to uncover the reason why he was cast into the

When it comes to anime, I'm a sucker for three things: Fantasy, cool outfits, and Yuki Kajiura. Offer me all three, and you've got yourself an anime reviewed. Though I was left hanging from a cliff, I was not disappointed to happen upon Pandora Hearts.

I almost didn't start this anime as soon as I did, because after learning my lesson having to wait a week for Vampire Knight's episode release - and nearly a month for Monochrome Factor's subtitles - I know things now. However, my curiosity got the best of me, and alas, I was back to waiting a week for releases. Since this anime was in such high demand, at least the subtitles were ready quickly.

Pandora Hearts begins with Oz Bezarius, a playful 15-year-old who loves to play jokes and explore his mansion with his younger sister Ada, and his servant and best friend Gilbert. Oz's idea of fun is to hide from his duties as a duke's heir; he would much rather play than attend his coming-of-age ceremony. Oz, for the most part, lives alone in his mansion, as his relationship with his father is very shaky. The closest thing Oz has to a father is his Uncle Oscar, who is very protective of Oz and Ada.

Oz, though dejected that his father would not attend, continues as planned. However, before Oz completes his ceremony, he is suddenly attacked by a strange army of cloaked figures; this group is known as Pandora, and they pass judgment on Oz for a crime that he was unaware of, and in consequence is thrown into a prison known as "The Abyss". The Abyss is a dark, surreal world with very little known about it. Here, Oz is constantly attacked by monsters called "Chains" that take on the appearances of a child's toy. Oz is finally too tired to keep fighting off the chains, and is ultimately saved by another chain name Alice, who alternatively has taken on the appearance of a young girl. Alice offers to help Oz escape the Abyss, in exchange for forming a contract with her to allow her to possess his body. Though reluctant at first, Oz eventually agrees when they are attacked by another chain.

Oz and Alice escape the Abyss to find that 10 years have passed in Oz's world. They arrive in the mansion of a Bezarius family acquaintance, whose daughter, Sharon Rainsworth, had attended Oz's ceremony briefly. Now at her side is a bizarre and whimsical man named Xerxes Break, and at Xerxes' side is a man calling himself "Raven"...and Raven is strangely familiar.

We finally arrive at several plot destinations: Oz wants to know why he was cast into the Abyss. Alice, who was once human, wants to revive her memories of her past life and why she exists. Oz wants to break his contract with Alice, upon learning that an "illegal contract" (which is what Oz formed with Alice), is eventually fatal. Inevitably, we want to know more about this array of characters.

The series progresses very nicely; we are not loaded with too much information (not all at once, anyway), and are also not dragging along. The series did, however, end rather abruptly, leaving a lot to be desired and many plot holes to be filled. there will no doubt be a second season, because no fan is going to stand for being left on this cliff. In the end, I'm hanging right next to Pandora Hearts' cluster of fans, desperate for details on the next season. They only recently became relieved of the stress of waiting for the release of an extended version of the Pandora Hearts' promotional video theme music, "Pandora Hearts" by FictionJunction. As upbeat and surreal as the PV's shortened mix was, even I was on edge for a longer version.

Though the show can get a bit violent at times, I wouldn't say that this series is too ridiculous for a child; I can easily name key concerns in the series. A man and a young girl become drunk in one scene (though the girl is not human), and the girl complains of the room being too hot and begins to remove her clothing to cool down (she is stopped). a girl attacks a boy when she is told he kissed another girl. Chains may be visually frightened for small children. Characters are shot and stabbed several times (the attacks are not graphic). A boy throws a girl's dead pet cat to her, and it is implied he has gouged its eyes out (no blood is seen). A man's eye is pulled out. The same man coughs blood several times.

Pandora Hearts was a lot of fun to watch, and it was definitely worth looking forward to every week. All there is now is to look forward to the second season, should there be one. Any Yuki Kajiura fan will not want to miss this show or its amazing soundtrack. In fact, any fan of anime period may just jump on the Pandora Hearts bandwagon. Curl up with some ramen and get started.

Overall Rating:
/ 5


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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Review | Movie | Tokyo Godfathers

TOKYO GODFATHERS : While dumpster diving in Tokyo, three homeless people,
ex-cyclist Gin, transvestite Hana, and teenage runaway Miyuki, discover an
abandoned newborn baby. Hana is convinced it is a Christmas miracle, as she has
always wanted to be a mother, but could never be because she was born male.
Finally, Gin and Miyuki convince Hana that the child must be turned in, and Hana
concludes that, with their help, she will locate the baby's mother and find
out why she abandoned her child.

After becoming enthralled with anime masterpiece Millennium Actress, I decided to look into other Satoshi Kon creations, and happened upon Tokyo Godfathers. Though the simple storyline didn't quite capture me at first, Kon has once again amazed me with another incredible film.

The overall plot is a very simple one at that: Three homeless people find an abandoned baby and plot to turn it in. Adding onto the details, these homeless people have rather interesting backgrounds: Gin is a middle-aged alcoholic who worked as a professional cyclist in his youth, but thanks to "a get-rich-quick scheme" from a rival, he lost a race that would fund bills for his critically-ill daughter, who consequentially died, his wife following soon after. Next in line is Hana, a transvestite who worked as a performer at a gay bar, but fled after attacking a drunk customer for calling her an "old fart". The last, and perhaps the most mysterious of the quirky group, is Miyuki, a teenager afraid to return home. The details of why she is afraid to return are unclear at first, though before the spoilers come in, we do manage to collect that she stabbed her own father when her cat went missing, implying that Miyuki suspected her father got rid of her beloved cat Angel. Her father being a policeman, Miyuki fled out of shame, and possibly to escape severe punishment. The wacky threesome are a comedy troupe all on their own, and it doesn't take long for us to start laughing at their perks.

Being homeless, they make their livings through selling objects they find in the trash, and one night, as Christmas approaches, they stumble upon a newborn baby girl, wrapped in blankets and a key in its person, laying amongst the trash. Hana, overcome with delusions of being a mother, is thrilled, and calls it a "Christmas miracle", that God has brought her a child. Miyuki and Gin, however, try to convince Hana that the child does not belong to her and that it should be turned into the police, in which Hana revolts, telling them that if the mother wanted the child, she would not have abandoned in. After much pressure from Miyuki and Gin, Hana does at last come to terms with the fact that the baby needs its real mother, and decides that instead of merely turning the baby into the police, she will find the baby's mother on her own, so she can ask the mother face-to-face why she abandoned her baby. Using information found in a locker opened with the baby's key, the three set out across Tokyo searching for the parents of "Kiyoko" (a name Hana gave to the child), encountering many hilarious obstacles along the way.

I was extremely impressed at how much comedy and overall enjoyment could come out of such a simple storyline. I was hooked from the minute Hana took up Kiyoko, which is clearly not an unusual side effect from picking up a Satoshi Kon film. Hana is a blast to watch in the film for dishing out the humor at the perfect moments, though all-in-all they are truly The Three Stooges: Individually, they're funny, but together, they're hilarious, and together they make each other shine their brightest.

This film holds a PG-13 rating for "thematic elements, violent images, language and some sexual material", and the sexual material is probably derived from the slight nudity in the film (though this nudity is not depicted sexually.) We see a woman breastfeeding two children (breasts are obvious) and a woman attempts to breastfeed a child but the child does not (the woman's breast and nipple are evident, and furthermore taking up most of the screen.) A transvestite male asks another if his boyfriend died from AIDS. Characters curse throughout the movie, and a transvestite male is called several derogatory names (queer, homo, fa**ot, etc.) We hear a girl stabbed her father, and a woman attempts to commit suicide twice (once while holding a baby), and two homeless men are beaten up by a group of younger men. A man is shot (we later hear he survived) and the shooter hostages a teenage girl and a baby to get away.

Tokyo Godfathers is inches from being slapstick in its comedy, and is a complete pleasure to watch from beginning to end. Anyone who enjoyed Kon's amazing Millennium Actress will not want to miss out on Tokyo Godfathers. I'll definitely be adding this DVD to my collection, and you may very well decide to add it to yours.

Overall Rating:
/ 5

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Preview | Anime | Heart no Kuni no Alice

Heart No Kuni No Alice is a retelling of Lewis
Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, adapted from the game of the same
Unfortunately, this anime has been indefinitely delayed as of November 2008, so there is no word yet on its release. Even its MyAnimeList page is barren with no official word on its airing. We'll be sure to keep you posted once things are official.


Review | Anime | Shigofumi

SHIGOFUMI : Fumika and her talking staff Kanaka work shifts in Japan delivering
Shigofumis, posthumous letters from the dead, to loved ones left behind.
However, there is mystery behind Fumika: Unlike other Shigofumi mail carriers,
she ages with time, meaning that even though she is not living, she is
not dead either. Who exactly is Fumika?

Shigofumi is one of those animes I stumble upon completely accidentally while exploring the darkest corners of MyAnimeList, and is also one of those that I'm not really sure how to review exactly, so I'll do my best. While it was not a bad anime, it was actually quite good, I'm not really writhing on the floor from its illumination either.

We begin the story with a simple idea: A mail carrier from a different world delivers letters from those who have died as last words to those who are still living. It could be perhaps a thank-you for being a kind person, or a curse for being a terrible person. Delivering these letters will be a girl in a mail carrier's uniform - in our case, Fumika - that plays no part except to deliver the letters. Whether the letter is read, thrown away, or forgotten, is not the mail carrier's decision or concern. So how will humans react from a letter out of nowhere written by a dead loved one or acquaintance? Sounds like an interesting story up ahead.

Then again, there are only 12 episodes and an OVA. It takes a talented writer to fit a storyline, character profiles, and proper pace into 12-13 episodes. In the end, we're a little bit starved of Shigofumi deliveries, as we find out once we begin the show that the show isn't centered around the delivery of the Shigofumis at all; Actually, the Shigofumis are a bit of a side note. The actual center of the story is the mystery of Fumika and how she is able to age as time passes, despite Shigofumi mail carriers being dead. So for 12 episodes and an OVA, we're just following Fumika's life and job, rather than watching a show about Shigofumis. The actual Shigofumis are the stars of the show only for the first few episodes, before Kaname Nojima, a random high school student, suddenly recognizes Fumika from her old life. After that, it's entirely Fumika's playing ground, and the show title technically goes from being "Shigofumi" to "Fumika And Why She Exists".

Despite the composition being rather poor in that context, the show itself was very good. The show's theme song has a very steampunk aura to it, which on its own is fun and jumpy to listen to. The anime, however, has a dark and deathly feeling to it, so don't let them theme song fool you.

I don't think children would enjoy this show very much simply because of how complex and foggy it can be at times, but I'd definitely look into it first. Sihgofumis are messages from the dead, and the dead certainly don't cease to appear. Several characters, mostly high school students, commit suicide (one is shown jumping from a roof) and one character is stabbed and buried; his assailant is later shown stabbing the ground, implying he is buried underneath and his killer is compressing the body. We learn that a man makes money by forcing his middle/high school daughter to pose nude for pornographers, in one scene we see this taking place; the girl is obviously insecure and frightened as she poses on a bed surrounded by photographers who viciously snap pictures of her (no private regions are ever shown). We later hear the father intends to force his elementary school daughter to pose as well, but he is stopped before he carries this out. There are several cases throughout the series of child abuse; in one case, a child is nude with only a sheet covering her as her father paints slander onto her body (he is directing anger towards his ex-wife for leaving him). The paintbrush the father uses is made entirely of glass, and it is implied that at some points during his fits of rage he painted too hard and the glass cut into her skin. A Shigofumi mail carrier taunts another mail carrier by calling her "flat", and the latter adds that she will someday have "a nice body" because she is able to age. We hear two cases where an abused child attacks their father, and in one of the cases, the father dies.

Overall, this is a pretty good anime as far as constant death and mystery, but if you just want to watch for the Shigofumis, you may be slightly disappointed. In the end, I recommend this anime only for the mystery, not for the Shigofumis.

Overall Rating:
/ 5


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Monday, July 27, 2009

Review | Anime | Ghost Hound

GHOST HOUND : Three junior high school boys, Tarou, Masayuki, and Makoto, have each suffered a terrible tragedy in their life that traumatized their
well-being. After meeting each other and learning of what they have in common,
they finally harness the ability to have Out-Of-Body experiences and slip into
the Unseen World - the world where ghosts roam. Eventually, they begin to notice
elements of the Unseen World seeping into their own world, and, with the help of
the local priest's daughter Miyako, the boys have to find a way to stop these
changes from overtaking the town.
I read the word "ghost" in the title, and it captured me. All I can say upon finishing this anime is, "Wow. I can't believe what I've seen."

The anime begins in a small Japanese town called Suiten, a town that has it heroes, its kooks, and its dark pasts. The story begins centered around 14-year-old Tarou Komori, who was kidnapped 11 years prior to the story, along with his older sister Mizuka, who did not survive the event. Because of this, Tarou has night terrors about his sister and lives a somewhat awkward life with his parents, who have taken bad turns for themselves thanks to the death of Mizuka. Every day after school, Tarou meets with a psychiatrist to help pinpoint the source of his nightmares, and help him rediscover the memories he lost through the trauma of his kidnapping.

Along the way, he meets Tokyo transfer student Masayuki Nakajima, who transferred as a way of escaping his own cataclysm: Masayuki bullied another student to the point where he committed suicide by jumping off the roof of his school in Tokyo, but not before he varnished the classroom chalkboard with curses at Masayuki. Masayuki's intentions were not to drive the student to suicide, however, he refers to himself as a murderer. This event made Masayuki fearful of heights.

In opposition to Masayuki's annoyingly sunny personality is Tarou's silent yet cynical cousin, Makoto Oogami. Because of his relation to Taro amd Mizuka, his family took a great part in solving the kidnapping case. Shortly afterwards, Makoto's father mysteriously committed suicide, leading toddler Makoto to discover his bloody corpse. This event became Makoto's trauma, in addition to his constant attempts to uncover the meaning behind the death of his father, only to have his family hide the details from him. Makoto lives with his grandmother, the founder of a local religion, whom he detests. This is partly because of his grandmother's constant attempts to make him the successor of the religion, which Makoto couldn't care less about.

Masayuki's interest in the kidnapping case (which is a famous case around the town) and how Makoto and Tarou are somehow both connected is ultimately what brought the group together, albeit hesitantly. Masayuki uses this knowledge to convince Tarou and Makoto to journey into an abandoned hospital with him, which is the same location where Taro and his sister were held captive - the same location where Tarou watched his sister die. While inside, the three lose consciousness following an accident, and suddenly find themselves able to project their souls out of their bodies, and through the series, they become able to do this at will. They enter the Unseen World, a world parallel to the "Apparent World", where spirits travel. The variety of spirits is a list that goes on: prehistoric animals and insects, strange surreal birds, and, to Tarou's terror, towering blackened figures that wander wherever Tarou happens to be. One of these figures plays the role of the kidnapper in Tarou's night terrors about his kidnapping, as Tarou does not remember what the man looked like as the time of his kidnapping.

No one can see the boys as they roam the town in their out-Of-Body experiences, except one girl named Miyako, the daughter of a priest, who, curiously enough, can see spirits, and even become possessed by them. Intrigued by this girl, and by their "OBEs", the boys begin to use their ability to spirit travel to unearth the mysteries behind Tarou's kidnapping and the death of Makoto's father.

I was a little unimpressed upon watching the first few episodes, as the series is very slowly paced. That'll be my first warning - if you intend to watch this anime, you have to be very patient with it, as it likes to wander off-course a lot. On top of that, it was unlike anything I'd ever seen. This intimidated me a bit, and I took a long break from it.

In the end, I'm glad I gave it another chance. This anime is genuinely unlike anything I've ever seen. I can hardly describe it in a way that will give it justice. The whole arrangement of the anime is extremely bizarre; you feel like you're in a nightmare. In many ways, the anime narrates the actual traumatic events that befell the three protagonists in the style of a nightmare. As you watch, you realize your nightmares - and your dreams - are composed in a very similar manner as the anime makes it appear; it really makes you go, "Hey! My dreams are like that too!" This includes, but is not limited to, blurred-out faces of the individuals in the dreams, jet blackened figures that play the roles of unfamiliar characters - usually villainous ones - that appear threatening, and the constant skipping between scenes like a movie instead of playing out gradually, like in reality.

As a horror fan - and critic - that is not easily scared, I can certainly commend this anime for its fear factor. I have never felt fearful or become startled at any frightening scenes in a horror movie, and I didn't expect anything different from Ghost Hound (after all, as I've stated before, how scary can an anime be?). However, to my surprise, Ghost Hound became the first horror, in my long history of watching and judging horror, to cause me to feel the need to scream. Eventually, I would not watch Ghost Hound at night or in a poorly-lit atmosphere. There were two instances I especially remember that I had to hold my mouth and curse myself to keep from screaming. This is what earned Ghost Hound an extra star from me.

If a child were to express interest in watching this anime, as you can probably guess already, I would probably keep them away from this one. Even if a child can take the fear of Ghost Hound, it's also a very slowly-paced series that probably would not hold their attention very long (it didn't hold mine in the beginning). There are several frightening and violent scenes throughout the anime, and threats are constantly made towards family members. There are frequent scenes of dead bodies and distorted bodies, and a few scenes with excessive blood. A female character has a very exaggerated bust size which attracts obvious attention from many male characters. It is implied that one teenage boy takes a liking to this woman as well; we later hear he has used his OBE ability several times to spy on her undressing. It is unclear whether the woman develops an attraction for the boy, but it is loosely implied.

My only complaint about this anime, besides the awful pacing, is the way the series ended. We begin the series with ghosts but we end the series with mutants and gods. It's an incredibly strange transition that didn't serve the overall story as well as it could have. Actually, from what I saw, the conclusion really didn't play a part in solving the mysteries at all. The mysteries becoming solved were not climactic at all, they were turned into back-burner conclusions. Instead, the climactic moment was the one that made no sense. The series' ending was basically an add-on to the story rather than the conclusion of the entire story we've been clutching to. As we near the end, we start talking about, "embryos", and "biooids", and "man-made mutants", and "dragon gods", and earfuls more of incomprehensible babble that doesn't, and never did, serve the story in the slightest. That remains my only major complaint.

While you probably have to be a horror fan, and a very patient person, to check this anime out, I think if you're at least the latter, you'll be a big fan of Ghost Hound.

Overall Rating:
/ 5


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