Ghost Hound – Lost in the Unseen

  • Titles: Shinreigari: Ghost Hound
  • Genre: Psychological thriller, drama, supernatural, no dogs
  • Episodes: 22
  • Studio: Production I.G

Tarou is still trying to recover from his childhood trauma. And you know what, I can’t blame him. I would probably never get over it in his place. When Tarou was about 4 he and his sister got kidnapped, but he is the only one who made it back. All things considered, he is actually super well adjusted. A little narcoleptic but otherwise a good kid. But he isn’t the only one who has been affected by the incident. And he isn’t the only one still struggling with it. In a town like Suiten, where the borders of reality seem particularly thin, Tarou is going to find two friends who are struggling just like him. Maybe together they can get some closure. That is if the Unseen World doesn’t get them first.

I just want to get this out of the way first so I don’t get accused of click-baiting. Ghost Hound has no dogs in it. Not in any significant way. Heck, even the ghost part is debatable. It’s just one of those shows. But dogs, none for sure! You have been warned!

There are a few bugs though

Ghost Hound is one of those series I’m not sure why I picked. When I got HiDive I went over their library and it was a show I hadn’t heard of. The title was intriguing and the visuals seemed unusual so I put it on my list. I found out it technically qualifies as a spooky anime and of course, I figured, now’s the time to watch it.

Basically, I had no clue what I was getting into and no expectations. This matters because Ghost Hound is an ambitious production. For a long time, I was convinced it was rotoscoped. I reminded me of Flowers of Evil but with more anime designs. Actually, the series reminded me of Flowers of Evil in many ways. I’ll get back.

No matter how much I searched though, I couldn’t find confirmation that Ghost Hound was in fact rotoscope. In any case, there’s something going on with the animation. It’s fluid in an odd way yet jittery. Personally, I enjoyed the designs but they are also somewhat unusual. The textures are too smooth and the silhouettes too rounded. It’s definitely a striking looking show.

that’s a good thing!

There are also a lot of design tricks. Real image overlays, texture swaps. Of course, colours are played with constantly. One character has ever-changing hairstyles for no real reason. There’s a lot to look at.

Sound design is similarly full of ideas but in my opinion less successful. Or rather it’s hit or miss. There are a lot of episodes with almost no music an very little sound. Silence is in fact used very well in the series. And when the music comes in, which is often odd and a bit unsettling but not in a traditional horror movie way, it really helps set the mood. Unfortunately, the levels are off and this music can sometimes be so loud as to make dialogue difficult to understand. That really breaks up the momentum of the narrative.

The OP was dope though! And the scenery was breathtaking!

I watched some episodes dubbed and some subbed. I do prefer the Japanese voice actors as I find the English ones to over-emote occasionally. To be fair it was mostly Miyako and it’s not bad. Just a different actor’s choice. This said I think both casts did a really good job. You can clearly see each boy’s personality in the acting.

I said it wasn’t bad!

Like I aid Ghost Hound reminded me of Flowers of Evil. Considering what I thought of that show, that wasn’t a good sign. But here’s the thing, Ghost Hound isn’t pretentious. Or at least, it didn’t read that way to me. Whereas I always got the feeling that Flowers of Evil was a show that took itself very seriously, what I got from Ghost Hound was a show that was exploring subjects it considers serious but didn’t think it was smarter than you.

In my personal opinion, Ghost Hound had two big flaws. The first and less serious was pacing. Ghost Hound is a fairly dramatic, borderline melodramatic story that takes a lot of detours. And it sometimes undercuts the tension it manages to build. Because of this, on more than one occasion I found it to drag despite the fact that there was so much going on.

Which brings me to the second and much more important flaw. There is way too much going on. At its core, Ghost Hound is in fact a simple story about guilt. How it can lock us in a nightmare or make us imagine we are seeing what we want most. And the examples and setups it uses to create that guilt are amazing. Some of the best I have ever seen. Utterly devastating yet completely believable and understandable. This is where it should have stayed. Three teenage boys right at the moment they are trying to figure out who they are, desperately trying to get over deep-rooted guilt.

Not always in the healthiest of ways

And when that’s what Ghost Hound focuses on, it’s at its strongest. However, for some reason, the authors wanted to cram as much in as possible. There are ghosts and an entire ghost realm. Fine, that still fits well with the story. But then there is a cult storyline that becomes prevalent near the end. A story of ancient curses caused by the carelessness of previous generations. Dozens upon dozens of unresolved relationships. A possible alien storyline. The god of one world (who really exists in Japanese folklore, check him out!) who is eventually joined by a mess of other gods. And even a questionable corporation going too far with their science experiments.

You simply cannot develop all those storyline in a single season. And sadly, Ghost Hound is determined to try. This means that the narrative gets crowded and jumbled. It feels like a bunch of loose parts desperately being jammed together and you can’t really get a satisfying narrative out of any of them.

Like I said, I enjoyed seeing the boys’ journey to forgive themselves. That was done well. And I have a feeling the show could have done any of the other storylines well too if they had only picked one. But they didn’t.

This is the fanservice character – cool right?

I will say, there is a happy ending. And I’m a sucker for those. After all, the glum and dismal events of the series, seeing the boys happy and enjoying themselves, which a promise of a better future to come, was just a breath of fresh air. I sort of expected it to be a downer ending. And this ending probably played a big part in me enjoying the series more in hindsight.

The show isn’t exactly bad. It’s ambitious. It tries a lot of things both with its production and with its story. And I do respect that. But it fails too often for me to be able to truly recommend it. Rather what I can say is, if the visuals or the summary intrigued you, and the review didn’t dissuade you, give it a try.

so this is Makoto…

Favourite character: Makoto because hot, but actually Nakajima. I wanted to know more about him.

and this is Nakajima

Suggested drink: Hair of the Dog

  • Every time  Tarou has a dream vision – take a sip
  • Every time someone is getting therapy – take notes
  • Every time we see Tarou’s sister – gasp!
  • Every time Nakajima and Makoto bicker – take a sip
  • Every time Miyako sees a ghost  – oh my!
  • Every time we see disembodied eyes  – scary
  • Every time Tarou records himself – take a sip
  • Every time Makoto plays guitar – listen
  • Every time we see “the Giant” – take a sip
  • Every time we see a brain  – get a snack
  • Every time anyone mentions a University – take a sip
  • Every time the boys discover new powers  – take a sip
  • Every time someone falls or almost falls down the temple stairs – take a sip
  • Every time Miyako lets her hair down – get ready
  • Every time anyone has the hots for Dr. Outori – take a sip
  • Every time Makoto has a new hairstyle – admire

In case you’re new here, I have a Pinterest with all my screencaps (there are a lot!). If you can’t find a show you are looking for in my main boards, just go to Anime Screenshots. I move the shows I have reviewed there. Of course, I’m still going to add a few images here!

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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13 Responses

  1. ashleycapes says:

    I’ve been looking for a full set of this series for ages (I know there are still part 1s available out there), but I may have to switch to a second hand copy one day – really keen to try this out so I’m keen to come back and read this review properly one day, cool.

  2. Pinkie says:

    That fly is super realistic and gave me the heebie Jeebies! Why do they make animal close ups look so realistic in anime. I still can remember that one totally way to realistic pidgeon you one shared. I think it was for Pet Shop or whatever that anime was called.

    I don’t think this anime is for me but great review like always!

  3. Scott says:

    I guess I’m playing the Ospreyshire here when I say that it’s based off a manga by Masamune Shirow and directed by Ryutaro Nakamura.

    But in thinking about this anime, it’s been a while since I’ve watched it and I’ve forgotten so much about it and I think it being over stuffed with ideas, but I did enjoy it.

  4. Dawnstorm says:

    I remember trying the show, but disliking the 3D effects so much that it sapped my motivations, so I didn’t get very far, but thought I’d be coming back to it one day. It’s not the most well-known show, but I’ve mostly heard of people enjoying it.

    Screenshots that don’t work for me: the fly, that shot of the boy from below with the trees converging above (that’s the sort of thing that risks making me queasy), and really any shot of the ghost world. There are shots that do work for me, though: the kid being snatched by the shadowman, for example.

    • Irina says:

      There is quite a bit of 1st person flight animation that may not be great for motion sickness. But not that much 3d effects overall

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