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Ghost Hound – Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 26, 2010 by  



“Ghost Hound – Complete Collection” is probably the best anime TV series I have watched on Blu-ray thus far.  Masamune Shirow’s story is dark, unsettling but also humorous and fun.  I absolutely enjoyed this series from start to finish and it has quickly become one of my top anime series on Blu-ray thus far.  Highly recommended!

 

Image courtesy of © 2010 Sentai Filmworks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Ghost Hound – The Complete Series

 

DURATION: 22 Episodes (550 Minutes)

 

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition (16×9), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English

 

COMPANY: Showgate/Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14

 

Release Date: September 14, 2010

 

 

Originally created by Shirow Masamune

 

Directed by Ryutaro Nakamura

Series Composition by Chiaki J. Konaka

Character Design by Mariko Oka

Art Direction by Hiromasa Ogura

Chief Animation Director: Mariko Oka

3D Work – Kenji Kobayashi

Music by TENG

Anime Production by Production I.G.

 

Featuring the following voice talent:

Akiko Yajima/Brittney Karbowski as Miyako Komagusu

Jun Fukuyama/Corey Hartzong as Masayuki Nakajima

Kensho Ono/Clint Bickham as Tarō Komori

Souichiro Hoshi/Josh Grelle as Makoto Ōgami

Atsuko Mine/Joanne Bonasso as Noriko Kabata

Ikuko Tani/Monica Rial as Himeko Ōgami (Makoto’s grandmother)

Jin Urayama/John Swasey as Motoi Yazaki

Michiko Neya/Kaytha Coker as Reika Ōtori

Mitsuki Saiga/Shelley Calene-Black as Kei Yakushi

Rintarou Nishi/Rob Mungle as Seiichi Suzuki

Sho Hayami/Illich Guardiola as Masato Kaibara/Snark

Tetsuo Komura/Chris Hutchinson as Genma Saruta

Toru Ohkawa/Andrew Love as Yasuhiro Nakajima (Masayuki’s father)

Yasunori Matsumoto/Chris Ayres as Takahito Komagusa

Yoshinori Fujita/Jay Hickman as Atsushi Hirata

Yurika Hino/Luci Christian as Sanae Tanabe (Makoto’s mother)

 

When he was three, Taro Komori and his sister were kidnapped, but the kidnapper was run over and killed before the ransom could be delivered. The police eventually found Taro, but not before his sister died. Eleven years later, Taro still has nightmares of the events surrounding the kidnapping and is haunted by a tall, featureless specter. Now, Taro searches for answers in the Hidden Realm, but something sinister is brewing there.

The spirits are restless and a malevolent ghost is appearing with increasing frequency. In the “real” world, an out-of-favor religious cult is finding dozens of new converts, especially among high ranking politicians. And just what the scientists at Dai Nippon Bio are up to is a question in need of an answer. Can Taro and his friends find the answers they need in time to save their friends and families?

Anime studio Production I.G. is one of Japan’s premiere anime studios.  Known for their work on series and films such as the “Ghost in the Shell” films, “Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade”, “Evangelion: Death and Rebirth” and “The End of Evangelion”, “Blue Seed”, “FLCL”, “xxxHolic” to name a few, the studio is known for their animation quality, exquisite art backgrounds and their work is known worldwide.

Masamune Shirow is also known worldwide as his manga works “Ghost in the Shell”, “Appleseed”, “Black Magic M-66”, “Dominion Tank Police”, to name a few, have received an anime adaptation and also hailed by fans for the intelligent and creative writing that is involved with his work.

And both Production I.G. and Shirow have had a wonderful collaboration especially with the success of the “Ghost in the Shell” animated films and the TV series “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”.

So, in 2007, when Production I.G. celebrated their 20th Anniversary in 2007, the studio collaborated with Shirow again for a series known as “Shinreigari/Ghost Hound”.  A dark, unsettling, humorous and addicting series which premiered on Japan’s WOWOW at 11:30 p.m.

As Shirow provided the original concept and design (which he did back in 1987), Production I.G. took the concept and design and the series was well received in Japan.

Ryutaro Nakamura (“Legends of Crystania”, “Kino’s Journey”, “Sakura Wars”) directed the series, while Chiaki J. Konaka (“Eureka Seven”, Kino’s Travels”, “Armitage III”, “Air Gear”) provided the screenplay.  Character design is by Mariko Oka (“Hell Girl”), art direction is by Hiromasa Ogura (“Appleseed”, “Ghost in the Shell” movies, “Last Exile”, “Samurai 7”) and music is by TENG.

“Ghost Hound” takes place in the town of Suiten located in a mountainous region of Kyushu.

In 1996, a young boy named Taro Komori and his older sister Mizuka were kidnapped.  In the end, Taro was rescued but his sister unfortunately died.  Meanwhile, after the abductions, a family relative, the father of young Makoto Ogami committed suicide.  Although, not responsible for the kidnappings, suffice to say, the town of Suiten has had its share of tragic stories.

Fast forward to 2007.  Taro Komori is now a 14-year-old boy who is suffering post-traumatic stress and is narcoleptic from his kidnapping.  He and his mother are being seen by a psychiatrist from Tokyo who is trying to help them.  For Taro, his image of his sister’s abduction was a big, ominous shadow figure and when he and his sister were tied up, his sister said something to him which he desperately wants to remember and hopes the psychiatrist can help him.  Meanwhile, for his mother, she is still suffering major depression since the death of her daughter.    The Komori family run the family sake making business that thrives on the water that comes into Suiten.

As for Makoto Ogami, also a 14-year-old, despite the family being part of the Komori line, the families have not gotten along.  Makoto is somewhat of a misanthrope and hates everything around him.  His mother left him at a young age right after his father commits suicide but he refuses to believe his father killed himself and wants to know the truth.   His grandmother Himeko Ogami is well-known for her ties of leading a religious cult and she was the person that alerted police to where the kidnapped Komori children can be found eleven years ago.  Makoto doesn’t get along with his grandmother who cares more about Makoto continuing the family line.  He also has an unknown hatred towards his mother.

Meanwhile, a new student from Tokyo has moved to Suiten and his name is Masayuki Nakajima.  Masayuki, who is in the same class as Taro and Makoto, is addicted to video games and his father is a major researcher at Japan Bio-Tech.  His father cares more about his job and his mother for some reason is distant and just plays video games all day long.  But Masayuki also has skeletons in his closet as a boy who was bullied at the school that Masayuki attended in Tokyo, had killed himself and before he committed suicide, he wrote on the blackboard of people he has cursed and Masayuki was one of them.  So, the Nakajima family are trying to have a fresh start in Suiten but each day he notices his new friend Michio being bullied.  Masayuki wants to step in and defend him but he’s afraid to.  If anything, the Suiten tragedies has made him interested in Taro and Makoto.

One day, Masayuki invites both Taro and Makoto to join him and go to an abandoned building that lies in the mountains.  The place where Taro and his sister were held during the kidnapping and a place that maybe Makoto can find some answers.  If anything, the three can go to this building and since they each have some baggage, they can face their fears together.

But when the two start venturing inside the abandoned and creepy building, not only do they find the area where Taro and his sister were kept in but somehow the three are able to “soul travel”.  The ability to leave their bodies when they are asleep and are in another dimension where they can see spirits of extinct animals and other dead things from long ago.

With this new ability, the three grow closer as friends but also can learn more about themselves and the unusual things that have been happening in Suiten as of late.

While no one human can see them in their “soul travel” or “homunculus” form, somehow a homeless traveler in the mountains is able to see them, but also a sixth grader named Miyako Komagusu.

Miyako is a young girl who lives with her father, Takahito Komagusu, a former folklore professor at Tokyo who moved to Suinta to become a priest and is head of the shrine.  Together they perform exorcisms for people who have strayed into the mountains and have seen spirits and feel they have been cursed.   Unlike the three main characters, Miyako somehow has a mysterious gift, she can sense when someone is dying but also has the ability to be possessed by spirits and for some reason, Taro has connection to Miyako which he is unsure about.

VIDEO:

“Ghost Hound” is presented in 1080i High Definition (note: There was an error on the packaging that mentions the anime series in 1080p but it is in fact 1080i).  Production I.G. literally went all out in making sure their 20th anniversary anime series looks incredible.   The artistic backgrounds are just amazingly detailed and it’s quite obvious that it was a priority to capture the look and feel of the mountainous region and the town of Suiten by making sure each background scenery looked amazing, especially the detail on the buildings.  Animation was also well done and in many ways, character designer Mariko Oka’s work on “Hell Girl” is quite apparent in the look and feel of the characters.

As for the picture quality, I did notice some jaggies at times but aside from that, I felt that “Ghost Hound” looks very good in HD.  Granted, it’s before my usual feeling that Blu-ray series look better after 2008, but this 2007 anime series looks great.  Blacks are nice and deep, colors are vibrant and for the most part, fans of the series will notice how much more detail there is in “Ghost Hound” compared to the original DVD release.   Also, it is important to note that this is a TV series and not a film and typically, I don’t expect too much from PQ in a TV series compared to an OVA or a film but Production I.G. has done a wonderful job with this series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Ghost Hound – Complete Collection” sounds fantastic in lossless audio.  Presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, this series is probably the first non-action anime series that didn’t involve massive battles or action sequences in which the audio sounds spectacular and actually enhances the dark and brooding feel of the anime series.

The first episode alone shows you how the anime series really takes advantage of the soundscape by making various sounds such as light flickering, bugs flying around to the screams of a person and literally, there were times when I was watching this and the sounds really made this series creepy. Well-done!

As for my preference between the English dub and original Japanese voice acting.  I watched the series with both English and Japanese dialogue and enjoyed both.  Granted, the only thing about the English dub is that Makoto does have a lower, much more manlier voice for a young teenager at times. But in a way, I did enjoy the English voice acting for this series and felt that the ADR on the American did a great job on casting for this series.  Japanese voice acting was of course awesome and the seiyuu’s did a fantastic job capturing the more emotional moments of the series.

Subtitles are provided in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ghost Hound – Complete Collection” comes with the textless opening and closing themes.

I have to admit that I have a personal bias towards Masamune Shirow works.  Ever since I first read his manga series “Orion”, I have been hooked on his works because not only are they intelligently written, Shirow knows how to add layers to his characters and is very good at character development.  But although he only provided the overall concept, credit has to go to Production I.G. for going all out in creating this TV series.  Granted, it’s a series to celebrate Production I.G.’s 20th anniversary but you can’t help but appreciate how much went into the series story-wise, animation wise, artistic backgrounds and audio.

I guess my overall impression after watching “Ghost Hound – Complete Collection” is that this is the first TV anime series on Blu-ray that I absolutely loved.  Not only was I hooked and could not stop watching, it was a series that just captivated me from beginning to end.  There are way too many anime TV series on Blu-ray that have too many filler episodes or storylines that are primarily episode-based and most often at times, series in which the storyline picks up at the second half.  For “Ghost Hound”, it’s an engrossing anime series from beginning to end.

Sure, I still have some questions that relate to certain characters or even some plotlines (especially the ominous black figure) but I was still content with the overall series.  As for the Blu-ray release, I know there are some people who are going to be upset that this is not a 1080p release but a 1080i release.  Also, that the series does not come with many special features but the textless opening and closing themes.  Personally, when a series only have these two to give for special features, sometimes I just hope they can include audio commentary and it would have been nice if there audio commentary included.   But I suppose that is me being picky and wanting to see more special features on anime on BD especially for a 20th anniversary project from Production I.G., if anything,  I was expecting some time of featurette or the making of the series.

Overall, for those wanting an anime series on Blu-ray that features a fantastic storyline, great character development, animation and background art, awesome loss audio and more…”Ghost Hound – Complete Collection” is highly recommended!






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