Ghost Stories is a weird, but great, anime

By Daniel Garcia, Entertainment Editor

Ghost stories image

Ghost Stories is an incredibly unique anime series, the likes of which has only happened once in my memory, and likely will never happen again.

While originally airing in the late 2000 and early 2001, the series was recently added to the streaming service Crunchyroll in January of this year, and for those looking for a bizarre and odd comedy series, it is a must see.

Animated by the studio of Pierott, the series follows the misadventures Satsuki Miyanoshita, who with her father and her younger brother Keiichirou, move to the hometown of their late mother, Kayako. On her first day of school, she discovers her mother was responsible for putting to rest numerous ghosts that haunted the town. However, the recent urbanization of the surrounding area have disturbed these spirits, causing them to run rampant and endanger the living. Discovering a book written by her mother with information about ghosts, she, with the help of her neighbor Hajime, his friend Leo, and an older classmate named Momoko, seals a demon named Amanjakou in their family cat unintentionally. From there, it is up to the group to protect the living from the restless spirits throughout town.

Despite being based on a series of fairly popular light novels and a cast of reputable Japanese voice actors, the series bombed in Japan, due to a mediocre script, animation ranging from okay to flat out poor, and a very formulaic structure. As such, the anime itself is not what makes the series so remarkable. Rather, it is the dub of the series that makes it special.

The animation studio of Pierott and Aniplex, who lost quite a bit of money on the series, were by all accounts desperate for some profit on the series, licensed the series to ADV Films for dubbing, and allowed the dubbers to do basically whatever they wanted to the script, so long as it followed the basic format and would sell. As such, the dub team made liberal changes to the original script, eventually it ignoring it completely and reworking the script into more of a comedy.

The result is a dub full of strange characterization (such as Momoko being changed to a fundamentalist Christian in the vein of Westboro Baptist Church), inappropriate and offensive humor and language, pop culture jokes (with many jabs at former president George W Bush) and as much silliness as the voice actors could get away with, and it is absolutely hilarious. It is, to be basic, an official “abridged series”, before such parodies were common.

However, the pop culture jokes are admittedly rather dated. Many of the pop culture jokes are aimed at the culture of the early 2000’s. As an example, a number of references are made to Hurricane Katrina and the poor government response, as well as a running gag directed at actor Christian Slater. In this way, some of the jokes may no longer have the impact they did back then.

It is also worth noting the dub takes a few episodes to really “get going” as it were. In the first few episodes the actors still make an attempt to follow the original script, but it’s not until episode 6 or 7 that the show begins to really shine. As such, it may seem a bit slow at first, but it’s worth sticking with it.

With all this said, Ghost Stories is a series I highly, highly recommend for fans of comedy, but ONLY see the English dubbed version. Anime purists will likely not appreciate the liberal changes, but those who are not as uptight should do well to see this for a laugh. Ghost Stories is available for legal streaming on Crunchyroll, in both dubbed and subbed, though again I only recommend the English dub.