Ghost Stories

Jun 21 2006

I finished watching Ghost Stories last night. ‘Twas great fun, with caveats.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Ghost Stories is a thoroughly average kids’ anime made in 2000, capitalizing on a “ghost craze” that was sweeping through Japan. Apparently, every school in Japan has lots of superstitions and a stable of ghosts, and this is the story of a group of kids who accidentally unleash a horde of them, and have to exorcize them an episode at a time.

Every character is pretty bland, and the episode’s plots are usually either straightforward or nonsensical. It’s a low-grade horror series made to spook grade schoolers.

So ADV licensed it and did something that I’m surprised more people haven’t done (in the wake of works like What’s Up, Tiger Lilly? and MST3K) — they threw out the Japanese script and ad-libbed their way through it. The result is a constant stream of jokes and humor. The actors frequently break the fourth wall, and hint (sometimes more than hint) at hanky-panky. The primary characters all have solid comic timing, and the rest of the cast does a good job with it.

So an otherwise average series is turned above-average. I’d applaud it wholeheartedly, except that the actors went exceedingly sexual in the later discs (particularly the last one), with a lot of crude sexual remarks coming from the mouths of eleven-year-old characters. I don’t mind the occasional sly joke about such things; it’s one thing when a grade schooler knows about sex. This goes far, far beyond that.

Which is a shame. Ghost Stories is a lot of fun, and if that sort of humor had been at least toned down, this would have been a fantastic comedy series.

Just goes to show you how many things have to go right for something to work for people.

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