Section23 Films // 2007 // 275 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // January 14th, 2010
Don't worry. It's all in your head...maybe.
Ghost Hound aired on Japanese broadcast television during 2007, so it's a relatively new title appearing on DVD quickly. The show was created by Production I.G and Shirow Masamune who are known for their work on the Ghost in the Shell series, and it was meant to celebrate their twentieth year in the business of producing anime. Ghost Hound began being televised in the U.S. on The Anime Network in October 2009, and some episodes are available online through them. This first volume encompasses the first half of the series, so there will only be two volumes in total to purchase.
The story is a bit convoluted, but simply put it concerns three boys who can see in to an alternate world that has begun bleeding into our reality. Taro Komori and his sister were kidnapped when they were three, and unfortunately his sister did not live through the experience. Taro can't shake his bad dreams about the trauma, and he is tortured by the images of a tall mysterious figure who often morphs into a doglike creature. Taro works with a psychiatrist to help him grapple with his memories and recurring dreams about his sister. Makoto is a neighbor boy whose father was implicated in the kidnapping which resulted in a parent's suicide. There is also Masayuki who is a transfer student who wants to know more about the kidnapping, and is also haunted by the suicide of a classmate he once knew back in his old school. All three can see in to a spirit world, and they explore it through outer body experiences and their own memories. And then there is Miyako the mysterious girl who is a pretty classmate that can channel spirits on her own. She might be a key to unlocking the entire mystery of what is happening to the three boys and the whole world.
Ghost Hound is unique in that it blends several genres including mystery, psychological drama, and straight up horror through an anime filter. There is always a sense of ominous dread dripping through the bright colors, and it feels bigger and more complex than most series. There are plenty of trippy images and disturbing noises which serve to unsettle the viewer, and they keep you wondering what is really happening beyond the drama about of a boy dealing with guilt and remorse about surviving something his sister did not. The animation style is typical anime with the large soulful eyes and unique color palettes, but there are incredible dream sequences that take things to a more abstract artistic level. It reminds me of the classics of the genre, although I hear rumblings that in the end it promises more than it delivers. I can't suss that out from the first half of the series which seems solid and uncompromising.
Ghost Hound: Volume 1 from Sentai Filmworks delivers the first eleven episodes of a twenty two program run. The transfer looks splendid with nice color saturation and no edge enhancement to spoil the fun. The sound mix is also well executed buzzing around the five speakers dramatically, and truly engaging viewers in a sound field. Strangely enough we only get the original Japanese audio track without any English dub, so there is no option but to watch the show in its native language. Luckily most of the impressive visuals take place without dialogue, so even on a first pass you can enjoy and appreciate the strong images without having to worry you might be missing important exchanges. There are no extras save for a look at the opening and closing credits without the cast and crew listings.
If you're looking for a creepy and traditional anime to pass your time, Ghost Hound is strongly reccommended. It's an interesting journey brought to you by masters of the genre to celebrate two decades in the entertainment business. The nice thing is there will only be two volumes of DVDs to buy to get the entire run of this program. The only bad news is there are no extras or an English dub. It's a decidedly no frills release, but the transfer is strong. Ghost Hound represents what we will probably see more of here in the United States with regards to anime: strong titles with no embellishment or additional work done on them. Hardcore fans should find a lot to love in this one.
Guilty of being trippy and cool, Ghost Hound is free to slip into another dimension.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Section23 Films
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
Running Time: 275 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Clean Open/Close