ADV Films // 2001 // 80 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // June 6th, 2006
Keichiro: It's the last episode, do you think I'm going to die?
Satsuki: No sequel. Your chances don't look so good! Let's get this over with.
And here we are at the end of the road. Ghost Stories Semester 5: Graduation Ghoulies marks the finale of the most irreverent anime I've seen. If you haven't tuned in yet, why the hell are you here reading the last damn review? But to catch you up just in case, here's the plot so far...
Satsuki and her crybaby brother Keichiro move to a house their dead mother used to live in, and find themselves enrolled in a new school. Their new institution of learning stands next to a decrepit, abandoned structure, where it used to hold classes before the shiny new school was built. Turns out the pair's mother was the school principal, and has left behind a guide on which ghosts haunt the old school and how to fight them. In the first volume, Satsuki and Keichiro teamed up with their cocky, hormone-crazed neighbor Hajime; his nerdy, Jewish (in the American dub only) friend Leo; and a snobby, born-again Christian (in the dub only), upper-class girl named Momoko. Also, their family cat became a talking rude sidekick after the first demon they fought possessed him. A recent community development has disturbed most of the spirits from the resting place their mom sent them to, so now it's up to Satsuki and her new friends (with the demonic kitty) to become real-life Ghostbusters. In every episode they face a new ghostly figure out of Japanese folk legend, and must find some way to stop them from taking over the school and the village.
The gloves are off in this the final volume of Ghost Stories. Previous releases seemed to get crazier and crazier with more foul language and slams on pop culture, but this concluding chapter ups the ante significantly. "F" bombs are thrown out like candy off a Mardi Gras float, and sexual innuendo becomes flat-out, in-your-cheek tongues hitting you with all the subtlety of a twenty dollar hooker still on a street corner before sunrise. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets South Park vibe crescendos to a fever pitch. What the hell is ADV thinking?
Ghost Stories has been a grand experiment in comedy. The ADR directors let the cast improvise entire chunks of dialogue, and a middle of the road Japanese anime about urban legend ghosts in schools turns out to be side splittingly funny. The danger is most people like their anime faithful to the source, but ADV and the English cast have scrapped that idea altogether. And thank God they did! You get the zany American track, or if you're a purist anime otaku you can toggle to the original track with traditional subtitles.
If you haven't checked out this series, it's well worth a look. I hope it's successful enough to warrant more mostly improvised scripts from ADV. I'm all for it if they are this funny. Ghost Stories has been among the best anime released this year, and I hope there's a sequel in the vaults somewhere.
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Scales of Justice
* Golden Gavel 2006 Nominee
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Clean Opening and Closing
* Text Ghost Profiles
* DVD Verdict Review of Volume One
* DVD Verdict Review of Volume Two
* DVD Verdict Review of Volume Three
* DVD Verdict Review of Volume Four