I was really hyped up about studio Production I.G.'s "20th Anniversary Project," Ghost Hound. The same studio that gave us Combustible Campus Guardress, Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex, and Le Chevalier d'Eon always delivers when it comes to visually extravagant series AND compelling and complete storylines... Well, almost always. *Cough* The Enemy Is the Pirate *Cough* But except for a few stumbles, most of their focused productions are works of art. And no, I'm not leading up to a big "But guess what the fuck happened with Ghost Hound" revelation here. I've done that bait and switch too many times already; just stating some preconceived notions I had going into this show.
This being the company's 20th Anniversary Project I had expected something utterly groundbreaking... Something that they probably waited 19 years to tell just because if they released it any earlier and it wasn't listed as something so special as their "20th Anniversary Release" the world would have had its collective mind blown and pants shit over its epicness and beauty. No. Ghost Hound is a very small and quiet series. It's paced extremely well (the episodes just flew by. I'd swear that I was only halfway through one when the closing credits would start), and the story is very compelling, but, well, it's just so tiny a tale.
Let's jump into the plot right now. Ghost Hound is a really bizarre mix of When They Cry and Dennou Coil. It's the story of a middle school boy named Taro, who was kidnapped ten years previous (when he was only 3 years-old), along with his older sister (who didn't survive the ordeal), and now he has strange dreams that seem to focus on those events, and the history of the small mountain town that everything takes place in. Soon a shrink from Tokyo starts to study the boy (pretending to do so for the kid's own benefit, but who really has his own dicky agenda), and a douchey transfer kid (also from Tokyo, which is — according to all anime — apparently the only large city in the entire country) starts sticking his nose into the Taro's past as well. The tool (Masayuki) gets another kid (a distant relative of Taro's, Makoto) involved in his investigation, and soon they all learn that Taro's fucked up dreams (having to do with out of body experiences and giant, skeletal shadows) may not just be dreams... Of COURSE they're not just dreams, or this show would have been boring as all Hell.
So Masayuki weasels his way into both Taro's and Makoto's lives, and gets them to start probing the images of Taro's nightmares and the places connected to the botched kidnapping years before (like where Taro and his sister's kidnapper was chased and accidentally killed by the police, and the abandoned hospital a couple of valley's over where the two kids were found days after that incident, tied to beds and severely malnourished or dead). This leads to the surprise that *Gasp!* not only can Taro really and truly astrally project himself (i.e. send his spirit out exploring while his comotose-like body remains behind), but so can Masayuki and Makoto. Add to this a girl 3 years younger than Taro whose not-so-spiritual father runs the local shrine, a secret genetic lab just outside of town doing crazy shit with stem cell-like cloning experiments, double agents investigating past and present crazy shit, a strange cult with ties to high government officials, and crazy family members of EVERYBODY involved, and you have the makings of one really trippy, yet fun, psychological detective thriller!.................. Only they dropped the ball in the very last episode. The very fucking LAST episode!
Honest to God! This thing had me completely hooked through to the end of episode 21 (what with the mystery surrounding Taro's kidnapping, the little temple priestess' possible involvement with Taro, all of the strange things and strangers popping up in town, the mixing up of the spiritual with the super sciency, and the characters themselves [who turned out were all pretty cool to hang out with]), but then episode 22 (the grand finale) came along and I swear to naked Jesus on a trampoline, they HAD to have had somebody else write and direct that last half hour of its plot. All of the carefully structured story elements and tension (Lordy! All that beautiful tension!) were simply pissed away like a bender out of a drunk frat-boy the following morning into the laundry basket instead of the toilet.
Everything seemed to be leading up to something HUGE, and bigger than the sum of all its parts (like the punk worker at the science lab who "freed" some of the nasty experiments into the wild, Masayuki's perv of a dad and his relationship [and foot fetish] with a sexy co-scientist, the homeless guy who could talk to spirits, the Earth spirits surrounding the condemned hospital, the shrine priest's successful transcendental experiences, the seriously disturbing skeletal shadow beasts, the government's ties to the religion that Makoto's grandmother started, ALL the links to people and events in Taro's and Makoto's pasts, the sake factory that Taro's father owns and its newest brew master)... Christ, almost EVERY MYSTERIOUS PLOT DETAIL brought up in the previous 21 episodes is either forgotten or glazed over with with a quick lame joke in the end. And lame jokes in a serious psychological drama are never appreciated... Where the fuck was I?
Oh yeah, "But guess what the fuck happened with Ghost Hound."... Yeah, I had to. I didn't mean to get your hopes up, but this show totally went down on me, sexy like — like in a movie theater — and got me all ready to climax, and then it ripped off its mask and revealed itself to be Screech from Saved By the Bell... I will not be able to "get it up" as it were for months, if not years, after that shit ending. This show has scarred me bad.
Yeah, it wasn't all terrible, as I said earlier, but even with 21/22 good to great episodes, if something ENDS shittily, then that's all I can focus on. The shitty ending is what sticks with me. The opposite is true as well: If a show has a slow or bad start, but ends well or FANFUCKINGTASTICLY awesome (like Chrno Crusade did), then I mostly remember its great finale. But when you build up the fact that every boy has got beyond fucked up parents (one's dad is sucking the toes of his colleague in his free time, and his mother is completely zoned out on Tetris [and later gets involved in a retarded cult], another's dad killed himself 10 years ago after the kidnapping case, and his mom is now schizo and suicidal, and the third's father really only cares about sake, and his mother is just about ready to snap, crackle, and pop and probably take a lot of innocent people down with her), and then resolve all their issues in the last 2 minutes of the last episode (and do it by simply having them all show up at the spot that the boys are after their really lame prison-break-like rescue of the shrine priestess, and the parents are all miraculously healed [minds and bodies], hugging and smiling at each other DESPITE the fact that the last time we saw any of them they were all about to either pop some heavy pills or start stabbing people — possibly themselves), you know you have serious problems.
Let's see, what else? I absolutely loved the use of sound in this thing. The sound (not just the music, but the ambient audio experience) really pushes the creepiness and otherworldliness of this show. You really need at least two good speakers to watch it; 5.1 would be truly preferred though, and I'm no audiophile. There was LOTS of psych talk going on from beginning to end — lots of studies and diagnoses. So if you're a hypochondriac you need to stay the fuck away from Ghost Hound. Oh, that's another thing: The title. There were no "ghosts" in this series at all (a couple of astrally projected souls, and some Earth spirits, but no real ghosts), and definitely no hounds (one kid in one episode turns his astral projection into a ferral beast... but there's no possible way that's what the title meant). What the hell? And finally, what pissed me off MOST of all was that evil cultist bitch (who is played as one darkly evil cunt the whole way through) is brushed off in the end with a lame punchline aimed at her. No retribution for all her bitchiness though... It'd be like having Darth Vader be the bad ass that he is throughout the original Star Wars movies, then at the end of Jedi having him witness the destruction of the Death Star from a distance and simply grab his cheeks, shake his head back and forth and yell out "Oh noes! Aye yi yiiiiiiii! Eet all gooooone! Aye Chihuahua!" After all the creepiness and deadly serious undertones of this thing, the last episode went all goofy and sappy. What a way to fuck up a show.
Arrrrrrrrrrr. I guess I must be Japanese at heart, me mateys... No, I don't enjoy used schoolgirl panties, I don't like bukake (either as a giver or a receiver), and this old sea dog never had a hankering to ever get me rocks off with an octopus or a squiddy creature from the depths.... But I did once have a transcendental experience with me soul taking a stroll outside me brain one night while throwin' a few back at the Sea Wench Pub. Arrrrrr.
While free of me mortal coils I found meself able to do things that I had only dreamed of doing before. Unlike those little ruffians in that Ghost Dog story, I didn't just spiritually float on down to the abandoned hospital outside of town, or try to have some ghostly intercourse with a sexy scientist down at the local lab... No, I went on down to the Omni Club gymnasium and hung out in the ladies' locker room for a good ten hours, and then I tried to have ghostly intercourse with a sexy scientist over at Dr. Dave's underground lab. Well, things may not have been all they were appearing to be though, seeing as after I woke up from me coma — which the paramedics informed me was brought on by too much of that rape-date druggle that Jimmy Jammer thought he was putting into the fine filly's drink next to mine — I found out I was really only unconscious for 2 hours. After clearing me head I then went over to the Omni Club Gymnasium to see if all the fine cum dumpsters that I had seen in me vision were still there, and it was closed for 5 hours. After that I went down to Dr. Dave's lab for me monthly shots, and I found out that he didn't even HAVE any sexy female scientists in his employment... Arrrrrrr. He DID have a cute orangutan though... I suppose... Maybe.... Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Who WRITES this shit?! And beyond that, who keeps watching it!? Yeah, I was forced to watch this one instance of poorly contrived and terribly handled animation because of the community service sentence that I'm obligated to do (though how the Rossman actually convinced that judge to let him handle my service is beyond me... I have a theory that the Rossman has dirt on everybody in town, and he uses this dirt only when it suits his purposes to make ME more miserable), but other than cases like mine, who, with free will, WATCHES this crap??!
Okay, so the title doesn't make any sense at all seeing as it has nothing to do with The Hound of the Baskervilles or any such other works of celebrated fiction, nor does it even focus on any kind of ghost or dog at all... The lead characters are all annoying and whining little losers who have some sort of spiritual journey, kind of like those pathetic kids in that 1980s The Explorers movie, except even stupider. They meet tons of people, think some people are reincarnations of their dead family members (which they're NOT), experience a lot of strange mystic and scientific phenomena, and in the last episode none of it seemed to matter at all. All the strange stuff that these young turdlings encounter is all forgotten or ignored in the end. What was the goddamn point?!