Ghost Hound (神霊狩/GHOST HOUND Shinreigari/Gōsuto Haundo?) is an anime TV series, created by Production I.G and Shirow Masamune, noted for being the creator of the Ghost in the Shell series. The original concept and design was first developed by Shirow in 1987. It is Production I.G's 20th year anniversary project and was first announced at the 2007 Tokyo International Anime Fair.
The series is staffed by director Ryūtarō Nakamura (Serial Experiments Lain, Kino's Journey), scriptwriter Chiaki J. Konaka (Serial Experiments Lain, Texhnolyze, The Big O), character designer and chief animation director Mariko Oka (Hell Girl) and art director Hiromasa Ogura (Spirit of Wonder, Jin-Roh, Ghost in the Shell). It premiered on Thursday, October 18, 2007 in Japan on WOWOW at 23:30 JST. A manga adaptation, featuring art by Kanata Asahi, has also been serialized in Comic Blade.
Storyline and setting
The series is set in the modest town of Suiten, located in a remote mountain region in the island of Kyūshū. Three high school boys who have their own traumatic encounters in their childhood, learn about the strange occurrences happening at Suiten. Together, they investigate the strange happenings by entering the Unseen World, a parallel world where no humans can enter. However, the three boys accidentally end up entering the Unseen World, but realize that the Unseen World is the only way to find the answer to their horrible childhood. As soon as the boys begin to understand the existence of the Unseen World, ghosts and paranormal occurrences appear in the real world, spreading through Suiten, and the local priest and especially his daughter, become involved in the occurrences. The priest's daughter, having been born with the ability to see ghosts, is possessed. She doesn't have a traumatic childhood like the boys; however, she is ignored in the society. When the boys (including the minor characters) find out that the priest's daughter is going to become a 'saniwa' (one who judges a god), they take action to get the girl back.
- A narcoleptic 14 year boy and the main protagonist. He was kidnapped along with his older sister Mizuka 11 years ago, on September 22, 1996, but only Tarō was rescued alive. Since then, he has out-of-body experiences (O.B.Es) during his sleep, and has the habit of recording what he sees in them in order to figure out the reason for it. He is currently seeking help from the school psychologist to help him work them out, and remember details from certain dreams. He wants to meet his sister again in the kakuriyo (spirit world) as there are things he wishes to ask. Tarō is unable to remember the face of his kidnapper and has flashbacks containing a black giant taking his sister away. Tarō is portrayed as kind and polite, worrying about the health of his mother more than himself. In the aftermath of an accident at the Komagusu family's shrine, he discovered an ability to apparently travel inside his own brain. During astral projection, when he begins to feel distinct emotions of rage and hatred, his spirit begins to transform into a dog-like apparition. This has only occurred twice, during confrontations with the apparent spirit of the man who kidnapped him and his sister 11 years ago. Recently, his form, having apparently stabilized during his astral projection, seems to have taken his human shape. He has feelings for Miyako, always blushing when he sees her or talks to her, he is often teased about it by Masayuki. In the later episodes he starts to think that Miyako is the reincarnation of Mizuka, his dead sister, he thinks that that is the cause of his feelings for Miyako, but later he undestands that it was just an excuse to hide his real feelings and says that Miyako is Miyako and no one else. The three friends also found out that Taro and Mizuka were the replacements of Makoto in being kidnapped. He later realizes that his sister's spirit has been living within him all along.
- A fairly silent, though hot-tempered boy who avoids contact with his classmates, and rarely comes to school. A relative of Tarō's, his family being a branch of the Komori's, he has O.B.Es like Tarō and Masayuki, and is able to produce them while playing his guitar, a regular pastime of his. Makoto's family founded a religion of which his elderly grandmother, Himeko, currently serves as the central point, and who wishes that Makoto succeed her as its head, though Makoto is not interested in it. In the direct aftermath of the kidnapping of the Komori children, his grandmother told the police where to find them; his father committed a bizarre suicide shortly after they were found, with the circumstances of his death being unknown. Makoto subsequently discovered his father's bloodied corpse, which resulted in a traumatic encounter for him; due to this, he wishes to find out more about the circumstances of his father's death and had initially harbored resentment towards Tarō, however he appears to have warmed up to him, upon gradually knowing him better and gathering more information about the circumstances relating to the kidnapping incident. He has, in the course of his out of body experiences, learned how to transform his spirit into the form of a wolf-like hound. In the course of an incident, he later meets his mother, who has remarried. He is shown to be angry towards her for having left him, even thinking of wanting to stab her, though fails to do so, running away from his mother's house in the process. After he later learns of his mother's deep depression and her attempt to commit suicide by overdosing on pills and maybe even burning her house though later it is assumed that the Ogami religious group might have been responsible for the arson part, he runs off in its direction, saving her from the debris of the house's burning remains. In the immediate aftermath of this incident, his mother briefly loses her memories and reverts to her seventeen year old self, but soon regains them later on. In episode nineteen, he finally called her mother, "Mom" instead of addressing her as "that woman". In this scene, both him and his mother cried as an indication that they really love and forgive each other. It is then revealed that he damaged his head not because of his mother but because of the kidnapper that kidnapped him before Taro and his sister.
- Masayuki Nakajima (中嶋 匡幸 Nakajima Masayuki?) Voiced by: Jun Fukuyama (Japanese), Corey Hartzog (English)
- Recently transferred to Tarō and Makoto's school from Tokyo, he tries to make friends with both due to an interest in investigating the kidnapping incident. While he was initially ignored by both, they eventually warmed up to him, with the three of them beginning to try to find the circumstances behind the kidnapping incident and the reason behind their O.B.Es. He tends to be very confident, and initially somewhat arrogant and rude. He has had a fear of heights ever since he bullied someone to suicide by jumping off the school roof, and the victim left a message on the blackboard cursing Masayuki. Masayuki unashamedly admits he ran away due to the message. Instead of feeling guilt he is angry at the student for making him a murderer, a fact he can't get out of his conscience. He is, however, very determined to overcome this problem and tries extensively, including standing on the edge of the school roof, to cure his fear of heights. During his spare time, he often plays his head-mounted display virtual reality game. His father is a researcher at Japan Bio-Tech, while his mother appears to spend large amounts of time playing console games, primarily Tetris or something similar. Of the two other boys, Masayuki has a friendlier relationship with Tarō, visiting him in hospital and joking with him. Recently, during a joint experience of O.B.E. with Makoto and Taro, Masayuki displayed the ability to evoke the same weaponry from his virtual reality video game in his spirit form, and used it to apparently destroy the spirit of Taro's former kidnapper. After the incident, he begins to have a little more confidence, finally deciding to intervene in the bullying of one of his classmates. He is always the one who is spying on Reika because he found out about her relationship with his father.
- Miyako Komagusu (駒玖珠 都 Komagusu Miyako?) Voiced by: Akiko Yajima (Japanese), Brittney Karbowski (English)
- A mysterious young girl with the ability to see ghosts. She is somehow able to see Tarō's spirit during his O.B.E, as well as having been able to sense when all three boys entered the Unseen World for the first time. She lives at a shrine, which seems to have a lot of paranormal activity surrounding it, and regularly helps her father with exorcisms and the like. She acts rather mature for her age, often chiding the older boys for acting childish, and even scolding her father when he attempts to drink too much. She is shown later to have been possessed by spirits, resulting in her classmates trying to avoid her. When Taro told her that she might be the reincarnation of his sister, she is hurt by his words so much that she even starts to cry and says that she hates him because she has been convincing herself that, "I am me and not anybody else" and that Taro saw her as Mizuka not as Miyako. After this, she seems to be ignoring Taro, as if she has never known him. After her father is hospitalized, she is manipulated by the Ōgami group into becoming their new matriarch. However, the efforts of Taro and his friends prevent this.
- Takahito Komagusu (駒玖珠 孝仁 Komagusu Takahito?) Voiced by: Yasunori Matsumoto (Japanese), Christopher Ayres (English)
- Miyako's father and head of the shrine they live at. He has lectured as an assistant lecturer at a university of Tokyo, where Reika Ōtori was a student of his. He is worried about Miyako's long-term psychological health and has spoken to both Ōtori and Hirata about her. He was one of the group of teenagers who initially visited the abandoned hospital after the construction of the dam. He is later pushed off the steps of the Komagusu shrine, later being hospitalized.
- Tarō's father, and a famous sake brewer. He seems to have handled the incident much better than his wife. He has concerns about a nearby plant, which he knows will damage his business due to the waste it pumps into the river since clean water is needed for making sake.
- Tarō's mother. Although her daughter Mizuka died eleven years ago, she is still very emotionally damaged by the incident, and tends to show this with an unintended eye-twitch whenever Mizuka is mentioned. She also has admitted to taking medication, possibly to help her sleep, and also apparently cannot dream due to this medicine.
- Atsushi Hirata (平田 篤司 Hirata Atsushi?) Voiced by: Yoshinori Fujita (Japanese), Jay Hickman (English)
- Tarō's new counselor and therapist. An eccentric clinical psychologist from a university of Tokyo, he introduces much of the series' psychological terminology, and is apparently interested in Tarō's dreams and condition as a means supporting his own theories. Initially he does not believe Tarō's O.B.Es. are in any way supernatural and attributes these moments as states of altered consciousness. He later begins to admit that there may be a supernatural component, and that the land around the mountain in question may be the trigger of these events. He has also experienced supernatural events during the series, but prefers to keep them private, as they fit the diagnostics for certain psychological alterations.
- Makoto's mother's husband. He is the person shown to be wandering through Kakuriyo under the identity of Snark and meets with Tarō. He appears to have apparently died while Makoto's mother attempted to commit suicide.
- A friend of the Komori family who also helps manage their sake business. She had a crush on Kaibara.
- Yasuhiro Nakajima (中嶋 康弘 Nakajima Yasuhiro?) Voiced by: Tōru Ōkawa (Japanese), Andrew Love (English)
- Masayuki's father, who works at Japan Bio-Tech. He is shown to be having an affair with Reika Ōtori.
- A neurologist who treats Tarō and regularly prescribes medicine to his mother. She works in the labs at Japan Bio-Tech and part time as a doctor, and is the series's other source of psychological and neurological information.
- Michio Hoshino (星野 道男 Hoshino Michio?) Voiced by: Shintarō Asanuma (Japanese), Blake Shepard (English)
- Masayuki's and Makoto's classmate that was being bullied until Masayuki stood up for him. He and Masayuki have since become good friends, with Masayuki telling him about his OBEs, which Michio soon experiences for himself. He has been shown as able to read the Kojiki.
- Makoto's elderly grandmother and head of the religion started by the Ōgami family. During the kidnapping incident, she had suggested searching for the children in the dried up dam. After the incident, her son, Makoto's father, whom she had wanted to succeed her as the religion's leader, committed suicide. Himeko later adamantly refuses to acknowledge anything whatsoever concerning it, and forbids Makoto from entering his father's former room. She also wishes that Makoto take over the reigns of the family's religion, however Makoto has shown no interest in it. She also appears to be ill, regularly administering medicine, and dies later onwards.
- A politician, who appears to be corrupt. He was friends with Makoto's parents and Takahito Komagusu, while they were students in high school, and had entered the abandoned hospital with them. Makoto tries to ask him about his father, but he is shown to be shocked upon knowing his identity, refusing to answer any of his questions.
Sentai Filmworks currently licenses the anime in North America and is localized & distributed by Section23 Films. The first half of the season was released on October 20, 2009. The second half was released on December 15, 2009. Sentai Filmworks will re-release Ghost Hound with an English dub on DVD and Blu-ray on September 14, 2010.
The manga series Shinreigari; Another Side has only released 2 volumes.
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