Ghost Stories (学校の怪談 Gakkō no Kaidan?, literally School Ghost Stories), also known as Ghosts at School, is a twenty episode anime series created in 2000 by animation studio Pierrot and Aniplex for Fuji Television, based on a book series by Toru Tsunemitsu.
The series is licensed for the North American market by ADV Films whose English dub replaces the original script with a comedic one. It was also aired in Latin America by Cartoon Network, which had broadcast the entire series unedited on October 1, 2005. The series was also translated and dubbed into English by the anime television network, Animax, who has broadcast the series unedited and uncensored under the title Ghosts at School within its respective networks across the world in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and other regions.
Ghost Stories tells the tale of Satsuki Miyanoshita, who moves with her family to the hometown of her deceased mother. On her first day of school, Satsuki; her brother Keiichirou, a first-grader; their neighbor Hajime Aoyama; Momoko Koigakubo, an older schoolmate; and Reo Kakinoki, a classmate and friend of Hajime's with a penchant for the paranormal visit the abandoned school building adjacent the current school complex and discover that the building is haunted.
It is soon after revealed that Satsuki's mother was responsible for sealing several ghosts who haunted not only the school but also the town, and now they are released due to the urbanization taking place in the surrounding area. Satsuki's mother left behind a book detailing how to exorcize the ghosts once and for all. In her first confront, Satsuki faces a demon called Amanojaku, but in the process Amanojaku is sealed within Satsuki's pet cat, Kaya. Although Amanojaku does not want to help Satsuki at first, the danger soon threatens to envelop the town and it is left up to Satsuki, her friends and Amanojaku to stop the ghosts.
- Satsuki Miyanoshita (宮ノ下 さつき Miyanoshita Satsuki?): Satsuki is the main character of the show. She moves with her father and her young brother Keiichirou to the hometown of her deceased mother, where she finds that her mother confronted several evil entities that haunted the town, which included Amanojaku, and wrote all her supernatural experiences in a diary, which is entitled "The Ghost Journal". Satsuki is very strong, brave and determined within, but sometimes a bit moody, mostly because of Hajime's reckless behavior. Her nickname in the Animax dub is Suki (from Satsuki). Voiced by: Tomoko Kawakami (Japanese), Hilary Haag (English)
- Momoko Koigakubo (恋ヶ窪 桃子 Koigakubo Momoko?): Momoko is a 6th grader and Satsuki's best friend. She seems to fear nothing, even in very dangerous situations, and is very brave when it comes to help Satsuki and the gang confront the ghosts. She also seems to have a psychic connection with Satsuki's mother. Voiced by: Kumi Sakuma (Japanese), Monica Rial (English)
- Hajime Aoyama (青山 ハジメ Aoyama Hajime?): Hajime is Satsuki's neighbor. He is always strong and courageous to help defeat the ghosts, but though he says that this is very brave, he is at times actually a coward. Despite this, he is one of the most reliable of Satsuki's friends and has saved her on more than one occasion. Hajime also has a naughty habit of flipping girls' skirts, and his constant victim is none other than Satsuki. This results in frequent comic moments. Throughout the anime, it seems that Hajime and Satsuki develop mutual crushes on each other (not that they'd admit it). Voiced by: Takako Honda (Japanese), Chris Patton (English)
- Leo Kakinoki (柿木 レオ Kakinoki Leo?): Reo is Hajime's friend and has a big obsession with paranormal themes, and proclaims himself as a respected paranormal researcher. However, whenever Reo finds a clue pertaining to the existence of supernatural entities, it seems that the clue turns against him. Like Hajime, he tries to be brave but most of the times he's actually just a coward. In the English dub by ADV, he was named as "Leo". Voiced by: Makoto Tsumura (Japanese), Greg Ayres (English)
- Keiichirou Miyanoshita (宮ノ下 敬一郎 Miyanoshita Keiichirō?): Keiichirou is Satsuki's young brother. He is easily frightened by many things and is seen crying sometimes, but he shows courage where it counts to help in defeating the ghosts. In the dub, when he is frightened, or stressed enough, his speech becomes so slurred only his sister is able to understand it. He creates a special friendship with the ghost Amanojaku. Voiced by: Kurumi Mamiya (Japanese), Christine M. Auten (English)
- Amanojaku (天の邪鬼?): Amanojaku is a powerful entity that, long ago, was sealed by Satsuki's mother in a tree in the mountains, but was finally released from his magic prison due to urbanization. However, he did not have his freedom long, as Satsuki sealed him (by accident) in the body of her pet cat, Kaya. At first, Amanojaku is hostile toward the kids and takes great pleasure in seeing them in trouble, but throughout the series he develops somewhat of a care for them, especially for Satsuki and Keiichirou. Voiced by: Ryusei Nakao (Japanese), Rob Mungle (English)
- Sakata (坂田?): Sakata is the teacher of the class where Satsuki, Hajime and Reo attend. Despite he doesn't believe in ghosts, he suffered many supernatural issues, as he was possessed, cursed and kidnapped by ghosts a couple of times. Voiced by: Tommy Drake
- Reiichirou Miyanoshita (宮ノ下 礼一郎 Miyanoshita Reiichirō?): Reiichirou is Satsuki's father. He has no clue about his daughter's supernatural duties and also doesn't believe in ghosts. His nickname is Ray in the Animax dub. Voiced by: Takehiro Murozono (Japanese), Illich Guardiola (English)
- Kayako Miyanoshita (宮ノ下 佳耶子 Miyanoshita Kayako?): Kayako is Satsuki's and Keiichirou's deceased mother. Through her diary it is revealed that she was an avid exorcist during her childhood. She possesses Momoko two times throughout the series to aid Satsuki against the Piano Ghost and Kutabe and once helped Satsuki and the others to escape from a powerful haunting called Anamnaneki. Her maiden name was Kamiyama. Her name in the Animax Dub was "Karen". Voiced by: Kotono Mitsuishi (Japanese), Marcy Bannor (English)
- Draft: "School Ghost Stories" Teru Hisashi T. (Kodansha Bunko KK)
- Planning: Osamu Takashi Shimizu (Fuji TV), Shirakawa Riyuuzou (SPE Visual Works), Yuji Nunokawa (Studio Pierrot)
- Director: Noriyuki Abe recorded
- Series Composition: Hashimoto Hiroshi
- Character Design: Oonishi Masaya
- Sub-Character Design: Mari Kitayama
- Screenwriter: Hashimoto Hiroshi, Ryota Yamaguchi, Masashi Sogo, Yamatoya Akira, Naka Hiroko
- Storyboard Director: Noriyuki Abe recorded, Kageyama, Shigeki Hatakeyama, Enomoto Akihiro, Makoto Wataru Koshiba, Ishidou Hiroyuki, Matsuura of tablets, Rin Yuki, Ueda Hidehito, Nishizawa Susumu, Rin Yuki, Iwanaga Akira
- Animation Director: Hiroshi Hazime Usami, Tatsuo Yanagino, Nakamori Yoshiharu, Akio Kawamura, Zawamanabu shark, Itirou Makoto Takagi, Motohashi Hideyuki, moral Chiba, Oonishi Masaya
- Art Director: Congratulations Takata Shigeru (Studio Wyeth)
- Color design: Hideo Kamiya
- Technical Director: Takahashi Kentarou
- Director of Photography: Hukushima Toshiyuki
- Edit: Uematsu Zyuniti (Production I.G)
- Music: Wada Kaoru
- Sound Director: Noriyuki Abe recorded
- Sound Effects: Mutou Masako (soundbox)
- Sound Production: Zack Promotions
- Producer: Nakamura Yuriko (Fuji TV), Katsumata Hideo (SPE Visual Works), Hagino Takashi (Studio Pierrot)
- Production: Fuji TV, SPE Visual Works, Studio Pierrot
- Opening Theme "Growup"
- Music and Lyrics: burn or
- Arrangement: Sakuma Masahide, Hysteric Blue
- Song: Hysteric Blue
- Ending Theme "Sexy Sexy,"
- Lyrics: MASASHI, TAMA
- Composer: MASASHI
- Arrangement: CASCADE, Yasushi Hisashi this Ji
- Song: CASCADE
On the weekend of August 19, 2005, at the 2005 Otakon anime convention, ADV Films announced an October 2005 release of Ghost Stories on DVD for North American distribution. The controversy stems from ADV's dubbed version, which largely re-writes the original script (while still leaving the basic plot structure and storyline intact) in favor a comedic one written by ADV screenwriter Steven Foster, and lines that the voice actors ad-libbed. The original Japanese audio and literal subtitle translation are also included on the DVD. A few fans lashed out against the ADV dub, charging that the company made too many edits for the dub simply for the sake of potential successful sales. This in turn, was rebutted by the favorable reviews and the news that the original Japanese licensor, Aniplex, approved the changes. Volume one of Ghost Stories went on sale on October 22, 2005.
In the dub dialog changes from serious to tongue-in-cheek where characters often break the fourth wall, make pop culture references, and engage in brief exposition. For example, in the first episode, when Hajime encounters Momoko for the first time, in the Japanese version, he says "She's beautiful"; however, in the ADV dub, he says "Giggity giggity!" (a reference to Glenn Quagmire from the animated sitcom Family Guy). The ADV dub also references various stores, television shows, and products - Wal-Mart, Charmin toilet paper, Lost, and E! True Hollywood Story.
In additional to dialog changes, other elements of the show were re-worked to facilitate the comedic script. The vocation of Momoko was changed from a psychic to that of a fanatical evangelical, Pentecostal Christian, Satsuki's mother is portrayed as a lesbian, and the Miyanoshita name changed to "Manshita" as a pun. Although, Leo's character is a researcher in the supernatural, in the dub he is also Jewish and has an inferiority complex. Several minor characters' backgrounds are expanded slightly (mostly for comedic purposes), as well.
The series was translated and dubbed into English by the anime television network, Animax, under the title Ghosts at School. The Animax dub stayed true to the original, retained all of the original Japanese plot, character and dialogue details, broadcasting the series uncensored and unedited within its respective networks across the world, including Southeast Asia and South Asia.
- Tonight the Spirits Will Be Resurrected! Amanojaku'
- A Hand Reaches out of The Toilet...Akagami Aogami (Red Paper, Blue Paper)
- Raise the Curtains! The Cursed School Arts Festival! Kutabe
- Requiem of the Dead: Fur Elise
- The Bloody Sports Festival: Datto!
- The Demon's Hand Splits the Door: A Night of Tragedy
- The Soul Stealing Mirror! Utsushimi
- The Circuit Connects to Hell: Demon of the Underworld
- The Corpse That Roams in the Night: Shirotabi
- The Tunnel With No Exit: Anamnaneki
- The Talking Mary Doll! Shadows of Death
- The Nurse Who Tells Your Death: Mother's Feelings
- The Picture That Swallows People: Da Vinci
- The Life-Taking Psychotic Photo! The Railway Crossing to Evil
- The Devil's Spell: Rites of Darkness
- The Apartment That Eats People: Nest of Evil Spirits
- Terror at Bloodstain Lake! The Snow Ghost
- Akane-San of the Broadcasting Room: Voice of the Dead
- The Headless Horseman! Curse of the Dead
- Farewell, Amanojaku... The Arrival of Ohma
- An episode based on the Kuchisake-onna (あたしきれい? 口裂け女) was initially scheduled to air on November 5, 2000 but wasn't broadcast. Many people complained to Fuji TV, because they thought it looked like cleft palate.
- Studio Pierrot's Gakkou no Kaidan website (Japanese)
- Animax South Asia's page for Ghosts at School
- Animax East Asia's page for Ghosts at School
- ADV Films' Ghost Stories website
- Ghost Stories (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Ghost Stories (anime) at the Internet Movie Database
- Review at The Black Moon
- Reviews of Ghost Stories at Meta Anime Project