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Manga vs. Anime – Ghost Hunt

Toward the end of October, I had the opportunity to once again participate in the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. During the Readathon I chose to focus my attention on several comic books, manga, and graphic novels, which I have been reviewing over the past few weeks. The final series that I read during this time was Ghost Hunt, by Shiho Inada and Fuyumi Ono.

Ghost Hunt begins by introducing a character named Mai Taniyama. Mai is a high school student who enjoys telling ghost stories with her friends. One afternoon, she and her friends are interrupted by Kazuya Shibuya, a psychic researcher and self-proclaimed “Ghost Hunter” who has been hired to investigate the old school building, which has been the site of a number of unusual incidents.

When Mai blunders into his investigation and his assistant is injured as a result, Kazuya (who Mai nicknames Naru, because he is so narcissistic) guilts her into working as his assistant and later offers her a job at his firm, Shibuya Psychic Research (SPR).

The series focuses on the various cases that SPR investigates, and the ghost hunters are frequently joined by a number of spiritually-gifted individuals, including: a Buddhist monk, a Shinto shrine maiden, a Catholic exorcist, and a famous medium.

What I enjoy most about this series is its characters. While the primary focus is on SPR’s investigations, Ghost Hunt is a character-driven series. The relationships between the various characters, both positive and occasionally antagonistic, have a significant impact on the way in which each case is approached and ultimately resolved. I especially enjoy the friendships that develop between Mai and the rest of the characters.

The art in this series is also really good. Shiho Inada does a great job with both character designs and action sequences. Since the series is about hunting ghosts, there are quite a few paranormal effects that appear throughout the books as well, which makes it easy to tell the human characters apart from the ghostly ones.

It is worth mentioning that there are some images in the books which might be frightening for some readers. The case entitled “The Bloodstained Labyrinth” (which begins in volume 6) is a good example of this. The manga itself is rated T (which is the equivalent of a PG-13 rating), and I think that’s a pretty fair rating.

The only issue I have with the Ghost Hunt manga is the fact that I cannot find an English translation of the final manga volume. The original Japanese series is twelve volumes in length, but only eleven are currently available in English, and it seems as if there are no plans to ever translate the twelfth volume. As a result, the story is basically unfinished, which is rather frustrating.

Ghost Hunt was adapted into an anime series during the early 2000s, which ran for a total of 25 episodes.

The anime series is fabulous, and it’s probably one of the best manga-to-anime adaptations that I’ve ever seen! Not only do the character designs very closely resemble those of the original manga, but the cases progress in an almost identical fashion.

There are a few noticeable differences between the two series though.

The first of these differences is the order in which some of the cases appear. One of the case files in the manga is added as an “extra” at the end of one of the books, placing it in the middle of an ongoing investigation. In the anime, this special Christmas-centered case does not interrupt an ongoing story, but stands alone as a pair of episodes.

Another difference is the lack of attention paid to Naru’s family history in the anime adaptation. While there are a number of hints dropped about Naru’s background throughout the series, his motivation for exploring paranormal phenomena is never fully revealed the way it is in the manga. This means that the anime also does not cover SPR’s final case, and doesn’t really have a solid resolution. You kind of get the feeling at the end of the anime that the characters will be continuing to investigate cases, just without the audience along for the ride.

In all honesty, I have a difficult time choosing a favorite between the manga and anime. I might have to give a slight edge to the anime though, since it is “complete.” While I may understand some spoken Japanese, I have zero ability to read it, so the odds of me getting to finish the manga are rather slim at this point…unless the publishing company finally gets around to translating the final volume (hint hint).

If you are a fan of anime and manga, or enjoy stories focused on the paranormal, I definitely recommend reading and watching Ghost Hunt for yourself. Even though the manga is technically unfinished for those of us who have to rely on an English translation, it’s still a lot of fun to read, and the art is fantastic.

Unfortunately, the English translation of the Ghost Hunt manga appears to be out-of-print at this time, making it difficult to find reasonably-priced copies of the books, even on websites like Amazon and Ebay. It is much easier to find a copy of the anime. You can currently purchase the complete series on DVD for about $23-30, depending on where you choose to shop.

If you do have the opportunity to read the manga (or watch the anime), I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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