First Impressions: Ghost Stories

Beware of the old school.

The ghosts don’t take too kindly to visitors.

I finally got around to checking out this series, which a friend recommended to me, and I’m very glad that I did. The first episode of Ghost Stories was well worth my time.

Happy kids leading happy(ish) lives.

Satsuki and Keiichirou have just moved and are starting a new school after the death of their mother. Before they make to class, their cat, who Keiichirou snuck into his bag before leaving their house, runs away and inside the old school building nearby. The brother and sister run off in search of their cat, and once inside are frightened by Hajime, their new next door neighbor, and Leo, his friend. The two boys warn the newcomers that the school is haunted, then proceed to get scared themselves by the arrival of another schoolmate, Momoko, an older girl in search of her hat that blew into the building. All five set off in search of both the cat and the hat.

Scared kids trying to escape.

After finding the hat, the kids encounter their first spirit, which scares them all silly. Satsuki guilts them into helping search for the cat by explaining that it showed up the day that their mother died, but as they search the school they encounter more and more spirits. When the kids try to escape, they find that the door has locked from the outside. Once spirit in particular appears and asks to be friends with Satsuki. She refuses, and the spirit grows into a terrifying monster and begins chasing the kids. They hide in the former principal’s office and find their cat licking a picture of Satsuki and Keiichirou’s grandmother, who was once a principal at the school. Inside the picture frame is a book with their mother’s name on it, and directions for banishing the spirit that’s chasing them. They cast the spell, and the spirit disappears. All five kids walk to the newer school building and discover that even though they thought they were only inside the old school for twenty minutes, it’s now the end of the day. As they’re trying to figure out good excuses for missing class, they find out that the vanished spirit is now residing inside their cat. Oh no! The end.

The (very valid) reason scared kids get scared.

This episode was pretty excellent. The art was dated but still quite good (as is the usual with anime) and the opening and closing theme songs were catchy. The story itself seems simplistic, but the characters and creepy spirits really brought it to life. Above all, the dialogue is what really made this episode sing. Satsuki and Hajime’s snarky comments would have been funny in and of themselves, but once you add in Momoko’s Bible-thumping, Leo’s otaku ramblings, and Keiichirou’s incoherent sobbings, it was really made of win. One example would be Satsuki comforting her brother by saying, “There’s nothing to be afraid of, monsters only eat evil people like Republicans, and we’re too young to vote.” And it just kept going from there. With familiar vocal talent such as Greg Ayers and Monica Rial on board, so it’s no wonder the English dub is so good. The combination of humorous dialogue and freaky creatures makes this episode pretty awesome in my book. I love supernatural horror and I love witty comedy, and this episode had both in spades. Because of that, I’ll definitely be looking forward to watching more Ghost Stories.

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