Sunday, October 21, 2012

What "Ghost Hunt" Taught Me

So I recently re-watched an anime called Ghost Hunt, and during my second watch-through I found myself learning some interesting information.  Sure, it's a supernatural anime like any other, where things happen that obviously couldn't happen in the real world.  And granted, since it's a piece of Japanese popular culture, some things (like the portrayal of Catholicism) must be taken worth a grain of salt.

Ghost Hunt anime

However, there's quite a lot of real-world knowledge to be gained from the anime:
  • Ghost Hunt can offer a starting point to learning new things about different religious and spiritual beliefs, such as Buddhism, Shintoism, and Onmyōdō, to name a few.
    • Of course, these are just starting points.  The anime gets a lot of things right, but (obviously) it's all adapted into a supernatural anime, so don't assume you'll be able to ward off spirits with a few obsessively-perfected spells from the show.
  • The debunking that Naru does in the anime is pretty amazing, especially for an anime focused on supernatural happenings (where often the cases are caused by supernatural occurrences).
  • Looks realistic, no?
    • For example, how can spoon-bending be faked?
    • Or why is it that the planchette seems to move when you use a Ouija board with your friends? (You mean it's not ghosts?!  Paranormal Activity, you lied to me!)
    • Or if ghosts aren't causing the poltergeist activity you're experiencing, what is?
  • There are a few instances of interesting historical Japanese (and Chinese, and British, and American) information being explained, which is pretty cool, especially since most of the information is pretty accurate as far as I've been able to tell.
  • The anime illustrates how religion, spirituality, and science all mix into one in many countries in the Far East, especially Japan.
    • For heaven's sake, the team is made up of a ghost hunter, a shrine maiden, a Buddhist monk, a Catholic priest, a medium, and an Onmyoji!  If that doesn't show the mix of religion, spirituality, and science, what does?!
Oh, yeah, and then there's that guy.
The one huge downside I see to this anime is the fact that the anime alone doesn't finish the story.  Sure, if you're watching it casually and not really paying attention, it seems to end just fine, with everyone (relatively) happy and the story at a close.  But if you go back and really pay attention, you'll notice that there are pieces of the puzzle missing:
  • Why was Naru surprised when Mai initially gave him that nickname?
  • Why was Naru's name missing from the nameplate outside the door of his hospital room?
  • What was Lin talking about that one time he mentioned to Mai that "someone once told me the same thing" in regard to his feelings toward the Japanese?
  • What's with this Madoka chick hanging all over Lin?  Is there something more to that?
  • Why is Lin protecting Naru so closely?  What do Naru's parents have to do with Lin and Naru's (working) relationship?
  • And why, oh why, is Naru so much different in Mai's dreams than in reality?
Seriously, do they?
Searching for the answers to these questions?  Never fear!  You can always read the manga!

The anime actually follows the manga fairly well.  However, the manga continues for another three volumes after the end of the anime, covering in those three volumes another riveting story called "The Forgotten Children," along with the answers to many of the aforementioned questions.

Most of the manga has been released in America (volumes 1-11), but the final volume (volume 12) has not.  Of course, you can always read the manga online.  (I recommend MangaFox; great website with tons of manga!)  Rather than me spoiling the chance for you to find the answers on your own, follow the above link to read the manga for yourself!

So if you're interested in learning about spirituality in Japan, or learning some fun debunking of supposedly paranormal phenomena, or just watching some awesome supernatural butt-kicking, check out the anime (and manga!) Ghost Hunt.  You'll read a pretty great story (if you're not overly critical) and you might just learn a thing or two along the way.

a.k.a. Bambi


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