Satsuki Miyanoshita moves into her parents' old neighborhood, where she soon runs into the ghosts haunting the old schoolhouse. With her friends (and the unwitting help of one of the ghosts) she reseals the spirits released by the effects of modern-day development.
Though there is no alteration or editing of the video, the subtitled and dubbed versions of Ghost Stories are essentially two different shows.
The original is a fairly straightforward, earnest, but largely unambitious take on the already tired "school ghost stories" cliches that have been covered in other shows like Haunted Junction and Hell Teacher Nube. The biggest difference between this and the other series is that the cast is in elementary school, and therefore younger than the average protagonists. Big whoop.
I watched the opening episodes of this series several years ago as fansubs, and honestly couldn't find much to say about it -- it's utterly mediocre material. The characters are okay, but nothing to write home about, and the animation is average Pierrot (in other words, simplistic and often substandard). Extra minus points for "Sexy, Sexy", which is possibly the absolute least appropriate ending theme I have ever heard for a particular series, as it has almost nothing to do with the show (and with a cast as young as this, I hope this was just a bizarre oversight on the part of the creators!).
The dub, however, is almost an entirely different show. For starters, apart from a few broad (and frankly tasteless) gags involving Satsuki's panties, there isn't too much humor in the Japanese language version, but the completely rewritten script for the English version takes extreme liberties with the material and essentially amounts to a fandub. Geeky occult-researcher Leo, for example, is now Jewish, while Momoko is played as an utterly offensive stereotype of a born-again Christian who constantly refers to "sweet Jesus" and "unbelievers". (I can tell you right now that this is perhaps the one anime DVD I am never showing my brother-in-law.) Also, American actors (and even ADV voice actors) get namedropped on a near constant basis. It's all rather silly, and there are far more tacky, puerile jokes than are truly necessary (especially ones poking fun at race, religion, and sexual orientation).
Obviously, purists are going to utterly hate this dub -- but they wouldn't be watching it anyway. I'm no purist, and I did get quite a few solid laughs out of the dub. Still, I almost wish they'd included three vocal tracks: the Japanese track, a properly translated English track, and the "fandub" track, as this woefully misrepresents the original intent of the show. Almost, I say, because I realize that there's no way the cast and ADR director are going to sit through a script that dull!
Even then, this is a fairly tough anime to review, because there's such a dichotomy between the flat, overly familiar Japanese track and the too-cool-for-itself English track, and neither is truly all that satisfying. It's the same old ghost stories as before, and without breakout characters, skilled animation, or a truly overarching plot, there's nothing that makes this show stick out on its own merits. ADV does get yet another "nice try" award for trying to find something worth enjoying in the English version (also see Maburaho) but there are better shows in this admittedly weak genre already on the market.
Still worth a rental, as some of the lines in the English dub are utterly hilarious, but the overall package is less than enthralling. Add a star if you're a dubbie and don't mind the inclusion of South Park caliber humor in an actual kids show. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: Though aimed at elementary school students, there is a fair amount of occult-type material, borderline foul language, and a good share of panty humor (and that's before factoring in the dub). Parental guidance suggested.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub; R1 DVD
Review Status: Partial (4/20)
Ghost Stories © 2000 Kodansha / Fuji TV / Aniplex / Studio Pierrot
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