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The 10 Best Ghost Story Anime Episodes

A look at the ones that stand out over time

By Thomas Zoth     October 29, 2010


Toradora!
© NIS America
Every season has its hits and its misses. However, most fans agree that there are certain elements that make an anime a "must see" title. Among these elements are the four fabulous fillers: The beach episode, the hot springs episode, the school festival episode, and the ghost story episode. Each of these episodes has an agreed upon formula, but there's enough flexibility to allow creative teams to express themselves in new and creative ways. As befitting the season, we've reviewed countless ghost story episodes to bring you this list of the best anime has to offer. For purposes of this list, a ghost story episode contains a real or imaginary supernatural being (yurei, yoma, or yokai) that a) terrifies a main character, and b) tests the bonds and relationships between the lead characters and the supporting cast. The following 10 selections deserve commendation for their meritorious distinction in the advancement of ghost episode arts and sciences.
 

10. Mahoromatic - Episode 5: 634 of 8 is Doing Fine

 
Filler type: Pure ghost story
Episode type: Sweet & Spooky
 
As the episode begins, Mahoro sends a report back to VESPER detailing an unusual occurrence at Suguru's high school. Suguru's classmates decided to spend the night up at school to investigate its mysteries, seven ghosts said to be haunting the premises. Of particular interest is the story of red-haired Ando, a student whose head was cracked open after a fall from the roof, and whose hair was dyed red from blood. The girls manage to scare the boys by donning red wigs, but when Mahoro is left alone, she runs across the real Ando. Ando's unable to leave the school due to a regret from the past, and its up to Mahoro to help wrap up the tragedies of the past.
 
Distinction: The sugary-sweet conclusion also provides two hauntings for the price of one!
 

9. Princess Resurrection - Episode 13: Princess Sacrifice

 
Filler type: Pure ghost story
Episode type: Spooky
 
Hime's car breaks down in the middle of the night, and unluckily for her and her servant, Hiro, a lunar eclipse occurs. During the eclipse, a phantom village appears in the woods, and Hime and Hiro have nowhere else to turn for assistance. Unfortunately for them, the town is deserted, save for a lone man with a scythe and a burlap sack over his face. Whispered voices and ghostly shadows tell of a town massacred by a serial murderer, and soon Hime and Hiro find themselves targeted as well.
 
Distinction: Combines the best atmospherics from survival horror titles to create a memorable thriller.
 

8. Gintama - Episode 131: Fights Often Ensue During Trips

 
Filler type: Hot springs ghost story!
Episode type: Spooky
 
Gintoki and the rest of the odd jobs crew are somewhat surprised when their stingy landlady Ms. Otose recommends they head to a hot spring resort in the mountains. It all makes sense, however, when they discover that the resort is all but abandoned, and Gin wastes no time in declaring the complex haunted. Kagura and Tae aren't able to detect any supernatural activity, and demand the boys join them inside. Gin decides that the resort isn't haunted after all, but his wall of denial begins to crumble as the presence of ghosts becomes ever more obvious. When all of his friends become possessed, what's a terrified ex-samurai to do?
 
Distinction: Hysterical and historical - the Japanese history jokes are a hoot.
 

7. Here is Greenwood - Episode 4: The Phantom of Greenwood

 
Filler type: Pure ghost story
Episode type: Sweet
 
Ryokurin dorm, affectionately known as Greenwood, has always been the home for Ryukuto Academy's freaks and weirdos, so nobody's too terribly surprised when handsome class president Mitsuru finds himself haunted by a cute female ghost. Well, nobody but Mitsuru, that is. Who is she, and what does she want with him? Cute little Misako-chan isn't saying, but each time Mitsuru snaps at her, her crying spells cause earthquakes and blackouts. His fellow students demand Misako be placated, but Mitsuru can't remember if he even knew Misako. Will Mitsuru's life become a hell on earth, or can he figure out the mystery before he's kicked out of the dorm?
 
Distinction: A touching tale that proves that ghosts are/were (once) people too!
 

6. Toradora - Episode 10: Fireworks

 
Filler type: Beach ghost story episode!
Episode type: Sweet
 
Taiga and Ryu have been working to help each other with their secret crushes. Over the summer, Taiga believes she's found the perfect way for Ryu to win spastic fireball Minorin's heart. She's found that Minori-chan is terrified of ghosts, so Taiga and Ryu decide to stage a haunting, and have Ryu rush in at the last moment to comfort Minorin. Their efforts are less than successful, so they decide to ask Yuusaku and Ami for help as well. Ami, who has her eyes on Ryu herself, is less than enthusiastic, but agrees to lead the group of friends into a spooky cave on the beach. But when Ami finds herself lost, Ryu has to figure out if it's just one of her pranks, or if his friends are in danger. Are the notes written in red and strange sounds all part of the plan, or a real haunting in progress?
 
Distinction: Excellent writing and characters elevate standard summer vacation tropes into a poignant story.
 

5. Irresponsible Captain Tylor - Episode 12: The Day the Soyokaze Vanished

 
Filler type: Pure ghost story
Episode type: Spooky
 
The Soyokaze has been downgraded from active duty, and is stuck patrolling empty space. Tylor and the more frivolous crew members are enjoying the extended vacation, but the last crew of the Soyokaze was not so pleased with their predicament. Years earlier, the former crew was so despondent at their demotion that they opened an airlock and jumped out of the ship to their deaths. Feeling responsible for the deaths of his crew, the former captain took his own life. At 11:59:59 at night, the spirit of the former captain takes over the ship in an attempt to force Tylor to relive his anguish. Can Tylor's luck save him even from the machinations of the undead? Of course… but seeing how is what makes it fun.
 
Distinction: Always amusing, Tylor and Yamamoto provide helpful instruction in what not to do in case you experience your own haunting.
 

4. XXXholic - Episode 10: Lamplight

 
Filler type: Pure ghost story
Episode type: Spooky
 
It's summer, and in sexy sorceress Yuuko's mind, that means it's time for ghost stories. As is always the case, it's impossible to tell if she's made her decision based on careful planning or a fit of whimsy. Regardless, Watanuki, Domeki, and Himawari join Yuuko at Domeki's family shrine for a night of telling summer ghost stories. If it's all in good fun, why does Yuuko feel it's necessary to set up barriers around the room before the storytelling begins? And what kind of nightmarish tale is Yuuko able to come up with?
 
Distinction: Stylish and spooky, a perfect episode for Halloween.
 

3. Cowboy Bebop - Episode 11: Toys in the Attic

 
Filler type: Pure ghost story
Episode type: Spooky
 
The crew of the Bebop is no stranger to action and adversity, but when a mysterious entity invades the ship, strikes Jet, and hides itself away, our favorite space cowboys find themselves caught off guard. Spike, Ed, and Ein are prepared for a bug hunt, but when Faye gets attacked as well, it appears just to be a matter of time before everyone's taken out. Will Spike be able to locate and kill the intruder in time? Will Jet and Faye ever recover? Can your mind handle the horrible secret behind… the Toys in the Attic?
 
Distinction: Bebop does Alien with a Faye bath scene.
 

2. Patlabor - Episode 4: The Tragedy of L

 
Filler type: Hot springs ghost story!
Episode type: Spooky
 
Hothead Ohta flies off the handle yet again, and nearly kills everyone involved in a hostage situation. Deciding enough is enough, Goto decides to send all of the members of Special Vehicles Section 2 for retraining at the cadet academy. The team finds the academy all but abandoned, and soon strange things start to happen: The bath fills with what seems to be blood, a ghostly girl can be seen outside the window, and a spectral Labor is seen wandering the grounds. It appears something horrible happened at the academy, causing it to become haunted. Knowing the scheming Captain Goto, Noa and Azuma reason, he may have selected the academy for just this reason. What is the horrible secret of the academy? Will SV2 be able to uncover the secrets before it's too late?
 
Distinction: Special commendations for Kiichi Goto for innovative developments in pedagogy including the use of supernatural phenomena.
 

1. Paranoia Agent - Episode 8: Happy Family Planning

 
Filler type: Hot springs ghost story!
Episode type: Sweet & Spooky
 
With the suspected street assailant shonen bat dead, things should be setting down. Reports of assaults continue to come in, suggesting that shonen bat may be something more than human. Has his ghost come back to stalk the living? Not all live in fear of the boy: Fuyubachi, Zebra, and Kamome, three lonely people who've met up in an internet chat room, shonen bat represents their longed-for dream of release. Will the three of them manage to summon shonen bat? And what will happen if they do?
 
Distinction: Fascinating role reversal, showing us what it might be like to be in another person's golden in-line skates. 

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COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 5 of 5
1 
Jimmie M 10/29/2010 9:37:39 AM

Good list! Here's another good one:

Patlabor The Mobile Police TV Episode 27: "A Voice In The Darkness" in which SV2 is training in a condemmed hotel that turns out to be actually haunted. Seeing Takeo Kumagami's reaction to it all is worth the price of admission alone IMO!

Jimmie M 10/29/2010 9:38:39 AM

Good list! Here's another good one:

Patlabor The Mobile Police TV Episode 27: "A Voice In The Darkness" in which SV2 is training in a condemmed hotel that turns out to be actually haunted. Seeing Takeo Kumagami's reaction to it all is worth the price of admission alone IMO!

TnAdct1 10/29/2010 10:24:01 AM

One that is seriously missing from this list:

Mahou Sensei Negima! (Xebec version) Episode 19. One of the few "excellent" episodes of Xebec's take on the Negima franchise, this episode, which is the show's "intro episode" from ghost student Sayo, as considered by some to be even better than Sayo's intro story in the manga.

Puck85 10/29/2010 9:58:16 PM

One of my favorite is Zero Zero episode 14 "Frightday the 13th".

dragonrider_cody 10/29/2010 10:20:38 PM

 I have to agree with the Mahoromatic and Princess Resurrection episodes!  The one in PR was one of the best creepy episodes I've ever seen and probably the best of the series.  It was definitely memorable.

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