Ghost Hound Complete Collection 2 (of 2) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, February 18, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The mysteries slowly become cleared up but not before you die of boredom.
What They Say
Teenager Taro Komori and his friends are getting used to the experience of soul traveling - leaving their bodies to travel in spirit form unseen by others. But something sinister is brewing in the Hidden Realm. The spirits are restless and a malevolent ghost is appearing with increasing frequency.
In the "real" world, an out-of-favor religious cult is finding dozens of new converts, especially among high ranking politicians. Just what the scientists at Dai Nippon Bio are up to is a question in need of an answer. Can Taro and his friends find the answers they need in time to save their friends and family?The Review!
Ghost Hound makes out really well with its audio presentation, though like other Sentai releases they have only the Japanese audio on it. The series has a 5.1 mix to it, encoded at 448kbps, which provides for a pretty strong forward soundstage presentation overall. There doesn’t appear to be anything coming from the rear channels that I could discern, but the bump up with less compression works out well for the foreground as the dialogue feels well placed and crisper than usual. The single language track here is in good shape with no problems that I could find during its regular playback.
Originally airing in 2007 and 2008, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This collection is split across two discs in a five/six format so there’s a fair amount of space for each set of episodes. Production I.G. has a very good look designed for this show and the transfer here captures it really well. There’s a lot of earth tones, dark colors and moments of vibrancy that gives it a very real world feeling with very little problem. The show manages to avoid main problems like cross coloration and most line noise with only a few areas of background noise in the night time scenes with the dark skies. Overall this is a really appealing looking show with its visual design and the transfer captures it quite well.
The cover design to Ghost Hound mirrors the first volume overall but changes out the characters positions while adding some Soul Travel glow to most of them. Shifting it from the creepy outdoor setting in the woods to one outside the temple, it loses some of that atmosphere though there are a few nice nods to it. The back cover goes for a rather bland gray background with some opaque material from the show, but the full color piece to the left is pretty nice with the trio shown from another angle as Makoto takes the foreground. Several shots from the show are included and there are a couple of paragraphs going on about the plot. The rest of the cover is fairly standard with the production credits and a solid technical grid that breaks down all the details in one easy to find place. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus use the same kind of grayish background from the back cover while also using the cover artwork as well. The first volume uses the artwork of the characters from the front cover along the left while the navigation is along the right in a quick and simple strip. The second volume uses the character artwork from the back cover with the same layout, making it easy on the eyes and quick to use for the navigation itself. Submenus, what few there are, load quick and easily with no problems. With the discs being monolingual, there are no problems to be had with player presets but it is worth noting that you can switch the subtitles off during the show itself. Access times are nice and fast overall and while not flashy, these are good basic menus.
The only extras included are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences which are on the first volume.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second half of Ghost Hound arrives with the final eleven episodes of the series and it pretty much mirrors my experiences with the first. Ghost Hound didn't come anywhere close to winning me over with those first episodes and this set really does keep to the same style and tone, which is good for fans of the show. In watching the second half, it reaffirmed to me that the plot was pretty paper thin to begin with and it meanders heavily here as well, where when it gets to the end you realize that this is what the show was actually all about. There's a real lack of focus with Ghost Hound because of how it meanders, which can be good with some series, but here it was too much.
Much of these eleven episodes focuses on the characters trying to find what they're looking for, if they're prominent enough characters. Some, like Michio, are little more than set props to be used during a couple of scenes. Taro is continuing his journey to find his sister as he believes that she may be alive somehow or that Miyako may be the reincarnation of his sister. Masayuki is doing what he can to find his place within his family, especially since his mother is zoned out most of the time and his father is consumed by his work at the bio research facility. Makoto is similar as he's trying to find his place within a family that he despises since he believes his father was responsible for the kidnappings eleven years ago and he's fighting against the destiny that his grandmother is putting on him when it comes to the shrine. And Miyako is simply trying to figure out who she really is as almost everyone thinks she's someone else.
Taro's story has been at the center of things since the start but it manages to be really weak here since all the good material came in the first set. His search for his sister had a lot of revelations about the hazy mysterious person involved in it and there were some good action moments to be had as they confronted it before. This time there's some minor nods to it, but he spends more of his time thinking that Miyako is her reincarnation and that only serves to conflict both of them. Miyako has it worse as she feels possessed at times by the Lord of One Word which causes her to be taken in by the Ogami family after an accident as their new high priestess and prophet. Forecasting the return of the Dragon God, Miyako spends a lot of her time blanked out in this collection.
The more interesting stories involved Masayuki and Makoto. Masayuki is trying to discover what it is his father is up to and that leads him to exploring the bio research facility in his soul travel form. This ties in to what Taro is learning about the brewery where he discovers life being created there in the mix that Kei and his father are working on. With Masayuki, he's understanding what it is that Reika and his father are making with the bioid life forms that are essentially computer controlled skin/organ sacs that are lifeless. But therein lies the real discussion of the series, or at least the real meaty section, as it talks about what really is life and whether these bioids are truly alive or not. With the soul travel side and the ability of the kids to see the creatures of the hidden realm that are out there, understanding what the bioids are makes it pretty creepy as they try to find their way out of the lab and to become truly alive in a way.
Makoto's story is the one that feels the most concrete here as he's trying to come to grips with his family issues. When Taro heads to Kumada to apologize to Kei, Makoto goes with him to confront his mother about what happened in the past as well as to put an end to her, thereby ending his suffering. His mother is an interesting character, as is the Kaibara person that has been spending time with her and has some odd moments in the Hidden Realm, but she does provide some revelations – to others – that helps explain why she did what she did with Makoto when he was young. Makoto also makes a really nice discovery about his father when he visits Taro at his house and finds that their fathers were friends in Tokyo years and years ago. Makoto has the hardest time of anyone here it feels like because of how estranged he is with his family so seeing him work through it and get some answers and resolution in his stoic way was a highlight in a show with few of them.
All the little events eventually build up towards the climax, which doesn't get all that much time itself when it finally comes about. Using Miyako as their prophet, she tells of the coming of the Dragon God and that helps the “cult” to gain more followers quickly. There's an interesting angle that's not played up much about the people backing the Ogami's on this but like a lot of the show, the interesting elements get little attention. The climax of the series does try to tie together different things that have been covered throughout as well as trying make sure each characters individual arc is dealt with. When it all does come together at the very end, it has that too-forced of a feeling where you have most everyone coming together and realizing the various morals of the story.
Ghost Hound really did not work for me at all, especially considering the exceptionally solid creative staff behind it. The first half made me wince with the way the characters looked in their Soul Travel mode, which thankfully isn't used as much in this half. But the story itself felt far too bland and it was told in such a laid back and almost lazy way that kept me from getting engaged in it. There are so many episodes where it feels like so little happens that when it does shift to the finale here, it's a great thing because it finally reveals what the series is really all about. Ghost Hound is the kind of series that I thought had a lot of potential but dropped the ball with the execution from the first episode. In the end, though there are moments here and there that I liked, Ghost Hound as a whole was one of the least interesting and least enjoyable series I've seen.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: D
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 14 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Running time: 275
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ghost Hound