Ghost Sweeper Mikami Collection 1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Exorcists have taken on a new name as they play by modern rules in this supernatural comedy series.
What They Say
You say you got a ghost in your prefecture? In Japan that means you need to call Ghost Sweeper Mikami, the paranormal detective agency that's a little abnormal. Okay, make that a LOT abnormal, but they DO specialize in disposing of things that most people don't even believe exist. Run by the visually delicious and even more avaricious Reiko Mikami, and aided by the very perverted (but also very loyal) Tadao Yokoshima, they'll take any case that pays. And Tadao will do anything that might let him sneak a peek at Reiko's magnificent physique. How unfortunate for him that Reiko basically sees him as cannon-fodder, something that's quite useful when your day to day business involves exorcising oni, yurei, yokai and anything else you might find in The Illustrated Bag of One Hundred Random Ghosts.
The monolingual release for Ghost Sweeper Mikami is about what you'd expect for a show of this age with the stereo mix encoded at 224kbps. The series doesn't have a lot to work with and it doesn't stretch any boundaries in the slightest as it deals with a very center channel based kind of mix. The mix of dialogue, music and action all comes across at relatively the same level so nothing is drowned out by other elements. The dialogue avoids getting too high and scratchy so it comes across pretty cleanly and without any problems. Placement and depth are non-existent here since it's not called for by the material and wasn't high on the list of things to do back when it came out. It's a decent mix and about what you'd expect and the results here showcase it clearly and without problems.
Originally airing in 1993 and 1994, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The twelve episodes are split evenly across two volumes with six on each. Ghost Sweeper definitely has something of a small budget look about it as it felt more like a mid 1980's series than a mid 1990's series and it shows. The traditional animation holds up well overall here but it's a very grainy picture overall, which is what it's looked like from the start. That brings in a fair bit of noise throughout the show, much more noticeable with some of the problem colors such as dark night time blues or certain soft greens, and that gives the show a very lively look sometimes. With a bitrate around the middle and under five at times, they probably couldn't eke out much more than what we get here based on the quality of the source material. It's not bad, and it's what any Ghost Sweeper fan would expect if they've seen the show before, but it's not as good as a show from the mid 90's could be.
Considering how awful the cover could have been since there may not be a lot of materials available for an older show like this, Ghost Sweeper Mikami looks really good, in context. The cover artwork gives us the three lead characters with a very clean piece of artwork for each of them that's nicely detailed and looks more current than it really should. The logo does the best with what they have by using the large GS piece and doing the full name next to it, but I find the GS segment to really be far too distracting, to the point where it'd look better without it and just doing the full name larger. Mikami looks good here though with her sword out and looking all serious. The back cover has a rather good layout to it with a circle that goes around most of it which is made up of shots from the show. Within it we get the cute tagline and a rather detailed summary of the overall premise of the show. Under it we get a small parchment listing the extras and then the usual production credits for both sides of the production and a good, clean and easy to read technical grid that makes all the discs features very easy to check. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu for this release is kind of unusual in that it sets itself up as an old style TV screen which has the navigation through the menu, though it’s primarily just the episode numbers for individual access and the special features submenu below it. What’s behind it in the screen itself is a partial view of a pentagram and what I think are stars being stretched out in a classic comic book style. All of it is done via a purple filter and it really doesn’t seem to fit the show in the slightest, which is disappointing considering we got such a nice cover for it overall. The layout is quick and easy to use and with little here it’s even less of a problem since you’re just hitting the episodes and going at it.
The only extras are clean versions of the opening and closing sequences on the second disc.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the thirty-nine volume manga series from Takashi Shiina which ran throughout the 90's, Ghost Sweeper Mikami is a forty-five episode series that plays heavily to the episodic supernatural comedy side with a healthy dose of pervertedness mixed into it. Prior to this set, all fans had was the movie that was released ages ago and that wasn't the best introduction to the show and felt like an odd choice to release. Sentai's gone back to the origins of everything though on the animated side with this series, not that there's really much to it, as it in classic comedy series style it basically drops you into it and adds a little before going into the formula.
I mean, hell, just on the first disc alone we have an episode that has an exorcism in space.
The series revolves around the modern day version of the classic supernatural exorcist being called Ghost Sweepers. Mikami has her own company that handles this though she's of course very money hungry and always charging outrageous rates that she never gets in order to do business. She's a penny-pincher to be sure as well when it comes to anyone other than herself, and that usually means it's her loyal assistant Tadao. This young man just can't catch a break in general when it comes to her and his position in the company since she uses and abuses him on a regular basis. The opening episode has them dealing with a ghost on the mountain that's causing trouble and it goes in a strange direction by having the man taking on the role of a mountain god and the female spirit now able to ascend to heaven. Yet she can't since she's been at it so long, so Okinu ends up working with Mikami as a spirit adviser.
In this first batch of episodes the stories go all over the place as it deals with jobs that they take. Mikami seems like the type to take any job she can get since she wants money and always asks for exorbitant amounts of it. She runs into all manner of ghosts but most of them tend to be more humor oriented. When there's a serious one, such as the demonic spirit threatening a building development, it turns out that the spirit is just a dog waiting for its owner for all these decades. Another features a pair of crooks who are haunting a bank because they never made a score they wanted so they end up waiting around there. Mikami's brilliant idea to deal with it is to stage a bank robbery with them where her fee is whatever she can steal from the bank. The stories here tend to go in that kind of unusual and comedy-chaotic direction.
And because it's a mixture of supernatural and comedy, it plays up two different things in telling the stories. One is that Mikami basically pulls a rabbit out of her hat on a regular basis to solve whatever problem is at hand with wards and so forth. There's no much in the way of internal consistency for these kinds of events. The other side of the coin is that the show gets fairly perverted since Tadao wants to get with a woman, and specifically with Mikami, so he's always ogling her or trying to get his hands on her. Or succeeding and getting thoroughly abused by Mikami for it. He at least generally avoids doing such things to Okinu since she's a spirit, but you know if he thought that he could get somewhere with her, he would.
Because of the age of the show, you can make some allowances for the visual design of it. There are some well done ones as I think both Tadao and Okinu come across well and the characters used for each episode that don't carry over are alright at the least though they're not meant to really stand out. The main problem I have is that Mikami herself really is very unappealing with her character design. Between her outfit and the design of her face and hair, she's an unlikable character when it comes to that and it's hard to see why Tadao would be interested in her other than the continual short skirts. Other characters that show up don't follow what she's like so she definitely stands out but not in a good way.
Ghost Sweeper Mikami feels like it's a show that came out in Japan about ten years too late. It's style and mannerisms are like a lot of shows that came out in the 80's, but it definitely found its audience out there. When you consider that it ran for just under forty volumes of manga and this series overall covers about a quarter of it, the kind of comedy and characters here resonates well. These episodes capture a lot of what made the manga as popular as it was but it's not a show that you can really marathon. It's fun, has its perverted nature at times and plays fast and loose with the supernatural. Ghost Sweeper Mikami has long been sought after by fans here and it's great to finally have it, even if it's not quite as good as it should be.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
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: B-
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Running time: 300
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ghost Sweeper Mikami