Ghost Hunt Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 10.99
  • Pages: 198
  • ISBN: 0-345-48625-0
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Ghost Hunt Vol. #02

By Eduardo M. Chavez     February 01, 2006
Release Date: December 13, 2005


Ghost Hunt Vol.#02
© Del Rey


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ono Fuyumi/Inada Shiho
Translated by:Akira Tsubasa
Adapted by:

What They Say
HOUSE OF TERROR

High school student Mai Takayama, her handsome boss Kazuya Shibuya (aka Naru), and other members of Shibuya Psychic Research are now tackling the eerie case of the Morishita family. What is the tragic story hidden within the Morishita's old house? Is it haunted by a mischievous poltergeist, or by something far more sinister?

As Mai and Naru dig deep to uncover the home's dark secrets, they learn that every child who has ever lived there has died under mysterious circumstances. And they soon discover that the malevolent forces at the house have a disturbing face: the creepy smile of Ayumi Morishita's doll. Of course, destroying a child's toy should be a simple matter, right?

The Review
Packaging:
The presentation from Del Rey is solid. To be completely honest it does not impress me much, but it does almost everything well. This time Del Rey uses the original cover art for this volume (volume one had the first cover for the bunko series). This static piece features the main characters of this series Mai and Kazuya with the Milky Way behind them. The opposite cover has an image of their psychic friends - (from left) Takigawa, Brown, Hara and Matsuzaki - beneath the volume description. Not very scary for a horror manga.

Inside, the printing looks fine. The screen tone looks good to me and the lines are clean. This manga is not very complex and features some delicate line work, so seeing it as clear as possible is important. Del Rey seems to have done that well this time. They have provided a page of character intros and kept the original volume and chapter headers.

A little short on extras, this volume has creator bios along with the usual raw preview followed by ads.

Artwork:
Inada’s art is extremely derivative. It would not take much searching around to find designs that look exactly like these. Actually, when I look at the character designs closely, a few of the characters even look really similar to each other. Change their height and hair color and Mai, John and Shibuya could be mistaken for one another. When I initially picked this series up, I thought I was getting a manga drawn by another Kodansha artist but I was gravely mistaken. Inada’s line work is pretty delicate and that really worked in this volume where the supernatural beings were spirits. She really made their images look whispy and light. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast looks very simple and almost out of character. Costume designs are out of date and often contrast the personalities of the characters - Takigawa the monk in particular is way too hip looking for a Buddhist monk (and it‘s not the hair).

Backgrounds are not very good. This was very frustrating because the house is HAUNTED!! Readers should be able to get to know the main character of this arc intimately, but Inada never makes an effort to show what the place looks like from inside. More often than not rooms seem empty, even though the building itself is fancy and its owners are quite well off. The layout is dull as can be. Inada does not use mampu much either, so one never gets a sense of forthcoming horror from this series. The pacing is so slow and clunky; I had a hard time getting into much of a rhythm.

SFX/Text:
As is Del Rey's policy, SFX are subbed. Their subs tend to be of a small font usually placed below the original SFX. Because of the font size, original art is not compromised, but with the lack of SFX in this series (kind of weird for an action title) one might not notice them at times. Still, I appreciate the effort and the more I see this done the more I find myself liking it (font size and placement can make a big difference).

The translation sounds good and everything should be satisfactory to fans of this series. I did not notice any typos, syntax errors or blatant translation mistakes. Del Rey uses honorifics in all of their titles, but this is possibly one of the few times where I might disapprove of it. One of the characters is a Buddhist monk and while in Japanese calling a monk “sama” makes sense, in English saying “monk-sama” is awkward. When I first read this I immediately had an image of a “monk-chan” or “monk-rin”. Might just be my personal taste, though.

Del Rey also provides extensive translator notes for this series and an honorifics decoder, giving readers an opportunity to get to learn some cultural notes and a bit of what was lost in translation.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Another volume means another case to solve; to someone like Shibuya-san these are regular occurrences that help him earn a living. Whether he has to take on poltergeists or deal with the spirits of the undead, every case is taken in stride with the utmost professionalism.

Similar to the previous case where Shibuya Psychic Research took on a dangerous school building, Naru and his crew will use their skills and equipment to solve the mysteries surrounding a haunted house. As usual, Naru uses all the tools he has at his disposal to ensure he can provide complete services for his clientele. Easily the most important member is Rin, Naru’s assistant. Finally back after Mai injured him while working on the first case, Rin’s calm temperament and unlimited stock of supernatural phenomena detecting/measuring equipment (monitors, computers, microphones and thermometers) seems to usually be more than enough for Naru and his SPR to solve the majority of cases they take on. Naru has also decided to use his growing network of psychic friends to assist him, if the situation calls for them. A monk and a miko were called in initially to provide help with exorcisms and supernatural sleuthing. In addition, in case they are needed, a psychic medium and catholic priest are also available for support.

This is Mai’s first case as an assistant at SPR. After going through one case at her high school, she might feel confident enough to take on the world. However, unlike the previous case where victims where only injured, whatever is behind these events is deadly serious. Mai might be in over her cute little head this time, but she has to pay back Naru somehow. And possibly being in love with him makes her situation all that more complicated. Whatever the reason, she is going to stick this out for the victims. There is no way, no matter how scary or dangerous, she is going to let a haunted house attack an innocent family.

With so many people working on this case, it does not take very long figuring out what the source of the problem is. The tricky part is answering, why this is happening. Initial tests prove that something big has been the source of a string of deaths that have occurred in the building over the last 70 years. For some reason, there have been breaks between the tragic events, which lead to the current owners being left unaware of the history behind the house. One thing is certain, though, almost all of the deaths that took place here were to children! Maybe, Mai is seriously in WAY over her head!

Comments
After a shaky start, this manga levels off and is already appearing to stagnate. From my vantage point, Shiba is just not moving this series along very well. I almost feel this was a retelling of the first volume in regards to pacing, mood and type of supernatural phenomena. There are almost too many issues to bring up really. First, for some reason the author decided to bring back the rival psychics. They are no longer competing against Naru's business; they have become his on-call staff. The crew that created most of my frustration in the first volume is back with an equally meaningless role. Then the author spends most of the manga explaining everything that is going on. Readers have already gone through the process in the first volume. This should be fresh enough in their minds to recall with some accuracy but systematically every detail is dissected. The pacing is so slow and heavy handed any potential for shock and thrills are lost.

While my biggest complaint with Ghost Hunt is with the boring and shallow cast. These characters have no redeeming qualities at all. Naru got his name (short for narcicist) for a reason. I really have a hard time believing Mai would fall for a guy like this. The psychic friends are rarely able of doing their job well. You have a miko who is afraid of working alone. There is a monk who is a consultant than he is a man of religion. And if these two are so inept, why does the mangaka insist on giving them page time and consistently bringing back the capable psychics to close out the arc.

To compound my frustration, this volume turned me off immediately once I understood the case setting. I have read my share of horror manga and l have read more episodic manga than I can count, but I can live with both if they show some variety. This series started with a school haunted by a poltergeist and is followed by a home haunted by a poltergeist. The onmyo-magic mystery van must stop to help possessed individuals or to help rid of walking mummies or something. Every volume cannot revolve around a different haunted building... can it? Give me a haunted sewer or something!

Ghost Hunt has no excitement. The characters are void of personality. The art is fine but not well suited for horror. Overall, the only thing scary about Ghost Hunt is that something has spirited away the fun from this title. If you are looking for a good scary story to help you go to sleep this is it.

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