Ghost Stories Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     February 15, 2006
Release Date: February 14, 2006

Ghost Stories Vol. #3
© ADV Films

What They Say
When Hajime volunteers Satsuki for pet duty at school, she raises the ire of a fellow student—who, in turn, raises a certain rabid rabbit from the grave Good thing there’s a cabbie to get them the hell out of there! (Though, it’d be even better if that cabbie wasn’t some life-sucking ghoul with a nasty skin condition.)

Add to these elementary menaces, demonic dolls with a really perverted idea of playtime, and a ghost nurse with a disturbing bedside manner, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of the insane, spooky, and hysterical hijinks that await you in the most gleefully controversial and gut-bustingly funny anime you’ve ever seen.

The Review!
Ghost Stories provides another set of four mysterious incidents with the supernatural with some that hit really close to home for some of them.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. This series has a pretty standard stereo mix which has both dialogue and sound effects being well used across both channels and in a full sense. Right from the start the dialogue has some good placement in order to be scary and it moves across the forward soundstage in a good manner. This is the kind of mix that would have been better in 5.1 from the start so it could move things around better but the stereo mix does a good job overall. In listening to both tracks, we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing back in 2000, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. For a show of this time period where a lot of studios were in a transitional phase from standard to CG productions still, it looks remarkably good and avoids a lot of the problems some of the studios had at the time. Most of the obvious CG work is relegated to camera movements such as fast handy-cam shakiness movements down hallways and the like. Other areas are some of the more supernatural elements which should look otherworldly so they fit in nicely as well. There's a bit of aliasing in some of the usual places but cross coloration is a non issue. Colors are mostly solid, though some of the darker colors show a bit of breakup at times, and while not a terribly vibrant looking show it maintains a good consistent feel. This isn't a show that would knock one out of the park in terms of visuals but the transfer here does a solid job overall.

The Japanese artwork is used once again this time with a good shot of most of the older characters from the main group of leads as they look a bit taken aback at whatever they see, which if it's what's in the background with the grim reaper look it's little surprise. The artwork here is nicely detailed and the reaper in particular has a good design to it. The back cover goes for a standard school approach with a lined paper background that has several shots from the show and a pretty decent snarky summary of what to expect from the dubbed version. The discs production and extras information is pretty cleanly listed while the technical grid continues to list all the important information in a very effective manner.

The menu layout is pretty simple across the board with one of the ghost images with the white cloak flowing from it making up a portion of the left half and the white spreading through the bottom half while a basic blue background is along the top. The selections are all lined along the white area and it has a very quick and simple feel to it that's a step or two above some of the older ADV releases that didn't even have artwork in the menu. Access times are nice and fast but the disc has a problem in doing up the player presets properly. Fixing an issue with the first volume, the accurate subtitles are now the first track on the disc so if you default to Japanese with English via player defaults, it will now properly pick it up..

The extras section is a bit deceptive here since it looks so minimal. The basics are here in having the clean opening and closing sequences and there's a ghost profiles section as well. The profiles cover each of the ghosts in this volume a short but interesting bit.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The third installment of the Ghost Stories series brings us through the halfway mark of the show since it's easy to forget that it's only twenty episodes long. The series continues on much as it has before on both sides of the language tracks with the more serious straightforward stories in Japanese and the snarky and sometimes very mean English language adaptation. As with previous volumes, depending on what you're looking for you'll want to pick a language that suits those needs.

Having done the show primarily in Japanese so far we're keeping to that and enjoyed the four tales that are presented here. They continue to do the light mix of supernatural horror that's aimed at the younger set with it's simple scares and essentially basic introduction of such tales into the kinds of shows they're going to see for quite a few years to come. Many kids grow up listening to these stories done in more traditional methods such as books or campouts so making the leap to how they'll be presented in TV shows and movies for years to come starts early, much as it does here with a lot of our own clichéd pieces of literature and broadcast media.

The stories have a good mix of material to them that covers a number of traditional tales. The opening one is a particularly fun one that revolves around a fellow female student, a rather quiet and unknown girl for the most part, who has tended to the animals in the classroom for years. Nobody else has really wanted to and she's run unopposed in every class to take care of them so it's become something that's just expected of her. Things go in for a change though when Hajime tricks Satsuki into running for it but the teacher has a better method and puts both of them on the duty since they're getting more animals. But in the rabbit cage, more are showing up earlier than expected and one of the rabbits that died last year has come back to life. It's actually a fair bit possessed and it leads to these great scenes of a giant shadowy rabbit with red eyes stalking the back streets of the city. Priceless supernatural comedy.

There's a pair of episodes that cover other traditional tales, such as the spirit of someone who died inside a tunnel who is given a chance to do a bit of haunting when some local construction is ongoing and an unused tunnel is given a chance to be accessed by those who might wanted by it. This tale is interesting in that Satsuki's mother wasn't able to find a way to bind the spirit in there and instead simply left it as is, which has left the kids to experience the issue themselves and see the spirits past which has some rather sad moments. Another episode touches upon the near and dear myths involving dolls, something that is told quite often in various forms. The small doll which is possessed has plenty of issues to be dealt with but it's cute to see the cat continue to be the calmest of everyone in dealing with these occurrences and for him to have the final word with the evil spirit.

One tale here really hits home for the characters and for me just because it deals with the entire issue of parental loss, something that's become a bit more of a cringe inducing subject since having my own kids. Keiichiro finds himself being stalked by a ghost nurse though the others don't quite believe him at first. When she starts showing up at more places they take it more seriously but not before Keiichiro heads off to the hospital where his mother died. He's been having loss issues recently and this has brought it all to the fore even more so we start to see the events as they happened just before she died. Interestingly, it ties Momoko into it as well as she met Kayako without realizing it just before she died and as the tales are told, it all becomes much clearer and strikes some very sad and touching chords.

In Summary:
Ghost Stories continues to be an enjoyable little show that touches upon the numerous supernatural tales that many Japanese grow up with and gives them a slightly modern spin but mostly keeps it to their roots. This volume plays with more of those tales and they vary nicely between some mostly amusing to some very creepy as well as the very heartfelt. The show is a lot of fun overall but it's not a real standout piece in any particular direction. If you're watching it in Japanese, the more you know of the myths and fables the more you'll get out of it.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Ghost Profiles,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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