It’s that spooky season again and what is the best thing to do during this time of year. Is it going to parties? Nope. Is it catching up with friends? Nope. Is it eating way too many lollies and then feeling sick? Nope. Is it staying inside and watching an anime that came out in the year 2000 with a notoriously funny dub? Yes. And that 2000 anime is Ghost Stories, a show panned by Japanese audiences, so much so that when it came time to release an English version, the creators said do whatever you want, thus creating one of the funniest shows you can watch this Halloween (even if you hate anything spooky).
Let’s start with an overview
Ghost Stories is a show about, you guessed it, stories about ghosts. The show follows a group of school kids and their ghost possessed cat as they involve themselves in a variety of supernatural events whilst discovering more about the towns mysterious past. Sounds pretty intriguing right? A hard-hitting series that’ll deliver on non-stop scares and revelations, leaving you on the edge of your seat, just waiting to see what happens next. Well, in the original Japanese version, that was probably what they were going for, but I’m not talking about that one today. As I mentioned before, the series bombed in Japan so when it came time for the English version, it’s almost unrecognisable, but in a good way. The overall story still hits the same major beats, but the actual dialogue and overall tone of the show goes from being super serious to downright hilarious.
You’re probably thinking to yourself now “It’s Halloween, I want to be scared, not watch a comedy”, which is fair enough. The English version is much more of a comedy than your typical horror, but there are still some of the initial horror elements and themes that transitioned over form the original Japanese version. Whilst the voice acting is way more comedic in both script and delivery, the images and story beats still convey feelings of fear and anxiety, through the designs of the ghosts, the atmosphere of the various locations, the supernatural events, or the soundtrack. Each of these elements still provide an uneasy feeling whilst watching, even if you are distracted by laughing every time one of the characters begin to speak.
Speaking of the characters, they are very different between versions. In the Japanese version, they’re all what you would typically expect from a show in the genre. Sometimes brave, sometimes scared, sometimes dense, pretty normal stuff. The English version on the other hand takes these tropes and punt kicks them to the moon. From the fourth wall breaking protagonist Satsuki to the snarky ghost possessed cat Amanojaku to the born again Christian Momoko, each character has their own comedy niche. The best in my opinion would have to be Momoko who, in every single line of dialogue she speaks, has to reference Christianity in some way and Satsuki’s younger brother Keiichiro who half the time he speaks, just says random gibberish. You could honestly just listen to the show as a podcast and it would still be as funny.
If there’s one downside to the series, it’s that binge watching it isn’t the greatest idea. Don’t get me wrong, if you watch an episode or two at a time, you’ll be laughing and having fun the entire time. But if you decide to smash out all 20 episodes in a single sitting, you might end up finding the show boring as a result. To avoid this, I suggest to only watch a few episodes at a time like previously mentioned, or to only watch a few specific episodes.
If I were to recommend five, I’d say episode 1, 5, 7, 9 and 19. These in my opinion are definitely the funniest of the series, whilst also keeping the uneasy and spooky feelings. And hey, you can always watch the others as well if you want, just space it out a little.
In the end, Ghost Stories isn’t the scariest anime you could watch this Halloween. It is however, an experience that I believe everyone should have a least once. The late 90’s-early 2000’s animation, the relatively creepy overall story and the absolute absurdity of the dialogue make Ghost Stories a fun, easy going anime for the spooky season. If you actually want to be scared so much you can’t fall asleep though, you can always try Blood-C or Mieruko-chan, I heard those ones are pretty creepy.