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Number of Episodes

4

 

Language Options English/Japanese/English Subtitles

 

Released by

ADV Films

 

Extras

- Clean Opening/Closing Animation

- Ghost Profiles

 

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Ghost Stories Semester 1: Freshman Frights (DVD)

 

Can a school have too much spirit?

 

When nearby construction disturbs a spiritual resting place, its disgruntled denizens do what any supernatural being would do after a rude awakening – they terrorize the local school. And that means it’s up to a scruffy band of young ghost busters to expel their satanic schoolmates before everyone gets sent to permanent detention!

 

So join Satsuki, her crybaby brother, the resident class stud, the school nerd and “psychical researcher”, a born again beauty, and a resentful, demon-possessed cat in the funniest, scariest school you’ve ever enrolled in.

 

They’re not the Breakfast Club, but they’ve got the highest G.P.A. around. (The highest Ghost Point Average, that is.)

 

Ghost Stories gives us a taste of a genre that we don’t get a lot of imports for in North America – the anime horror genre. Like every other genre in anime, it has habits and themes that are often recycled between series. People that are familiar with other horror or haunting anime such as Haunted Junction will quickly recognize the similarities.

 

ghost stories vol 1          ghost stories vol 1

 

Episode 01

Satsuki and her younger brother Keiichiro have moved back to their mom and dad’s hometown after their mother has passed away due to illness. Although it is disconcerting to move away from their friends, they have the support of their extended family to help them through this time. Satsuki seems to be settling in alright, but she manages to get off on the wrong foot with their next door neighbor, Hajime (who is a bit of a smart ass). On their 1st day of school, the siblings are getting ready to head out when Satsuki thinks that her brother is up to something – he’s hiding their cat Kaku in his bag (so that he has someone at school until he makes friends). Kaku manages to run off, and the pair run after their pet – but the trail leads right into the abandoned school building. The normal chains that keep the building sealed are missing, and the siblings head in unimpeded. They are immediately scared by Hajime who is looking around with his friend, Leo (the self-proclaimed expert on the occult and general spiritualism). The duo tell Satsuki that they shouldn’t be in the building, and as they begin messing with them, they are frightened by the sudden appearance of Momoko (the beautiful upperclassman), who has entered the building to look for her hat which blew into an open window.

 

Although the men weren’t too keen on helping Satsuki look for her cat, they are suddenly brave enough to help the pretty Momoko find her missing hat. As the group begins to search the campus, they manage to find the hat rather quickly but it is underneath a school statue that is moving of its’ own accord. The boys want to hightail it out of there, but Satsuki and Keiichiro insist on finding their cat; as the group continue to hunt after Kaku, they are confronted by progressively larger and

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more terrifying ghosts until they give up and head for the front door. The front door is now locked once again, and a being called Amanojaku asks for Satsuki to make it her friend. She is reluctant, but the ghost is pressing and is apparently getting stronger with each passing moment. As the ghost starts to turn aggressively towards them, they start to run away and head into what was the principal’s office.

 

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Inside the office, they find Kaku, and a picture of the former principal (Satsuki and Keiichiro’s grandmother) who looks a lot like their deceased mother – the picture hides a diary. The diary previously belonged to Satsuki’s mother, and it contains knowledge on not only spirits from the area, but detailed information on how to contain the Amanojaku. With the knowledge on how to defeat the ghost, they make for the nearest open area where they can perform a ritual to contain the Amanojaku – which turns out to the be Science Lab. As the ghost presses towards them, the group is able to complete the ceremony in enough time and contain it once again. They are now able to escape the school grounds, and head to class expecting to be a little late – instead, they missed the entire day of classes. The group begins talking about what happened today, and they figure that the ghost was released from its’ prison by the nearby construction which uprooted the tree that the ghost was being held in. As they figure this, the Amanojaku may not be trapped at all and they hear its’ voice once again… but coming from the cat! Despite its’ furry cuteness, it vows revenge.

 

Episode 02

The episode begins with the continuing construction behind the school, where the contractors continue razing the old grounds. As the group breaks an old water fountain (Italian architecture, not drinking fountain) another ghost is released… and this one targets people at their most vulnerable… when they are using the toilet!

 

Satsuki tries to get along with her now “demonic” cat Kaku, especially now that it has a much more temperamental attitude than traditionally associated with felines. Amanojaku is doing his best to terrorize Satsuki (in the lamest ways possible), and so her drive to figure out a way to save her cat has become fueled. Reading the diary, she learns that the reason that the cat was possessed was because they did not choose a place to trap the ghost and so it inhabited a nearby body. Furthermore, the ghost will not leave the body until the unrest at the school campus has been contained. While Hajime and Leo are using the “facilities”, the school’s plumbing system decides to explode (mostly over Hajime) and so there is no running water at the campus for the time being. The homeroom teacher Sakata-sensei, tells the students that the can use the restrooms at the old schoolhouse – but most students are a little leery about that option, especially when he disappears after heading over to use that restroom… and not returning. Most students are now scared of the “Hanako” (ghost that inhabits and haunts bathrooms… apparently) and everyone is scared to use the restroom.

 

Realizing that she’s going to have to defeat the specter to get Amanojaku out of Kaku, Satsuki heads over the old schoolhouse and Hajime comes along as well. As the pair heads into the bowels (Hah! Bathroom pun! I rock!) of the old school, they are scared a few times by other ghosts but finally make it to the toilet where Momoko is already examining. Momoko was drawn by the spiritual energy of the room and was looking on her own, and is grateful that some help has come to aid the investigation. A cursory examination quickly reveals that the ghost is certainly not a “Hanako” – it’s something much worse… and it is either strangling students or raining blood all over them. The ghost chooses Hajime as its’ next victim, and instead of choosing one of those two punishments, he chooses an alternative… which ends up being a vortex to suck him into the ghost realm! Satsuki is freaking out, but thankfully Momoko is level-headed enough to direct Satsuki towards her diary and Kaku provides the name of the beast. Just as Hajime is losing his strength to fight, Satsuki is finally able to complete the ceremony to contain the spirit and save him.

 

Episode 03

It’s time for the annual arts festival at the school, and so most of the students are getting prepared for the play which will take place. Hajime’s friend, Keita, has the lead role in the “Phantom of the Opera” but he’s starting to get a case of the jitters beforehand. While talking on the steps, Keita mumbles that he’s worried about losing his role and would rather the gymnasium be burned down than that happen. Needless to say, the pair are a little stunned when lightning strikes the gym’s roof and severely damages it. The principal decides that the location will not be suitable for the festival, and decides to move it to the abandoned gymnasium (sensing any sort of pattern yet?). Keita is still a bit freaked out about what’s been going on, and mentions that he’s been thinking a bit about being hurt during his performance. Later during the dress rehearsal, Keita’s ominous premonition becomes reality when one of the backboards suddenly falls on him.

 

Hajime tells everyone about the incidents and how they seemed to come true after saying them on the steps, so everyone decides to test the theory – Satsuki wants a larger allowance, Momoko wants to loose weight, Hajime wants a good test grade, and Leo wants to be named the new lead of the play. Unfortunately, only Leo’s request becomes reality and the rest of the crew is worried about his safety. They believe that a spoken line “may my neck be broken” will come true with the stairs’ curse and cause Leo to be killed. However, Leo will not listen to his friends’ concerns and he thinks that they are trying to take away some thing from his chance to lead a play.

 

Leo’s convinced that Amanojaku is the cause of the problems, as Kaku is always nearby when they’ve happened; so the group decides that caging him will prevent any problems. Unfortunately, he’s not the instigator and as he’s trapped, he sees the actual culprit. The play starts up without any of the special effects, but the ghost’s power is making everything happen as it is planned – so the group is hurrying before anyone is harmed. Kaku convinces Keiichiro to release him, as he wants to evacuate the area, just as everyone else realizes that he couldn’t be the cause and they need him to identify the true ghost. He’s escaped, but suddenly Momoko knows the answer and is talking very similarly to Satsuki and Keiichiro’s mother… she leads them to Kaku who after some coercing, reveals the information about the ghost. The group runs back to the gymnasium and is able to perform the exorcism and save both Leo and the entire audience.

 

Episode 04

Satsuki and Hajime get into another one of their infamous “rows”, and she begins to chase him down through the school halls. Their chase is broken up quickly by the music teacher as it reaches the hallways. As they are being lectured, Hajime manages to escape, but Satsuki is still going to be punished – and she’s being forced to move some equipment over to the abandoned school’s music room. Unlike previous times, she isn’t seeing any ghosts as she heads to the music room, but she is hearing Fur Elise play on a piano. Once she reaches the room, she realizes that the song is coming from the piano there and no one is playing it at all! Even more, the piano is horribly out of tune and couldn’t play a note if it wanted to as well as a specter that writes out “3 times left”.

 

Speaking with the rest of the team, Leo explains that it sounds like a rumored ghost that will kill its’ victims if they listen to the complete Fur Elise four times. Satsuki’s solution – just avoid going into the school for the meantime, but she cannot find any information in the diary about this particular ghost. That evening, a phone call appears to be a prank until the other end starts playing Fur Elise; she runs away from the phone but every object in her house resonates the song. She starts disabling or destroying every object in the house that can play music but she cannot reach a high music box in time. She has now heard the song twice and is now really scared. Leo provides a simple solution – he provides her with earplugs, if the song starts playing just insert the plugs. That evening, she gets another phone call, this time supposedly from Hajime (it is in fact the ghost) to set up a meeting that night. At the meeting point, the piano shows up and begins playing. Satsuki tries desperately to escape the music, but she cannot outrun it and she ends up hearing the entire song and now only has to hear it one more time before she is killed.

 

The team is left no option but to head on the offensive. They are going to attack the piano in the music room and destroy it; but as they approach it, a force field keeps them from touching it while it begins playing. The tension remains high as every member is using all of their strength to try and defeat the field. All of a sudden, Momoko channels Satsuki and Keiichiro’s mother and states that the ghost is actually in a nearby painting of Beethoven. While everyone heads for the painting to attack it, the ghost assumes the form of Beethoven and heads for the piano to finish the song. Momoko searches through the newly brought over boxes and finds a metronome. As it is activated, the ghost cannot play the piano any more and is trapped inside the tool.

 

Ghost Stories has been an interesting diversion. I can’t say it was a completely terrible experience nor can I say I was gripped with entertainment. The content of this disc is probably best intended for teens and above, although may some may be put of by the childishness of most of the story lines.

 

- Tazman

(January 1, 2006)

 

"So... do you have any tread left on those tires, or is it like throwing a hotdog down a hallway?"

- Stewie (Family Guy)

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