Years ago, all of the ghosts in a haunted schoolhouse were banished by a certain student. Now, they're back—and they want revenge...
Satsuki and Keiichirou Miyanoshita are two siblings recovering from the tragic loss of their mother. After moving to their mother's hometown, they learn that the local school they have transferred to is an old building—one said to be haunted. Despite initially brushing it off as a silly rumor, the two soon discover that ghosts are indeed real and that they're after them! Gakkou no Kaidan is the creepy tale of the lives of these siblings and their newfound friends as they try to survive the school's ghosts—with a little help from their pet cat along the way.
What I've edited on the wikipedia article on a few occasions was the reason ADV didn't do a dub that directly translated the original version, I've sited sources and still it was taken down for some reason. It was the fact that they did this that made so many people try to bury the series before it was released. Hate for ADV came left and right if you mentioned "Ghost Stories" or "Gakko no Kaiden" (School Ghost Stories), This was the dub that no hardcore anime fan wanted to see succeed. While some threw hateful comments, others were just plain confused.
Why would ADV, after so many years of being a group of anime purists (when the company was first founded there was no intention of doing any dubs) and a company that helped give the dubs crowd in the classic "Dubs vs Subs" war validity, suddenly just do a dub that was just plain silly? The reason is simple; in it's Japanese form, this series sucks. That's the reason, it's simple as that.
When this show was released in Japan, reception was bad and I can see why. Before I talk about this show itself, I want to point out that I'm actually surprised this show is bad. You've got Noriyuki Abe in the director's chair, the man behind hit shows like "Bleach" and "Tokyo Mew Mew" (these are hit shows for crying out loud!). And speaking of people attached to "Tokyo Mew Mew" and bleach, the a few members of the Japanese voice cast, such as Takako Honda and Tomoko Kawakami, were in those shows. Studio Peirrot put a lot of money into this series, and usually when a studio puts so much money into a product then that means their real serious about this. And to top it all off, this show is based on a series of best selling novels, I haven't read these books, but I'm gonna assume that they are awesome. Looking at all that I've listed above, you've got to ask yourself, how did this show fail?
Show doesn't start off too bad, actually. We get the basic story, young Sastuki Manoshita has moved with her family to the town where her deceased mother used to live (and creepily, the same house she grew up in). On her first day of school, she, her brother along and their new friends chase their cat into an old school building, and find that the school buildings haunted. Not only that, the ghosts haunting it are suppose to be sealed off. Turns out the ghosts were sealed in areas where construction was taking place, and damage to anything ghost was sealed in meant that said ghost was now set free.
Not a bad too bad of a story, if things turned out differently, this could've turned into a decent kids' series. Instead, we are faced with three main story problems, and because of this the series suffers greatly:
Problem #1: The series is more episodic than chapter based. For long running shows like "Case Closed/Detective Conan" and Naruto, this can be a good thing. If you missed an episode, no worries, you'll catch up eventually and easily when plot points come up. "Ghost Stories", however, is only 20 episodes long. This may not be a huge problem for some people, but to me, this series feels like it needs a consistent story line. Weather it would be better or not because of that, I don't know, but as result of being episodic the show feels a lot like a Japanese version of "Scooby Doo" (as others have described it).
Problem #2: If there was a movie made about a Japanese ghost legend, it's in this series. What makes movies like "Epic Movie" and "Meet the Spartans" so bad? Answer; referencing every movie in the past year, those movies concentrate more on making references than making jokes. Now, while "Ghost Stories" is nowhere near as bad as those movies, they make the same mistake. According to the ghost profiles on the DVD extras all monsters and ghosts are based on Japanese Uban and Ancient legend. With this in mind, it seems like the producers told the writers to make sure every monster and ghost made it into the series. Much like the movies above are reference happy, this movie is very ghost happy.
Problem #3: This series falls apart completely at the end. It got to the point where near the end of the series where they basically just, "Screw this," and just stopped trying. As I said, the series doesn't start off too bad, the series even has a few good episodes worth watching. But alas, the series becomes progressively bad, there become some plot twists that make no sense, there's a few continuity errors in a few episodes and as I said before, material is recycled, thus the show becomes stale. Very stale.
If I wasn't watching the english dub, I would've given up on this show. The dub stays true to the original storyline and keeps the original Japanese names, but changes everything else. The english voice cast had a translated script in the studio with them, and were told to ad-lib when it was appropriate. George Bush haters will love the Republican, the Democrats aren't even safe from the wrath of the Texas voice actors, Scientologist prepare to sue ADV films, and celebrities are ripped a new one. And aside from poking fun at famous figures, there's also quite a few clever one-liners and running gags. The spells that are chanted to seal the ghosts are often changed or twisted in meaning, the kids begin to chant it normal, "Jaku, Jaku, kick the bucket!" which suddently becomes, "Jaku, Jaku, you can suck it!" But where this dub is the funniest, is the personality changes in the characters. Satsuki becomes a fairly unlikable b!#*@, Leo is now Jewish, Hajime is a lot more perverted in the english version, and Satsuki's brother Kechiro it apparently retarded. My favorite performance comes from Monica Rial, who portrays Momoko as an overly fanatical Christian (being a Christian myself, this offends me, yet I can't help but laugh). But if there's an award for most revetting performance, it should go to comedian Rob Mungle, who portrays Amanojaku, the ghost that possesses Satsuki's cat. Rob plays this role seriously, and waits to make a joke, as opposed to making one every 3 seconds, thus making his punch lines all the more rewarding.
People tried to hate on this dub, but in the end of 2006 Anime Insider magazine named it "Best dub of the Year". All attempts to bury it have failed, and even most of the critics caved to liking it. The dub makes the series all the more watchable. If you plan on watching show in Japanese (the Japanese track is still on the DVD with translated subtitles), then go right ahead, just a word of warning, you may like it more when you're not sober.
Ghost Stories is the amazing tale of a failed anime that became a cult classic through the absurd dubbing of the now defunct ADV films. The original is quite forgettable and not worth your time, but the infamous dub is DEFINITELY worth watching.
So who the hell was ADV? Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Texas dub studio ADV was the main rival of Funimation. Due to a series of terrible business decisions and an industry bubble burst, they went bankrupt and their best talent was poached by their surviving rival. They are basically the WCW to Funimation's WWE or the Sega to Funimation's
Nintendo. ADV was best known for licensing, distributing, and dubbing Evangelion, Full Metal Panic, Elfen Lied, Robotech, and Welcome to the NHK. Unfortunately they also dubbed a LOT of shit titles and chose some real stinkers for their cable Anime Network and Comcast On-Demand selection.
ADV believed that they should only show the first couple episodes of good shows and show all episodes of their worst shows. That way fans would have to buy the DVDs for the good series and might watch episodes of the shows they would never buy on DVD. This strategy has a HUGE flaw. If your network is mostly filled with horrendous titles like Ikki Tousen, Moonphase, Magical Shopping District, and fucking Jungle de Ikou, then viewers are going to turn the TV off and never come back. When a Japanese studio forces Funimation to dub some series that flopped in Japan in order to recoup their domestic losses, Funi will quickly banish those series to cheap DVD without ceremony and pray that nobody finds them. ADV on the other hand would hold up those abortions for all the world to see! ADV basically said, "you bastards want to watch some free anime? We'll make sure you regret every second of it!" Consider that ADV wasn't even forced by the Japanese to license their worst show Jungle de Ikou. ADV voluntarily bought the rights from Media Blasters because their flagship network simply NEEDED a show that can melt eyeballs with its wretchedness!
The final thing you need to know about ADV is their...unique approach to dubbing. ADV really didn't believe in following the original Japanese text and was often quite liberal with their translations. This could help with comedy series where the original Japanese joke might not translate well, but it often screwed up their dramas. Every Eva fanboy can tell you that ADV's Evangelion translation omitted vital plot points, explained some things poorly compared to the Japanese text, and fundamentally misunderstood other points. Their translation of Elfen Lied also suffers from these problems. One of the key culprits of this attitude towards translation was Steven Foster. Attitudes online tend to be quite negative towards Mr. Foster, but he was very talented at spoofing terrible series with joke dubs whenever ADV gave him the freedom to do so.
Ghost Stories is a highly formulaic series about grade schoolers that fight a new ghost in each episode that is based off a Japanese urban legend or myth. The series was intended to be frightening fun for small children that introduces them to classic scary stories. The problem is that it isn't remotely scary or creepy, is WAY too repetitive, and none of the characters are likeable or memorable. The characters spend the first 1/3 of every episode denying that something clearly supernatural is supernatural. When they finally decide they are facing a ghost, the main character Satsuki gets out her dead mother's ghost journal and looks up how to defeat the ghost. They defeat the ghost and everything ends happily. That is the summary of EVERY SINGLE EPISODE! The original series is also notable for completely unnecessary and unwanted fanservice. These are supposed to be kids in elementary school and yet the anime has panty flashes every 5 seconds and a closing theme song called "Sexy Sexy". That's just fucked up! This should be the closing theme instead: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YmDcCpD1gc
Steven Foster of ADV decided to change the characters and actually give them traits that differentiate them. One is a Jewish nerd, one is a self righteous evangelical, one is absurdly perverted, etc. The Foster dub is filled with ridiculous pop culture references and constant insults directed at the show Lost, the band Creed, Toby Keith, and Christian Slater's acting.
Be warned that the Foster dub is also wildly offensive and irreverent with frequent gay jokes and casual racist jokes. This was 2005 and this series serves as a kind of bizarre time capsule of that period and what was acceptable then. America was a lot less angry and bitterly divided. As a result, people weren't as sensitive and there wasn't the same pressure to be "PC". We all casually hated the douche in the White House in 2005, but he was an establishment dick not so different from our previous 4 asshole presidents. The hate against Obama after 2008 was completely unique and so strong that the backlash transformed the online far right from a shadow of a joke into a serious political power. Now Hollywood is cracking down hard on hurtful jokes and trying to avoid association with the new Right. Pulling a Foster and constantly using the words "retard", "faggot", and "nigga" with reckless abandon was highly frowned upon then too, but today that shit simply wouldn't fly. NO ONE would greenlight such a show with a PG rating when even South Park usually bleeps or avoids those words in 2016. It isn't the most clever dub, but it is so outlandish and shockingly tasteless that you kind of have to laugh.
The art is by Studio Dean and as you would expect it is at least passable. It isn't the prettiest series ever and doesn't have breathtaking visuals, but this thing clearly had a decent budget behind it. I'm sure the net loss in Japan was significant after this shit bombed!
The soundtrack is Kaoru Wada pretty much rehashing his work from the Inuyasha soundtrack. While I really love his work in that setting, it feels completely out of place in this spooky children's series. The same soundtrack can be good for 1 anime and a complete miss if given to another. This feels as out of place as pairing Pokemon with the band Disturbed. I already mentioned the wildly inappropriate use of "Sexy Sexy" and the opening theme while less pedophilic is still completely out of place.
This is not a good anime. This isn't the most clever writing for a dub. This absolutely IS something that you should see though. This shit is absolutely hilarious and provides a window into the state of dubbing during the anime boom years in the US. This was when studios could buy terrible anime and treat the dub like a complete joke because they were so flush with money. They were simply that confident in people buying anime in huge amounts. I miss those days sometimes. I really do.
Going into this series, anyone should know that the dub and the sub of this show are drastically different. The sub is probably more serious, and the dub is complete crack. So of course, I watched the dub version.
Ive done my fair share of watching serious animes. But once in a while its nice to sit back and relax with something light. Trust me, if you just want to laugh for half an hour, then Ghost Stories is what you want.
Story? what story? This show has the plot of an abrigged series you'd find on youtube.
To me there was a certain formula to watching
this show. Its definitely not a series someone should marathon. Nope, it should be enjoyed an episode or two at a time. Anymore and you'll find yourself sick of the studpidity.
The characters were the best part! Although, I cant remember any of the characters actual names (I gave them nicknames throughout the entire show) But besides that, the characters were unforgettable and the relationship between them was just as great. (aka. their relationship was filled with insults. Some of the best one liners were because of their insults!)
Terrible. The art was.... well, lets stick with terrible. That seems to fit pretty well.
The sound was also pretty bad. Except for the ending song. Its extremely catchy.
For this review I've said mostly bad things towards this show, yet I give it a 7 out of 10. Ghost stories is so bad its good. The show gets most of its fame from being so awful and the dub so hilarious. Honestly, I really wanted to give this show a 9/10 because I loved watching this train wreck so much.
The thing about this anime is that it is actually REALLY really bad. It bombed in Japan and it is easy to see why, the time this was released, there were so many good anime out that blew it out of the water and this anime doesn't do anything special. It tries to be Scooby Doo and also the cliche's and bland characters really hurts this show.
Aniplex was handed the English dub of the show, knowing it was a failure in Japan and probably would be a failure here, it SEEMS they didn't take the dub too seriously. So what do we get? The best
dub that has ever been done ever.
Let me try to explain; the show has so many logical fallacies and strange lip flaps, the voice actors decided to add really adult and funny jokes, often breaking the forth wall and mocking the show itself. It's like a fandub with comedians or an Abridged series, but full episodes.
The animation is poor, the story is thin and a more like villain of the week episodic series and the environments and sound designs are really really bland, what saves this show is the English Dub ONLY via Aniplex.
My advice to you is to watch the Dub, if we were basing this show on its sub in this review I would tell you to send this show to the closest pit of fire and exorcise the demons out of your house, but the English Aniplex Dub is a MUST see. Bare in mind the adult humor may be offputting to younger audiences.