When looking at the different genres Ghost Hunt takes on I could only think it was doomed on arrival, taking on the supernatural horror mystery genre as well as the Shoujo Romance genre? How can it possibly present both of those properly and simultaneously? The answer is it couldn't.
Story (3): The premise revolves around a group of paranormal investigators who investigate reports of spiritual activity and as such the series is divided into 7 cases as opposed to having one overarching story. Sounds like it could be interesting however what lets the plot-lines down for pretty much all of these cases are the poorly written mysteries. If you like mystery stories that leave clues for you to pick up and try and piece them together to work out the conclusion then this one is not for you, all the focus goes towards telling you the back story of the ghost which is hardly exciting when you know it's all going to be disregarded as soon as the next mystery rolls along and isn't all that memorable anyway. On top of that every case resolves by the main detective revealing information that was never there for the audience or the other characters for that matter to be able to solve the case before. This essentially gives the rest of the characters no real purpose to the story unless the ghost goes berserk and they need to get blasted by one of the other characters... magic powers.
Yes there are magic powers in this show and it pretty much ruins everything good the show DID have going for it in the first place. In the first case there was a very nice balance of scientific and computer based ghost catching methods in harmony with increments of supernatural abilities coming into play which made it feel like a show such as Most Haunted if there actually were any ghosts to catch. However as the cases go on the scientific methods of catching ghosts gets less and less and the magic powers become more and more relevant until it gets downright ridiculous. By the last case the cast are basically DBZ fighting zombies and there's no sense of mystery and using logic which is what the show set up it would be about originally so it just becomes a train-wreck of shark jumps.
Fans of long running shows will probably not enjoy the structure of the series. The fact each arc is 3-5 episodes long and have no effect on any future events pretty much means your watching an episodic show where the episodes are dragged out ridiculously, so essentially to all non-episodic fans, you will probably find the pacing to be tortuously slow.
The romance between the two main characters is awful, it's all done in this dream sequence where the female protagonist Mai sees her love interest Naru in a different light to what he's like in real life and she starts to fall in love with him through that? Are we're expected to believe that this is enough to build a romance from? No, just no, you need to show characters getting closer through common ground, mutual respect and care for one another, not through contrived dream sequences.
On top of that the series ends openly with no catharsis to the characters or any conclusion to this retarded excuse for a romance, probably to leave the romantic mystery open for a second season which thank god never happened. It would have been much better for it to have been self contained and offering some sort of conclusion but given how little there was building up to anything I guess there's no reason to be terribly disappointed.
Characters (2): The characters don't seem too bad at first but there are major problems. First of all the main character Mai is handled very badly, too idealistic all the time which gets very annoying and essentially sounds like she's preaching morals to the audience. She is also completely insignificant to every mystery except for maybe the last two and the only reason she's involved with the Shibuya Psychic Research Center in the first place is because of an accident that caused her to owe the main detective guy money, so she has no motivation at all besides paying off her debt, it's on the same level as Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club where she broke the vase except that was satirical, this is meant to be taken seriously! Also what's this, a backdrop attempt where we find out Mai has no parents, oh wait, only mentioned once and never referred to again, doesn't do her character any justice, not important to any event. One of the worst main characters EVER!
The main detective in the show Naru is way too calm no matter how threatening the supernatural situation is, all decision making is too easy for him and there's never any conflict. It doesn't help that Mai's insignificance makes you think he should be the main character since he's the man solving the mysteries, an indication of bad writing but it doesn't matter anyway because his attitude towards everything just leaves him as a one dimensional and boring character except for when that lame dream sequence bullshit happens.
Every other character has their moments of being enjoyable and sometimes funny which is the only reason the character score isn't at rock bottom but they still suffer through having no character development throughout the show. By its conclusion there's no change to them as people as to what you see in episode 1. The only thing that changes is that they get along better with each other as the series goes on but that doesn't make them any more interesting as individuals.
They did attempt to develop the cold harsh guy Lin but it was ridiculous. He explains to Mai the reason he hates her is because of a deep seeded hatred he has towards the Japanese because of the conflict they've had with China and then he gets one friendship speech from Mai and he immediately 180 degrees mood swings to being alight with her, that's not character development, that's forced bullshit writing.
The funny monk character gets revealed to be a rock star on the side at the beginning of one of the episodes (because monk and rock star go hand in hand right?) but then IT'S NEVER REFERRED TO AGAIN! What was the point in revealing that information if it doesn't serve his character any purpose in the story?
Art and Animation (6): Despite being technically better than the story and the characters this is where the mix of horror mystery and shoujo falling flat on its face shows best. You take one look at the way these characters are drawn and try and imagine how you can get any scary looking ghosts or other creatures out of this style? It's impossible, even with a ton of blood over their faces that still doesn't make their Shoujo eyes and generic faces any more threatening on screen. I will admit though that the background art can be very unsettling at times due to the great use of lighting and colour, the case involving the bloody labyrinth in particular was the only case that had me on edge just because of how unpleasant it was to be in that room so kudos to that much at least.
The animation is hit and miss, some scenes had good animation like the shattering glass from the second one and the action scenes were actually very fluid for the most part despite being shark jumping but then there's others where the characters move in key frames and is very choppy. The use of transitions was also very cheap and there's too many scenes where boxes pop up with the characters faces talking as if the animators didn't want to have to draw another angle from whatever the first shot was and keep to the scene. Also what was up with the animation for the opening for the first half of the show? A bunch of balls flying around fading out to a fog effect after a while? Was that the best you could do? Apparently not! In the second half of the show they actually came up with something more creative, nothing special but more interesting than orbs flying around which basically proves that they knew they'd fucked up the previous animation for the opening, which leads us nicely into-
Sound (8): Probably the best aspect of the show, the opening and ending themes are fantastic, had the animation been better to accompany it I would call it one of my favourites. The BGM is also very good albeit not to memorable, there's only a handful of tracks that stand out and the music that is supposed to be scary is just too overblown as if it was trying to compensate for the Shoujo looking ghosts. As you can probably guess, it didn't work.
I have nothing to say about the sound effects, they were fine and did their job well, nothing memorable but far from the worst aspect of the show.
I mostly watch dubbed anime so I can only critique the performances of the English dub and I have to say it was actually very good. The actors and actresses actually represented their characters well and could display emotional range, also during normal talking parts they don't ever sound monotonous. The voice acting unfortunately is not enough to save the terrible writing for these characters but they did their best for the material that was given to them so to dub fans like me, here's another good one! To non-dub fans, here's one that doesn't suck!
Enjoyment (2): This is one of the most boring shows I've watched in my entire life. The plot failed to engage me because of the little focus on what makes a good mystery, the romance was corny, the animation didn't suit what was meant to be the scary moments for the most part and the characters were either annoying or lacked any reason for me to care about them. I enjoyed the music here and there and sometimes it was interesting to look at which again prevents me from putting the score at rock bottom but in terms of script and cast it failed to interest me at all and those are far more important elements.
Overall (3): I know some people like it but honestly Ghost Hunt is a failed experiment, the Shoujo style takes away any potential for the show to be scary and the fact that it has to be a mystery show and a horror show as well as a Shoujo means it can't even take the time to develop a good romance for people who came for that, it fails in both ways. Do yourself a favour and stay away from this shitty anime. Only recommended for people who aren't at all demanding in story and characters, like their romances to be as loose as possible and have no stomach for scary stuff.