I honestly did not imagine myself reaching the end of Ghost Stories only to find myself immediately missing it. It seems like the type of series that I would have passed over if I had read the synopsis more closely. Luckily I started Ghost Stories because it was one of the few anime featured on Crackle, one of the only legal streaming sites I knew of back in the summer when I started this series.
Ghost Stories is about a girl named Satsuki and her younger brother Keiichirou who lost their mother a year ago. Now they have moved to their mother’s old hometown and discover that the old school house there is haunted. Using their mother’s diary they and their friends must put the ghosts that haunt it to sleep or die trying.
I started watching the English dub of the show, because that’s what was available on Crackle. I found it to be utterly hilarious, filled with references and jokes that had me laughing like no tomorrow. While the anime is horror I didn’t find it all that scary, which is a good thing because otherwise I might not have continued watching it, it reminded me more of the old ghost buster books, which were made to be enjoyed by young people. Thus, they are only mildly scary.
As the series went on it took on an edgier tone in both original and dubbed content. I think the stories got a little bit scarier as things went on, though it wouldn’t do for a hardcore horror fan. Unfortunately as the dub got edgier I liked it less and less, the sexual jokes became cruder and more evident and they started to use courser language. I switched to the sub at about the halfway point, but I have heard that the language gets worse. I did actually try watching the dub for episode 17 but turned it off after five minutes because they had already used the fword three times. The dub is really funny, but it wasn’t for me as it grated on my sensibilities. Once I switched to the sub, however, I felt like I had discovered a completely new anime.
One of the first things I noticed when watching the series was that the op didn’t seem to match what I was watching. The ed seemed to match up pretty well, with its awesome beat and fun lyrics, I think it is one of my favorite ed’s overall. The op features a group of innocent kids who are afraid they won’t grow up to adult hood, but if they are brave and work together they just might. In the dub these kids are incredibly pessimistic and perverted individuals who didn’t fit this op. Once I switched to the sub the op fit the series.
Now that I look at the series in hindsight I understand the other reason why the dub began to bother me so much. These children are 10 and 11 year olds who are talking about jerking off, being pregnant and meeting up with prostitutes. These are young children who should have very little knowledge of these things. I really hope kids today aren’t that knowledgeable.
So, we’ve established why I no longer like the dub, but what made the sub so great? I honestly found the stories presented in this anime to be quite horrifying as it progressed, but the dub got in the way of my enjoyment of these simple horror stories. Once the jokes were gone I was able to focus on the simple horror that remained.
Aside from the horror elements, Ghost Stories, at its core is about two children not only trying to survive, but learning how to get over the loss of their mother and discovering that even though she is gone they can still find ways to commemorate her and feel close to her. It’s a sweet and lovely story have at the core.
The characters are simple, but pretty neat. In the dub they are given stereotypical races and religions, which the dub then makes fun of, and I’m honestly surprised I didn’t take offense to it sooner. In the sub they are simply kids whose strengths are found in different areas, which allow them to help each other fight the ghosts better together.
I would be completely amiss if I didn’t bring up my own, and probably that of many other Ghost Stories’ fans, favorite character, Amanojaku/Kaya. Amanojaku is a demon that the kids trap inside their pet cat, Kaya, at the beginning of the series. Basically, after this he is harmless and follows the kids around waiting to see them fail, but as time goes on he grows to care for the kids.
I loved watching the relationship between Amanojaku and the kids Satsuki and Keiichirou grow. Its especially sweet, since the children are regretful of his presence in their cat Kaya, the cat appeared on the day of their mother’s funeral. Keiichirou is very young, and so continues to call the cat Kaya, it was nice to see Amanojaku slowly warm up to this. If I ever get myself a black cat that I can name whatever I want without anyone else’s input, I’ll be naming it Kaya.
Ghost stories is a simple series, made to be enjoyed by young teens and tweens and I think its kind of sad that we had to change the series so much for the dub to make it palatable for an American audience. I think the dub is still cool, and I’m glad people found enjoyment in it, but this is a show I would want to share with my children someday and I wish there was a dub that was safer for a younger audience.
Like I said at the beginning, I am really missing this show right now. I spent the last fifteen minutes of the series in tears as I watched it end. I hesitate to say this, but I don’t think the dub would have made me feel quite the same way. I watched one episode, I forget which one at the moment, in both sub and dub and the one thing I do remember is that in the dub the emotional impact was lessened. That is the most important thing in a show for me, how it makes me feel.
So here is my advice to you when you watch Ghost stories. If you want to laugh, watch the dub. If you want to feel, watch the sub.
And if you want to watch a different anime dub filled with great jokes and pop culture references that is so much better, go watch Samurai Pizza Cats.