Ghost Hunt. Shiho Inada – Fuyumi Ono.

555430Ghost Hunt, Volume 1
by Shiho Inada

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a great a great, gripping thriller to read. I thought it definitely ended way too soon, and if all thrillers were as intense as this one, I would no doubt read those too!

The Plot

The decrepit building was condemned long ago, but every time the owners try to tear it down, “accidents” start to happen–people get hurt, sometimes even killed. Mai Taniyama and her classmates have heard the rumors that the creepy old high school is haunted–possibly by ghosts from the Second World War. So one rainy day they gather at the told school to tell ghost stories, hoping to attract one of the suspected spirits.

No ghosts materialize, but Mai and her friends do meet Kazuya Shibuya, the handsome young owner of Shibuya Psychic Research, who’s been hired to investigate paranormal activity at the school. Also at the scene are an exorcist, a Buddhist monk, a woman who can speak with the dead, and an outspoken Shinto priestess. Surely one of them will have the talents to solve this mystery. . . .

Okay, I’ll admit, while I was fascinated by the ghostly supernatural perspective I wasn’t too psyched about reading so many volumes. So I put this off for a few days until, really, I just had nothing much to read. And I started reading. Blah blah blah pages later I’m not that hooked, but I’m hooked enough to want to know how the case is solved. I take a break, and then I go back. The first volume is finished. I’m only slightly hooked, slightly curious, but definitely not completely immersed.

But yet, I go ahead and read the next volume. I’m completely immersed. The first volume concluded that no actual supernatural activity was occurring, just a girl who had a little too much psychic energy that she released because she wanted attention. But volume 2. Volume 2 is definitely not just about a bit of psychic activity occurring. Instead, it’s just way too creepy. In fact, it just gets creepier and creepier, people dying, dolls talking, dolls possessed, and then just when you think there’s an answer, there’s another twist, and suddenly it’s not just a doll possessed, it’s something even sinister. And someone like me, who likes to be entertained by the books and movies she reads and watches, and who’s happy as long as cliches are reworked well, I was beyond gobsmacked by the stories I read in this series. Believe me, I have no doubt that many of the plot lines are familiar plotlines that many horrors and thrillers have used and worn old. But this series, omg, in this series, you simply don’t care.

In fact, if anything, it’s as though it’s a new plotline, original and fresh. Maybe it’s the plot twists that does it, or maybe it’s the characters who make the story interesting, but by golly, I’ve yet to read a series – a supernatural, thriller/horror, ghost series – as thrilling as this. Not even 警視庁特犯課007 Keishichou Tokuhanka 007 , Volume 1 which I loved, and which I read before Ghost Hunt could outshine this.

The Characters

Mai Taniyama
> is the female protagonist of the series, who joins SPR under forced circumstances because she accidently broke one of Naru’s cameras. At first one thinks that Mai is just an ordinary girl, and for most of the series this is the case, until it’s revealed the true nature of her dreams. In reality, Mai has a latent psychic ability. She is also infatuated a bit with Naru, even though he’s always telling her she’s stupid, but in her dreams, he’s nice. So Mai respects him, despite his bad personality.

Kazuya “Naru” Shibuya
> Unlike all the other characters in the series, Naru’s character is shrouded in mystery. There’s not much known about him until later on in the series when all the mysteries come out (it’s such a big reveal, I was like OMG!). What is known about him is that he’s got a bad personality, a know it all and the president of SPR.

Lin Koujo
> Lin is Naru’s assistant, which to everyone is at first unbelievable because he’s older than Naru. Mai also accidently injures Lin in the first volume, resulting her becoming Naru’s temporary assistant (later, permanent part timer). He’s also as mysterious as Naru, though more is revealed about him throughout the series than Naru, including the fact that he’s Chinese.

Houshou “Bou-san” Tanigawa
> formerly a monk at mt. Kouya, is the older brother figure throughout the series to not only Mai, but the others on the team as well. He’s also quite smart, though he’s smart through observations he makes when he’s bored. He’s an amusing character, and I love everyone’s interaction with him. My favourite part is when he and Mai pretend to be a couple (and Naru and Masako pretend) in one of the side stories where the disturbance was a ghost who was upset from being dumped, and dumped water on happy couples. Mai and Tanigawa were soaked in water, which I found hilarious, because they weren’t even trying to be a couple, they were just sitting there joking around.

Masako Hara
> is a famous medium in the media and is very pretty. Like Mai, she likes Naru. And while Naru hates doing things other than what he does, whenever Masako asked, he would do it, but it’s later discovered that it was because Masako knew his secret. She’s an interesting character in the sense that she saw Mai as a rival at the start, and knew also that over Mai, she was a professional medium with immense powers and could do things that Mai couldn’t, plus she knew she was pretty. However, as the series goes on, she displays a more affectionate attitude to Mai, though disguising it afterwards, hot and cold. It was funny!

John Brown
> an Australian priest who’s also older than Narau by a couple of years. He’s the light, easy going kind of guy who’s nice to everyone. His role is big, but not as big as a few of the others.

Ayako Matsuzaki
> A miko, whose power is questioned all throughout the series until volume 8 (Ghost Hunt 8) and 9 (Ghost Hunt 9) when it’s clear that she is actually a very powerful Miko. Her interactions with Tanigawa are hilarious!

Osamu Yasuhara
> does not actually appear in the series until volume 4 (Ghost Hunt 4), but he plays a significant role, collecting information on the cases that SPR takes on.

As for the villains and vengeful ghosts, all scary, all hair-raising in what they do, and definitely their reasons, stand out as something even the reader understands.

The Setting
SPR travel all over Japan working.

The Writing/The Artwork
This is a manga adaptation of Fuyumi Ono‘s novels, and while in the manga there is a lot of writing when it comes to Naru explaining something, it’s written very well. The artwork stands out because it plays an important role in creating the atmosphere of the story. Like I said, this is creepy. Especially in Volume 6 (Ghost Hunt 6) and 7 (Ghost Hunt 7), I was seriously creeped out, not just by the story, but the drawings that lead up to the final reveal.
Also, in terms of pleasantness regarding art style, I like it, it’s not annoying, not ugly, though it could be considered so. But I like it.

Definitely a must read if you’re looking for a shoujo manga that’s a psychological thriller, has ghosts and psychic powers, thought don’t expect much romance. There’s infatuation but no final romance. But for me, I was so in it for the thrill, even though there was no romance, I still liked it. PLUS there’s a sequel manga, which I absolutely cannot wait to read!

View all my reviews


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