Ghost Stories is an anime created in 2000 that is best summed up as school children fighting ghosts. It follows the adventures of Satsuki (spunky action girl), Momoko (spiritually sensitive girl with a calm voice and kind heart), Hajime (Generic shonen protagonist), Reo (Otaku obsessed with the super natural), and Keiichiro (Satsuki's younger brother, no personality). They are assisted by Amanojaku, a evil spirit who's trapped inside the body of a black cat with heterochromia and who is best categorized as a frenemy. The show is very monster of the week across the whole twenty episode run providing generic middle school supernatural adventures. So far, so whatever. It's a tried and true but tired plot structure. It was a financial failure in Japan so when ADV Films acquired the dubbing rights for it they were told to do whatever they wanted with it so long as it made it marketable.

Having been given carte blanche over an IP that nobody actually cared about the voice actors went nuts. Satsuki remained largley unchanged but the rest of the characters got whole new identities. Momoko became a very devout born again Christian, Hajime became a womanizing pervert, Reo became a gay jew who's still obsessed with the super natural, and the younger brother Kiichiro became a babbling idiot. The plot has the same general shape but otherwise is just ad-libbing over lip flaps with no fourth wall or verbal filter over the characters. A few lines:

"All right, everybody it's 4:30, school is finally over. TIME TO GO HOME, LOAD UP THAT BONG, AND WATCH POKEMON!" - The student run radio station.

"The internet was a blessing from the Lord Jesus to spread the word of God throughout the world, but pedophiles and Muslims stole it and used its holy power to seduce children like yourself." - Momoko to Keiichiro.

"I know now that it could never work between us! As much as we want it to; it could never be! Not because you're a rabbit, but because you're black!" - School girl carrying on some kind of affair with a ghost rabbit ... I think?

"Hello sinner." - Keiichiro to his sister after spending time with Momoko.

This dub is very sophomoric and mildly offensive but it's also really funny. The complete genre awareness, petty protagonists, and the total abandon of the humor all blend into a seamless absurdist comedy that some how manages to stay grounded in the core conceit of fun, scary ghost adventures while mocking it at the same time. Moreover the characters actually get whole new arcs for their gag personalities and the narrative arc of the whole show comes through in the end. Something this ad hoc has no business holding together as well as it does and while it drags in places, peaks early, and not every joke lands the quality is surprisingly high throughout. If you like anime, miss the early 2000s, and aren't easily offended I'd recommend this as a bizarre gem of comedy and anime.


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