Author: Fuyumi Ono
Manga-ka: Shiho Inada
Publisher: Del Rey
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: September 2005
“Mai Taniyama and her classmates have heard the rumours that the creepy old high school is haunted – possibly by ghosts from the Second World War. So one rainy day they gather at the old school to tell ghost stories, hoping to attract one of the suspected spirits…”
Rounding off a week of ghost stories comes a review for the first volume of one of my favourite English released manga titles: Ghost Hunt. As the name would suggest, the name of the game is hunting ghosts and it’s no easy task. The story begins with Mai Taniyama, a high school girl who, through an unfortunate accident, meets the cold Shibuya, President of the Psychic Research Centre. After an incident leaves her in his financial debt, she agrees to work for him, and the hunting for ghosts begins!
Volume one follows the first case of the Psychic Research Centre with Mai as official helper. Together with Shibuya (whom she nicknames Naru), and Shibuya’s personal assistant, they set out to figure out the cause of strange occurrences at Mai’s high school, in particular the abandoned portion, which is plagued with accidents.
Helping the leads midway through are several other characters who will continue to play important recurring roles in the series. It’s a nice collection of people who all bring something different to the story, and the investigation, from a Buddhist monk to a young spiritualist. It’s a mesh of religions and tactics that’s both useful and educational. I really loved reading about them working together and getting to know each other.
At times the story can get a bit wordy with situations and histories requiring explanation, but it’s all spread out pretty evenly throughout the book and never are there numerous back-to-back pages of paragraphs. Processes are well thought out and it’s really interesting reading a story about ghost hunting methods that go beyond flashlights in dark corridors.
Shiho Inada has a really nice art style. It feels very grounded, never giving in too much to whimsical manga stereotypes in both panel execution or character designs. It’s easy to see the cast of characters as real people interacting in the real world, with the exception of a few unwanted guests of course. The characters are drawn with professional consistency and the artist does a nice job keeping even the most text-heavy pages visually interesting for sake of following what’s going on.
No complaints in terms of Del Rey’s release job, quite the contrary. I think they did a fantastic job with the interior, dealing with so much text. I didn’t come across any errors and as usual found their translations at the end very informative.
Overall, Ghost Hunt is a great series for people who’re looking for a dramatic, but not over the top, supernatural story with pleasantly realistic feeling characters. It does a nice job weaving together a story with numerous characters and works up a great sense of suspense, as the mysteries around them must be solved. There’s even bigger, better and scarier things to come for this series, so no worries about a first volume, one-hit wonder deal with this collaborative piece.