I think it’s important to note up front that this is an import review- I love this show but I don’t think Ghost Hound will ever get licensed in North America because it’s just so stylized (though it did wrap up in Japan last year, so there is some hope).
Ghost Hound is Production I.G.’s 20th anniversary collaboration with Shirow Masamune. This alone should give you an idea of the feel of the show; there is a definite Ghost in the Shell vibe present (which I think is a good thing). Masamune came up with the idea for the show in 1987- there is a short manga series (2 volumes) that was published but largely this is a stand-alone anime.
Ghost Hound is primarily the story of three boys in the small, rural town of Suiten (located in a remote area of Kyushu). The story primarily focuses on Tarou, the son of the local sake brewer who was abducted along with his older sister as a young child and still suffers psychological aftereffects from experiencing both the kidnapping and his sister’s death. 11 years have passed and Tarou (now 14) still flashes back to the incident, trying desperately to remember what his sister said to him in the days before she died. Over the
course of his therapy, and with the help of two other boys who both experienced traumas, Tarou learns how to astrally project into what is called the “Unseen World”- the world of spirits. However, as this occurs creatures from the Unseen World are beginning to appear in the normal world and causing some issues.
This is not just another supernatural anime- I’ve been watching a lot of “spirit” anime lately (Bleach, xxxHolic, Zombie Loan) and this one is wholly different. At parts it is almost like a horror anime; there are distortions which make events very creepy and the way in which Tarou repeatedly relives his sister’s death is quite jarring. There is a great deal of talk about psychology and various forms of psychotherapy- these get much more involved as the series progresses. There is also a lot of Japanese traditional folklore and spirtuality involved here. The show has a great creepy sci-fi vibe that is perfect for an older watcher, not for young teens or anyone with a short attention span. Moreover, it may in fact give you nightmares (or at least weird dreams- it did this to me for three nights!). Well worth a watch, even though it is hard to get your hands on. Should not be missed if you are a fan of Masamune’s work!