Reviewby Carlo Santos, Oct 5th 2005
Ghost Talker's Daydream
Misaki Saiki solves supernatural mysteries using her ability to see ghosts, but she also works nights at a gentlemen's S&M club. Her arsenal of dominatrix outfits and props comes in surprisingly handy when she deals with restless spirits. While investigating the death of a young mother and child, Misaki meets the surviving sister of the victim, a schoolgirl named Ai. Misaki rescues Ai from the misguided killer, but when Ai gets carried away with her newfound ability to see spirits, she ends up in even more trouble. Later on, Misaki's vacation at a hot springs turns into work when she's dragged into a police investigation involving child kidnappings and murder. There's plenty to be learned from following the ghosts of the children, but Misaki gets more than she bargained for when she meets the ghost of the kidnapper.
Don't judge a DVD by its cover. The packaging of Ghost Talker's Daydream suggests a dark tale of a leather-clad, sex-crazed ghost hunter, but the actual product is a lightweight, predictable mystery series with some brazen fanservice thrown in for good measure. If it was ever supposed to be horrific or creepy, that's all wiped away with silly antics and pubic hair jokes (seriously). Worse still, these attempts at comedy don't push it far enough into the realm of funny. It's nice to look at, especially if you like hot naked anime girls, but anything involving real story or emotion has apparently departed for the other side.
Some anime titles succeed by combining disparate elements to form a unique mix. Then there are ones that try the same trick and fall flat. Ghost Talker's Daydream falls into the latter category, trying in vain to spice up the supernatural mystery formula by making the main character an S&M dominatrix. Rather than eliciting a big gasp, though, this naughty twist is more of a big "Huh?"—especially since it's non-essential to the storyline. Apart from some weaponry straight out of the fetish closet, there's no reason for Misaki to be a sex mistress. Even an office lady could do what she does, and that includes flaunting the risqué fanservice (leather, upskirts, name your pleasure). Equally out of place is the raunchy comedy that comes with Misaki's adventures. Is this supposed to be a serious mystery show or an irreverent, adults-only version of Scooby-Doo? By trying to be both at once, it succeeds at neither.
If the tone of this surreal tale is hard to understand, at least the storyline is clear—maybe too clear. Misaki basically locates restless spirits, sends them on their way, and if she happens to lose her clothes and get in a fight, all the better. It'd be a decent start to a full-length anime series, but this OVA series begins and ends on one disc, so the story never develops into anything engaging. There are hints and fragments of depth—Misaki's childhood, in particular, looks intriguing but never gets more than a few vague flashbacks. All we're left with instead are images of sad ghosts who wanted to find their way home, and a whole lot of naked Misaki. There are episodes of Detective Conan / Case Closed that are more involved than this. The plot is simple enough that young teens and pre-teens could enjoy the series, yet the pointless adult content will prevent them from seeing it until they're older, at which point they'll probably find it too simple.
But hey, did someone mention pointless adult content? Lecherous guys are sure to get a kick out of Misaki's exhibitionist tendencies, not to mention the gray hair and red eyes that give her the Suicide Girl look. The sharp lines and bright colors of the series, although visually appealing, don't evoke much of a supernatural mood, and the stylish shounen character designs are too cookie-cutter. The animation quality is similarly mundane—good enough to show people walking around, but nothing that catches the eye (unless, of course, bouncing breasts and butt cheeks are considered eye-catching). Even the special effects aren't particularly evocative: the ghosts are just there, looking all shiny and glowing, but with none of the sadness or longing that comes with a life cut short.
Although the music score correctly dictates the changing moods from scene to scene, it's more of a harmonic shorthand than an enhancement to the story. Something funny going on? Cue the fast-paced happy music. Misaki getting into some ghostly action? Bring out the synthesizers and hit a few ethereal chords. The instrumental pop soundtrack is as superficial as the story itself, taking a few stabs at emotional depth but coming up short each time. No matter what the tune, it feels like it's been played before.
The English dub on this disc gets a delightfully sardonic performance from Karen Thompson as Misaki, with Sam Regal and Carrie Savage stepping in as sidekicks Souichiro and Ai. Their quick-witted, earnest dialogue lends a natural flow to the series—which would work if it were entirely a comedy. Misaki's brash tone and Souichiro's whimpering go too far over the top when the story slides into supernatural mode, detracting from the somber mood that ought to hang over spiritual matters. The script, however, takes very few detours when compared to the direct translation; the voice actors may be enunciating too much, but they're definitely saying the same things as their Japanese counterparts (more or less).
Along with clean openings and closings, the DVD includes some DVD-ROM content in the form of printable posters and wallpapers, but unless you're dying to see more of Misaki in the nude, the promotional artwork isn't exactly something you'd put on your walls or computer desktop.
Maybe in another universe, Ghost Talker's Daydream would have been a chilling 13- or 26-episode series that explores the tortured life of a spirit medium while also confronting the psychology of deviant sexual desires. Sounds great in theory, doesn't it? Unfortunately, this short OVA gives the topic an overly lighthearted treatment and falls into limbo between a good ghost story and a sexy supernatural comedy. Not involved enough to be spooky, not outrageous enough to be funny, this is one daydream that you might as well wake up from and forget about.
Overall (dub) : C-
Overall (sub) : C
Story : D
Animation : C
Art : C+
Music : C
+ Sharp colors and artwork; clear storytelling.
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