VHS 1 - It's Good to Have School Spirits
Haruto Hojo, the son of a Christian minister, was forced into being president of the student council... the SPIRITUAL student council! Not only does he have to deal with the oddities of his school that seems to have more ghosts than students, but the exploits of his fellow council members. Kazuo, the Budhist monk's son, is constantly either being posessed by various ghosts (usually animals), or chasing after all the various girls named Hanako. Mutsuki, daughter of a Shinto priest, who is constantly lusting after world travel and any boy under the age of 12. (This is known as a "Shouta complex", a male version of the common "Lolita Complex".) The poor guy wants to do nothing more than quit his post as President and lead a normal, mundane life... but instead ends nearly episode with his sanity ripped out of him, screaming, "OH MY GOD!!!" (In English, of course.)
In the first episode, the principal shrugs off Haruto's resignation letters and instead sends him (and the others) on a wild goose-chase all over the school for the sake of the redemption of a single wish bygetting the various badges from each of the seven wonders of Saito High... these include a giant (whose feet are the only thing we see of him), a little boy/statue (whom Mutsuki promptly pounces on and enslaves), a little girl in a mirror, walking skeleton and human anatomy dolls, a mysterious masked man named Red Mantle that provides the same effect to women as Viagra does to men, and Toilet Hanako, whom I described earlier (voiced by a very breathy Mariko Kouda).
By the second episode, Haruto is convulsing over his wretched school life when he gets an idea... Why not exorcize the ghosts from the school? When all the professionals turn him down, the guy takes matters into his own hands... but how do you actually perform an exorcism?
Haunted Junction, to the overly-sensitive, is the politically incorrect's dream vehicle. Not only are three distinct religious groups poked fun at, but there's a main character that REALLY likes little boys (at least it's a girl who's underage herself) and another chasing after a scantly clad ghost known as Toilet Hanako, who resides in the boys' bathroom. Luckilly, they don't seem to be as sensitive to those things in Japan as they are here, and so a late night series like this one can be shown on national television without having the ever-present religious right ambushing the network with hate-mail and bomb threats. (What a great example they set...)
Unfortunately, the series didn't find an audience, therefore limiting the production to only twelve episodes. AnimeVillage licensed the series (kind of a shock, because it was distributed by VAP, not Bandai Visual in Japan) and is bringing them out two-per-tape, ADV style.
This series is easily one of the funniest things to come out of Japan, and is probably the single most spastic anime since Goldfish Warning. While the animation isn't the greatest (the show was obviously pretty low-budget), there's a lot here to like... and I was laughing 'till I cried the entire time. The English post-production on this tape leaves very little to be desired... The end credits are handled wonderfully, the translation is prestine, and the subtitles (the first subtitled production by dubbing house Ocean Group) are beautiful. There's just one problem. One very big problem.
For some reason, the powers that be thought that having the English credits on the opening are REALLY, REALLY important. So imporant, in fact, that they cover up the Japanese credits with a really huge blue box that obscures up to 75% of the screen!! The opening is TOTALLY ruined by this, and that's a shame, because although it's not exactly high-budget, it's a pretty cool opening.
The boxes are nice (they're shaded, have a blue gradient and everything), and English credits on the opening are a fun luxury, but if you can't get a title-free opening sequence, fer Christ's sake, DON'T cover up the entire screen with a box! When will these people learn that it's NOT important enough to sacrifice the opening for!! (It would be one thing if they only did this to one episode on a tape, or even supplied an unadulterated opening, but alas, it is not to be.)
With an energy level that makes Dragon Half seem like a Sunday picnic with Grandma, Haunted Junction is certainly for everyone who's not easily offended (and preferably already knows about the rampant child idolization in Japan). Now if we can only do something about that opening, we'll be all set!
Overall (sub) : B+
+ It's just wonderfully funny... Great Atsuko Nakajima character designs.
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