© Nemu Mukudori, Mediaworks / Project HJ
When Bandai originally released Haunted Junction on VHS, it went unnoticed by many fans and didn't become very popular. It's a darn shame that happened since this is one of the funnier comedies to come out of Japan.
Haunted Junction revolves around a school chock full of school spirits. A Holy Student Council is formed to keep the escapades of the school spirits in check. The President and leader of the Student Holy Council is Haruto Hokujo, who, quite frankly, wants nothing to do with the job and would be perfectly happy leading a normal student's life. He is also the son of a Christian Priest, and while he father has dreams of Haruto becoming a priest, Haruto just wants to go to a normal school, meet a normal girl, and eventually become a normal businessman. The second member of the council is Kazumi, who specializes in spiritual possession and is the son of a Buddhist Monk. Actually, he's the one who gets possessed all the time, especially by animal spirits (which makes for some amusing situations). The final member is Mutsuki Asahina, a fiery redhead who specializes in exorcism. She'd be normal enough except for a very unique quirk. It seems she has a "shouta" complex, which is the female version of the Lolita complex. In other words, she lusts after boys aged 12 and under. While Japan may be a little more tolerant of this, some Western fans might her behavior downright disturbing. Still, it's played strictly for laughs and she never does anything too outlandish (well, not more than twice, anyway).
Of course, what would a Holy Student Council be without school spirits to keep them busy? The school in Haunted Junction has no less than seven resident spirits (with many more showing up from time to time). The first and most prominent is none other than the school chairman (aka the principal), an eccentric old man who goes by the name "Chairman" (how's that for flair and originality?). Then there's Nino, a very intelligent boy whom Ashita falls head over heels for. Red Mantle, a dashing spirit in a red cape and mysterious mask, is a female magnet turning girls lovesick at the mere sight of him. There's also Hanako (aka Toilet Hanako), a very seductive female who resides in the boy's washroom. Haruo Sato and Bones Suzuki are the most ridiculous of the bunch, Haruo being an anatomically correct model and Bones being the skeleton. A running gag involves the two of them performing their Cossack dance at the worst possible times. The two remaining spirits are the mysterious Mirror Girl and the Giant, who appears only as a giant pair of legs.
The story lines themselves are purely incidental and generally provide outlandish situations for our heroic trio to become involved in. Each episode is a self-contained story (with the exception of the final two episodes), mostly involving the Holy Student Council having to deal with some bothersome spirit. The exception to this is the first episode and the final two episodes. The first does a very good a job of introducing the characters and laying the groundwork for the series, while the final two episodes are more serious than most and provide a solid conclusion.
Some fans may be disappointed that there are only twelve episodes, but I thought it was the perfect number. It gives plenty of opportunity to get to know the characters and develop a lot of running gags, and yet doesn't become repetitive and dull (which, I fear, might have happened had the series gone on longer).
While the original release consisted of six VHS tapes with only two episodes per tape, thus not really much of a bargain, Bandai re-released the entire series as a two-disc DVD set at a price only marginally higher than the cost of one subtitled tape.
For slapstick humor, unconventional situations, and just plain wacky fun, Haunted Junction can't be beat. And considering what a bargain the DVD release is, any anime fan worth their salt should have this in their collection.
The Verdict: * * * * 1/2 (very good)
|last modified: 05-26-03||The Anime Critic and associated content © 1999-2003 Pete Harcoff. All rights reserved.|