Haunted Junction – episodes 7 to 12

June 19, 2004 on 8:46 pm | In Haunted Junction | Comments Off on Haunted Junction – episodes 7 to 12

Haunted Junction turned out to be, all in all, a high dosage of fun. Every episode had something funny to offer. The first lesson learned is that a lifelong desire to be smart can be destroyed through the discovery of pornography, so all students should take note. As each episode with the exception of the last two stands alone, it’s hard to write about it as a whole.
That’s part of the reason that I don’t generally like episodic anime; but every episode was a comic … not masterpiece or extravaganza … enjoyment. Then the last two episodes did what I love; they took the comic premise and built on it to turn it into drama and then they took something from each of the ten episodes preceding and worked them into the big finale. It was a work of genius that gave Haunted Junction a highly satisfying ending.

As the episodes wore on, it became increasingly obvious that religion had nothing to do with it. Seeing a Minister dressed as a tanuki kind of suggests that the writers didn’t bother looking into anything other the costuming and artifice of any religion; like so many other things in anime, it’s just an excuse to look cool without coming off as gimmicky.
Now, the things that need to be mentioned: “Bones” and Sato’s Cossack dance was hilarious each and every time. But to say much else would just end up being a listing of jokes; comedy is so hard to write for! However, the ending to episode eight was comedy genius/brilliance/gold. The writers ran out of story so they faded to a black screen and provided a skit.

The characterisation was consistent, the only bad thing being that of the seven spirits, some of them didn’t get enough screen time. The Giant was just a pair of legs, and the Mirror Girl didn’t get to do anything at all. Hanako-san is one of the best characters there is, though; it’s so odd to see something from an era when fan service was so understated. There should have been more! More! More! The true fan service junkie can never get enough, except when they get too much.

Haunted Junction is out of print, but you can still rent it. Admittedly, the only reason I bought it was because I knew it was going out of print, but I’m glad I did. I bought Don’t Leave Me Alone, Daisy for the same reason; but I’m kind of suspecting that wasn’t quite so wise.
Hilarious comedy, then some drama; it was a good balanced program that preaches what I consider one of the most important you can learn from anime: there’s a difference between cheap animation and bad animation. That’s something very important that we should all remember.

Haunted Junction – episodes 1 to 6

June 16, 2004 on 6:29 pm | In Haunted Junction | Comments Off on Haunted Junction – episodes 1 to 6

Now this is low rent, late night anime. It’s also rather funnier than all get out.

Haunted Junction is rather like sitcom anime; none of the episodes have anything to do with each other. It’s about Saito High’s “Holy Student Council”, which consists of a Haruto, Minister’s son, Kazumi, a Monk’s son, and Mutsuki, a Shinto Priest’s daughter. They are responsible for the spiritual activity in the school, and are led by the school’s tiny chairman who is coincidentally some sort of spirit himself.
Every episode is an individual story involving the hard done by Haruto, the possession prone Kazumi and shouta con Mutsuki getting up to some sort of mischief with the spirits (the chief members being “the seven wonders of the school”). Mostly it’s high comedy, but there’s even some sentimentality thrown in occasionally.

Haunted Junction isn’t anime that bothers much with character. If you know that Haruto resents his wacky high school life, that Kazumi is obsessed with the spirit that haunts the toilet and that Mutsuki has an unnatural attraction to boys 12 and under, that’s really all you need to know. Every episode so far has been just an adventure in itself, from the time manga came to life, to the battle over which toilet spirit was the Queen of all spirits. Hanako-san had brand recognition, however, whereas Yamiko was forgotten because of her violent approach.
Everything about this series is very traditionally Japanese. It might help to do some research before you go into this, otherwise most of the cultural references will be lost; I wouldn’t have known had I not read a book that obsessively refers to this particular series a couple of weeks ago. The following two sentences are therefore a crash course!
The two important spirits from Japanese culture are Hanako-san, the maiden who lives in the toilets. She’s sexy and she offers paper to those in need. Sontoku Ninomiya was a boy who studied even as he was hauling heavy loads on his back and it’s not unusual for his statue to be seen in Japanese schools. The rest of the series is just general Japanese “wackiness”, if you can really dismiss it as that.
Really, it has nothing much to do with “real” religious practise at all, so it can’t be treated as such. It’s just a rollercoaster ride of laughter and love!

Nakama Yukie’s performance as Mutsuki is rather flat, but with time you get used to it. This is apparently her only ever anime acting role, and the OP and ED prove that she is a much more talented singer than she is seiyuu. Otherwise, the actors are fairly good, particularly Okiayu Ryutaro as Red Mantle.
It’s low budget in its animation, but low budget animation frequently gives rise to the most creative visuals devised in the attempt to save money. This works very well for comedy, mind … not for drama. The random sight gags are marvels and there was one episode with this repetitive editing technique – the hilarious “Red Mantle wipe!” which announced itself each time it was employed. The other thing Haunted Junction has going for it is that it very rarely uses the same sort of joke twice, and almost every episode ends with Haruto screaming “OH MY GOD!”
In fact, the only thing that strikes one as “weird” about Haunted Junction is that the school doesn’t seem to have any students outside of the Holy Student Council. There were four girls for one scene, and it doesn’t feel like anyone else has been in it since.

Haunted Junction is cheap (so cheap, it’s going out of print), hilarious anime. It can even get away with sentimentality every once in a while by balancing out with HOT HOMOSEXUAL FANTASY. oh crap I’m going to regret having said that next week

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