Ghost Hunt Volume 2House of Horror: High school student Mai Taniyama, her handsome boss Kazuya Shibuya (aka Naru), and other members of Shibuya Psychic Research are now tackling the eerie case of the Morishita family. What is the tragic story hidden within the Morishita’s old house? Is it haunted by a mischievous poltergeist, or by something far more sinister?

As Mai and Naru dig deep to uncover the home’s dark secrets, they learn that every child who has ever lived there has died under mysterious circumstances. And they soon discover that the malevolent forces at the house have a disturbing face: the creepy smile of Ayami Morishita’s doll. Of course, destroying a child’s toy should be a simply matter, right?

Ghost Hunt is a manga series based on Fuyumi Ono’s (who is best known for her Twelve Kingdoms piece of writing) twin series of Akuryou and Ghost Hunt, which details the life of young high school student Mai Taniyama and her adventures and mysteries encountered while temping for the Shibuya Psychic Research (SPR) firm, which specializes in investigating and solving all manner of supernatural phenomena. The firm is headed up by the young, enigmatic Kazuya Shibuya (nicknamed Naru, short for narcissist, by Mai) and works closely with a number of spiritual mediums and exorcist specialists hailing from across the religious spectrum. The writing and art chores for Ghost Hunt are handled by Shiho Inada.

Volume 2 sees SPR tackling the case of the Morishita family’s new house, a house that is seemingly more than just a little haunted. The greatest fear is for the safety of the youngest of the Morishita family, little Ayami, and this fear soon gets translated into reality as the team eventually moves towards discovering that whatever it is that is occupying the Morishita house in known for SPECIFICALLY targeting young children!

Of course, even with all this paranormal and spooky stuff going on around her, Mai still needs to deal with those troublesome feelings that she may or may not be developing towards Naru – and at the same time compete with well-known psychic Masako Hara who seems rather open in her advances towards Naru!

Tacked on at the end of the main story arc (that concludes in this volume), we also get a complete side story that has the SPR team taking on a rather wet and vengeful spirit who likes nothing more than soaking young couples right down to the bone!

The first thing that comes to mind regarding Ghost Hunt is that if you are looking for something scary or some decent horror, Ghost Hunt is probably not going to do it for you. Instead of macabre, you tend to get saddled with a mixture of Japanese folklore, sadness and melancholy, with a lot of irrelevant humour and romance tossed into the mix. Unfortunately as such, Ghost Hunt ends up not being the most compelling of reads for most people and is perhaps aimed more at teenage girls than anything else.

Inada’s scripting is okay but the dialogue is sometimes quite subpar, though I guess the essence of Ono’s story gets captured okay which makes Ghost Hunt a success if you are a fan of Ono’s original novels in the first place. In terms of the art for Ghost Hunt, Inada is admittedly not one of the greatest mangaka of our times. The characters are all nicely detailed and the frequent switching between normal and deformed characters and facial expressions are all nicely done, but Inada’s pencils come through as very sparse and it is the backgrounds in particular that suffers for this. Background detail is fairly scarce and the tendency not to shadow any of the backgrounds leaves you with artwork that more often than not seems very two dimensional in appearance.

Ghost Hunt Volume 2 is a competent, if unexciting, piece of work and I struggle to believe that there would be a great Western audience interest in it at all. Unless you are a teenage girl who likes to look at handsome young men (boys really) and enjoys maybe the teeniest of scares/supernatural happenings, then this manga is probably not meant for you.

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