Ghost Hunt Volume 5A very dangerous game: The students of Ryokuryou High School think they’ve been playing a fun new game called Orikiri. They have no idea that it’s actually a wicked spell conjuring up evil spirits that intend to kill their sensei! Even more troubling is that with each passing minute, the strongest spirit eerily devours the other apparitions and grows ever more destructive. Since the spirit can’t be stopped, there’s only one way to save the sensei: turn the curse around onto the students who initiated it! Mai and Naru clash mightily on this case, as Shibuya Psychic Research must choose between the sensei and the students… and time’s running out!

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 5 continues the school story arc in which a number of students have unwittingly participated in the creation of a curse that is seemingly strong enough to actually cause the death of one of the teachers, a man particularly hated by most of the students in the school. Already, one student is dead and the mysterious happenings and accidents at the school are increasing in their intensity and level of danger and destructiveness with each passing hour.

For some or other reason the spirits are involving Mai heavily in this case, forcing her into strange visions that seem to hold the key as to what is going on here as well as telling the foreboding future which lies in wait for them all. Things are rapidly getting out of hand and even SPR is considering withdrawing from this case!

Unlike the previous volumes of Ghost Hunt, volume 5 deals a lot less with the romantic feelings that Mai feels towards Naru and far more with the actual spooky happenings going on all around them. We spend a lot of time in Mai’s freaky spirit visions and the story builds up the mystery nicely before setting the final actions in motion to bring everything to a neat conclusion by the end of the book. There’s a far greater sense of foreboding and danger in this volume and while the cute and humorous little moments do still exist, they are far outweighed by the tension and mystery that Ono and Inada create.

Inada’s artwork continues with her distinctively detailed characters with very fine line work, but her tendency to be very light on backgrounds, particularly on depth and shadowing (when she even bothers drawing something in) hurts the overall look of the book. Also her heavy and artistic use of shadows and shading to depict the spirit world and such doesn’t always come off very nicely and she struggles to sometimes build that strong feeling of dread when the story is calling out for it. Still despite these minor ‘shortcomings’, the book doesn’t look half bad, just a bit light on detail in places, and you can certainly see that by this volume she has the right feel for all her characters already.

As a read, the more serious Ghost Hunt Volume 5 is a far more mystical and horror laden outing that improves on the lighter previous volumes and actually makes for quite a decent read. It still isn’t quite as scary as you might be hoping for, but it is certainly getting there. A decent enough read, particularly for teenage girls who like a bit of light horror, a dash of teen angst, a sprinkling of romance and some good looking guys as the lead and supporting characters for eye candy purposes.

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