That’s right, we’re starting right here for my October mini-series. The most serious show on the planet, am I right, kids?
Okay, yeah, that was sarcasm. For those of you who don’t know Gakkou no Kaidan (known as Ghost Stories in English) is a show that is notorious for not taking itself seriously. It’s a show that many people explicitly say to watch in the dub as it’s more or less like an abridged series you would find on YouTube.
Personally, I am probably of the few people that don’t like the dub. At all. I just don’t find it funny. So, this review is probably also a little bit different from the rest. I’m going to be reviewing the original sub version of this show, something that nobody really seems to talk about. The dub really does take the lead in terms of popularity. Thanks, ADV.
But what is the show about? Satsuki and Keiichirou Miyanoshita are two siblings recovering from the tragic loss of their mother. After moving to their mother’s hometown, they learn that the local school they have transferred to is an old building—one said to be haunted. Despite initially brushing it off as a silly rumour, the two soon discover that ghosts are indeed real and that they’re wanting revenge after a student in the past had previously banished them. Gakkou no Kaidan is the creepy tale of the lives of these siblings and their newfound friends as they try to survive the school’s ghosts—with a little help from their pet cat along the way.
Gakkou no Kaidan follows a formula quite similar to that of Scooby-Doo. They discover a ghost, they banish the ghost. It’s definitely a new ghost every week scenario… There’s not much plot continuation. It was intended to scare young children, but even I can’t see how it would scare them, to be honest. Or at least to the extent Studio Pierrot intended. It’s really repetitive. Not only do the episodes follow the same structure, but the ghosts also look the same. Quite easy to get used to what the ghosts look like when you realise there are only three different variations.
Having experienced both the sub and the dub, I guess one thing that the dub does right is fleshing out the characters. In the original, the characters are just your standard elementary school kids with hardly any personality. In the dub, you get more specific character traits like a Jewish nerd, a self-righteous evangelical, one that is simply perverted… And yet, they’re still elementary kids. It doesn’t really matter to me what their personalities are like because they are literally 10 years old. I kind of expect them to be a little two-dimensional. And I suppose that’s a reason as to why I don’t like the dub, too. Because they’re 10 years old, maybe I don’t appreciate them saying various different slurs. Sure, the dub was done a few years ago when that sort of language was perhaps more frequently used more freely, but it still makes me a little uncomfortable.
The art isn’t the best by any means, but it’s definitely not the worst either. It’s definitely not awful to watch. However, I do think that the OST could have used with some more thought behind it. The OP, although quite memorable, doesn’t really set you up for a spooky children’s show and the ED, well, that’s a bit of a weird match too. It just seems very out of place.
Gakkou no Kaidan isn’t a good anime by any means, but I’ve found myself watching a few episodes a day and sort of enjoying it… Not bad, really, for a show that I used to absolutely hate thanks to the dub. Sure, it’s repetitive, but it’s quite reminiscent of the shows that I used to watch as a child and it really is an easy watch. I don’t think the sub is as bad as what people make it out to be, however, I’ll leave that up to you to decide if you ever plan on watching this…
Kaya graphic in featured image by Rumay-Chian.