Ghost Stories

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Ghost Stories (alt title: School Ghost Stories or Gakkou no Kaidan) is a twenty-episode anime series created in 2000 by animation studio Pierrot and Aniplex for Fuji Television, loosely based on a book series by Toru Tsunemitsu. It tells the story of Satsuki Miyanoshita, who moves with her family to the hometown of her deceased mother, Kayako. On her first day of school, Satsuki; her brother Keiichirou, a first-grader; their neighbor Hajime Aoyama; Momoko Koigakubo, an older schoolmate; and Leo Kakinoki, a classmate and friend of Hajime's with a penchant for the paranormal visit the Old School Building adjacent to the current school complex and discover that the building is haunted.

It is soon after revealed that Satsuki's mother was responsible for sealing several ghosts who haunted not only the school but also the town, and now they are released due to the urbanization taking place in the surrounding area. Kayako left behind a book detailing how to exorcize the ghosts once and for all. In her first confrontation, Satsuki faces a demon called Amanojaku, but in the process Amanojaku is sealed within Satsuki's pet cat, Kaya. Although Amanojaku does not want to help Satsuki at first, the danger soon threatens to envelop the town and it is left up to Satsuki, her friends and Amanojaku to stop the ghosts.

The ADV Films Gag Dub could be the most entertaining aspect of this series, making it So Bad It's Good. Not to say that people didn't complain about the changes, though. A dub that stayed truer to the original was made by Animax later.

Tropes used in Ghost Stories include:
  • Absentee Actor: Momoko doesn't appear in episode 15 for no apparent reason.
  • Actor Allusion: In the Gag Dub, Satsuki answers a call with "Milk-chan here", even doing the same voice. More direct references also fly in the dub, such as Satsuki commenting that Leo's developed a bigger ego than Chris Patton and the entire cast referring to Satsuki's father by his voice actor's name in one episode.
    • In another episode in the dub, a ghost is played by Vic Mignogna who is credited as "Obi Frostips". A few episodes later, Hajime mentions a "frosted Vic Mignogna lookalike" who is "Full Metal Disgusting".
  • Adults Are Useless: No kidding. The only adult characters that ever helped the protagonists were a bumbling teacher in episode 18, and a night watchman in episode 16, who then turned to be another ghost, and in fact, anytime an adult IS useful, they usually turn out to be ghosts.
  • Agent Mulder: Leo.
  • Ax Crazy: The Headless Biker goes in a chaotic rampage during the anniversary of his death, cutting off everything that resembles a head.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Main plot of episode 3. Also explored in episode 15.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Yuki.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The hispanic nurse in the dub of episode 12 calls Momoka and Satsuki "fuckers" or "assholes", depending on how you define "cabronas".
  • Body Horror: Shinobu, after she reveals to Satsuki her (more or less) true form.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The dub.
  • Breast Expansion: The Gag Dub subverts this. Satsuki tries to get a wish granting ghost to give her "huge boobs", but does it wrong so it doesn't happen.
  • Butt Monkey: Leo and Sakata the schoolteacher.
  • Came Back Wrong: The whole premise of episode 9.
  • The Can Kicked Him: Akagami-Aogami's M.O.
  • Came Back Wrong: A particular ritual can bring the dead back to life, but they'll come back as 'berserk monsters'... and yet, somebody just HAD to go and try it anyway.
  • Cats Are Mean: Or at least when they are possessed by a cynical demon with a sadistic sense of humor.
  • Chaos Architecture: The haunted building of episode 16 had a bizarre ability of change its own structure, both internal and external, to the point that there was even one scene where the group thought they were in a residencial neighborhood, while in reality they were getting inside the building.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Momoko in the original version. Certain things that she says are impossible to have come from a sane person, sometimes she seems too oblivious to realize what is going on and in some episode she states that the sole reason of she having a cell phone is that she gets lost easily.
  • Creepy Doll: Mary turned to 11.
  • Deal with the Devil: Episode 15 is entirely about this.
  • Dem Bones: The ghost Da Vinci.
  • Dub Name Change: In the Spanish dub:
    • Satsuki becomes Claire
    • Hajime becomes Ned
    • Momoko becomes Nicole
    • Leo becomes Paul
    • Keichirou becomes Ben
    • Kayako becomes Karen
    • Reichirou (Satsuki and Keichirou's father) becomes Richard
  • Eldritch Abomination: Yamime sounds to be one.
  • Emotion Eater: Amanojaku in the first episode. He feeds on the kids' fear to become more powerful so he can attack them.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: In episode nine after an Aesop about paying child support on time.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: School Ghost Stories is about... a school haunted by ghosts.
  • Eye Scream: ALMOST happens with Satsuki when Mary and a squad of possessed toys decide to "play" with her.
  • Fan Service: Aside from the numerous Panty Shots, the show has very little of this aside from two brief scenes in the opening theme, one with all the gang jumping into a lake and one of Hajime thrown in for no apparent reason.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Fate Worse Than Death: This is practically what happened to Shinobu when we learn that she was once a normal girl before she was turned into the avatar of a malevolent trickster deity.
  • Fiery Redhead: Satsuki.
  • Four Is Death: Some of the earlier episodes use this idea on curses. Also was used as a solution to a problem in Episode 18.
  • The Fundamentalist: Momoko in the English version of the anime... Oh, so much.
  • Gag Dub: One of the most famous official ones that isn't an Abridged Series.
    • Supposedly, the reason for this, was because the English dubbers saw the series as nothing special as it was, so rather than let it just be another bland show, they asked the Japanese creators for permission to gag dub it, and apparently they said yes, but only if the English dub kept the names of the characters from the Japanese version. They agreed, and the rest is history.
  • Game Face: Played with some ghosts, particularly Shinobu and the girl who Leo meets in Episode 8.
  • Haunted Headquarters The Old School buildings.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: Shirotabi
  • Headless Horseman: Episode 19 features a headless biker.
  • Heel Realization: In Episode 5, Dattou stops his evil self from cutting off Keichirou's legs when he realizes how Keichirou reminded himself when he was alive.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The watchman from episode 16, who in reality was already dead but his soul was still trapped in the building
    • Also happens with Amanojaku in the last episode. He gets better though.
  • Hypocritical Humour: The dub has a lot of it, especially in episode 4, at least twice it happens, one with the overly religious Momoko noting that there are some crazy religious people out there... She's one herself. And Leo/Leo hates it when people lie on their internet profile, which he does in the dub.
  • Implacable Man: Some of the ghosts qualify this. Special mention to Babasare and Mary the Doll, who only stopped chasing the protagonists because they had pure sheer luck.
  • Intercourse with You: The ending theme. (I thought they made this show for kids?)
  • Interspecies Romance: In the gag dub, the ghost of a rabbit and one of the crew members. She breaks up with him not because he's a rabbit, but because he's black.
  • Invisible to Adults: Babasare.
  • Kill and Replace: Episode 7 was about a group of evil spirits residing in a dimension beyond the mirror who tried to abduct everyone in town and impersonate them once the originals were trapped in the other dimension.
  • Killer Rabbit: Shirotabi. Apparently any creature ressurected by that particular ritual comes back a a berserk monster, but this time, it just HAD to be a fluffy little rabbit...
  • Lull Destruction: Used frequently in the dub to turn boring moments into successful humor. A good example is in Episode 15, where Yamime goes "Wheeee!" when floating up the stairs, then casually humming a tune while removing the barricade from the bedroom door.
  • Mama Bear: Kayako. From beyond the grave.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Shinobu and Yuki.
  • The Millstone: Occasionally Leo is the reason why the gang keeps being chased or cursed by the ghosts. A good example happens in episode 14 where he almost makes a vengeful ghost kill Momoko because he thought it would be a fantastic idea to snap photos where said ghost had died.
  • Mind Control: One of Ohma's abilities. He tries to kill Satsuki and Keichirou by making Satsuki's classmates attack them with knives.
  • Mind Screw: The Headless Biker freaks out one of his would-be victims so badly that the poor bastard gets insane and stabs his own neck so the Headless Biker wouldn't try to cut his head off again.
  • Missing Episode: An episode about the Kuchisaki-Onna was never aired, as the creature has a deformed mouth and it was deemed insensitive to people with cleft palates.
  • Modesty Shorts: Satsuki Miyanoshita wears them one episode after she gets tired of skirt fliping by Hajime.
  • Monster of the Week: Fairly obvious and said verbatim in the dub.
  • Mood Whiplash: In episode 6, the opening with a boy screaming after a hooded figure arrives on his doorstep immediately cuts to the happy theme song. It can be quite jarring.
  • Murderous Mannequin: Episode 16 features an army of quite creepy mannequins.
  • Names to Know in Anime:
  • Nightmare Fuel: let's see, Episodes 1-20.
  • Noble Demon: Amanojaku acts as a total Jerkass in the beginning, but as the series progresses he starts helping Satsuki more and more in fighting against the ghosts, even though he still acts like he wanted to see her in despair. In one episode he states that he dislike humans, but hates much more ghosts who harm people on purpose.
  • Not-So-Innocent Whistle: Inserted in the dub, during Shizuko's flashback to Momoko. The taxi driver does it after hitting her with the cab.
  • Obliviously Evil: Mary. She doesn't seem to realize that she nearly drove Satsuki to madness for stalking her in an utter absurd level and that she almost killed Satsuki as well when she suggested the other toys to dismember Satsuki as they were just playing a game.
  • Off-Model: Done deliberately in episode 7 with the mirror people, to make them look creepier.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Shirotabi's curse kind of resembles a classic werewolf curse: She only turns in her demonic form at night, and the form itself somewhat looks a werewolf.
  • Panty Shot: Multiple ones.
    • Hilariously, gets a Continuity Nod multiple times in the first few episodes, but then, in one of the episodes (Bloody Sports Festival), she wears a different type of underwear, gym shorts.
  • Parental Incest: The dub. Time travel. "She thought I was attractive. That is so... grossing me out."
  • Precision F-Strike: Starting in episode 15 in the dub.
  • Put on a Bus: It happens with the friendlier and more harmless ghosts of the old school building.
  • Right on the Tick: In episode 5, there's a ghost who is said to always kill a runner at the sports festival at 4:44. (At least according to the gag dub).
  • Rule of Scary: Boy, where to start...
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: All the ghosts who had been sealed away by Kayako get free after the construction sites destroy the places where they had been imprisoned.
  • Self-Deprecation: Satsuki and Momoko diss Greg Ayres and Chris Patton in episode 3, guess who two members of the Five-Man Band are voiced by.
  • She's a Man In Japan: Inverted. (He's a Woman in Japan?) Momoko's hairstylist cousin Maki was a woman in the original version, but was changed to a Camp Gay man in the dub.
  • Shinigami: Death Nurse from episode 12 is implied to be one.
  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Hadley to Sakata in the dub.
  • Smug Snake: Shinobu Matsuda/Yamime
  • Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Amanojaku.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Reo was changed to Leo in the dub. It's possible that his name was actually supposed to be Leo, considering that he writes it in katakana.
  • Strange Girl: Satsuki. Albeit her case can be a subversion since she is a normal-looking girl, her routine usually involves her and her friends facing supernatural menaces, not to count her friends include an air-headed chick with mediunic powers and a geek obsessed with the paranormal, and her pet cat is unwillingly trapping a snarky demon.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Episodes 14 and 18 feature one.
  • Take That: Makes up quite a few of the jokes
  • The Taxi: Episode 10.
  • Tragic Villain: The Railway Ghost and Yuki.
  • Trickster Mentor: Amanojaku.
  • The Unintelligible: Keichiro in the dub is capable of talking normally, but get him emotional and he reverts to unintelligible babbling.

Keichiro: AH...ABADABADA-
Amanojyaku: Please! SPEAK!

    • The DVD Release invokes this with the "Dubtitles" subtitles track, where Keichiro's dialogue is often listed as either {{[[[Fun with Subtitles]] Gibberish}}] or {{[[[Inelegant Blubbering]] Keichiro Sob}}] and after about episode 4, [Keichiro Sob ].
  • Verbal Tic: Leo in the dub, yeah.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Satsuki, to the point that Hajime even lampshades this in episode 11 by saying that she attracts anything that it is not human.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Satsuki and Keichirou's grandparents. They appear in one very brief scene in episode 1, and then they aren't seen or mentioned in the further episodes. Funny enough since they appear in the series' intro along with the main characters and supporting characters like Sakata and the school principal.
    • They also appear in the photo album during the flashback/letter reading in episode 12 (about the cursed nurse).
    • It's also mentioned that the Satsuki and Keichirou's grandmother, at least on their mother's side. Was not only the principal of the old school at some point, but that she too had also fought and dealt with the ghosts a long time ago, and that her daughter and granddaughter ended up doing the same.