Posted by psgels on 11 August 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews


The most popular premise for a movie by far is the one where a guy (or in Spirited Away’s case: girl) winds up in a fantasy world, and meets a beautiful girl (or in Spirited Away’s case: guy) who is special in some kind of way, and the two of them predictably fall in love. A Chinese Ghost Story shows the Chinese attempt at this trope, as it’s one of the few anime that has been fully produced in China.

Interestingly enough, the creators did a pretty good at this one. Okay, they didn’t create a blockbuster, but it’s definitely better than Gonzo’s attempt at the trope: Brave Story. There are two reasons for this: the deep roots into Chinese Mythology, and the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously at times. It’s not a pure comedy, and the fantasy does take priority throughout the movie, but the inclusion of quirky characters and dialogue makes sure for a light-hearted feeling to the entire movie. You can especially see this in the fights. Due to their semi-serious nature, in combination with a movie-budget, they turned out to be really fun to watch, and a highlight for this movie. Something that doesn’t happen often.

The roots into Chinese Mythology also made sure that the fantasy-world didn’t turn out to be to be the same like the others. The main character for this story works as a debt collector who just got dumped by his girlfriend. During one of his assignments, he runs into a ghost town. As I’ve seen mostly Japanese mythology in my anime lately, it was refreshing to see the differences in both. For starters, the ghosts can just be seen by normal people and even a bunch of stairs turns out to be a ghost. It’s also been a while since I saw people talk this lightly about reincarnation.

The movie does have flaws, though. The most obvious one is concerning the graphics. This movie uses traditional drawings, combined with a huge amount of CG-backgrounds and animations, and the two just don’t blend well together, and end up looking fake. Another thing is that the animators just didn’t figure out how to synchronize the mouth movements with the voice-acting. It makes for a nice style, but sometimes it’s a bit too obvious. The rest of the animation for the traditional drawings looks excellent though, just like what you’d suspect from a movie.

Another flaw comes with the writing. Through most of its part, it makes the movie fun to watch, but sometimes it’s just a bit too far-fetched. Especially the ending comes with a few twists that just don’t feel right. Be sure to expect a Deus ex Machina here and there as well.

Overall, if you’re looking for something different, you might give this one a try. The Chinese definitely have a different style of dialogues than the Japanese have. It won’t win any awards, but it’s a fun movie.

4 Responses

  1. Lainforce says:

    I watched it because it was one of the few I’ve found dubbed in Cantonese. I thought the movie was a refreshing break from all the Japanimation I watch.

  2. maglor says:

    Forget this animated version. Watch the original.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093978/

  3. Wyrdwad says:

    To be honest, I really didn’t like this movie. I got about halfway through it, and had to turn it off, as I just found it to be completely uninteresting. Despite being fairly ho-hum about Brave Story, I definitely think Brave Story was a FAR superior movie. (Though my opinion on that is changing by the moment as I read the 820-page Brave Story novel, which is so far superior to the movie that it’s amazing Miyuki Miyabe herself hasn’t publically lambasted the movie like Ursula K. LeGuin did with Earthsea!)

    -Tom

  4. squidbreath says:

    yeah,yeah…u really can’t expect good graphics from a cartoon movie that was made in 1997. But the storyline originated from… like the ming or qing dynasty(a looong time ago). So I’m not going to anything about that either.

    To be honest, I don’t really remember much of this movie, except that I liked it better than the live action one from the 1980s *choke* Anyways, it was one of my favorite bedtime stories when I was er…six..seven years old? =P

    -random Cantonese kid that just turned 13 recently

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  • Bam
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 03:29 AM)
    @sonic: That just shows that they have budget issues and problems with asset management. Deen tends to hire a lot of commission contracts so the talen behind each work, and hence the quality, varies greatly.
  • sonicsenryaku
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 03:06 AM)
    Deen’s art has certainly improved and their cinematography has gotten a slight bump in refinement but their animation still could use some work and they still have trouble keeping their art and animation consistent through their series. All these critiques apoply to their tv series productions by the way; some of the movies they have worked on as well as they co-production works are pretty good
  • ninjarealist
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 11:49 PM)
    @Emma I think Deen makes some really good looking anime. People tend to give them crap for some of their mid-2000 stuff and justifiably, but their recent stuff and early stuff is really quite visually arresting.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 11:43 PM)
    Now granted,deens adaptation of sankarea had some pretty neat visuals behind it.
  • ninjarealist
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 11:14 PM)
    Granted that none of those manga had the type of mass appeal that Sankarea has, but they’re some pof the best manga I’ve read within their specific genre (sentimental ecchi comedies/romances). I love his art style too. It just works so well for sappy romantic stuff. Inu Neko Jump will always be one of my favorite manga.
  • ninjarealist
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 11:12 PM)
    On the subject of Sankarea, I’m about as big of a Hattori Mitsuru fanboy as anyone could be and I have to say that Sankarea is my least favorite manga of his. His strengths and weaknesses just don’t lend themselves very well to that type of horror/drama plot. Umisho, Inu Neko Jump, and Otogi no Machi no Rena even were all better manga.
  • k-off
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 08:47 PM)
    To be fair to the series though, I thought that the owl was pretty cool.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 06:18 PM)
    But I’ve heard complaints about the fanservice of rea not making sense considering her past/background and I’m inclined to agree.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 06:16 PM)
    Ha, and once again another shounen ruined by not being a seinen manga.
    @Aidan: Sometimes..sometimes I feel its the fans that should be writing these things instead…well the good ones =P
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 06:05 PM)
    @K-Off, Potentail for Rea to go berserk and starting a zombie apocalypse? Or at least enough to have her slowly lose her mind and chiro having to resort to more and more desperate measures to protect her and stop her from hurting others. There was plently of potentail in the premise, just that the author didn’t have the balls to take it that far.

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