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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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 08:38 AM)
    Jesus I never expected that doing a myanimelist/letterboxd account thing would be so hard. I’ve seen a scarily higher amount than I thought, its insanely hard to remember everything to add.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:17 AM)
    It seems then that the future of the franchise’s anime adaptations rests a bit on Schwarzesmarken’s success, which looking at the buzz doesn’t seem favourable at all. I doubt it can regain the lost audiences.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:14 AM)
    That would suggest that the author(s) had the foresight of including seemingly useless stuff that will come into play later. That’d be impressive if they did, as these kinda series are make-it-as-you-go.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:59 AM)
    It’s difficult to put into words but essentially while the first game isn’t good, it does work as a tool for introducing and endearing you to the characters. Then Unlimited sets down the rules of the new world. And finally alternative proceeds to kick your ass into next Tuesday.
    That’s sort of why I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was an anime. VNs allow you to get a more personal connection with the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:55 AM)
    It’s not quite the same. It’s more like there are things in extra which seem insignificant but turn out to play an important role later. It wouldn’t really work the same if you did it in reverse order. Character history is a bit different too as each game is essentially an alternate universe. The character histories in extra are different from those in alternative.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:38 PM)
    And also remember how Darker Than Black had a big jump between the main series and Gemini of the Meteor. They later made a 4 episode OVA that covered the gap, and although you knew the outcome it was still entertaining; or at least more than the Gemini one. There’s merit to non-linear chronology and storytelling, but it is usually very hard to pull. The audience is intrigued by secrets that can later be uncovered, although in anime the pay-off is not always substantial.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:32 PM)
    I don’t know, the audience usually only needs very limited information to figure out dynamics and histories between the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:27 PM)
    A 13 episode series would work for the second title unlimited. But Alternative is a pretty long visual novel. You need at least two cours to give it justice. Making extra an OVA could work but you do need it for alternative. But it’s not an optional part of the trilogy. It needs to be read first, so that events later have a greater impact. Personally I am not even sure Muv Luv can even work in another medium.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:12 PM)
    That might compress things, but I think a good screen-writer can fit pretty much any VN in 12-14 episodes (covering just the main route).
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:07 PM)
    @Aidan: then the best solution would’ve been to make a two cour season covering the 2nd and the 3rd book. Have the cours air two anime seasons apart, and in the middle have an offshoot short OVA that covers the 1st book, but has a more harem comedy feel to it. Think Full Metal Panic and Fumuffu.

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