Ghost Hound – 02
Tarou has a nightmare about his childhood and deceased sister. In the dream we see a young Tarou waiting for his sister outside the elementary school she is attending. For some reason, most of her face is blurred out, and she does not seem too pleased that her little brother is there to meet her. She runs off into a dark alley, with Tarou chasing her desperately behind. When Tarou finally emerges out of the alley, he is horrified to see his sister being strangled by a shadowy giant. He is unable to do anything as his eyes widen as he see his sister suffocate to death. The giant smiles, and the real Tarou wake up.
He grabs his tape recorder, and talks about the dream he just had. He mentions how he wishes to not dream of something like this again, before thinking about what he *does* want to dream about. Unable to find an answer, he hears the tape record click – its content has been filled. Tarou gets up and stores the tape in his shoebox.
Tarou leaves for school, and he notices a visitor talking to his parents. The visitor talks about the incident at the dam, which triggers yet another traumatic eye-twitching for Tarou’s mother. Tarou also stops for a moment when the dam is mentioned, and rides his bike for school. He goes on the school computer in the library during break, but is forced into conversation by the ever-persistent Masayuki. Masayuki attempts to have Tarou talk about his kidnapping 11 years ago. Masayuki tries to achieve this by mentioning that he knows about Tarou’s family being involved in the sake production business, and Tarou’s sister’s name, Mizuka, although Tarou keeps his mouth firmly shut and leaves the library. Masayuki is indifferent at the walkout, and checks the history of the internet browser of the PC Tarou just used. He notices the search queries “out-of-body-experience” and “dreams.”
Masayuki now talks about his findings of the kidnapping Tarou and his sister Mizuka were involved in as he goes over these details (while we see Tarou in class drawing a map to the town’s shrine in the woods out of his OBE)-
(Makoto enters the classroom to his classmates’ surprise, and Masayuki continues with his findings)
(class is dismissed, Tarou gets on his bike to look for the shrine he keeps seeing, and Masayuki follows Makoto to his home)
Masayuki’s long and thorough explanation is over at this point, and we now see Tarou making his way through the considerably long path to the shrine on the mountain. He finally reaches the top with some effort and takes a look around. He finds an entrance that leads deeper into the woods as he recalled in his OBE, and enters (if his OBE is correct, the path leads to a clearing containing the dam and the hospital where he was held hostage 11 years ago). Inside the residential areas of the shrine, Miyako’s father greets his daughter who came back from shopping. Her father asks Miyako if she bought any sake, but she doesn’t answer his question; instead, she comments that a visitor is probably here because she saw a bicycle on the front steps of the shrine.
A heavy mist spreads throughout the woods and Tarou looks over to find a girl that resembles his sister. He approaches the figure, but stops halfway, telling himself that his sister is no longer alive. The girl meanwhile, shifts in appearance and becomes the tall, shadowy human that appeared before in his nightmare. Tarou panics and runs back in the direction of the shrine. (Note: the forest sequence is an OBE and is not physical, although its not clear as to how Makoto achieved this – it may have been a) related to the forest or b) Tarou’s narcolepsy brought him to sleep just as he enters the woods)
Tarou is about to leave but he sees Miyako and decides to talk to her. He asks what she was staring up at the sky earlier, and Miyako mysteriously answers with the response, “a friend.” Tarou presses on and asks if she has met him before (when Tarou had an OBE in the first ep), and Miyako answers back with an undecided “maybe.” She walks away.
The psychology session with Hirata continues back at school the next day as he tests the EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) approach on Tarou. He asks Tarou to remember any more details in his nightmare from a while back, although Tarou says that he still cannot remember the face of his sister back in the dream. Tarou questions why he doesn’t feel sleepy, although Hirata calmly tells Tarou that what he is doing is not hypnosis but EMDR (he explains that it uses both hemispheres of the brain and may help with recalling memories lost from post-traumatic stress disorder). Tarou is still uneasy – he isn’t sure if recalling his forgotten memories is a good thing. Hirata continues with the EMDR treatment, but Tarou is unable to shake off the giant from his mind and the psychologist ends the day’s session.
Away from school on a bridge, Masayuki is seen chatting with a classmate from school – the same one he bothered into showing his homework back in episode one. Masayuki gains one more important piece of information here – the local who contacted the police about the “possibillity” of Mizuka and Tarou held hostage at the empty hospital was none other than Makoto’s mother, Himeko. Masayuki appears to be delighted, and hands the student a video game (bribing are we, Masayuki?). Satisfied, he stops his *own* recorder (which is obviously more modern than the one Tarou is using), although his face expresses fear when he looks down at the river below. He regains composure as he looks over to the dam. The desolate hospital is not far from the area…
Another fascinating episode, with a bucketload of background information given to us again. I appreciate the animators’ decision to have Masayuki’s explanation of the Mizuka/Tarou kidnappings alongside the scenes from class, since having to watch Masayuki talk for ten minutes is not my idea of entertainment. :) Speaking of decisions, the animators also tastefully chosen not to show Mizuka’s face while she was strangled by the giant or Hideo and his slashed eyes. Instead we are given an image of an egg, with a knife running through its center which punctures the yolk as it gushes out – you get the point.
The plot thickens, and by now it really isn’t that surprising as to why the town’s residents suspect that Makoto’s father, Oogami Hideo, may be involved in the kidnappings more than a decade earlier. The psychologist, Hirata, continues to be more creepy than calming – he just reminds me of all the villains and masterminds on Ghost in the Shell: SAC that I can’t help but think he’s a malicious character. I still do not understand Masayuki’s motives, either. He seems a bit too interested in the history of Suitenchou for a mere transfer student, and he gathers information not only from the internet, but bribing local residents as well. The last scene, which Sayna pointed out, also had me thinking – just what was Masayuki freaked out by when he looked down at the river? He just might be scared of heights, although if he was, it wouldn’t make much sense for him to weed out information from his classmate on top of a bridge in the first place. A rather grainy view of the dam and the hospital on the other side follows Masayuki’s scene, so I’m inclined to think that he just had an OBE, but we really don’t know.
I failed to mention it last time, but Ghost Hound does an excellent job associating a particular mood or scene with the use of white/static noise and other sounds – it doesn’t rely on BGM’s whatsoever. If you do watch this episode, you might want to pay some attention to that – the dream sequences, for example, employs the use of rippled water.
Next time: The three male protagonists gather together in front of the long-abandoned hospital together. Makoto also strums the guitar (his way of achieving astral projection), and for some reason all the characters with the exception of Makoto looks scared to death. Mmm…
The dialogue during the preview, for those who are interested, delves further into the details of EMDR, so this probably means that the preview dialogue is an extended discussion of the episode title that was used. This can explain why Miyako was talking about dreams in the first episode, since the title was Lucid Dream.