14 year old Komori Tarou wakes up late in the afternoon after having yet another out-of-body-experience, which is also referred to in the show as 魂ぬけ (tamanu-keh; lit. “soul extraction/release”). He gingerly gets up and reaches for the tape recorder nearby – he proceeds to talk about the date, time, and how he was unable to wake his sister up while he was asleep. He adds that he left “the room” earlier than usual, and encountering a young girl near the shrine of the town he lives in. He goes outside and has a small conversation with his neighbor’s visitor, Kei-san, before heading back home for dinner.
Dinner at the Komori household is a very subdued affair, and although the family members do talk, everything is brought to an awkward halt as Tarou brings up the topic of his deceased sister. Seeing his mother’s reaction, he hastily leaves for his room. Tarou half-consciously plays around with a modified radio receiver until he sees the time (about 2:20 AM) and hurriedly goes off to sleep.
The next day at school, Tarou notices the transfer student from Tokyo, Nakajima Masayuki, bothering another student and asking if he can copy some homework. Their eyes meet, but Tarou quickly enters his own class. His classmates notice Tarou looking rather drowsy, but shift attention to the grounds outside, where they watch the school loner Oogami Makoto show up for class for the first time in two weeks.
Class becomes a struggle for Tarou, as his narcolepsy and lack of sleep brings him to an inevitable nap during class. As soon as he falls asleep, he experiences another OBE, as his body floats off. His soul wanders around the local shrine before experiencing a total white out – he encounters a shadowy figure once his eyesight returns to focus, and as the shadowy figure closes some sort of door, Tarou wakes up in a room. This room is the same damp, dark room he visited in the past, and sure enough, his sister is on the bed beside him. Tarou at this point is considerably distressed and wakes himself up out of fear, and back into class.
Classes are finally dismissed, and Tarou heads for the principal’s office as the teacher notified him. Just as he leaves, he unwillingly makes eye contact with a surly-looking Makoto. Before they can do anything, though, Masayuki rather obnoxiously walks up to Tarou asking him to come over to his house. Tarou seems quite apathetic at Masayuki’s advance; he shakes Masayuki off and heads for the principal’s office.
The principal greets him and introduces Tarou to his new parapsychologist, Hirata, before departing for the faculty room. This rather mysterious psychologist starts to inquire Tarou about his narcolepsy and asks to bring his taped records of his dreams next time they meet. With the formalities done, Hirata quickly goes on to ask Tarou about the tragic event 11 years ago…
Right outside school, Masayuki stops Makoto and continues with his facade of annoyance and his failed attempt to create some sort of friendship. Masayuki loosely and playfully asks about Makoto’s father and his relation to Tarou. Touching upon what is undoubtedly a sensitive subject, Makoto grabs Masayuki by the collar. He does, despite this, hold back from punching the nosy transfer student. He walks away, muttering that he has nothing to do with his father.
Tarou’s tentative psychology session is over at this point, and as he heads home on his bike, stops to find a young girl staring intently at an outline of a female ghost. Recognizing her as the one he saw before in his out-of-body experiences, he proceeds to talk to her, but the girl – Miyako – refuses to talk back and walks away.
I would like to point out some (possibly) important pieces of information here for future references.
I hesitate to call this episode slow paced, because a lot of things did happen, and we are given quite a few clues and information that will point to what will happen in the future. The show continues with the increasing trend of combining spiritual and paranormal elements in the setting of a rural town. There are numerous references and terms from psychology pulled in (mostly related to Tarou) which really isn’t surprising as the original concept *did* come from the parent of Ghost in the Shell.
The animation quality reaches crisp high definition (or high vision in Japan) levels and the music compliments the scenes well. The OP by Kojima Mayumi is a nice jazz piece which I’m extremely fond of; the ED is not bad, although it is not exactly something I would listen to repeatedly. The characters – with the exception of Tokyo-born Masayuki – all speak with a strong Kyushu-accent that mixes verbal idiosyncrasies of the major northern dialects of Kyushu (I can recognize Miyazaki and Hakata-ben influences at the very least). The voice actors pull it off successfully, although I must admit it sounds bizarre at times since my life has been primarily dominated with standard Japanese (標準語/hyou-jun go) and the Kansai-dialect (especially Osaka-ben), thanks to the multitude of Japanese comedians who hail from that region. Tarou’s Kyushu dialect is exceptionally thick, although that’s probably just because this episode focused on him, and he had the most speaking lines.
Dialects aside, Ghost Hound is definitely going to be a show I have high expectations for. With Shirow Masamune as its original creator and Nakamura Ryutaro as its director, I really am hoping Ghost Hound will not be a flop. But then again, it *is* a series that commemorate Production I.G.’s 20 years of history, so we’ll probably see that extra effort sooner or later (my fingers are crossed).
Next time: Ghost Hound continues with the psychology textbook-inspired episode titles. As the title, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing suggests, Tarou undergoes further therapy with Hirata. Even the dialogue during the preview is psychology-related, as Miyako talks about dreams, their apparent purpose, and Francis Crick. Masamune sure likes this kind of stuff, doesn’t he? ^^;