We’ve already seen what Ghostbusters would look like as an anime. It was terrifying. Let’s look at more spiritual companion pieces instead. From the original to the remake and everything in between, Ghostbusters‘ appeal always lies in the basic catharsis of seeing regular people fight back against things that go bump in the night. Anime, naturally, has a menagerie of titles taking that same premise on from some radically different angles. Here are just a few.
Also, for inquiring minds: the cel above is indeed from an actual anime. Ray, Egon, and Venkman (never mentioned by name, of course) all popped up in a show called Tokyo ESP. They were bad guys, and were more “penguin catchers” than Ghostbusters, but it was them, for sure. So again, it’s probably better to watch an anime that’s like Ghostbusters than to wish for any actual Ghostbusters adaptation.
Yu Yu Hakusho
The title translates to “ghost files,” and the lead’s a “spirit detective.” So really, there’s only a minor turn-of-phrase separating this from “ghosbusters” in translation. Our hero is Yusuke, a teen delinquent who gets run over while rescuing a kid in the middle of the street. Thing is, he wasn’t supposed to die that way. Thus, a bureau in the after-life makes him their agent. His mandate? To solve dilemmas at the intersection of the spirit world and the world of the living. More often, though, that just translates to him beating the crap of ghosts and demons instead of doing any actual detective work.
Go with the dub here. It lends a delicious layer of black humor. Goofy and kickass scenes alike are scored by menacing Carpenter-esque synth, and it’s endlessly entertaining to watch this stubborn punk butt heads with the most horrific entities on any plane. And the comedy/horror balance swings even more drastically as the show goes on. A later arc sees Yusuke and his crew navigating a video game-like funhouse while searching for a video tape that’s recorded all of mankind’s worst atrocities. Fun!
If Haley Joel’s ghost whisperer in The Sixth Sense grew up to be a teenage delinquent (another one of those!), he might be like Ichigo here. After basically acting as an advocate for the undead in his home town, this kid with bleached hair gets recruited into an order of “reapers” who protect ordinary folk from malicious spirits and guide wayward souls into the afterlife. This Soul Society is basically a Green Lantern Corps for death (not like the Black Lanterns, though). A whole legion of superheroes with unique powers, weapons, and points of origin, all wearing black-and-white kimonos.
Bleach reigned as part of the “Shonen Trinity” (One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto) that topped sales charts for years, and it’s got over 350 episodes to its name. If you’ve ever been frustrated by how Ghostbusters never advances too far from the initial premise of paranormal exterminators working out of a firehouse in New York, you’ll appreciate the genuine journey Ichigo goes on here. The seasoned Reaper we see in the finale is a whole universe away from the aimless young psychic we meet at the beginning, and there are many startling planes of existence separating the two.
Part of the fun of Ghostbusters is the extensive degree of historic occultism Dan Aykroyd incorporates into the script. The Real Ghostbusters got even deeper into that black magic, bringing menacing mythological entities like Samhain, Marduk, and Kishar into the mix. Blue Exorcist, by contrast, has an added level of entertainment for how much research it just blithely skips over. That starts with the premise of a Catholic priest having an adopted family and cartwheels throughout.
The priest’s son, Rin, is actually a spawn of Satan, and he inverts the whole notion of teenage rebellion by becoming an exorcist. This being anime, Rin enrolls in an academy for exorcists and soon joins up with his more-experienced brother for an open-ended battle against the forces of darkness. Naturally, he’s got a badass fire sword which is his preferred instrument for dispatching demons. It’s over-the-top fun, with extra fun in the number of demonology details it simply misses in translation (like a character named “Mephisto Pheles” whom everybody doesn’t find immediately suspicious).
Could any of these titles feed your Ghostbusters fix before the remake’s release this summer? What anime fits the comparison better? Put your thoughts in the talkback!
Featured Image Credit: FUNimation