Light Novel Mystery Anime? Are You Okay, Jamie? (Ghost Hunt and Holmes of Kyoto)
No image this time, internet's still somewhat fucky.
Age Rating: 15 for Holmes... 18 for Ghost Hunt.
So... We've mostly dealt with villainesses and isekai here, because that's my general
preference... But that's by no means the only stuff I enjoy. I do love me a good romance (emphasis on good
... Maybe I'll vent about Masamune Kun's Revenge and Osamake at some point), a bit of horror (Yoterashai, Itterasshai... Yamishibai jikandaoooo~), and comedy. And I like mysteries.
And both of these, to some extent or another, scratch most of those itches. Both have manga associated with them, both have a good anime associated with them... But neither of those will compare to the Light Novels. Go look 'em up. Now, let's sum up both of them, for your pleasure.
With both, we have a high school girl for the main viewpoint, and they are nominally
protagonists, but they're a somewhat
talented lens through which we see the rest of the cast, competent or otherwise. Well, I say somewhat talented, but Mai Tanayama, the viewpoint girl of Ghost Hunt, most definitely doesn't start
talented, being easily gulled into working for Kazuya Shibuya, a cold, egotistical paranormal investigator. And yet... Every time she's knocked out (often), she sees a smiling Kazuya in her dreams, who sometimes gives her important information. Turns out she's a psychic, you see...
And there is
a reason she's seeing Shibuya in a different light in her dreams, but go read the LN.
Anyway, Mai Tanayama is an emotional dork, but also optimistic, and that combination, along with her being a trouble magnet, often helps solve the cases... Which get dark pretty quickly. The first is pretty light, and lulls you into a false sense of security, although it's definitely tense, but the second leaps straight into some CW worthy subjects (child kidnapping, suicide), and, by the 7th, there is... Urado.
Oh boy. This is actually one of the few horror tales that genuinely unsettles me. I'm going to spoiler this.
Why Urado Scares The Shit Out Of Me
Urado means Vlad. Vlad Tepes. Yes, that one.
- Dracula is not a vampire, but a ghost. So he can move through walls.
- He has ghost attendants, like Elizabeth Bathory.
- Also like Elizabeth Bathory, he drains the blood of the living via torture, not sucking it out of them.
- He "lives" in a place like the Winchester Mansion.
- And the place he drags his victims to with his supernatural powers is a house within the house that's been completely surrounded, so normally, it's completely inaccessible.
So, uhhh... Yeah. There's a fair few content warnings, suicide, curses, bullying, etcetera. But if you're interested in something dark that nonetheless has its light moments (After all, Mai has a big crush on Shibuya, aka Naru The Narcissist), it's a good 'un, with some actual ghost hunting practices mixed in, although the super-supernatural takes center stage pretty quickly (Urado is the penultimate arc of the anime, but before that you have a Worm Curse, a hexer, and a drowning ghost, for example.) Fun character dynamics, fun characters, I enjoy it.
And then... Holmes of Kyoto. A different tone entirely, being a mostly fluffy mystery with romance elements. The anime only gets up to the end of volume 4. By contrast to Mai, Aoi Mashiro is a gentler sort, an honest girl who begins with a talent for spotting antiques, catching the eye of Kiyotaka Yagashira, a young antiques appraiser. It also starts
on a more grounded, emotional note, with Aoi having stolen her grandfather's collection of hanging paintings, trying to sell them to, effectively, try and give a piece of her mind to her childhood friend who she was in love with, and her other
childhood friend who is now dating the other one.
The relationship is much less adversarial, but this is mainly because of a difference in focus. Ghost Hunt is dealing with darker subjects, and there is
a mystery to Kazuya Shibuya that's at the core of the novel series. Holmes, meanwhile, is more open, more charming... A bad Kyoto Man, as the characters joke. The main problem with the anime, however, is a lack of information to solve the mysteries yourself, which can be a fatal
flaw to a mystery series. Still, the focus, that of art and art forgery, is an interesting one, and its more obvious antagonist, a traditional Funhouse Mirror villain (the Moriarty) is an interesting character in and of themselves.
Plus, y'know, there's will-they, won't-they between Aoi and Kiyotaka, and the two have a well written chemistry, with good reasons to grow fond of one another, having a mentor-student relationship with each complementing the other. Both are fairly well animated, although I would say that Holmes is of a higher quality, and the story is compelling in both cases, especially once the core elements reveal themselves (which, alas, doesn't fully
happen in Ghost Hunt. You just get hints. Go read the Light Novels.)
Would You Recommend This, And To Who?
Mystery fans may well find both interesting, albeit for differing reasons, but Ghost Hunt is very firmly for ghost/supernatural horror fans, while Holmes of Kyoto focuses more on the fluff and romance. I presented them both because they have their similarities, because I feel like they're both good series, and because I like the (mostly) friendly core cast dynamics. CLEARLY THE WORK OF AN EARTH SPIRIT.
Ghost Hunt, as noted, though, has CWs out the wazoo, so ask a friend or try to look up said CWs, although the easy ones are suicide, murder, child kidnapping, and blood. At least three of the storylines involve a suicide, so if that's a big trigger for you, avoid GH like the plague.