Musaigen no Phantom World – The Ghostbusters go to High School:
January 7, 2016 Leave a comment
I do love Kyoto Animation – they have produced many of my favourite anime over the years (although I’ve never been a big fan of Haruhi), and may well continue to create series I enjoy watching for many more years. Saying that, Musaigen no Phantom World is a step back when compared to recent series like Hibike Euphonium, and yet, I still rather enjoyed the first episode. As setups go it’s a fairly standard Light Novel story, with a school, phantoms or ‘youkai’, and a plot that allows our central characters to interact with these phantoms, and even capture them.
Now I’m a sucker for any anime that deals with youkai, or other similar spirits, its just one of my big interests, especially their portrayal in popular culture. I particularly like series that deal with them less as dangerous monsters, and more as another facet of a complicated world. Musaigen no Phantom World does exactly that, they aren’t exactly evil, at least the phantoms we’ve been introduced to, and some may cause a bit of damage, but on the whole they appear to be viewed as something akin to wildlife, or in some cases, pests. Admittedly in the case of this first episode, the phantom element is played for comedic effect more than anything else – introducing us to the main characters, and the school as a whole.
While other series present phantom, or youkai hunters as outsiders, even quite dangerous (Kyoukai no Kanata uses this depiction of hunters for example), Musaigen’s setting changes things a little. Admittedly it is just the Ghostbusters go to high school, and we even briefly see hunters in overalls and giant backpacks during the series opening scenes, but I still rather like the idea of ghostbusters attending school. Actually, I just rather enjoy school-focussed anime, and have yet to become bored with the setting, so this setting is fine for me. Besides, I like the characters, and found their antics ridiculous, and occasionally stupid, but also fun.
I know many will hate and despise the series, especially since it’s by KyoAni, and they have arguably spoiled anime fans a little recently, which is fine. I rather enjoyed the first episode, even the most ridiculous limbo dance even seen in anime (well, it might be the only limbo dance in anime). There are a lot of information dumps as befitting a light novel adaptation, some of them seem unnecessary given the self-explanatory nature of the world and its denizens, but are there nonetheless. I found Ruru, the little pixie particularly fun to watch, as an abusive, comedic familiar that is quite happy to make fun of Haruhiko, the series main character.
The episode was utterly ridiculous, the sort of series that KyoAni can make, but people either conveniently forget about, or assume that they cant possibly produce. Should we hold KyoAni to higher expectations than other anime studios? Given their ability to produce consistently good anime series, and numerous superb anime, perhaps, but even with this sort of silly series they still produce a well crafted, nice looking anime. Musaigen no Phantom World is basically KtoAni with clown shoes – its ridiculous, and carries over many of the central problems with light novels and their adaptations, but it was still a generally entertaining episode. No expectations for the future, but then that might be for the best.