Ghost Talker's Daydream Review
Adapted from Saki Okuse and Sankichi Meguro’s 2001-2004 manga, or graphic novel “Teizokurei Daydream”, Ghost Talker’s Daydream tells the story of spiritual medium Saiki Masaki. Try as she might, it’s all too difficult to keep a private life when she’s often called upon to work on a gruesome case or otherwise. When she’s not making a living out of that she’s putting money in her pockets through doing nightly S&M gigs. Add to that her fiery temper and this is one woman you really don’t want to get on the wrong side of.
I’ll be honest and say I was drawn to this with the promise of lurid S&M and frightful ghosties; certainly Geneon have done everything to ensure that this series be touted as a dark thriller. However this couldn’t be further from the truth, for beneath the poster campaign and suggestive DVD exterior, not to mention a damn enticing trailer Ghost Talker’s Daydream is a comedy series with a few light spiritual overtones. So is that bad? It wouldn’t be if the series wasn’t so directionless. The big problem with adapting any manga is trying to maintain its essence and stay fairly faithful, and while “Teizokurei Daydream” is something that I haven’t read I still get the feeling that we’re missing a whole lot more here.
Indeed the set-up is intriguing to say the least, after all it’s usually enough for a person to just be a spiritual medium, let alone for them to hit the town in full S&M gear and then take out their daily frustrations on clients. And so Ghost Talker’s Daydream has the potential to be something very unique, but everything that makes these characters – and not just Masaki - interesting isn’t expanded upon to any satisfactory degree. In Ghost Talker’s Daydream we have three significant characters, the first of which is naturally Masaki. All we really learn about this woman is that she’s not particularly well off in terms of her financial state, which is why she flits between helping the police and working nights as a dominatrix. So it could be asked “what’s with the S&M theme?” And it would be a sound question, because quite frankly who knows what’s up with it. It’s naughty which a) sells and b)...well it sells. In no way is this part of the story integral to anything; Masaki could quite have easily been a post office worker, OL, Taxi driver, you name it, and yet the desire to elicit a little response through unashamed fan service proves to be too much for the creators. Of course we learn that it’s something Masaki is just good at, so let’s just go with the flow, still a little back-story to at least give that fan service some kind of warrant wouldn’t have gone amiss. In addition to that there are the secret powers that she possesses – dark light which emits from her body (or thighs to be exact) and helps her to battle against restless spirits, again something that is not once explained.
This then leaves us with Soichiro Kadotake and Ai Kunugi. The former is an investigator at Tokyo’s Secret Supernatural Department and regularly visits Masaki whenever new jobs come up. He has a bit of a soft spot for Masaki and despite his current position he is actually terrified of anything supernatural related. This quickly sets him up as a comic foil, stereotypically enhanced by several geeky qualities. Ai is a young girl who Masaki meets during a case that involves the death of Ai’s young sister and niece. After the case Ai discovers that she can see ghosts and when she bumps into Masaki by chance she asks to be taken under her wing. And so we have our little threesome. Of course I could throw in a fourth name, that being Mitsuru Fujiwara, who serves as little more than a stalker for Masaki and never really gets any worthwhile exposure.
So doing the maths that’s four episodes and four characters. During this time we have a few cases to deal with and so it becomes difficult for the series to establish these people in any great way. Due to it’s lack of development that puts the viewer into a situation whereby he or she fails to empathise, sympathise or in some cases even like who we’re seeing, and that is quite a shortcoming. If ever a series needed that extra push then Ghost Talker’s Daydream would be it. Four-part OAVs rarely work perfectly, particularly when they’re dealing with stand alone content and this begs the question of what’s the point? It appears that the anime is a simple thank you to the readers and it seems to rely on people already having a good understanding of the plot, which isn’t to say that there’s anything convoluted here, because things couldn’t be any simpler. Still it has more to it than it knows what to do with and a thirteen part series or higher would allow far greater scope if only it was an option.
Ghost Talker’s Daydream isn’t without its plus points though, it can be a very funny show, albeit very adult in its approach: several gags resting on Masaki’s ongoing quest to find something that will grow her a nice little bush, not to put too fine a point on it. Soichiro is as standardised as possible, and yet there are still some fine moments from him as he tries to get out of awkward and usually perverted situations. But as far as comedy goes it really doesn’t extend much beyond sexual oriented themes (including nudity) and a touch of slapstick, which is enough to raise a smile all the same.
As for its storylines Ghost Talker’s Daydream is adequate. There’s no stand out episode with which to define the series, rather it plods along and eerily sticks closely to cases involving children. Whether or not this is intentional I can’t say, but it’s one of the few interesting spins that on occasion gives the series a darkened edge. With that said the series just isn’t creepy at all; it tries to be on several occasions but it throws too much at the screen for any single thing to ever become truly effective. To reiterate it’s a shame, because it manages to deliver a touch of poignancy in regards to the closure of each case, but it can’t balance its slew of emotions and fit everything together in single twenty-two minute episodes.
Geneon’s packaging for Ghost Talker’s Daydream really is grand, featuring an interesting shot of Masaki at work, while on the reverse her naked body is covered by various screen shots and text. The cover is also reversible and has Masaki in more fetish attire. A mini poster with disc info on the reverse is included in the case.
Ghost Talker’s Daydream is given a decent enough transfer which sees it in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. To get the bad points out of the way first this is an interlaced transfer and there is a touch of usual banding and aliasing, however I didn’t detect any Edge Enhancement or cross colourisation. So otherwise this is very pleasant with strong colours and solid black levels.
For sound we get three options: Japanese and English DD 5.1 and English 5.1 DTS. For my main viewing pleasure I watched the series in its original 5.1 Japanese mix and found it to be very effective. It’s not a show that makes much use of its surrounds, so 5.1 is curious indeed but it uses rear channels effectively for music (which isn’t very good) and one or two creepy effects. Elsewhere dialogue is channelled throughout all the speakers well enough, meaning there’s still some slight trouble when it comes to the occasional rear or side speakers, which results in a hollow sound. I found the DTS track (which for comparisons sake I checked out an episode) to be a little off in this area more so, which makes it somewhat of a redundant inclusion.
English subtitles are included, these are optional and read fine.
Things are pretty light here. First up we have a very good US trailer for the series, which sadly paints it in a much different light than what we get. Next up are four creditless openings. Ghost Talker’s Daydream doesn’t have a regular credit sequence, instead it merely places test over its opening scene, so here we get each episode’s opening couple of minutes which ultimately isn’t very worthwhile. There are some Geneon previews and finally DVD-Rom content which consists of four saucy wallpapers and eight large, and very cool posters.
Does Ghost Talker’s Daydream really know what it wants to be? Part sex-comedy, part supernatural thriller it doesn’t find its feet, nor does it ever become too involving. Like the lives which have been cut short in the series, so too does this end prematurely. It’s highly doubtful that any more episodes will be made, which leaves the curious to seek out the original manga. In the end this is a very disappointing OAV which reeks of missed opportunities.