Monday, May 11, 2015

Anime Picks Week: Phantom Quest Corp

A bit hearty welcome to Day 1 of Anime Picks Week! A quick bit of background on today's choice. Our story revolves around our heroine Ayaka Kisaragi, a talented woman descended from an ancestral line of Japanese exorcists... but given she is sick of their ways and traditions, she decides to open a business to exploit those talents for a fee. This is Yugen Kaisha a.k.a. Phantom Quest Corp.

That ginger could poke your eye out!

Created by writer Mami Watanabe (Heavy Metal L-Gaim, The Record of the Lodoss War, X and Araiso Private High School Student Council Executive Committee) this offbeat horror/comedy is a good hybrid claiming ancient monsters in the modern world.

Ayaka's headquarters operates from her family home wedged among the various buildings in Shinjuku, Tokyo. With her traditional methods of exorcism of demon banishment, mantra, water collected from holy rivers and circles of protection, Ayaka is also adept with martial arts, a laser sword which manifests from her lipstick and her earrings that seem to possess a spiritual charge of explosive proportions. With at least 5 to 6 people in her employ along with working with the U Division 's Detective Karino's case load, you'd think she would be a renown philanthropist by now.

Mystic marvels at money!

Alas between mad shopping sprees, karaoke and what I can only estimate as GALLONS of Sake the business is often in the red. Her boy genius, Mukyo who balances the books, sets appointments, takes cases and client information and in general has to boot Ayaka out of bed due to her binge drinking late sleeps it is a wonder he has not gone completely crackers. Karino of U Division operates from the logic/science base of supernatural happenings and relies heavily on Phantom Quest Corp's traditional exorcism, magic, occult and witchcraft practices to save the day.

With occasional aid by seer Madame Suimei, staff Buddhist exorcist Rokkon and a pyrokinetic (able to project and control flame)14 year old Namai things may get hairy but there is enough diversity in the staff to combat most of what creeps in the dark. Horror content with humorous subtext makes this a fun show with incidental humor worthy of Marx Brothers but enough sexual innuendo to make it mildly lewd. Right away you get the vibe that Karino is head over heels for Ayaka in spite of her horrific drunken singing and carousing as she does. Is there chemistry between them? Will Phantom Quest Corp ever get out of the red? Will Mukyo cook the books, fund a nest egg and disappear to an island?

Now a few facts of the show. Due to some similarities to a previously existing series called Ghost Sweeper Mikami, the only thing this series got was four episodes and then that was that. While the animation, comedy and action sequences were praised by the critics there was too much backlash from the Ghost Sweeper Mikami fans. Also many felt there was not enough plot depth or character development like, how does a 12 year old boy balance all the accounts, appointments and finances for a business? Aside from that, two soundtrack albums were released along with a Japanese novella or light novel and one issue for an English manga.

With a combination of Ghostbusters, X-Files, a hint of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, this series was taken before its time.

Hey! That's not Batman!