What is it?
Ghost Sweeper Mikami is a 45-comedy anime based on the manga by Takashi Shiina. The series is set in an alternate version of 1990s-era Tokyo, where ghouls and ghosts run rampant. To combat these spectral menaces, people rely on the skills of exorcistsfor hire, better known as Ghost Sweepers. Reiko Mikami is the best of the best in the Ghost Sweeping business. Her skills are unmatched, her figure is perfect, and her fees are sky high. To aid in her duties, Reiko employs Yokoshima, a starving college kid that works for 250 yen per hour, and Okinu – a ghostly maiden.
Each episode revolves around Mikami and crew, as they take on various jobs, which range from taking on possessed dolls, to exploring ghost trains, and fending off assaults from the evil (and somewhat senile) Dr. Chaos. Though there is no ongoing plot, each installment offers new insights into the major cast, as they grow and change.
Why Was It Passed Up?
Ghost Sweeper Mikami has a number of factors against it, the most glaring of whichis the show’s age. Ghost Sweeper Mikami first hit Japanese airwaves in 1993. The show was a semi-popular title in the tape trade for a while, but dropped off as anime’s popularity in America grew. As of today, the show is eighteen years old, and it shows. From the early ’90s-era character designs that feature the stereotypical giant eyes and small mouth, to the exaggeraged expressions, the show reeks of the era from whence it came.
In addition, the show relies on pop culture and cultural gags that fall out of the average US fan’s general knowledge. Jokes about the TV License Fee, or Japanese banking will escape many viewers, and appear as little more than obtuse cultural references.
The male-centric, fanservice and boob-joke-heavy comedic styles don’t win many favors, either. The character of Yokoshima is the primary driver fo this, as he serves little more as a stalking lust-beast in the presence of Mikami (or any other attractive female). His escapades, while often unsuccessful (often he ends up being bamboozled, himself), come across as cliche and a bit forced on a number of occasions.
Why This Show?
For its shorcomings, Ghost Sweeper Mikami is a fun show. The premise of a ghostbuster for hire is interesting itself, and it’s refreshing to see a “heroine” that isn’t an action-show cliche. On the contrary, Mikami is a fairly grey character who, for all purposes, is a self-serving, money-hungry bitch. She’ll do what it takes to complete the job and get her pay, and isn’t afraid to take on jobs that are unsavory if it means collecting a paycheck. In one episode, Reiko actually performs a bank heist, in order to set two bungling robbers’ souls free (and to get her share of what she can take from the vault).
The show’s plots are engaging, and always find ways to twist the supernatural angle just enough to keep from growing corny. Shikigami searches, vampire hunts, and bouts with the netherworld’s worst are painted with a light-hearted brush that makes battles of life and death entertaining.
The overall cast is strong, be it the delightfully naiive Okinu or Meiko, the shy summoner that’s quick to shed tears. Within the first episodes, it’s difficult to not be endeared by at least some of the cast.
Ghost Sweeper Mikami is an example of a quality show that was lost to the sands of time. The strong characters, light-hearted tone, and fast pace make for an enjoyable experience, whether the viewer is watching one episode, or sitting down for an entire volume. However, the show does bear the marks of its era, and is often passed up due to them.