What Is It?
Haunted Junction is a 12-episode comedy from Bandai Visual and Studio Deen. The series is based on the manga of the same name by Nemu Mukudori. The series was directed by Yuji Mutoh (Green Green, Crayon Shin-chan), and features character designs by Atsuko Nakajima (Ranma ½, Getbackers).
The show centers on Haruto Hojo, president of Saito High School’s Holy Student Council. Saito High is a particularly special school that sits on the nexus between the human and spirit realms. Because of this, the campus crawls with ghouls and ghosts, spooks and spectres from opening bell to the end of the school day. To keep these playful poltergeists in check, the school’s principal relies on the three members of the Holy Student Council to keep things in line.
Of course Haruto wants nothing of this group of spiritual experts. On the contrary, he desires a mundane school life, where his background as a minister’s son doesn’t matter, nor does his ability to conjure Saito High’s seven guardian spirits. His two companions don’t share the same worldview as their intrepid leader. Kazumi Ryudo, the son of a Buddhist monk, is a magnet for wandering spirits with a fetish for the voluptuous bathroom spirit Hanako. Asahina Mutsuki is a shinto priestess with a knack for exorcising and an appetite for little boys. That’s right – for once, it’s not the Catholic that wants to get in bed with a young lad.
As they go about duties on the Holy Student Council, the trio are dragged through one wacky adventure to the next. Their work is never done as they solve paranormal incidents that include bringing peace to a fallen manga artist, or sealing a demonic portal in the school’s pool.
Why Was It Passed Up?
Haunted Junction was initially released across six subtitled-only VHS tapes in 1999. This was a time when anime VHS tapes were being released with three to four episodes, and offered the choice of dubs and subs. The tapes were sold at a $24.98 price point (standard for subtitled VHS), which many saw as “high” for two episodes. The combination of the higher price point and lack of choice caused many frugal tape buyers to shy away from this release.
The show got a surprisingly friendly DVD release on June 6, 2000. The show was one of the first full-series DVD releases, and featured an attractive price point of $39.99. The show’s price point garnered a cult following, but it failed to capture the market at large.
Why This Show?
I’ll be blunt: Haunted Junction isn’t Shakespeare. It’s not a miracle of wit and writing that will move people to tears, nor is it an epic tale of love and loss. Instead, the show dares to be stupid, with an abundance of silly jokes, sight gags, and quirky characters.
Instead, the show offers simple fun and charm. Every member of the show’s cast, from the womanizing Red Mantle to Haruo, the Cossack dancing anatomy model, oozes charisma, and play off one another with a well-natured nod and wink. They writers reveled in humorous non-sequiturs, and were rarely afraid to jump head-first into the more unsettling humor. The plots are simple, and serve their purpose well in delivering the funny.
Haunted Junction is the type of show that manages to be funny, without being corny. Instead, the show leverages its cast to drive much of the humor. The show revels in its silly moments and isn’t afraid to dive into dark humor. The title’s strong writing and biting sense of humor is tied together by a visual style that really sells the madcap atmosphere of the show.
The series’s license lapsed several years ago, and chances for a rescue are non-existent. This is a shame, as Haunted Junction is a title that really deserves a closer look.