Phantom Quest Corporation
You would think from the number of anime about the supernatural and those who would battle the eternally damned for a living that Tokyo was a literal ghost town. Phantom Quest Corp., however, is one of the better entries in the comedic horror category. It's a quality production from start to finish, with interesting characters and plots that avoid the repetitious. If there's a fault in the series, it's that Phantom only lasts for four episodes, and so these interesting characters don't get a chance to really develop. However, that's about the only flaw in this otherwise engaging and entertaining show.
Ayaka Kisaragi is a spirit hunter who will track down and rid your home/corporation/love nest of any nasty souls for the right price. Much in the vein of other classic shows like City Hunter and Cowboy Bebop, the business is always on the edge of insolvency. Here, it's not that they never get paid--it's that it's not cheap to be a ghostbuster, and the incidental expenses add up to as much as their fees! Of course, it wouldn't hurt if Ayaka didn't spend the little money she made on booze and bad karaoke...but I digress. With the help of her friend Kirano, who works on supernatural cases as part of the mysterious U Division of the police department, she's able to find out what causes these spooks to lash out. Often, the spirits are just trying to make amends, and the living turn out far more guilty than the dead.
Phantom Quest Corp. was an OVA series, and as such has relatively high quality animation throughout. I'm beginning to believe that the way to spot the best anime is to watch for shows with action sequences that don't use lines behind the characters to denote motion--when Phantom gets moving, it looks like action should, and it's a welcome change. Phantom Quest Corporation doesn't ever look cheap--each shot looks carefully chosen, and when viewed on DVD, it's pretty great (except for a few noticeable seconds of line shimmering.) However, if it weren't so entertaining, it'd just be eye candy. Thankfully, it gets past its mooring in the "young girl battles big evil" genre quickly and shows its intelligence. Most of the episodes have a twist to them, where roles reverse and we find that not everything is as we originally thought. There's also a bit of a romantic angle, though it's pretty subtle. I never felt that Phantom Quest Corp. ever stumbled, even when trying to mix comedy, action, and suspense.
My only regret is that there isn't more of Phantom Quest Corp. because its characters are imminently likable and its style friendly. My very slight ding of the grade is due to the fact that the very best shows continue long enough for their characters to develop and grow a bit. At the same time, though, I might not enjoy it so much if it kept going and going--even good things need to have an ending point. Phantom Quest Corp. doesn't end on a cliffhanger or anything like that, so as is, it's perfectly acceptable entertainment. On my scale, it outranks other candidates like Devil Hunter Yohko; considering that you can get the DVD for roughly $12, it's a great addition to any collection.
Phantom Quest Corporation -- violence, adult themes, flash frame nudity -- A-