#1 Poking fun at horror tropes
A Catholic, A Buddhist, and a Miko all attend the same school and, together, form its student council. However, this is no normal school and they are not normal student representatives. Saito High is situated in a haunted junction between their respective places of worship; filling the area with mystical energy that draws in all manner of spirits. As the “Holy” Student Council, it is their job to keep all these ghostly visitors in check.
Haunted Junction is a comedy anime from 1997, whose main source of comedy stems from poking fun at tropes typical of the medium. It’s a satire of traditional Japanese horror stories, mostly those that revolve around haunted schools and the like. So many different series have lazily recycled these same few stories over and over again across the years, so it was delightful seeing Haunted Junction make a mockery of them.
In this world, all those recognizable spooks are literally mass-produced. It’s not that one Hanako haunts all those toilets across all of Japan, there are literally hundreds of slightly-different copies of her. The principal of Saito High is a ghost fanatic and literally brings them in by the truckloads. Along with dozens of walking statues, haunted objects, and any other ghosts he can round up. And when any of them start misbehaving, he shifts the job of fixing it unto the student council. Gee, thanks principal…
#2 Reliable gag comedy
The style of comedy is very Japanese and very silly. It relies heavily on running gags and slapstick, often with the most obvious of punchlines. It’s unlikely to surprise you, but I found it to be very entertaining all the same.
As cheesy as the jokes are, they are executed well. Plenty of self-awareness certainly helps, combined with genre-savviness and competent directing work. As a gag comedy, Haunted Junction also benefits from its fun characters around which it can shape those gags.
The Buddhist Kazumi is an idiotic sleazeball, who somehow made it to high school in spite of being illiterate. His special power is that he’s vulnerable to being possessed. That may not sound very useful, but anything that could possess him would probably count as a boost in overall intelligence. Mutsuki, the team’s Miko, is a wily tomboy as well as a pedophile. She is exclusively attracted to young boys and will absolutely attempt something unsavory with them if left unchecked.
Then there is Haruto Houjo, the president of the Holy Student Council. While Mutsuki can perform exorcisms and Kazumi has his possession, Haruto can’t do anything magical at all. In fact, he doesn’t even want to. Haruto desires a normal, productive school life. He doesn’t want anything to do with the supernatural at all. Even so, Haruto is too empathetic to neglect his responsibilities. He’ll help student and spirit alike, all the while grumbling about wanting things to be more “normal” around here.
A band of side-characters further fills out the cast. There is the uncontrollable school principal, Mutsuki’s victim-of-choice Nino, and a sex-obsessed Hanako who leaves the men’s toilets of Saito High entirely unusable. At least, for their intended purpose. My favorites were Suzuki and Sato; two friends in life reunited when one possesses an anatomical model and the other a skeleton. They talk and act like a TV comedy duo, with jokes that are so blatantly stupid that I couldn’t help but laugh.
#3 Action-comedy storylines
Barring the final 2 episodes, Haunted Junction is an episodic series. Each episode stars a new problem involving spirits, which Haruto, Kazumi, and Mutsuki need to resolve.
Comedy remains front-and-center throughout, but Haunted Junction does mix in a fair amount of action scenes. The storylines are also reliably fun. In one episode they need to deal with the spirit of a unfulfilled mangaka, whose incomplete stories are brought to life. Another has them investigate a little-known spirit at an elementary school, much to Mustuki’s delight.
The 2-part finale mixes in some honest-to-God drama and character development, with surprising success. It’s not exactly a touching show, but it felt like a strong conclusion to what is otherwise a series of unrelated mini-adventures.
More like this…
Ghost Stories: Cheesy comedy show about kids dealing with spirits.
Medaka Box: Student council with excessive responsibilities.
Itoshi no Kana: Sexy ghost