Today’s piece is not really an article, so much as it’s some final thoughts I had in regards to Haunted Junction. It was a show that I enjoyed a lot, but which also had some questionable moments in it. And no, I am not just talking about the pedophilia again.
A recurring theme throughout the show is that the spirits are presented as benevolent. Many times someone will show up that hates them for one reason or another, only to have it turn out that their ire towards them was misplaced. The moral of the story being that we shouldn’t blame others for the problems in our lives. But how true is that exactly?
Episode spoilers going forward
This is most evident in episode 10, in which the spirits all disappear throughout the day. It turns out something is keeping them awake at night, forcing them to catch up on sleep during school hours. This permits Haruto to finally attend classes and experience a bit of normalcy in his everyday life. This cannot last of course, so Haruto is tasked with tracking down a noise-making spirit and shutting it up.
The culprit turns out to be a former student, who grew to resent Taisho Academy for ruining his academic prospects. With his classes constantly interrupted by supernatural events, the boy saw his grades drop and he failed to get into college as a result. Even worse, he then died in a traffic accident on his way back from another failed entrance exam. A grim development that casts the daily mischief of the spirits in a different light. Until the real truth finally arises.
Harkening back to an earlier scene where Haruto is chastised by his father, it’s revealed that the boy himself was to blame. He didn’t fail because the spirits made it impossible to pay attention in class, he failed because he had a radio on while studying at night.
As a one-of twist, that seems fine enough. Even if you could argue that music is actually beneficial to studying. However, this is a twist that happens multiple times. So many people related to Taisho Academy had their lives ruined somehow, yet the show always shifts the blame back unto them. They were idiots. They must’ve done something wrong. There are always excuses, but I don’t believe the ghosts are blameless as Haunted Junction wants us to think.
Episode 1 already establishes that Haruto can’t leave Taisho Academy. The school is ranked so poorly that no other place would accept his request to transfer. Many of its students fail to get into a good college and that has been an issue for decades. We can’t ignore a pattern like that and keep chalking the school’s horrible standing (and body count) up to hundreds of individual failures.
Besides, the idea that spirits are innocent is disproven in other ways as well. Several storylines involve dangerous creatures that attack students with an intent to kill. Those aren’t destroyed or chased out, they are just pacified… for now. Some of these incredibly likely to become a threat again in the future. When an ultimate villain is then introduced that wants to purge everything supernatural… it’s hard not to sympathize with his reasoning.
It feels like some wires got crossed when writing Haunted Junction. It wants the ghosts to be likeable, benevolent creatures, but it also needs Taisho High to be a shithole with constant dangers. Otherwise there is nothing for the student council to resolve. It dug itself into a hole there, yet doesn’t take itself seriously enough to actually put effort into fixing anything. After all, none of this actually “ruins” the anime or anything. It’s just bizarre.