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Manga presents
Ghost Sweeper Mikami (1994)

Yokoshima: I don't want to be a decoy! Mikami, let me down!
Mikami: Shut up! Just draw out the ghosts and evil spirits. You can complain all you want later.

- Ryo Horikawa, Hiromi Tsuru

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: July 30, 2002

Stars: Hiromi Tsuru, Ryo Horikawa, Mariko Kouda, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Kazuyuki Sogabe, Sharon Becker, Angora Deb, Dan Stevens, Wayne Grayson
Other Stars: Michie Tomizawa, Tom Wilson, Frankie Rome, Alan Steele, Jeanine Bartel, Yotee
Director: Atsutoshi Umezawa

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, mild fanservice)
Run Time: 00h:59m:46s
Release Date: June 30, 2002
UPC: 660200411527
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C+C+B C-

DVD Review

Ghost Sweeper Mikami (Gokuraku Ongaku Dai-sakusen) is the final installment in a long running, 52 episode TV series, based on Shiina Takashi's 1991 manga. An anime equivalent of Ghostbusters, the series gained some notoriety in 1996, when Takashi successfully sued Pioneer for their derivative Phantom Quest Corps, based on the same premise. The hour-long feature presented here was originally released in 1994, and may been a suitable finale, but for those unfamiliar with the rest of the show, it may not have the same draw.

Rope bound high upon a pole, tears streaming from his eyes, Tadao Yokoshima pleads to be set free, not wanting to be a decoy in Reiko Mikami's latest venture, capturing some rogue evil spirits that have manifested themselves in a fountain. As the demons appear and attack the helpless boy, Mikami springs into action, dispatching the ghosts with her sword before collecting them in one of her magic cards. Mikimi is a ghost sweeper, a profession which, for a fee, will rid premises of the supernatural that have been crowded out of their usual space by the overpopulation of Japan. But Mikimi, first and foremost, is a businesswoman, intent on securing the vast sums she can charge for her services. Her grovelling sidekick Yokoshima works for a pittance, enslaved by his lust for Mikimi into her service, bearing the brunt of her schemes, and her brutality when he unwisely makes a lecherous move towards her. The team is also comprised of Peat, a half vampire; Father Karasua, a renegade priest; and Okinu-chan, a spirit who looks after Yokoshima any time he is in peril, whether or not it is of his own doing.

While counting the loot from their previous assignment, a mysterious staff appears in the office, which Mikimi recognizes for its value. When a disembodied samurai appears charging her with inheriting his assignment to dispatch the reincarnation of Nosferatu, the team has its next job spelled out. Arriving at the crypt of the famous vampire, his guardian, in the form of a spider, extracts some of Mikimi's blood, which brings the monster back to life. With his indomitable power, he begins to transform Tokyo into his new feeding ground, calling on all of the exorcists to come forward in a bid to try and stop him.

The plot is fairly straightforward, and the animation quality shows its age. The biggest problem with this show as a stand alone story is the lack of depth or introduction—without the context of the rest of the series to establish a relationship with the audience, the characters are one-dimensional, and even the humor feels forced. While the main cast is established well enough, at least superficially, as the show progresses, other regulars from the series make their appearance, but end up as unexplained and throwaway participants. Emi Ogasawara, one of Mikami's rivals, comments in one scene that her situation signals the last we'll see of her—which is in fact the case.

Ghost Sweeper Mikami left me with an indifferent opinion. There was nothing to spark my involvement, and even though it is only an hour, I was looking at my watch waiting for the end.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Ghost Sweeper Mikami is presented in a nonanamorphic 1.85:1 transfer. Image quality is passable, but not up to modern anime standards. Colors are dull and undersaturated; black levels are acceptable. It has an overall soft appearance, and flashback scenes, which are intentionally grainy, do not translate naturally. There is some visible haloing; compression didn't seem a problem, but the source for this looks its age.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is available in Japanese mono, plus English 5.1 and stereo surround. The Japanese track is fine overall, yet slightly limited in frequency coverage. There is some limited edginess in a couple of places, but otherwise this sounds okay for a mono track. The English dub gets preferential treatment, and makes better use of the soundstage. The 5.1 track is notably louder, with fuller tonal presentation. The performances are okay, but not great, and don't deviate too far from the subtitle track from the sections previewed. The English tracks also use different background music.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
0 Other Trailer(s)Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Character bios
  2. Photo gallery
  3. Manga catalogue
Extras Review: Extras include introductions to the main Ghost Sweeper cast, a dozen still images, and the standard Manga promo and catalogue section.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

As someone who can appreciate a wide range of anime, I found Ghost Sweeper Mikami to be underwhelming, with characters I didn't care about, unattractive design, a story with few real surprises, and a presentation that came up short. I can attribute at least some of this to my unfamiliarity with the TV series, which will be the case with most viewers on this side of the Pacific. This one falls in the run-of-the-mill category for me; it didn't sweep me away.


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