Ghost Hunt (ゴーストハント Gōsuto Hanto?), originally titled Akuryou Series (悪霊シリーズ?), is a light novel series written by Fuyumi Ono. It follows the adventures of the Shibuya Psychic Research Center as they investigate mysterious occurrences all over Japan with a team of other spiritualists and clever assistants. Although the last novel was published in 1994, the story was left incomplete. Speculation arose to the continuation of the series when the creater Fuyumi Ono stated in an interview that she was resuming work on a "girls' horror story" that she began long ago, even though Ono's statement has never been officially confirmed to be in reference to Ghost Hunt.
The novels were adapted into a radio drama for Akuryou Series in 1997. A manga adaptation written and illustrated by Shiho Inada began serialization in Nakayoshi in the July 7, 1998 issue where it is still on-going. The individual chapters have been collected and published in eleven tankōbon volumes by Kodansha. It is licensed for English-language release, under the name Ghost Hunt in North America by Del Rey Manga and in the United Kingdom by Tanoshimi. An anime adaptation of the manga was created by J.C.Staff and premiered on October 3, 2006 in Japan on TV Aichi where it ran for twenty-five episodes until its conclusion. The anime is licensed for English release on Region 1 DVD by Funimation Entertainment, which also used the name Ghost Hunt.
Ghost Hunt follows the ghost hunting adventures of Mai Taniyama, a first year high school student, who becomes involved with the Shibuya Psychic Research Center (SPR) and its young manager, Kazuya Shibuya. When Mai accidentally injures Shibuya's assistant Lin Koujo, and breaks an expensive video camera being used by SPR in an investigation at her school, she works as a part-time assistant with SPR to repay her debt.
Mai nicknames Kazuya Shibuya "Naru" because she believes he has a narcissistic attitude, and the nickname is generally adopted by all those who come to eventually work with SPR on their paranormal cases: a Buddhist monk, Houshou Takigawa; a shrine maiden, Ayako Matsuzaki; a famous psychic, Masako Hara; and Catholic Priest, John Brown. Later in the series, they are assisted by a third-year high school student, Osamu Yasuhara (who works as an assistant beside Mai) and by Mori Madoka, Naru's mentor.
Ghost Hunt also explores the paranormal abilities of the characters, particularly focusing on Mai's "latent psychic abilities," demonstrated by her dreaming about information relevant to their cases. She is often joined in her dreams by someone who she assumes to be Naru acting as a spirit guide, but whom is later revealed to be someone quite unexpected.
- Mai Taniyama (谷山 麻衣 Taniyama Mai?) is a 16 year-old orphan and first year high school student who becomes involved with the Shibuya Psychic Research center (SPR for short) after she accidentally breaks an expensive video camera that was being used by the SPR in an investigation of an old building at Mai's school. In the same incident, she is also saved from a falling bookcase by a man working for the SPR, Lin Koujo, who is injured instead; to repay her debt, she fills in for Lin as a part timer on the investigation, assisting the SPR's manager, Kazuya Shibuya. (It is later revealed that the camera was covered by insurance, and that Shibuya was happy for the free help). After the conclusion of the first case, she is offered a paycheck for her work and a part-time position at the SPR. She refers to Shibuya as 'Naru' due to her perceiving him as narcissistic. As the series progresses, it is revealed that Mai has ESP abilities, which include precognitive dreams and clairvoyance. Mai also demonstrates an instance of astral projection, when she gives Masako a key to comfort her after she is kidnapped by a monster. In Mai's dreams, a person that appears to be Naru frequently appears to guide her. Additionally, the other members of the SPR teach her some useful techniques, which she utilizes in the series. In the anime television series, Mai Taniyama is voiced by Kaori Nazuka in Japanese and Cherami Leigh in English.
- Kazuya Shibuya (渋谷 一也 Shibuya Kazuya?) is a paranormal researcher and the highly intelligent 17 year-old manager of the Shibuya Psychic Research center. The nickname "Naru" is given to him by Mai, and is an abbreviation of the romanization of the English word "narcissist"; this nickname generally comes to be adopted by everyone working with the SPR. Initially, it appears that he has no spiritual powers. Though appearing cold and critical in front of his friends, he does care for them deeply and earns their trust and respect. Eventually, it is revealed that Naru is actually the famed paranormal researcher and psychic, Oliver Davis, and that he has very strong psychokinetic abilities, which Masako Hara has witnessed. Although Naru has been taught how to manage his psychic abilities by Lin Koujo, it takes such a large toll on his body that the one time he does use it in the series, he collapses and is hospitalized afterwards. It is also revealed that Naru had a twin brother named Eugene, who originally helped Naru to control his abilities. They were nicknamed Gene and Noll; when Mai gives him the nickname Naru ('Na-ru'), he is taken aback because (in Japanese) it sounds similar to Noll ('No-ru'). Naru and his brother were orphans who were later adopted by the Davises, paranormal researchers in England. Naru learns that his brother has died, and using psychometry, is led to Japan. It is discovered that Gene was run over by a car driven by an unknown woman, and his body was thrown into a lake to destroy any evidence of the accident. In the anime television series, Kazuya Shibuya is voiced by Yuuki Tai in Japanese and Todd Haberkorn in English.
- Lin Koujo (林 興徐 Rin Kōjo?), originally from Hong Kong, is Naru's solemn and taciturn assistant. He seems to get most of the unpleasant jobs, and works through the night. He appears to be a strong onmyoji and has a wide range of paranormal skills from exorcism to summoning spirit familiars. He acts as Naru's guardian to help him find his brother. It is revealed that the three are childhood friends. Lin says he dislikes Japanese people because of the past conflicts Japan has had with China. At one time, he told this to Mai and she told him that he should forget the past to move on and if he should hate her, it should be because he hates her as an individual. At this, he stated that a long time ago, someone told him the exact same words. In the novels, it is revealed that this person was Gene. In the anime television series, Lin Koujo is voiced by Ken Narita in Japanese and J. Michael Tatum in English.
- Houshou Takigawa (滝川 法生 Takigawa Hōshō?) is a 25 year old hakkaisou, a Buddhist monk who has left his position at the headquarters of the Koyasan Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism, Mt. Koya (he "came down from the mountain," growing his hair out, piercing his ears, and wearing fashionable clothing). He claims that he left because they did not allow music CDs, and his day job is playing bass guitar in a popular band. He is one of the more powerful and effective members of the group and takes the lead in Naru's absence, as seen in the Cursed House File. The other members of SPR refer to him casually as "Monk". He is also very protective of Mai and acts like an older brother to her, even teaching her some Buddhist warding chants. In the anime television series, Houshou Takigawa is voiced by Kenji Hamada in Japanese and Travis Willingham in English.
- Ayako Matsuzaki (松崎 綾子 Matsuzaki Ayako?) is an outspoken 23 year old self-styled Shinto miko (priestess) ("self-styled" because she was not raised in a shrine; in fact, she is the daughter of wealthy doctors who own a community general hospital). She is confident and proud of her abilities, though her attempts to demonstrate them have almost always fallen short. She does teach Mai some defensive sutras and it is later revealed that her powers only work when she is around living trees as she draws power from the spirits in them. Being near such trees allows her to purify disquiet spirits through a particular Shinto ritual. In the anime television series, Ayako Matsuzaki is voiced by Masami Suzuki in Japanese and Colleen Clinkenbeard in English.
- John Brown (ジョン·ブラウン Jon Buraun?) is a nineteen year old Caucasian Catholic priest from Australia who learned to speak Japanese with a Kansai accent, thus giving his sentences a rather odd, humorous structure. Good-natured and helpful, he helps Mai and Naru however he can. His means of exorcism is spraying holy water while reciting the first passage of John from the New Testament of the Bible. In most cases SPR relies on John's exorcisms whenever a human being is possessed by a spirit. In the Cursed House File, it is revealed that John's exorcisms, unlike Houshou's Buddhist Mantras or Ayako's Shinto Kuji, do not cause physical harm when used on a possessed living creature. In the anime television series, John Brown is voiced by Nobuhiko Okamoto in Japanese and Jason Liebrecht in English.
- Masako Hara (原 真砂子 Hara Masako?) is a 16 year old spirit medium with a popular television show and has the ability to channel the deceased. Because she is always wearing a kimono, even while sleeping, she is remarked as resembling a Japanese doll. She has romantic feelings towards Naru and is jealous of how casual and free Naru is when dealing with Mai. This initially causes friction between Masako and Mai, as she views Mai as a rival; however, after Mai saves her in the Blood-stained Labyrinth File, they reach a shaky truce. In the novels, it is revealed that Masako knows of Naru's true identity and his psychic powers and has used that secret to extract favors out of Naru himself, despite his reticence to participate in social events. In the anime television series, Hara Masako is voiced by Rie Kugimiya in Japanese and Jad Saxton in English.
- Osamu Yasuhara (安原 修 Yasuhara Osamu?) is a 3rd year top-ranked high school student and president of his school's student council. Yasuhara first appears as a client of SPR as a result of unexplainable phenomena occurring at his school. After the case is solved, he continues to help out SPR on other cases, including standing in as "Kazuya Shibuya" at the request of Naru and performing background research off-site while the others are on a case. He has no psychic powers of his own, but his sharp mind and work efficiency make him a great help to the team. In the anime television series, Osamu Yasuhara is voiced by Kousuke Okano in Japanese and Eric Vale in English.
- Madoka Mori (森 まどか Mori Madoka?) is an associate and mentor to Naru, who requests the SPR to investigate the mysterious disappearances of two young people at the estate of a former Prime Minister. However, it is revealed that she actually wanted the SPR to expose another investigator at the estate (posing as "Oliver Davis") as an impostor. She enjoys frequently teasing Naru and also knows the secret reason for his being in Japan. In the anime television series, Madoka Mori is voiced by Omi Minami in Japanese and Monica Rial in English.