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The Fine Print
All text is © copyright VIZ, LLC. No reproduction without written permission. All images are © copyright their respective copyright holders as noted. No reproduction without written permission.

© Takashi Shiina/Shogakukan • Asatsu Agency • Toei Animation

Online Features

FEATURE ARCHIVE


Ghostsweeper Mikami

Ghostsweeper Mikami Image

The Ghostbusters never dreamed of looking this good! In her tight, short, strapless dress and long, flaming red hair, Ghost Sweeper Reiko Mikami is one sexy lady. With an insatiable thirst for money and powerful magic items, Mikami rivals Slayers' star Lina Inverse. Although surrounded by a cast of crazies that could put a Rumiko Takahashi series to shame, Mikami's adventures contain all the chills and battles of other sh™nen horror stories like Yu Yu Hakusho. Comedy and the occult were never combined quite like this until Mikami came along (although they certainly have been since...and how much of that may be because of Mikami's influence is anyone's guess).

As the title character, Mikami is the alpha and omega of cool. She can sass a slimy specter or take on a horde of hideous hobgoblins without breaking a sweat. Mikami's extensive supernatural skills not only give her confidence, they make her savvy and shrewd as well. When her old mentor, the priest Father Karasu, is frozen by a powerful yuki-onna ("snow-maiden"), she doesn't get emotional about it like Karasu's pupil Peat. Instead, she calmly sits back and watches as other Ghost Sweepers, drawn by a ski resort's offer of a generous reward, confront and become frozen by the frigid spirit. Thus she figures out how to defeat her foe. While having such a capable main character is cool and all, without supporting characters, there wouldn't be much fun.

Ghostsweeper Mikami Image

Mikami has two assistants who contrast hilariously with their boss. Part-time porter and cannon fodder, Yokoshima is motivated almost exclusively by his id. Any pretty girl can set him scampering like a dog in heat; scary creatures send him running; hunger can drive him to distraction. Of course, you get what you pay for, and tight-fisted Mikami pays him peanuts. Okinu is as much of a secretary as an assistant to Mikami, her natural tidiness compensating for Mikami's irreverence toward file keeping. Of the entire cast, Okinu's pleasant, thoughtful perspective is perhaps the most normal, which is rather bizarre considering she's a ghost who has been dead for over 300 years.

Mikami also works with and competes against other Ghost Sweepers. Pretty, fluffy and shrill, Meiko's primary purpose is humor. Although her guardian spirits can cause serious damage, her idolization of pseudo-mentor Mikami is nothing short of hysterical. Dr. Chaos and his robot Maria add the element of mad science to the supernatural equation of the series, the brute force of their firepower occasionally proving vital when magic fails. Emi comes off like a shadow version of Mikami. With more of a voodoo medicine woman approach to the occult, as opposed to Mikami's strongly Buddhist background, Emi can be almost as scary as the monsters they battle.

Amidst the otherworldly action and suspense, one general rule prevails in GS Mikami: If there's a potential for humor, it will be exploited!

Ghostsweeper Mikami Image

THE MANGA
Brainchild of creator Takashi Shiina, the 39-volume series GS Mikami: Gokuraku Daisakusen!! ("Ghost Sweeper Mikami: Mission Paradise!!") was a top-selling hit for Sh™nen Sunday during the 1990s. Interestingly, the series begins with Yokoshima as the narrator of sorts, with most of the early adventures told from his (skewed) point of view. Although later stories occasionally draw upon earlier plot threads, the series is fairly episodic and does not need to be experienced from book one to be enjoyed.

As Shiina's first big series, he didn't hold anything back for GS Mikami. His remarkable ability to stretch characters' expressions to the max is utilized to the fullest, adding emphasis to the humor and horror of the series. His skill in conveying action, gore and magic are impressive but play second fiddle to his innate knack for slapstick. As a fan of comics and science fiction, Shiina indulges his interests to add flair to the stories. Favorite comics and science fiction stories, especially crossovers titles from GS Mikami's publisher Shogakukan, are a fruitful source for timely character cameos and amusing allusions. Shiina doesn't limit himself to Japanese or Buddhist myth and legend in choosing magical menaces for Mikami and the cast to confront. Vampires, genies, even Santa Claus make appearances in the series; any interesting supernatural being offers potential for a plot.

THE TV SHOW
Produced by Toei, the GS Mikami anime series ran for a respectable 45 episodes from April 1993 to March 1994. Although, like many TV series, the animation varies from superb to so-so, every episode conveys the wonderfully wacky humor and chilling thrills of Shiina's unique vision. From accentuating the comedic timing of Yokoshima's self-involved delusions to intensifying spectacular displays of Mikami's supernatural skills, the TV show lives up to the comic.

Ghostsweeper Mikami Screenshot Ghostsweeper Mikami Screenshot

Besides quality studio involvement, GS Mikami was gifted with seasoned voice-actors, including such top-notch talent as Hiromi Tsuru (Bulma, Dragon Ball Z; Madoka, Kimagure Orange Road; Ukyo, Ranma 1/2) for Mikami and Ry™ Horikawa (Vegeta, Dragon Ball Z; Kou Uraki, Gundam 0083; Andromeda, Saint Seiya) for Yokoshima. This was no doubt a contributing factor to the series' success, for GS Mikami regularly raked in ratings in the mid-teens despite its somewhat stinky Sunday morning time slot. With such healthy ratings, it's odd the series ended after only one year.

THE MOVIE
Nosferatu has been reincarnated, and it's up to Mikami to stop him. Fighting a foe who can turn his victims into his zombie slaves, Mikami has her work cut out for her. Soon it becomes more than just a job but a necessity, as this most powerful of vampires begins taking over the city. You can bet her bill will be astronomical if she can pull this one off!

Ghostsweeper Mikami Screenshot Ghostsweeper Mikami Screenshot

Although most movies based on TV anime are released during the series' run, GS Mikami Gokuraku Daisakusen!! came out in August 1994, more than five months after the show ended. Fans may have been hopeful this was a precursor for a second series–the comic was still in full swing at the time–but the movie proved to be the last of the GS Mikami anime. The opposite is true for U.S. fans! Thanks to the folks at Manga Entertainment, part of this hysterical horror series is now available in English. Released on DVD, the Ghost Sweeper Mikami movie came out on 25 June.

Whether you're a fan of sassy, powerful leading ladies or are looking for some action on the lighter side of horror, this 60-minute film is sure to please. Perfect for a Halloween party or as an introduction to the series, give this thriller a try and find out what you've been missing.

FEATURE ARCHIVE

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