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GS Mikami article published in Animerica
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.

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 Takahashi series to shame, Mikami's adventures contain all the chills and battles of other shonen horror stories like YuYu Hakusho. Comedy and the occult have never been combined quite like this.

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 Father Karasu is frozen by a powerful Yuki-onna (Snow-maiden), she doesn't get emotional about it like Karasu's pupil Pete. 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.

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!

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 Shonen Sunday during the 1990's. 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 Shogakukan titles, 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.

Besides quality studio involvement, GS Mikami was gifted with seasoned voice actors, including such top-notch talent as Hiromi Tsuru (Bulma, Madoka, Ukyo (long o or however VIZ transcribes it)) for Mikami and Ryo (long o) Horikawa (Vegeta, Kou Uraki, Andromeda) 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!

Although most movies based on TV anime are released during the series' run, GS Mikami Gokuraku Daisakusen!! (Ghost Sweeper Mikami) 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 June 25th.

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.

CHARACTERS:

Reiko Mikami
Sexy, smart and resourceful, Mikami is the best Ghost Sweeper in the biz, and her fees reflect her abilities. Although her primary motivations are greed and the acquisition of magic items, look out when she's mad, because not only is she extremely powerful, she never gives up.

Tadao Yokoshima
The polar opposite of Mikami, Yokoshima is cowardly, and not nearly as clever or cool as he'd like to think he is. Of course, any impoverished high schooler who'll take on a terrifying job for Y250 an hour (about $2.25/hr) just so he can work for a beautiful babe deserves what he gets.

Okinu
Sweet and polite, this mild-mannered ghost from the 17th century sticks out like a sore thumb among the eccentric GS Mikami cast. Aside from being a source for anachronistic humor, Okinu's semi-solid spiritual state and tidy nature make her a valuable assistant to Mikami.

Emi Ogasawara
A rival Ghost Sweeper, Emi's greed and beauty are nearly a match for Mikami's. Their skills put them at odds --competing for high-priced jobs or rare magic items- almost as often as they bring them together to work as a team. Either way, Emi is a force to contend with.

Meiko Rokudo (last o long)
This delicate, high-strung, somewhat vacuous Ghost Sweeper adores Mikami. Instead of depending on magic and magic items like Emi and Mikami, Meiko relies primarily on her twelve guardian spirits, one representing each sign of the Chinese zodiac. Because the spirits are attuned to Meiko's needs and Meiko is rather easily ruffled, the spirits burst into reality with amusing regularity.

Dr. Chaos
Geriatric Dr. Chaos is a brilliant mad scientist. Thanks to his absent-mindedness, his experiments cause problems for the cast as often as they solve them. Considering the dilapidated state of his mind, it's remarkable he's ever any help.

Maria
Arguably Dr. Chaos' greatest creation, Maria is a robot with a heart who also kicks butt. Being a robot, she is mono-toned and doesn't get a lot of jokes and innuendo, the perfect straightman for many kinds of humor. Being Dr. Chaos' assistant, she has many opportunities to put her remarkable strength and impressive arsenal to good use.

Father Karasu
This venerable man of god has actually been excommunicated because of his involvement with otherworldly weirdness. He was once Mikami's instructor in the ways of supernatural battle and is one of the few characters Mikami actually respects.

Pete
Pete is a half-vampire who fights supernatural baddies for the sake of good and humanity. He is a pupil of Father Karasu's and has the questionable honor of being the object of Emi's affection.

Yakuchin
Crazy like a fox, Yakuchin runs a magic shop that carries everyday and one-of-a-kind occult needs. Usually when he shows up in the plot, his magical trinkets are either the cause or the solution to whatever creepy problem the cast is trying to solve.

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