Gregory Horror Show is a Japanese CGI anime tv series made by Naomi Iwata and televised by Asahi National Broadcasting Company from October 1999 to april 2000. The main series is comprised of 4 seasons, the first 2 seasons being around 25 episodes each, the third season being 26 episodes and the final and fourth season being 12 episodes. In October 2000 in Japan and January 2001 Europe an adaptation of the series was made called Gregory Horror Show: Soul Collector for the PS2 by capcom which was infamousely region locked from american audiences that losely following the plot of the first season of the show, the gameplay being vaugely reminiscent of Resident Evil. Another game has also been made in October 2018 called Gregory Horror Show: Lost Qualia which was a japanese only mobile rpg gacha game which has also yet to see a global/english release. Lastly there's a manga adaptation called Gregory Horror Show: Another World that started in November 1st 2005. Last piece and most recent ghs content was Gregory Horror Show Mystery Holiday, a 2d film/movie adaption. There's also been various other media made for the franchise such as a board game, figurines, paper crafts and many more.
The main anime series takes place in the first person perspective of the house's new human "guests" and their descent into the bizarrness of the gregory house while trying to escape, The last 2 seasons however are from the 3rd person perspectives of Gregory Mouse in season 3 and Catherine and co in season 4.
Before I continue, GHS is a genuinly very interesting cgi anime especially in writing and lore and I implore you before continueing to atleast check out the whole anime first which can be watched here
click the image below to go back
As I said earlier, the first 2 seasons of gregory follow two human guests, season one's guest who is later revealed and given the name "Haniwa SalaryMan" at the end and the second season's who is just titled/named "second guest". The third season then follows the 3rd person perspective of Gregory Mouse who is the title character and owner of the hotel itself and the final season follows one of the more prominent side characters of the show Catherine, a pink lizard nurse with an intense desire for blood and (especially in this season) love.
In the next section, I'll be giving a review/my thoughts on each seasons. Here are my general rankings of the seasons:
The Last Train (season 3)
The Nightmare Begins (season 1)
The Bloody Karte (season 4)
The Second Guest (season 2)
top to bottom being favourite to least fav season.
GHS SEASON 1: The Nightmare Begins
The story begins on a dark and stormy night as our protagonist of the season, who we'll refer to as The First Guest for now, walks through a mysterious forest only to arrive at what we will know as the Gregory house/hotel. Every opening up to the 3rd season will begin this way accompanied with the guests narrating their current perspectives throughout the episodes. Season 1 essentially introduces the audience to a lot of characters, most being reoccuring throughout the other seasons such as Gregory, Catherine, Hell's Chef, Judgement Boy, etc. It also shows us the basic premise of the house basically being a sort of limbo that The First Guest needs to escape from with every strange encounter First Guest has with most of the people he meets in the house and their gimmicks, including gregory who is keen on stopping him from escaping. Eventually after multiple near death experiences and an encounter with death while running away from Soul Gregory, The First Guest arrives back to reality but finds himself unsatisfied with the life he has, ultimately coming back to the gregory house and transforming into "Haniwa Salaryman", a lifeless shell of what he used to be ironically as an escape from his own reality. Past season 1 Haniwa becomes a reoccurent side character showing up in all latter seasons.
For a beginning season it does it's job well giving us an interesting story premise with enough characters to leave some room for speculating and interpretation while also being able to later expand and explore aspects of the world of Gregory Horror Show. It also does an amazing job of subtle psychological horror with the implications and lines such as Gregory's question to Haniwa in the Cactus Gunman introduction episode or the whole concept of the Judgement Boys/Judgement Factory. The blocky papercraft art style also just amplifies the series especially when quality in the animation gets better in latter seasons and getting viewers interested as it's not all that common to see a cgi anime especially like this. Overall, a very good start to a series which leaves a lot to explored.
GHS SEASON 2: The Second Guest
Now onto the second season which is... ok honestly compared to all seasons of Gregory Horror Show, this is kind of a very mixed experience for me. On one hand, it honestly feels like this season did not take advantage and use The Second Guest who is the second protagonist of this season much and especially for the other seasons compared to Haniwa and how Gregory becomes sorta grossly misogynistic in some scenes especially considering some of his later activities in the series and game is just kinda hmm. But on the other hand, I like how they tried to approach the guest formula with The Second Guest being much more differing in personality and view than Haniwa and I guess it was a noble attempt to have the story commenting about a social issue with The Second Guests dilema, but I think what really helps this season was the bittersweet ending moment with Neko Zombie, a character that was briefly established in season 1 which really helps flesh out not only Neko Zombie but Second Guest as well, it is what I would consider one of the series most emotional scenes especially when you start thinking about the symbolism of Neko Zombie's state and what ultimately happens to the Gregory house to Second Guests state of mind and heart. But unfortunately, despite Neko Zombie's efforts, the season ultimately ends the same way season 1 did with The Second Guests reality burning in flames, the Gregory House building itself back up and her eventual succumbing into the House as part of the Gregory "family" just like Haniwa with the exception that we never get to see her final transformation and she doesn't end up being mentioned at all past season 2.
Once again, with this season, I honestly feel very mixed cause while this isn't the worst thing ever from Gregory Horror Show, it definetly could've been written and potrayed a lot better especially with the charectization of Second Guest and involving her a lot more in the other seasons like Haniwa, like I'm glad they kinda left her transformation up to interpretation for the viewers to decide but it's still dissapointing all the missed oppurtunity to flesh her out more as a resident of the gregory house especially in season 4. If it wasn't for some of the fun and interesting scenes with some reoccuring and new characters or the very bittersweet part with Neko Zombie I honestly wouldn't have much to say about this season to be honest. Overall while it still does retain a lot of good qualities of season 1 and doesn't hinder the other seasons and it's own story, could've definetly been a lot better in character writing of Second Guest.
GHS SEASON 3: The Last Train
Now season 3 takes a completely different take on the usual guest entering the gregory house formula, now making Gregory our main chracter of the season as we follow him through a 3rd person perspective in a different location outside the gregory house entirely as this season starts focusing a little more on giving our title character more character depth to him. A few new characters make an appearance in this season but honestly apart from that every character beyond that is either a reoccuring character throughout the two seasons such as Catherine, the clock family or Hells chef or was introduced in season 2 such as Sleepy Sheep and Bonsai Kabuki. While also having a bit more of a serious tone especially in relation to Gregory's charcater and what happens throughout the later episodes of this series, it's also strangely more comedic in nature compared to the 2 previous seasons which really adds to it's strengths. It really does feel like the strongest season in terms of writing/character writing as you slowly start to sympathize with Gregory especially in latter episodes. There's also just really fun episode premises that takes advantage of the previous characters/ideas established that appear when conveying the story or just being silly such like sleepy sheep or poor conductor. Gregory's whole conflict with the gregory house and such is also really compelling. Eventually, the series ends with Gregory realizing he himself has to face his own reality and comes back to the Gregory house after deciding his fate leading the train back to reveal it was (techinically) all a dream.
This I believe is gregory horror show at it's best, not only expanding a character we've seen gradual build up throughout the last 2 seasons of such as his conflict with his mother Gregory Mama but also manages to work with the outside setting of it taking place on the train/multiple different locations. It's also the most memorable with banger fucking scenes like when Death and Gregory talk about where he's supposed to lead these lost soulds too, Roulette boy's episode which was also referenced in the manga, the Poor conductor train chase scene which is a call back to Poor conductors first appearance in season 2, the moment where Gregory walks and looks upon all these guests he's met on the train, I can't emphasize once again how well these scenes were done. This season is also one of the funniest seasons in the anime, the Gregory rapping scene is all I need to say. An absolutely phenomenal season that expands on much of Gregory's character and more and is a breath of fresh air from the last 2 seasons.
GHS SEASON 4: The Bloody Karte
Onto the fourth and final season of gregory horror show, except it isn't really actually a season, bloody karte was basically a bunch of shorts that came in 4 with each season/volume dvd nonetheless, suprisingly this is what atleast most people would consider the weakest "season" in the entire show. This was most likely due to the sudden change of tone as bloody karte is more campy horror comedic based and much more episodic than the other seasons and the fact it's only about 12 episodes compared to the prior seasons 25-26 episode range, it also only really introduces one new character as well in the anime, Dr Fritz. What's also noticable from the beginning is that it somewhat continues the pattern of the season not focusing on a new guest but instead an established character in the series who just so happens to now be fan favourite Nurse Catherine, most episodes generally revolve around Catherines search for true love while balancing her career as a nurse, in multiple episodes she will gain new crushes until she is inevitably let down or ends up hurting said patients by drawing their blood. By the near end of bloody karte Catherine ends up enlisting Cactus Girl (sister of Cactus Gunman) to be her assistant nurse when Cactus Girl arrives to save her brother from a previous episode. Almost all characters that appear this season are mostly reoccuring/already established characters from previous seasons of the anime such as Judgement Boy Gold or Mummy papa. Despite this season being a bit hated by some fans I quite enjoy this season a lot, campy horror comedy is always a delight to see and this whole season especially Catherine just reminds me of the film Devil Woman Doctor from the guniea pig series which was also it's 4th and most comedy centric entry to the franchise. I guess I would say my only critique of the season would be how shallow Catherine is written, a lot of the gregory horror show characters especially anime only characters are very vauge in lore unless it was specifically stated somewere which can lead to a lot of fan interpretation, but I feel like they could've taken this oppurtunity to expand more on Catherine's character or maybe just give her more traits that doesn't just consist of her yearning for her newest crush. I definitely also feel like a reason why some people may not enjoy bloody karte is due to what is seen of Catherine from previous seasons which can be quite uncomfortable to some which is understandable. Another thing I'd also like to mention is just the complete lack of second guest which is weird considering how involved Haniwa salaryman is in all seasons compared to her which is disappointing since once again second guest has a lot of potential for character development and the like, idk it feels like a missed oppurtunity just not atleast including her somewhere especially with Catherine's revelation near the end.
Overall, while definitely one of my fav seasons I can understand why some people might not quite enjoy it as much seeing as how it's quite tonally different then the rest of the other seasons and really it's main focus is mostly comedy which I don't mind, would reccommend if you like Catherine or enjoy campy horror.
GREGORY HORROR SHOW GALLERY TOUR
Gregory Horror Show Gallery Tour is a 3 part animated short series that were previously lost media before being found and uploaded online which can all be watched here only in the japanese dub with eng subtitles.
Gallery tour uses the same first person guest perspective like season 1 and 2 and is basically a brief characters introduction for most characters introduced in season 1. The production value for gallery tour is significantly amped up and it's also just really cool hearing the japanese voices of these characters especially Judgement boy's jingle in japanese which is also entirely different from both english and soul collector versions. Overall a very interesting watch for any ghs fan especially for the ending, although I will say while the atmosphere in gallery tour is very well done the ending credits song that plays is just kinda, unfitting but yea.
GREGORY HORROR SHOW GAMES
Wouldn't be a GHS shrine if we didn't mention the suprising amount of games that came out of this franchise, some even being lost media. The most popular of all being the ps2 licensed game spinoff "Gregory Horror Show Soul Collector" exclusive to only european and japanese ps2 consoles, the second most prominent being the 2018 japanese exclusive mobile rouge like gacha game "Gregory Horror Show Lost Qualia"
For the sake of convience I'll only be covering on soul collector since lost qualia is exclusive to japan only and they currently have no plans on an internation release, it does include some extra lore such as Frog Fortune Teller and Mono Eye wizard being married and some cute character costumes but apart from that idk much of it.
Ghs soul collector is a ps2 horror msytery survival game developed by capcom which was infamousely exclusive to only European and Japanese Ps2 consoles possibly due to fear of it not doing well in North america due to it's art style, due to how these were only ever exclusive to those region specific ps2s and the prices for most physical copies of the game nowadays you're best just emulating the game on something like PCSX2.
The games plot is fairly simply compared to the anime, you either play as guest boy or guest girl depending on what gender you pick from the beginning of the game which does affect minor dialouge changes and to return back to reality you need to help Death spy and steal back lost souls most guests are carrying. As you slowly progress in the game the more harder gameplay gets as more guests are introduced and each have their own schedules and methods to taking the soul they carry all the while making sure to manage your player characters stat affects and keeping an eye out for guests you've already stolen from chasing you down and enacting a "Horror Show". Most of the game's cutscenes are all taken from season 1 and 2 with the only difference being the change of voice actors and lines to fit the story for the game, the most noticable voice changes to the characters would be Judgement Boy and a complete rewrite of his jingle, Mummy papa, most of the kids like Mummy dog, James and My Son etc. The attention to detail in this game is really amazing, you can spy on certain characters at certain times and you'll be able to see more character quirks and interactions that weren't really explored much in the anime such as characters like Mummy dog, Roulette boy and My son playing together or the fact Neko zombie and Judgement boy interact.
This game is an example of licensed games done right, while the gameplay is a little outdated/can be somewhat frustrating for it's age it's not bordeline unplayable and the expansion on characters from the anime really strengthens this game and gregory horror show as a franchise and leaves much room for replayability just to get all those tidbits. If you really can't be bothered to play it for yourself you can easily find a bunch of no commentary gameplays of the game if you're curious.
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