Phantom Quest Corp. (Yuugen Kaisha) is a four-episode comedy/horror/mystery OVA from Madhouse, which was licensed for release by Geneon in mid-1994. The english dub was released early the following year in two VHS volumes. In December of '98, it was given a re-release on DVD, in Japan, while the english version arrived in November of 2000.
The series follows the exploits of Phantom Quest, a detective agency lead by Ayaka Kisaragi. They take on assignments dealing with the occult and battle all manner of evil spirit across Tokyo. Their cases are often commissioned to them by U Division's Detective Karino, both to lighten his workload and as a personal favor to Ayaka.
Rather than an overarching narrative, it's more of a sitcom with each episode being its own self-contained adventure which follows a case-by-case format. However, some of the spooks they meet aren't bad, such as an anemic vampire who runs a tea shop, or a ghost who helps out with his girlfriend's museum exhibit.
But the real opposition the company faces is the constant onset of debt, thanks to the damage claims that're constantly filed against them, usually because of their president. Along with her excessive spending habits.
The series has often been compared to Ghost Sweeper Mikami, due to the similarities in its premise and having been released at roughly the same time (for the record, Ghost Sweeper Mikami debuted a year earlier in April of '93). So if you've seen either one and enjoyed it, you may wanna give the other a try.
- Accidental Pervert: Karino, in Incident File 03: "Love Me Tender", when he walks in on Mr. Nagasuki and his secretary while they're getting it on in his office!(secretary screams from off camera)
Nagasuki: Get the hell out of here!
Karino: (closes door, snickering) Hot action.
- Action Girl: Ayaka. She hunts down spooks and demons, then takes 'em out. Or she has Rokkon exorcise them.
- A-Team Firing: It gets lampshaded during Incident File 02: "End of the World" after Karino empties half a clip without hitting the evil doctor, who's less than ten feet away!Ayaka: (incredulous) Where the hell'd you learn how to shoot?!
Karino: (shrugs sheepishly) At the academy!
- Bald of Evil: The Hadja are a group of shaved monks who run a scam operation by pretending to exorcise evil spirits, only to release them again on the unsuspecting public.
- Barrier Warrior: Rokkon is Phantom Quest's staff exorcist. He creates spell circles to bind evil spirits so Ayaka can dispatch them.
- Beleaguered Assistant: Makoto who, despite being 12 years old, handles pretty much everything on the administrative end of the business, along with doing his best to keep Ayaka from drinking and spending herself to death.
- Breaking and Bloodsucking: Dracula initially preys on Makiko whenever she steps out at night. But, after repeat interference from Ayaka and Bosco, he goes straight to her bedroom. But Karino's timely arrival causes Dracula to flee with Makiko to Tokyo Tower.
- Broke Episode: The members of Phantom Quest end up part timing just to get by, during incident file 04, thanks to the Hadja stealing all of their clients.
- By the Power of Grayskull!: "Red dragon spirit, capture Star Sword."
- Catchphrase: There's three used regularly throughout the series:
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Rokkon who, in the fourth incident file, leaps from the third floor of the Hadja's temple, while carrying Karino and Nanami and lands, without injury. He also manages to hold a quite thick piece of concrete during the Descending Ceiling moment.
- Children Raise You: Parodied. Ayaka's sorta responsible, but her recklessness often lands Phantom Quest deep in the red. It doesn't take long to see that it's Mamoru's management skills that keeps the company afloat. Not to mention all the times he has to chastise her for getting drunk, and oversleeping.
- Christmas Cake: Ayaka sometimes asks Madam Sumei if there's any hope for her love life only to be told her chances of finding happiness are zero. Doesn't help that she gets called an "old lady" by a cafe full of young teen/twenty-something females either. Ironically, she is fully aware of Karino's affections for her, but even as desperate as she is, she still enjoys Playing Hard to Get too much to simply get together with him.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr. Nagasuki. Not only is he screwing his secretary on the job, he abuses his position as the museum's curator to try to get Natsuki into bed with him too. Plus, he is later found guilty of embezzling funds from the museum. So, that blank check he has paid Ayaka with is worthless.
- Covert Pervert: Karino again, in the final episode, where he gets an eyefull when Ayaka loses her top; which earns him a Megaton Punch.
- Crush Blush:
- Invoked by Makiko at the end of the first Incident File, when Ayaka notes that Bosco's generosity wasn't the only thing that was "free flowing". Which causes Makiko to smile shyly at her feet and blush, before hiding her face in embarrassment.
- Ayaka's also prone to it, in regards to Karino. First seen in the fourth Incident File, when he offers her a job at U Division as his assistant, and said he'd put in a good word for her at the admissions desk. She smiles faintly and tells him not to expect any Phantom Quest discounts. Also seen at the end of the episode, when she nearly confesses her feelings for him.
- Daylight Horror: Narita saves his girlfriend near the end of the third Incident File, by suddenly appearing in the highway; causing Nagasuki to swerve off the road and slam into the guardrail. The impact renders Natsuki unconscious, so Narita deposits her safely along the side of the road. Then turns his full fury on Nagasuki by making him envision being stranded in the desert with the undead rising from the sands to claim him. Which causes Nagasuki to have a full-blown panic attack, 'til he finally foams at the mouth and faints.
- Daywalking Vampire: Bosco is the only known vampire who's capable of walking around in broad daylight and even runs a teashop during normal business hours. A flashback reveals he did it through controlled exposure to high-powered UV lamps, in order to build resistance to sunlight, until he finally became immune to it.
- Deadly Doctor: The demonically possessed doctor from Incident File 02: "End of World".
- Declaration of Protection:
- In the first Incident File, it first appears that Bosco is stalking Makiko. It's eventually revealed that he was protecting her from another vampire, who had recently reincarnated.
- In Incident File 03, Narita keeps his girlfriend safe from Nagasuki's advances, and takes it upon himself to set up the exhibit for her, after Nagasuki pulls the night crew... and does it all from the afterlife!
- Dogged Nice Guy: Karino tries in subtle ways to impress Ayaka and prove she can depend on him, such as incident file 03, where he attempts to tail Nagasuki, thinking Ayaka would be proud of him. Sadly, he blows a tire and gets left by the side of the road. Earlier, he attempts to surprise her with a box of pastries, but drops it on the way. Needless to say, Ayaka was not impressed.
- Elevator Snare: Karino manages to keep up with the hospital's elevator by running up the stairs for at least four floors.
- Fed to the Beast: Mukyo threatens to feed Karino to the Ghosts, after he's caught investigating his scam operation, by dangling him over a pit filled with all the apparitions the Hadja allegedly exorcised.
- Fiery Redhead: While Ayaka does have a bit of a temper, she's actually pretty easygoing most of the time. It's more that she's prone to rash behavior and having a hair trigger.
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Literally. Bosco runs a tea shop for cute teens and 20-somethings that specifically caters to all-female clientelenote . He has trained his body to get used to sunlight and is on a "diet" aka managed to get used to only having a few gulps of blood per year, and even those are only from those willing to give to him. Plus, he's been following Makiko at night to protect her from another vampire who'd recently reincarnated.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Ayaka. Big time. She's known for getting plastered and punching out cab drivers. Or just getting plastered period. The intro even shows Karino carrying her home while she's drunk, and in case file 01, Bosco refused to take her blood, due to the alcohol content!
- Harem Seeker: Ayaka accuses Bosco of being a lecher when she learns that his tea shop specifically caters to late teen-early 20's female clientele. Which he explains isn't the case at all. The reason he caters to that particular age group is because older women are less likely to be virgins; adding virgins had become harder to find in the modern era.
- He Knows Too Much: Karino has a hunch that the Hadja are running a scam operation and decides to investigate. But he gets caught snooping around their compound and goes missing soon afterward.
- Heroic BSoD: Nanami has one near the climax of the final case file, when she, Rokkon, and Karino find themselves surrounded and vastly outnumbered by ghosts. She becomes so frightened that her mind goes blank, complete with spiral eyes; making it a rare comedic version of the trope. Though the fact that she is the most potent out of the three makes it a dramatic moment nonetheless.
- Ill Girl: Make that Ill "Vampire". Because he's trying to reform, Bosco only allows himself to feed 4 times a year, at only 200cc's per quarter. Which has left him anemic and severely weakened. In his brief tussle with Ayaka, he was only able to hold her off for a few seconds, before fainting from exerting himself.
- Improbable Weapon User: Ayaka's lipstick becomes a friggin' light sabre! It even makes the same sound effect when activated.
- In the Name of the Moon: Done by Ayaka, whenever she confronts the villain of the episode; usually to the accompaniment of the show's theme tune.
- Kick the Dog: Mr. Nagasuki does this repeatedly to Natsuki in his efforts to get her into bed. First by coming onto her, then pulling the night crew from the exhibit when she rejects his advances. He finally threatens to cut off the exhibit's funding unless she "co-operates". Thankfully, she had Phantom Quest to protect her and Narita.
- Lady in Red: Each episode opens with Ayaka wearing the red dress seen in the page image, which has a low-cut back and a split seam to show off her legs, along with a matching pair of high-heels. It invokes the look of a lounge singernote , and Ayaka certainly has the look, the figure, and the attitude to pull it off — but, she's a detective.
- Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: Nanami invokes this at the end of the final episode by ushering Rokkon away when she realizes that Ayaka's getting ready to confess her feelings to Karino; complete with Held Gaze and Luminescent Blush.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Ayaka's a lush, and Karino's a bit of a bumbler, but both of them become hyper-competent when the situation calls for it.
- Love Redeems: Bosco is a reformed vampire who's trying to kick the habit, so he can be together with Makiko.
- Maybe Ever After: There's no denying the attraction between Ayaka and Detective Karino, but Ayaka is obstinate and plays hard to get. She's not above flirting with him though. At the end, she starts to confess her feelings for him, 'til her top pops open due to Clothing Damage from her duel with Mukyo. Naturally, he couldn't help but look and gets decked for it. It's unknown whether he still has a shot with her afterwards, or if he's ruined his chances for good.
- Meaningful Name: Both the show's title and the company's name is a play on the words "You-Gen-Kai-Sya" which means "limited liability company"note . However, using different kanji, the word "yugen" means "the occult", which their company specializes in.
- Ms. Fanservice: Ayaka's a redhead, has a stunning figure for a woman her age, routinely sleeps in the nude, and will often show up for breakfast, in her panties, with her top open. Oh, and she's got legs.
- Ms. Red Ink: Ayaka is the reason her company stays in debt, due to all the damage claims that get filed against them and her excessive spending habits. At the end of the third Incident File, she blew their entire commission and then some in a single shopping spree. Made worse, since the blank check Mr. Nagasuki had given them was rendered invalid, after he was found guilty of embezzlement. Meaning, Ayaka had racked up a bill they couldn't possibly pay off; landing them deep in the red. Again.
- Nature Adores a Virgin: Briefly discussed when Bosco explains to Ayaka that it's become difficult for vampires to find virgins in their day and age, given how liberal society had become. The fact that Makiko is not only a virgin, but doesn't drink, smoke, or do drugs, makes her blood especially pure. Which causes her stick out like a walking neon "drink me" sign and is the reason she was being relentlessly pursued by Dracula.
- Not Distracted by the Sexy: Mamoru is completely unfazed by Ayaka's habit of sleeping in the nude, and shows neither interest or embarrassment when he enters her room to wake her up each morning; nor is he bothered by how she shows up for breakfast. Then again, he might either have become used to it by now or he is still too young to understand the awkwardness of the situation.
- On the Next: Each episode ends with a preview segment of the next Incident File, which includes a voice-over by Ayaka, accompanied by the show's theme tune.
- "On the Next Episode of..." Catchphrase: Done by Detective Karino, at the end of each episode preview segment:Karino: "Ms. Ayaka, are you alright?"
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Narita was part of an archeological team that was sent on a desert expedition to find ruins of a fabled Egyptian kingdom. The rest of the team eventually gave up, leaving him to continue the search on his own. Narita died mere moments after finally discovering the ruins, so his spirit lingered. His girlfriend, Natsuki Ogawa, was working on the exhibit for it, since it'd been their joint projectnote . So he helps her set it up, while keeping her safe from Mr. Nagasuki's advances. Once the exhibit finally opens for public viewing, and he'd made certain Natsuki was no longer in danger, he departs for the afterlife.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Bosco is anemic, but capable of walking around in broad daylight, though he wear sunglasses to shield his eyes (he switches to a tinted pair of pince nez while he's indoors).
- Paranormal Investigation: It's right there, in the company name and their job description. If it has anything to do with paranormal, or supernatural activity, Phantom Quest and U Division will take the assignment.
- Perma-Stubble: Karino constantly sports a few chin hairs.
- Perpetual Poverty: While Phantom Quest always solves the case, they always end up in the red due to Ayaka's recklessness and spending habits.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: U Division is understaffed, with a grand total of three employees. One of whom, is an elderly man who seems to be passing time until retirement (or death), the other's a spinster with a Hair-Trigger Temper, and Karino, whose desk is shown to be buried under a mountain of paperwork. Which explains why he outsources his extra assignments to Phantom Quest.
- Removed Achilles' Heel: As seen in the Daywalking Vampire entry, Bosco eventually became immune to sunlight (along with crosses and garlic) through controlled exposure to them.
- Rooftop Confrontation: Near the end of the fourth Incident File ("Lover Come Back to Me"), Ayaka gets cornered on the roof of the Hadja's temple. Which culminates in a showdown between her and Mukyo, in one of the most well animated and choreographed sword fights in the series.
- Sexy Secretary: Mr. Nagasuki's unnamed secretary is a hot looking 20-something office kitten who wears glasses with a skintight miniskirt and high-heeled pumps. Plus she's got stewardess legs and hips to spare, so it's no surprise that he's been banging her - even when she's on the clock.
- Ship Tease: Ayaka with Karino, gets deep-sixed in the end though. Or was it...?
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man:
- Ayaka realizes she isn't getting any younger and wants to find that 'special someone'. She's aware of Karino's feelings for her and flirts with him on occasion. But she still plays hard to get by feigning disinterest. Though she nearly confesses her feelings for him at the end of the final episode.
- Makiko also qualifies. Though she wasn't looking for love, she finds it anyway when she falls for Bosco at the end of the first Incident File.
- Sleeping with the Boss: In Incident File 03, Mr. Nagasuki gets caught in the act of having sex with his secretary, when Detective Karino drops by his office to question him. Nagasuki and his secretary are later shown in bed together, at his condo.
- So Long, Suckers!: Ayaka does this to Madam Sumei during Incident File 04. She quietly slips behind the wheel while Sumei's busy writing the invoice and speeds off before she's presented with the bill!
- Stalker with a Crush: A rare instance where it's justified. Though Bosco is love with Makiko, he wasn't stalking her. It turned out that he was protecting her from Dracula, who had recently reincarnated and was repeatedly victimizing her.
- Taking You with Me: Mukyo attempts this, after his defeat, by grabbing Ayaka's leg, then pitching himself off the roof with his dying breath. He ends up in a tree. Ayaka, however, ends up in Karino's arms, when he breaks her fall by catching her.
- Trenchcoat Brigade: Karino is rarely seen without his trenchcoat, and always sports a few chin hairs. Plus, he has a habit of smoking during stakeouts, or when he's thinking. But he isn't the hard boiled type (see below).
- Unlucky Everydude: What's a guy to do, when he's swamped with work at a department, with only three people? Easy: Karino commissions some of it to Phantom Quest, as a personal favor to Ayaka, to help with her company. While also trying to win her over, by proving how reliable he can be.
- Voluntary Vampire Victim: The basis of Makiko's relationship with Bosco. Since blood is essential to his survival, she helps him suppress his vampiric urges by allowing him to feed off her.
- Who You Gonna Call?: As previously mentioned, Phantom Quest will take any case involving paranormal activity, or the supernatural (so long as it pays well). Incidentally, the show's intro doubles as their ad, and is even sung by Ayaka's seiyuu!
- Willfully Weak: Bosco is anemic, due to only allowing himself to feed four times a year, which has also deprived him of the strength, he'd possess as a vampire. And he's perfectly fine with that, since he'd much rather have Makiko.
- Will They or Won't They?: Played with over the course of the series. It almost happens, at the end of the final episode... Then Karino mucks it up. See the Maybe Ever After entry above.