Fondly Honouring the Spirits in August with an Animated Chinese Ghost Story


By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

The Chinese Ghost Month is well at the mid-way mark, and this season is a time when spirits are said to roam the mortal realm. The gates to this spirit world are open from August 3 to 31 and while we can not see them, perhaps with the third eye awakened, perhaps those sensitive enough to this energy will see all. In the meantime, I’m looking at a fond favourite, A Chinese Ghost Story written and produced by Tsui Hark. I’ve talked about the many itereations of this story on otakunoculture before and the remake the remake at

The animated version holds the test of time reasonably well. The story looks at the life of Ning, a tax collector, who finds a new love after his former one rejects him over the affections of a better well to do official. Money talks in this ancient world, and just whom Ning works for never does get fully explained. He’s supposedly collecting for the Emperor of China, but in his travels, he (like the live-action films) is a bumbling fool who has no messengers to send the money back to the palace. In his travels, he meets two monks, White Cloud and Ten Miles, who are described (in the translation) as Ghostbusters. Although the term is inaccurate, they are spirit seekers who want to send spirits back to where they belong. Red Beard is their rival.

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