Tokyo ESP, Vol. 1

By Hajime Segawa. Released in Japan in two separate volumes by Kadokawa Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Shonen Ace. Released in North America by Vertical Comics.

Sometimes it’s quite pleasant being totally ignorant of a title before digging into it. It’s very much unlike me, as I’m the sort who always spoils himself and reads the endings first, so when I preorder a title there’s usually a certain amount of research done on my part. Tokyo ESP is, I found, by the creator of Ga-Rei, another Shonen Ace volume about ghosts and demons that ran for about a dozen volumes and is available on Bookwalker’s online site. But I didn’t really look into Tokyo ESP much before I read it. It also involves ‘kids with powers’, but in this case they’re full fledged superhero powers. I’m not sure if there has been an uptick in Western-style superhero manga recently, or if we’re just actually seeing the titles licensed over here, but it’s interesting to compare My Hero Academia, which trains people to use their powers in a school, to Tokyo ESP, where the heroes are outcasts and have to hide everything.

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There’s a lot I enjoyed in this first omnibus volume. The heroine is great throughout. The daughter of a cop who’s fallen on hard times, much of the humor in the title comes from her obsessive penny-pinching and attempts to hold down jobs – attempts which get far more difficult when she suddenly finds she can pass through walls, floors, etc. This turns out to have been the result of her seeing a swarm of flying fish in the sky one evening, one of whom went through her and seemingly gave her said powers. Now she teams up with an eccentric but handsome guy who seems to have a tragic past (and who can teleport) to fight off villains who want to become supervillains, and mysterious girls who want to change the world, in a totally ominous way.

There’s a lot of humor in this volume, as I said before. The art helps – much of the fun comes from watching the goofy reaction faces that Rinka and the other characters put on. Sometimes the humor slips over into outright parody, such as when the Ghostbusters show up to attempt to capture the penguin you see on the cover, who’s also involved in this to a degree. And by that I mean the actual cast – they’re clearly drawn to be Harold Ramis and Dan Ackroyd (the Bill Murray likeness is less clear.) And there’s also the usual hijinks based humor you’d expect in a title like this – the superpowers can be hilarious, particularly Rinka’s dad, who winds up causing chaos due to his being able to attract things to him – i.e., cars.

That said, there’s a lot of death in this volume as well, and I would not be surprised if this is one of those series that gets darker the further it goes on. But it’s a solid series to start with, particularly if you enjoy supernatural action-adventure type stories. The action is well-handled as well, as Rinka’s been trained in various martial arts which she uses in addition to her superpowers, and there’s lots of fire and explosions too. I look forward to seeing what faces Rinka makes in the next volume.

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