The Black Museum: The Ghost and the Lady, Vol. 1

By Kazuhiro Fujita. Released in Japan as “Kuro Hakubutsukan” by Kodansha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Morning. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics. Translated by Zack Davisson.

Kazuhiro Fujita is one of the more famous Japanese manga artists that have never been published in North America till now. Part of the reason is that his two main series, Ushio and Tora and Karukiri Circus, both suffer from being over 30 volumes long and, even worse, being a Shonen Sunday series, a notoriously difficult sell over here for anyone not named Rumiko Takahashi. Fujita’s titles tend to have a supernatural bent, and this one is no different, an anthology series he wrote for the seinen magazine Morning about a museum of oddities and its beautiful but very eccentric curator. One night a ghost arrives to tell his story, which involves a young woman named Florence Nightingale who can see spirits, and is begging for death…


While there are a few creepy moments, at heart this is not really a horror series. This is about a young woman who is tormented by the strictures of society who is able to move past it and find new determination with the help of her new bodyguard, who just happens to be a ghost. the ghost, The Man in Grey (referred to as ‘Grey” by Florence), is a former duellist with a love of the theatre. Florence comes to him because she can see Eilodons, invisible creatures that lurk over everyone and seem to take in all their anger, hatred, fear, etc. Florence not only sees them but knows she has one of her own, which is tormenting her. She makes a deal with Grey to kill her – but he doesn’t want to do it yet, preferring to wait till she’s at her deepest moment of despair. Which will surely come along. Really soon. Any day now.

Those familiar with the story of Florence Nightingale may be laughing up their sleeve a bit by now, and indeed most of the humor in this series involves the ghost getting increasingly frustrated at Florence’s sheer spunk and determination – there are several moments when he could easily kill her, but she’d just die happily and at peace, and what’s the point of that? So instead he assists her to occasionally attack other eilodons that are in opposition to her (her parents, etc.), but mostly to act as a sounding board and snarky narrator of asides. Meanwhile, Florence manages to succeed at her true calling, nursing, and ends up in the middle of the Crimean War… where she runs into Le Chevalier D’Eon, who is not only also a ghost, but is surely delighted to be featuring in yet another Kodansha series released in North America. (No, it’s not a crossover, D’Eon is a real historical figure.)

I don’t have much to analyze here except that this is a solid, well-written book that had me turning the pages rapidly. The art is at its best with the expressions, be they Grey’s increasing frustration, Florence’s shift from hollow-eyed and suicidal to determined and powerful, or even the increasingly loopy and amusing reactions of the curator of the Black Museum, who I hope we see more of. (There is also a fair bit of nudity, be warned – it is a seinen series.) It’s also a handsome hardcover of about 300 pages long, and the translation is of course excellent. It’s just a great example of why this artist is so popular in Japan, and I am greatly looking forward to the second (and final?) volume.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind