Yokai Girls, Vol. 1

By Kazuki Funatsu. Released in Japan as “Youkai Shoujo -Monsuga-” by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Young Jump. Released in North America by Ghost Ship. Translated by Jennifer Ward. Adapted by Bambi Eloriaga-Amago.

I have in the past been somewhat hard on manga that are fanservice for fanservice’s sake, particularly when it’s coming from Seven Seas, who for a while had the reputation of picking up that sort of series. (They’re growing out of it, and in fact the creation of Ghost Ship may have been partly to give said titles their own forum.) That said, like almost all genres, I’m not against a particular type of manga provided it’s written well. And, much to my surprise, Yokai Girl is written well. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, as this is by the author of the legendary (if unlicenseable) Addicted to Curry, which ran for almost 50 volumes in Young Jump between 2001 and 2012. It’s basically a foodie manga, only it has, well, an excessive amount of fanservice, enough to make it hard to put out over here even if it weren’t incredibly long. For a followup, the author tries the same thing – this is essentially a yokai manga, only with an excessive amount of fanservice.

Yatsuki is our hero, looking somewhat sheepish on the cover. He’s a recent graduate who seems a bit of an “ordinary normal harem protagonist” sort, though there’s more to his backstory than meets the eye. He works part-time, lunches at a maid cafe with a cute girl waitress he’s attracted to, and has a younger sister (we think) back at his apartment. One day he runs into a girl stuck up a tree, and after getting her down in the classic ecchi tradition (crotch to the face, then an accidental grope of the substantial chest), she ends up passing out and he takes her back to his place. Though nothing happens, they’re clearly both attracted to each other… which is why he’s very surprised to find that she’s a yokai, a rokurokubi, or the girl with the really long neck that you’ve seen in some titles. And of course this proves to be only the beginning of his troubles, as soon more girls arrive, and more girls we thought we knew turn out to be related to supernatural origins. Fortunately, Yatsuki seems to be hella tough and also good at dealing with yokai.

As you’d expect, if you don’t like fanservice, stay away. Not only do we have a ton of panty shots, nudity, and mildly sexual situations (i.e. don’t expect any sex), but even the yokai are racier than I’d seen it titles like Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. The Kakiotoko is not a yokai who I want to describe in the confines of this review, except that he looks like a very buff Freddie Mercury and is hilarious. More importantly, there’s an actual serious plot behind all the not-quite-porn shenanigans, as Yatsuki has a very good reason to want to seek out and work with both yokai and yokai hunters, and the fight scenes can be bloody and vicious. So, while there are a fair share of groanworthy moments (the running gag of his offending the maid cafe waitress gets old fast), for the most part this is a very good example of what you get when an established author with a good sense of timing and character turns his hand to “let’s titillate the teenage reader”. Recommended for fanservice fans.

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