***WARNING – the following review contains sexual images and references that may offend***
What’s the manga? Yokai Girls Volume 1.
Why does that sound familiar? –It’s not Yokai Watch, it’s got nothing to do with Yokai Watch, this isn’t a kids series, it’s very much adult.
I wouldn’t expect anything less from you at this point… Well, I’ll take that as a compliment then.
It really wasn’t one. Grrr—
—So what’s it about? Yatsuki (or Yukki), is a “normal” guy, 20 year old, lives with his younger sister, has a part time job, has never had a girlfriend, etc. Oh and also he can see Yokai spirits walking amongst the living. Generally he ignores them until one day he meets a young woman called Rokka, who gets him mixed up in all sort of supernatural and sexy shenanigans, whether he likes it or not!
What genre are we going for here? A bit of everything really! I mean the thing I love about this manga is just how unshackled by conventions it is, yes it shares tropes with various dependable genres, but it always plays to the beat of its own unique drum. It’s greatest strength is how funny it is, but it isn’t afraid to bring up serious topics and delve into complex character backstories or reference a lot of Japanese mythology, not to mention be subversive as fuck.
So is this going to be another one that’s difficult to recommend? Like Murcielago? No, they’re not really similar, yes they are both mature manga, but Yokai Girls is firmly comedic and nowhere near as dark or violent or gory as Murcielago.
So where’s this “subversive as fuck” element come into it? Well aside from the usual ecchi tropes, there’s one certain side character who’s mere presence probably pushed it from an ‘Older Teen 16+’ rating to a ‘Mature 18+’ rating.
Oh, and who is that?! Well he’s a yokai who hails from Sendai in the Miyagi prefecture and well as the legend goes, if you leave a ripe persimmon on a tree too long, a red faced man will appear request that you plunge a skewer up his ass and then tell you taste, upon which you will find that it tastes sweet.
WHAT?! I don’t know, like a lot of folk tales from Japan there’s some pretty strange ones out there, but hey, who am I to judge?
And so here he takes the form of a? A BDSM loving yokai pervert, yes, of course. Not to kink shame of course, that’s just this particular character.
O…kay then, can we talk about the other characters? Like you’ve mentioned the protagonist, what about the little sister and the female yokai, who I assume takes the role of a love interest? Well we’ll be going into volume 1 spoilers here, so skip to the end if you don’t want any spoilers, but it’s more character spoilers than plot.
Fair enough, spoilers from here on out! So his sister, Nanao is a bright, bubbly and excitable girl, who for the most part is ignored by her older brother. As we find out, it’s because she’s a ‘ghost’ though not in the traditional sense, see Nanao went into a coma when she was 8 years old and has stayed that way for the past 6 years, her soul has separated from her body and pesters Yatsuki at some very personal moments. And so getting her soul back into her body becomes one of Yatsuki’s goal after he meets…
Female protagonist? Yes, Rokka! She’s a yokai with the power to stretch her neck to incredible lengths, she basically uses to tangle enemies or hold people in place. Also she likes to scare Yatsuki and eat his ‘shock energy’ that manifests out of his body in phallic shapes.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any lewder… It can always get lewder. But back to Rokka, she falls in love with Yatsuki pretty quickly, but it’s not without a decent reason, he helps her out of a tricky situation, buys her a nice dinner with the last of his money for the month and then when she collapses in the street from postprandial hypertension (yes I had to look that up), he determinedly carries her home.
So he’s a typical ‘nice guy harem protagonist’? Where’d you learn these words!? Oh right from me, but yes, also add otaku and pervert in there too. Though not the ‘creeping on girls/spying on them’ kind of pervert, just the ‘gets into sexually provocative situations for comedic effect reason’ and is totally into it kind of pervert.
Important distinction, huh? It is, nobody likes the creepy dude who hides in lockers or orchestrates elaborate plans for peeping. But if he’s chasing after a bad guy and suddenly runs into a friend of his who works at a maid café and ends with his nose pushed against her panties, then that’s just a case of bad(good) luck!
Uh-huh… and what’s this about maid cafes now? Oh did I forget to mention, the manga’s set in my favourite place on Earth, Akihabara! I loved being able to spot locations I’d been to while reading it, even small side streets are lovingly recreated! And because I’m such an Akiba nerd I do enjoy that they got permission to use actual store names for a lot of the anime shops!
*yawn* Yeah, yeah… I know this is very niche, but I just really love this silly manga! It’s probably my favourite first volume of a manga series I’ve ever read!
Final recommendation and score, then? With an emphasis squarely on comedy, and some pretty adult comedy at that, it’s hard not to recommend for people who their funny served with a heaping side of ecchi. The harem elements seem light so far and all the characters are interesting and surprisingly well developed, even the usually ‘bland for the sake of being able to easily relate to’ protagonist has an interesting back-story that’s hinted at and a bit of world weariness that is refreshing for this genre. 93 out of 100.