By Leroy Douresseaux
May 24, 2009 - 11:56
|Yokai Doctor Volume 1 cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.|
Rating “OT” for “Ages 16+”
Kotoko Kasuga knows that her grandfather was an exorcist of yokai, the supernatural creatures of Japanese folklore. These mysterious and troublemaking spirits and demons have long plagued Japan, but her very connection to them through her grandfather caused trouble for Kotoko, who, even as a small child, was an outcast among her peers. Now, a high school student, Kotoko has turned the family lineage into a way to make friends. Then, Kuro Gokokuji arrives – the boy who is secretly someone who heals yokai – a yokai doctor!
In Yokai Doctor, Vol. 1, Kotoko and her friends go on an excursion into the local woods said to be haunted by yokai. She has promised to exorcise the unruly spirits from these woods, but what she and her friends don’t know is that one of the yokai sees a promising meal in the teen caravan. Can Gokokuji help? Will he be allowed to?
THE LOWDOWN: If one ignores the negligible fanservice (mostly boob jokes and one instance of groping), Yokai Doctor is a perfect juvenile romance and horror/fantasy. The emphasis is on romance and fantasy, although the story has occasional scary moments. Yokai Doctor is a shojo manga (comics for teen girls), a romantic manga with a fantasy angle. When it comes to yokai and the supernatural, this is somewhat tame and sweet, and it ain’t no Cat Eyed Boy.
If anything about Yokai Doctor stands out, it’s the art, because creator Yuki Sato perfectly adjusts the drawing style to fit the mood – romance, comedy, horror. Sato even mixes super-deformed with tight draftsmanship, when a horror sequence requires some slapstick or, as in the last story in this volume, mixes poignancy with fantasy. This early in the series, it is evident that Yokai Doctor has the potential to be exceptional, but right now, it’s entertaining enough.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Teen readers of shojo fantasy will want to try Yokai Doctor.