GHOST SLAYERS AYASHI • Bandai • Sho Aikawa & BONES (creators), Yaeko Ninagawa (art) • 16+
Adaptation of the anime. 1843 Japan: a time of poverty, famine and displacement, when the capital city of Edo swarms with migrants from all around the nation. Yukiatsu appears to be just another unemployed thirtysomething bum in the big city, but in reality, he secretly works for the “Office of Barbarian Knowledge Enforcement,” which deals with youi, supernatural monsters. On a case-by-case basis, Yukiatsu and his colleagues fight monsters which are almost a manifestation of their troubled times, such as a “mountain god” linked to a horrible rural practice of sacrificing children, or a vagrant infected with a “mermaid” which makes him immortal, at a cost. As monster-fighting manga go, Ghost Slayers Ayashi has several things going for it. The seinen-style artwork is impressive, with plenty of atmospheric moments and creepy-looking monsters (although the creatures are mostly offscreen). The Japanese setting and the untalkative, mysterious supernatural creatures are reminiscent of Mushishi. Unlike the clever resolutions in Mushishi though, the stories in Ghost Slayers Ayashi usually end with conventional fight scenes, and Yukiatsu’s supernatural power of ayagami, the ability to make weapons out of thin air by turning words into weapons, is a bit of a deus ex machina. Intriguing stories and solid art, versus perfunctory fight scenes and the implied assumption that the reader already knows the characters from the anime, in the end makes for a decent but not exceptional anime adaptation.
** 1/2 (two and a half stars)
This review was originally published in a slightly different form in Otaku USA magazine. Today’s winner is Caroline M. of California. Congratulations, Caroline!
What else is going on here in 365 Days of Manga? The very cool Kristin B. just sent in this photo of herself along with her manga prizes: Princess Tutu, Orange Crows, Yonen Buzz and… oh, man? What is that other manga in the background? Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed the books, and I’ll send you some new ones today! I’ll try to look real closely at the picture of your manga collection and see what you do and don’t have, but no guarantees!