Muhyo & Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation (Volume 1) Yoshiyuki Nishi
From Viz's Shonen Jump line comes this creepy little action title Muhyo &Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation. The book follows a duo who work together to find ghosts and exorcise them for clients. Toru Muhyo is the little genius who casts the actual spells that send spirits to either Heaven or Hell (and the various pocket dimensions the two places encompass) depending on the ghost that they encounter. Muhyo finds an appropriate place to send the being based on the laws it has broken from the Magical Law Book. He's actually a Law Executor, giving him the power to pass judgment and interpret the crimes. Jiro Kusano or "Roji," is Muhyo's assistant, and is the low man on the totem pole. As a mere 2nd Assistant, he has little power in the Bureau and is literally on the bottom of the ladder of positions, although he aspires to one day become Executor. The atmosphere of the book kind of jumps around a bit, between action and comedy. Although horror is certainly an element of the story, in the first volume at least, the thrills are more gross or elaborate-looking monsters than anything truly frightening. I think it aspires to be creepy, but the odd cartoony characters undercut any real suspense that could make it truly scary. Muhyo and Roji have a nice love-hate relationship that works well with the silliness of the book. As long as you don't take things too seriously, it can be pretty fun. In this first volume, the stories are very episodic, with one case to take on each chapter, which is fine, although I personally prefer more drawn-out storylines than what's offered here. The panels move a bit quickly, as do the stories, giving readers little chance to get to know the two main characters properly. Especially when the characters are first introduced, events unfold too quickly with pages a little too busy and claustrophobic. It kind of turned me off initially, although the creator seemed to loosen up as the book went along, and actually established some nicely-paced panels with the subsequent investigations. This may not be the most riveting manga out there, but it does have a good premise with a lot of promise.