Ongoing Investigations: Case #231

hisui_icon_4040 Anomal by Nukuharu in an interesting little book from Gen Manga. As Kate had mentioned in the past, anthology books like this are hardly unheard of in Japan but we so rarely get them in English expect for extremely popular authors and usually only when demand for their work is not being sufficiently met by the number of titles currently on the market. This is from a generally unknown artist so it is more outside the box than most single author anthologies we get. Then again Gen Manga tends to do things that most manga publisher don’t do.

While we might not be in the grip of the Yokai Craze like in The Monstrous Turnabout case in Dual Destinies it is hard to ignore the number of Yokai related stories lately in anime and manga. Not all the stories have various Japanese monsters but the majority of the stories are focused around them. There is one story about a detective and his new partner that is a bit of a BL tease but other than that is all tales of spirits and demons. I guess the last story is about an alien but she feel more like a goddess or kami than an alien.

The stories about yokai tend to be on the lighter side of the spectrum. This is not the uber-dark tales of Requiem from the Darkness or even the moody heavyhearted feel of Mushishi. The best anime equivalent for the stories would be the Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods or Kamichu! anime. It is a little litter than Natsume Yuujincho, which can get fairly melancholy when it wants to, but the stories can have a bit of bite to them. That said is would say it is not more than a bit of an edge. They are at most the medium salsa of Yokai tales. They are a bit if zest to them but not the harsh burn of human critique like some spicier shows.

Other than maybe Ayakashi-nushi none of the stories here really felt like series that needed to be longer series. They came in, told their story, and then the closed the door on their way out. But with a short story book like this that is often for the best. Stories that overstay their welcome can be a real pain in book like these. Also in general Yokai tales lend themselves to one shots equally as well as long form stories. Even many long form yokai series are often small stories inside of a larger framework that mostly exists to tell those small stories.

Anomal is an interesting little curiosity. I can’t say that any of the stories were the strongest things I read this year but they are light, breezy,and fun. With only one book it is a pleasant one shot that can satisfy an itch for less than spooky stories with a nice bit of heart. They are more candy than a full meal. Sometimes that is exactly what you need.

narutaki_icon_4040 Anomal by Nukuharu was a rare treat I got in the mail, thanks Gen Manga! I liked the small format of this short story collection and it fit with the quiet but odd nature of the tales within. This collection features yokai or other supernatural elements in different settings and with very different main characters. Each also had various relationships as a focus. Even though it says horror on the back, none of the stories are super dire. In fact, some have a stronger comedy bent and I found these more successful.

The 3-part story Ayakashi-nushi made me laugh because their personalities were well realized. It is about a partnership between girl who finds yokai so cute she is always trying to hug them and a boy who has a demon in his blood. It had a bit of what we’ve come to expect from things like Natsume Yuujincho: a spirit has a problem and our lead helps resolve it while we get their little backstory in the process.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching, reading, or playing outside of our main blog posts. We each pick three things without much rhyme or reason; they are just the most interesting things since the last OI.

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