Yoshiyuki Nishi – Viz – 2010 – 18 volumes

I’d been meaning to read this one, since it was the last in the series.  I put it off since I’ve only read four of the 17 other volumes.  It’s got a great creepy vibe, and some awesome art, but Jump series tend to be bad to enter in the final stages, since there’s a ton of characters and a big boss battle you know nothing about.

This one was a little different, thankfully.  The first 1-2 chapters did deal with a big baddie, and the rest of the volume was more about Roji getting to stay on as Muhyo’s assistant.  He doesn’t have a high enough rank, technically, and is contractually obligated to get a promotion, like, right now.  The last few chapters also speculate on an illness Muhyo may or may not have.  The two of them are cute together, so it made for a cute read.  And while it’s true I didn’t know who any of the characters were, I found the school parts quite charming, and I liked the variety of character types in Nishi’s repertoire.

The actual ending was very cute, even without a whole lot of prior knowledge of the series.

The volume is padded out with the one-shot that earned Nishi the full series.  The art style is MUCH different, much simpler and a bit less gothic.  The characters seemed a lot different too, but I didn’t read the beginning of the series, so maybe Roji was more business-like back then.

But really, Nishi’s art makes my day here.  It’s so offbeat and perfect for this story, and he’s great at settings, creepy crawlies, characters, items, et cetera.  I don’t like the series quite enough to start back over at the beginning (I have way too many series on my plate right now), but it’s a good read if you see it languishing in a used bookstore or old comic shop somewhere.  A bit different, at least art-wise, from the usual Jump series.

Yoshiyuki Nishi – Viz – 2010 – 18 volumes

Hm.  Well, at the very least, I finally got to see the titular Bureau of Investigation.  The cases are a little different than what I thought, and I think I’m missing out on quite a bit by not being all that familiar with Muhyo’s personality.  His brevity and smug superiority when carrying out a job translated well in his heroics from the long story that just finished, but I just can’t tell what he’s implying when he does it on these short cases.  There could be several readings, and I’m having trouble figuring out if he’s just a jerk or if his lack of explanations and insight is meant to get Roji and the reader thinking about what’s going on.

That’s probably my other problem.  It was pretty obvious what was going on in the long story since monsters were summoned and fought in a pretty clear manner, but with these smaller ghosts, poltergeists, and whatnot, I’m having a harder time trying to figure out what the seven-headed dog or Muhyo are trying to do to defeat them.  I think that’s part of the mystery, but since I don’t have as much a grasp on the magic system as I thought I did, that part’s a little lost on me.  Even having said that, the story seems a little more fragmented than I’d like, too, and feels like it jumps around a lot.  That could just be me having a hard time reading it because of the factors mentioned above, though.

I did ike the last case in the volume.  There was a lonely ghost going around consuming any student who said they were its friend, and the case opened with two police officers seeking Muhyo and Roji’s help with a series of kidnappings they’d tried everything to solve.  The officers didn’t believe in magic, but of course that’s what works in the end.  I liked the little peek into the “real” world in that story, though the disbelief has little bearing on the case itself.  And while I had a hard time following what was going on, I did love the ghost itself.  It had a suitably sad story to go with it, and the methods used by both it, Muhyo, and the police were pretty epic stuff.

I still find myself interested, even after being slightly more disappointed with this volume than I thought I would be.  I still like the general plot, and I still adore the whole aesthetic the series has going for it.  Even after being puzzled by what was going on here, I’m still curious to read the last two volumes and find out what kind of conclusion the series reaches.  As a whole, it strikes me as only okay, but I’ve grown attached enough to want to follow it to the end.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Yoshiyuki Nishi – Viz – 2010 – 18 volumes

If I didn’t know better, I would think this was the final volume of the series.  The person who I took to be the main villain is dealt with here, and there is a rather epic and long battle scene involving dozens of characters in what appears to be at least three different locations.  Muhyo does what he sets out to accomplish, friendships are reaffirmed even among enemies, it does pretty much everything you would expect of a shounen finale.

Except then it keeps going.  For three more volumes.  I have no idea why… unless the better parts of the series were earlier, shorter stories and the author wanted to re-capture that before ending it?  I do have the next volume, and I’ll probably tackle that next.

It’s actually very good that I have the next volume after the major story arc, because I’d love to pick up the series at a point without all the characters running around.  Since I came late to the game, I’m clueless about them, but I am enjoying the unusual artwork and supernatural themes.  I think I could really get into the magic systems the series uses, too, especially if the grouchy Muhyo is the one who is master of all of them.  I mean… look at what he summoned.  And how he summoned it.  Muhyo is one of the most unlikely-looking heroes I’ve ever seen.  It’s pretty cool.  I’d also really like to learn more about the strange working relationship between him and Roji.

Not that I didn’t like what I saw of the characters.  Teeki made for a great villain, and I also got a huge kick out of all the summon and supernatural creatures, especially the girl in the chariot.  I also liked that there was a punishment for the foes.  I’m not entirely sure of the extent of their crimes, but it’s interesting that they don’t get off easy simply because they decided to switch sides again.  Everyone seemed to want it another way, but I did like that aspect of it.

I like it, and I think it’s a unique and unusual series, but I’m still not at the point where it’s making me want to try it from the beginning.  There really were too many characters at this point in the story, and the finale leaned a little too heavily on making friends with people who hated you in school, and I hate when the final foes are defeated with friendship.  I’m sorry.  I mean, these people are being sucked down into Hell, and they’re talking about how much they like each other.  On one hand, that’s kind of amazing.  On the other hand… not so much.

I bet the early volumes of this series are great.  So yeah, I’ve got one more here to read, and that a new storyline is starting, so hopefully that will give me enough of a taste to make me go back to the beginning for more.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Yoshiyuki Nishi – Viz – 2009 – 18 volumes

For all the weirdness going on, I actually like this series a lot.  I’ll admit I’m missing out on quite a bit by not knowing the cast and all their strengths and weaknesses, and I’m also unfamiliar with the magic systems, but man, everything going on is so cool that it really does make me want to go back to the beginning.

The atmosphere and art style have a lot to do with the appeal.  For a series about slaying creepy ghosts, it helps that the art style is extremely unusual, since the ghosts and spirits fit in with the weirdness going on.  Having the awesome-looking ghosts and spirits adds to the mood, since pretty much the entire volume this time was spent slaying two evil ghosts.  I may not have been able to tell just what the implications of the fights were for the characters involved, but I still enjoyed the ghosts and the slayings immensely.

Plot-wise, the characters seem to have accumulated what they need in order to fight the final bad guy one last time.  Admittedly, Muhyo’s weapon is awesome, and seems to summon the king of the underworld.  This thing needs to be tweaked, however, so the other characters have to hold off the bad guy while the weapon finishes up.  Apparently this “final battle” will last five volumes, which is pretty long even by Shounen Jump standards, so I wonder what else will happen before or after the fight.  It may just be a long series of battles, however, where the biggest, best, and most awesome magic spells and spirits are brought out to fight.

For instance, we do see the first stage here.  A prince of the underworld makes his appearance, and although he looks kind of cute, he’s pretty powerful.  To combat him, the opponent summons a gallows-ghost from below the town that feeds on anger and resentment.  It has the power to consume… lots of things, including all the good guys.  Even without grasping half of what’s going on, this was all pretty awesome and epic stuff.

It certainly isn’t your typical Shounen Jump series.  Perhaps an October marathon is in order?  I do like celebrating Halloween with themed manga.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Wow, that might be the longest title of any manga series I have on my site.  Interesting.

Anyway.  From the title, I was hoping that this would be similar to Nightmare Inspector, ie the two title characters investigate… well, supernatural stuff.  That’s not quite the case, at least at this stage in the series, and it’s more about a massive black magic attack and a group of friends from school trying to save the world.  You know how that goes.

This has the typical Shounen Jump hurdle of having way too many characters, but this book picks up after a major battle, so not very many of the characters are that important to what’s going on.  The volume starts with a brief battle between the bad guys (I’m pretty sure it was part of Teeki, the main bad guy) projecting out of a brand on the breast of a character named Rio.  Things wrap up pretty quickly, there’s a few chapters where the characters recover and regroup, and the action switches to a Magic School that they are trying to infiltrate in order to find a stone that will help them defeat Teeki.  Roji is feeling particularly inadequate since he seems to be the only member of the group without phenomenal cosmic powers, so he’s trying to pick some up while at the school.

I liked the fact that Roji doesn’t have magic power and was observing the group from an outsider perspective/as a kind of cheerleader.  I think he’s got some powers that haven’t been developed yet, and the story throws out a hint that he could be a very important part of Muhyo’s massive powers, but for the most part, he seems pretty useless in a battle.  Usually this role is reserved for a female character that is tossed aside more often than not, so it was nice to see one of the main characters in this role.

I also really liked the art.  It’s cartoony and really, REALLY weird, but in a good way.  Many of the characters have weird-looking eyes, in particular, and there’s lots of creepy detail given to backgrounds, all the little magic artifacts and monsters, and pretty much everything.  It’s confusing at times, but it’s unique and fits the series perfectly.  I especially like the particularly unflattering way Muhyo is drawn.  Also, for all the cartooniness of the art, the girls are all drawn with massive breasts, which I found to be a fascinating concession.

This was a good volume to pick the series up with since it gave me a good look at what’s going on in the overall plot, and the story taking place at the Magic Law School looks like it will go very interesting places.  But I’m going to need to read a few more volumes in order to digest some of the smaller details, of which there appear to be thousands.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.