Ghostly Things, by Ushio Shirotori, is a cute supernatural romp where spirits are portrayed as being household pests that steal food out of your fridge and make grass grow on your books, rather than as terrifying monsters… at least most of the time. Seems like the perfect October read for someone, like me, that doesn’t generally like horror or anything that’s too scary.
Yachiho has recently moved into an old house that everyone in town insists is haunted, but she’s looking for something important and isn’t about to be frightened away by some strange noises or rumors. But then Yachiho and her cat discover a secret library where she runs into a tiny dragon and a bunch of other monsters and is sucked into the world of spirits! Luckily, she’s rescued by Moro, the guardian of the crossing. Turns out, Yachiho’s house is a waystation for spirits that are waiting for Moro to ferry them to the spirit realm and it’s a very dangerous place for a human to live. Yachiho isn’t willing to leave before she finds what she’s looking for, so she accepts a job as Moro’s assistant. Now she can live in the house while helping spirits cross over and continuing her search for the book that might hold the secret to her mother’s disappearance.
This manga reminds me a lot of The Morose Mononokean, with each chapter focusing on a different spirit that Yachiho and Moro need to help make its way to the spirit realm and different challenges cropping up depending on the spirits unique attributes. Honestly, I found the early chapters to be a little slow, as this set up is something that has been done in other manga series before and it didn’t feel like Ghostly Things was bringing much to the table that was new and fresh. Yachiho is a brave and kind girl who wants to find a way to peacefully co-exist with the spirits and seems to have adjusted to her strange circumstances very quickly, but she doesn’t do much to liven up the narrative. While I found her to be generally likeable, she is a generic lead character and, aside from the mystery surrounding her mother, there isn’t much about her that’s distinctive or particularly compelling. I think my favourite character so far is actually Fuku-chan, Yachiho’s cat. Fuku-chan is adorable and displays a lot of personality, despite never talking. She seems to have adapted to their new life even faster than Yachiho, being generally unfazed by the spirits and even letting Moro ride around on her back. I get the feeling that there might be more to Fuku-chan then is immediately apparent. Maybe she’s actually a spirit herself or connected to the spirit realm in some way? Either way, I always enjoyed it whenever she showed up.
Things started to turn around for me while reading this volume at about the midpoint, as we begin to learn a bit about the previous owner of the house, who also had the ability to see spirits, and things start to get more interesting. We’re also introduced to Kamo-san, a young man who was friends with the old owner and used to love spirits, but whose attitude has completely changed. He seems to regard spirits with contempt now and views them only as something that can be used, and it hasn’t yet been revealed what happened to cause this shift. I want to learn more about him, the previous owner of the house and their connection to the mysterious book that Yachiho is searching for.
If you’re looking for a supernatural story that isn’t too creepy, then this is the perfect read for you. While the premise isn’t exactly original, the various mysteries surrounding the house and the character’s pasts add intrigue to what would otherwise have been an uninspired, episodic manga. By the end of this volume I was fully engaged with the story and I plan to pick up the next volume to see where things go.
Final Score: 6 out of 10
For more information on this manga, visit Seven Seas Entertainment’s website: https://sevenseasentertainment.com/books/ghostly-things-vol-1/
What did you think of this manga? Do you think Fuku-chan is a normal cat or something else? Let me know in the comments.