With her mom dead and her dad out of the picture, teenage Yachiho needs a place to stay and moves into a spooky old house previously owned by a secretive folklorist. At first it seems like a good enough shelter for an emancipated minor, but soon Yachiho finds a secret library full of ancient books … and a menagerie of monsters out of ancient myth! The house is a portal between worlds where snakelike Chinese dragons, tiny plant spirits, and insect-like creepy things come creeping out of the woodwork.
But Yachiho isn’t scared; her dad was an occultist, and she’s excited to be in a place where she can find clues about the legendary “Book of the Dead” that she might be able to use to bring back her mother. Soon Yachiho makes the house her home, and with the help of Moro, the doll-like caretaker, she learns about the scary, weird, and sometimes lovable inhabitants of the spirit world.
Beautifully drawn and imaginative, Ghostly Things is a worthy successor to supernatural manga like Natsume’s Book of Friends and Mushishi. Shiratori introduces us to an ecosystem of spirits: not just threatening monsters, but the spirits of the land, of trees and plants and storms and natural processes like growth and decay. Like any good manga protagonist, Yachiho strives to treat the spirits with respect while hiding them from her school friends. Mystery comes in the form of Moro’s backstory and the secret reason he was banished from the spirit realm (“I am a tobagito … a transgressor”), while danger comes from powerful spirits and from human jerks who don’t respect nature (“The way he talked … it was like spirits were nothing but tools to him!”). If the story elements are familiar, the art and execution are more than enough to draw readers into this lovely, monstrous world. Recommended.
publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
story and art: Ushio Shiratori