Flash Review – Ghostly Things (Vol. 1-2)

The haunted house is a staple in the horror genre. Few things are as unsettling as realizing the place you live in is out for your throat. Yachiho Takahara learns the hard way that the traditional Japanese abode she started bunking at is filled with all manner of creepy and frightful.

The Atmospheric First Chapter:

When it comes to establishing a chilly atmosphere, the first couple dozen pages nails it. From its use of dark panels and isolated shots of Yachiho, it really knows what it’s doing with building up suspense before releasing that tension by having Yachiho look over her shoulder and see a giant deformed fetus-looking thing.

The 180:

If the intro and the first bullet point got you thinking this is a horror manga, I’m here to break the news that it’s not, which is a severe disappointment, because once it stops with the horror, it also stops being good. Chapters adhere to a monster-of-the-week formula, sometimes set panels up in a difficult-to-understand layout, and share the same issue as the Way of the Househusband where the manga realizes it’s about to run out of page space, so it just hurriedly wraps things up and calls it a day.

The Boring Yokai:

This manga manages to accomplish something unbelievable, and that’s making supernatural entities a snore. One yokai in the second volume is just this giant sack of blubber which leaks water when you feed it. I understand the lot of them are faithful to Japanese folklore, but there’re more interesting things you can do when you put your thinking cap on. Maybe the leaky yokai can flood the entire town rather than someone’s crops off-page. The closest it comes to doing something interesting is having a peacock which mimics Yachiho’s voice so that it sounds like she’s backtalking her teacher.

The Verdict:

It’s been a while since I was this bored reading a manga. The colorful cover art initially caught my attention, and the horror elements of the first chapter teased at some surreal combination of the frightful and the whimsical, but there’s hardly a thing of note in this manga. The characters and yokai are dull or unlikable, and it has no imagination despite its premise. The only things ghostly here are my expectations after this manga murdered them.

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