Sometimes it takes both police and yokai to solve a mystery.

Title: In/Spectre (Kyokou Suiri)
Genre: Supernatural, Mystery
Publisher:  Kodansha (JP/US)
Creators: Kyo Shirodaira (Story), Chashiba Katase (Art)
Translator: Alethea & Athena Nibley
Original Release Date: January 10, 2017

As Kotoko and Saki, the current and ex-girlfriend of the not-quite-human Kurō, continue to size each other up they each come to the unhappy conclusion that they’ll have to team up to take on the “Steel Lady Nanase” terrorizing Saki’s new town. As Saki looks into the death behind the real Karin Nanase, and wonders why her “ghost” doesn’t reflect her life, Kotoko continues to be bamboozled by this yokai that doesn’t seem like a yokai. Even this god of wisdom needs some assistance!

I really hope Saki continues to be involved in the story after this arc since she’s both a good foil to Kotoko and the most interesting character on her own. She’s rational, steadfast, and yet flexible enough to see when something supernatural is going on. Kotoko continues to mock Saki for leaving Kurō so readily but really Saki is acting with the kind of decision making that you don’t often see in a supernatural series. Plus, Kotoko has a few screws loose due to interacting with yokai from such a young age, in addition to her brattish personality, so I wonder if Saki was tossed into the mix to retain readers who would’ve normally been put off with Kotoko alone being the main character.

Speaking of side characters, after this volume I’m truly sorry that Karin Nanase, former idol and seemingly the person who originated  the”Steel Lady Nanase” is dead. Saki’s research into the deceased gives us a rather in-depth look at Karin’s later years and she was obviously a girl with a lot of spunk and wit, cleverly taking advantage of every situation that came her way in order to grow her popularity and success. More things may be revealed later, given some of the dark tendrils of her past that slithered their way into Saki’s reading, but so far her death, and the circumstances beyond it, seem entirely tragic, accidental, and bizarre.

Speaking of the bizarre, we do get an answer as to “what” Kurō is and it is sufficiently weird enough to account for the yokai’s revulsion and horror of him.  His appearance in this volume is brief but even so, Kurō is easily the dullest character in the series, even more so than the one-off yokai side characters! I’m really not sure where Kyo Shirodaira, and to a lesser extent Chashiba Katase, plan to take his character. Shirodaira has given them very little to build upon, intentionally so it feels like, and yet Kotoko throws such a fit when Kurō isn’t around that I can’t imagine him being absent very often.

Quibbles aside; In/Spectre continues to be an interesting supernatural mystery tale with a solid cast driving the story forward. In the extra pages Shirodaira praises Katase for expanding upon the original work, especially when it came to Karin Nanase’s backstory, and it’s always delightful to see how an adaptation can become a real collaboration. I’m eager to see how the tale of “Steel Lady Nanase” is resolved and what awaits the characters next!