Butts, boobs, and yokai try and mix together in Kazuki Funatsu's manga Yokai Girls, with...mixed results.
Title: Yokai Girls
Genre: Ecchi, Harem, Supernatural
Publisher: Shueisha (JP), Seven Seas (US)
Creator: Kazuki Funatsu
Serialized in: Weekly Young Jump
Translation: Jennifer Ward
Release Date: January 9, 2018
Review copy was provided by Seven Seas.
There are a number of manga published in the West that toe the line between absolute porn yet do just enough to not be hentai (Prison School, No Game No Life, Monster Musume are some off the top of my head). Yokai Girls might somehow have topped all of them in its first volume. From having the main character poke his head under a girl’s skirt to a scene where there are two naked girls (one of them is 8 years old) drawn for all to see, this is not for those who:
A) are underage
B) despise harems already.
But if you do like harems, is Yokai Girls worth a shot? That’s gonna depend on if you like the characters. Yatsuki Nishizuru is a high school graduate working a part-time job. He’s also a virgin and goes to the maid cafe to obsess over Moru-chan in her maid costume. In other words, he’d be a nobody in most cases… except he can see yokai spirits. After an incident as a kid, he’s been able to see small and big monsters, and he’s able to determine the good ones from the bad simply from how they smell. Now 20 years old, the only thing he’s trying to do while wasting life at a maid cafe is take care of his little sister, Nanao.
Then one day, on a routine trip back home, he runs into a young girl. (Or, to be more accurate, he meets the butt of a young girl before actually seeing her face.) Not too long after their first encounter, Yatsuki meets her again. After she introduces herself as Rokka, they get to know each other and even go grab a bite to eat together. Things are going well, until she manages to feel sick after eating too much. He brazenly, after she says not to take her to the hospital, takes her to his house, and tries to cure her. After coming back from the store with medicine, Rokka wakes up and abruptly kisses him, which causes him to go into shock.
…Did I forget to mention that she kissed him while she was still in bed and he was standing at the door? How? Well, just by stretching her neck and… oh… looks like Yatsuki just found himself another yokai…
Yokai Girls is drawn by Kazuki Funatsu, who drew a popular manga in Japan called Addicted to Curry. That manga ran for a long time, and I definitely heard of it being popular online. However, the Wikipedia page for that is amazing:
Due to its regularly included ecchi content the manga is seen as controversial by some people (sometimes marked as adult or mature in manga forums), and it cannot be marketed towards children and teenagers, as is common for many comedy comics in the West.
So if you did the research prior, you would’ve known almost exactly what to expect from Yokai Girls. However, I did not. What I did know was Seven Seas placed this under their Ghost Ship imprint, which is described as an imprint for mature readers. Seeing the titles under it so far (To-Love Ru and its sequel Darkness, World’s End Harem, and Yuuna’s Haunted Hot Springs) told me what I should expect from Yokai Girls.
That still didn’t mean I expected to see one of the many girls in volume 1 sucking on a dude’s junk.
Note, it’s drawn in a manner to suggest the imagery, so not actual dude’s junk. But Yokai Girls toes that line in this volume, and the comedy to this-just-does-not-work ratio will vary. Some, like me, will get a kick out of a plushie called the ripper (better known as a Hinnagami) running around Akiba, cutting up the clothes of women, then cutting up Yatsuki’s clothes and getting the police to believe he was the culprit. Or you’ll absolutely wonder why in the hell is there a dude (dude is called a Kakiotoko) who’s obsessed with people’s butts… and what specifically goes up in his butt.
Or maybe we’ll equally like how Yatsuki and Rokka interact with each other, who knows?
That probably is Yokai Girls‘ biggest strength — the characters can be kind of fun to interact with, and that lifts up Yatsuki, who isn’t anyone special personality wise. The jokes with the characters are lewd, but they do land in some cases (and it more or less involves butts). It still relies way too much on the typical “guy accidentally strips the girl he really likes” trope, but that’s a standard harem trope that’s drawn a lot, and in this case, the art is pretty good.
The biggest weakness — aside from the harem and the action — is the paper-thin story, which just essentially has Yatsuki and Rokka act like Ichigo and Rukia in Bleach as they are tasked to take care of the yokai in Japan. The only motivation for Yatsuki to do this is this could help him find a way to cure his sister, which is revealed early on that she’s a ghost, and he wants to get her back to normal. But volume 1 only persists in making lots of sex jokes and showing all the characters naked.
Hey, in some cases it can be funny, but in others, not so much. I do think if you’re here for a harem that manages to not be porn but is porn-like, this is worth a try. For others, not so much. Also, don’t read this out in public, in case the “WARNING! EXPLICIT CONTENT! PARENTAL ADVISORY!” tag in the back of Yokai Girls (and it’s probably shrink-wrapped) does not tell you what you need to know about this manga.