Ghost Hunt (The Best Ghost-Hunting Manga You Will Read)

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I do not take this recommendation lightly: Ghost Hunt is, in my experience, the best ghost-hunting manga out there. The thing is, I recommend it based on innovation, rather than entertainment value. Make no mistake: If you expect pages upon pages of creepy ghosts, exorcists rattling off incantations and an encyclopedia of spirits, that’s not in here. I mean, in volume 1, which is the only volume I read. Maybe they play with those later. This series is drama-driven, focusing on characters instead of monsters and mayhem. Though I expect, as is the case with series that have more than ten volumes, there tends to be meaningful character-building, and probably real ghosts.

Innovation can stem from plot, but this one stems from approach. The plot is typical drivel manga would give you. One character is in debt, so another gives them a way out that isn’t a simple loan. This time, Mai injures Kazuya the paranormal investigator’s assistant and camera, so she pays him back by assisting until she pays him back.

Is this an erotic fantasy in Japan? The essential slave owner? Like, one manga I read has a dollmaker curse a girl just because he wants her to be his assistant. Even good manga use this plot. xxxHolic. The Ghibli film “Spirited Away” as well. Not played for sexiness of course, but you know. Name American films that use the debt plot anymore.

BDSM = Buy, Dominate, Sell, Marry.

Ghost Hunt swiftly introduces new ghost hunters, which mostly serves to show every angle in the first volume. It also says something about the superstitious principal, who didn’t let Kazuya complete the hunt. And boy, Kazuya really lets superstition have it.

The first volume focuses on a single plot–a convention rare in multi-volume manga, but highly appreciated–about Mai’s school trying to knock down an old building on campus, but ghost stuff predates the truth. Suicides and murders, the whole legacy from the building scaring off progress. Kazuya has no patience for fools or fears, and proceeds to explain how each one is a coincidence.

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The series does have otherworldly elements, but they’re sort of bland and coincidental. Less “I was supposed to be on that flight during 9/11,” more “I was supposed to be on that bus that broke down for six hours.” For example, Mai and everyone else calls Kazuya “Naru-Chan,” based on Mai thinking he’s a narcissist. But it is his nickname, which Mai didn’t know. From this, it’s deduced that Mai has a bit of psychic energy. It’s usually psychic stuff.

The other ghost hunters are a young priest, a spotlight-grabbing miko (whatever that is), an unconventional monk, and a psychic medium. They’re hit-or-miss.

I do like how there’s otherworldly elements, I hate how really out-there conclusions are accepted over conventional endings, replacing “ghost” with “psychic.” You read it, you make your own conclusion.

Oh, and I had been saying before that there’s so much slavery imagery in manga, and as a result, the slave suffers most of the time. But I like Mai. She fights back quickly when Kazuya won’t explain every little thing she asks.

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The gal’s a peach.

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