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Ghost Slayers Ayashi Volume 1

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Ghost Slayers Ayashi Volume 1 by Yaeko Ninagawa, Sho Aikawa and BONES from Bandai Entertainment

Ghost Slayers Ayashi Volume 1

© Sho Aikawa, BONES / Mainichi Broadcasting, Aniplex, Dentsu © Yaeko Ninagawa

The Bottom Line

Just prior to the arrival of Westerners in Japan, a task force called "The Office of Barbarian Knowledge Enforcement" is charged with investigating supernatural incidents. Handsome rogue Yukiatsu seems like a ne'er do well, but he has the ability to fight demons by creating weapons from words.

Ghost Slayers Ayashi is an adaptation of the eye-catching anime series. While the manga version offers a mix of elegant linework and bold brushstrokes, its oblique storytelling and bland characters make it merely a so-so addition to the otherwise intriguing world of yokai manga.

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Pros

  • Nice artwork that mixes a samurai-era setting with modern supernatural action
  • A modern take on traditional Japanese ghost and demon stories
  • Attractive looking characters that are kinda cool-lookin'
  • For students of Japanese language, it offers mini-kanji lessons

Cons

  • While pretty to look at, its stylized storytelling can be a bit hard to follow.
  • For readers who aren't familiar with Japanese kanji, Yuki's powers can seem abstract
  • Characters aren't fully fleshed out, so they're not very compelling or memorable

Description

  • Original Title: Tenpo Ibun Ayakashi Ayashi (Japan)
  • Author: Sho Aikawa and BONES
    Artist: Yaeko Ninagawa
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1604960068
  • Cover Price: $9.99 US / $12.99 CANADA
  • Age Rating: OT – Older Teens, Age 16+ for violence, some mature themes
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
    • Shonen (Boys') Manga
    • Action / Adventure
    • Anime Tie-In
    • Horror
    • Paranormal / Supernatural
    • Samurai Action
  • US Publication Date: September 2008
    Japan Publication Date: February 2007
  • Book Description: 200 pages, black and white illustrations

Guide Review - Ghost Slayers Ayashi Volume 1

Japan loves a good ghost story, and Japanese culture includes a rich mythological menagerie of demons and spirits, a.k.a. yokai. Yokai include wily tengu, hungry kappa and ornery oni. Inu-Yasha, Mermaid Forest and Mushishiuse these otherworldly creatures to add a Japanese touch to their stories.

Ghost Slayers Ayashi jumps into the yokai manga arena with a literary twist: The hero transforms kanji, or Chinese/Japanese ideograms into weapons. For example, hero-in-residence Yuki conjures up the character for "father" to conjure a monster-slaying axe. He's can do so because the character for "father" is a pictogram of a man wielding an axe. While this is an interesting tidbit, it's one that's lost in translation for readers who aren't familiar with written Japanese or Chinese language. Equally unclear is how Yuki's powers actually work. He can supposedly wield powers from words, but how and why these words are chosen is a mystery.

It also doesn't help that the characters of Ghost Slayers Ayashi have color-by-numbers personalities. The handsome rogue. The moody quiet one. The sultry femme fatale. The uptight bureaucrat and the spunky newbie. Been there, done that, bought the Star Blazers DVD.

Ghost Slayers Ayashi may leave readers befuddled with its oblique storytelling and vague characters, but on the plus side, the art is quite nice. It mixes bold dark brushstrokes with fine linework and cross-hatching in a way that conveys the samurai-era action and supernatural themes effectively. The characters are hotties in kimonos, which also makes them easy on the eyes.

All in all, Ghost Slayers Ayashi is probably decent enough to please fans of the anime, but it seems content to settle for 'just good enough' rather than striving to create a suspenseful, surprising or compelling story that can stand on its own.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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