The Bottom Line
Kotoko comes from a long line of exorcists, but her spiritual abilities are limited to being able to see spirits that are invisible to humans. Then she meets Kuro, a dweeby classmate who has an unusual afterschool job: he's a yokai doctor who cures a strange array of supernatural patients.
Yokai Doctor has an intriguing mix of humor, horror and heartwarming themes, but it settles for formulaic characters that were cut-and-pasted from numerous similar shonen manga stories. A fun, yet familiar series that won't win points for originality, but will entertain fans of supernatural comedies like Rosario + Vampire.
- A fun spin on yokai / supernatural manga that mixes comedy and horror with a light touch
- Appealing artwork that offers readers both cuteness and action in equal measure.
- Touches upon teen-relevant themes about being an outsider and wanting to fit in
- Excellent and extensive translation notes provide cultural context
- Relies on tired fanservice / boy likes to squish boobies jokes for laughs
- Kuro and Kotoko are predictable, cookie-cutter characters who don't offer anything new
- Kotoko's classmates are generic characters who contribute little to the story
- Introductory story is repeated twice from different perspectives, which slows things down
- Original Title: Yôkai no Oisha-san (Japan)
- Author & Artist: Yuki Sato
- ISBN: 978-0345512383
- Cover Price: $10.99 US / $12.99 CANADA
- Age Rating:
OT – Older Teens, Age 16+
for gratuitous fanservice and some violence
More about content ratings.
- Manga Genres:
- Shonen (Boys') Manga
- Action / Adventure
- Fanservice / Cheeky
- Paranormal / Supernatural
- US Publication Date: May 2009
Japan Publication Date: June 2007
- Book Description: 224 pages, black and white illustrations
Guide Review - Yokai Doctor Volume 1
Pretty and popular Kotoko comes from a family of exorcists, so she has inherited the ability to see yokai - spirits, sprites and demons that most humans can't see. Her powers aren't that strong, but Kotoko uses her family's rep to dazzle classmates who simply don't know the difference between a real shaman and a so-so one.
But Kotoko's relationship with the spirit world changes when she meets a classmate who shares her abilities, and has a few extra of his own. Bespectacled and socially awkward Kuro Gokokuji could pass for Harry Potter's slightly skebe (horny) Japanese cousin. But Kuro's cooler than he looks because he's really a yokai doctor who helps heal sickly spirits. Before she knows it, Kotoko signs herself up to assist Kuro as his nurse.
The resemblance to Harry Potter isn't the only thing you'll find familiar about Yokai Doctor. Kotoko and Kuro are pretty much standard issue shonen manga characters that fans will recognize from numerous similar stories. Kotoko is spunky, flirty and often in over her head. Kuro is a dweeb with a breast fixation and a dark secret. It's a formula that works, but it's also not going to win many points for originality.
This first volume is a little disjointed as it tells the 'origins' story twice -- once through Kotoko's eyes and again from Kuro's point of view. However, Yokai Doctor does have its merits. The artwork is quite nice and it offers an interesting mix of humor and horror. It's often silly, but hidden amongst the squeeze-the-boobie jokes are some worthwhile, teen-friendly themes about being an outsider, trying to fit in and discovering the meaning of true friendship.
It's too early to say if Yokai Doctor is worthy of a long-term reading commitment, but it's sure to please fans of supernatural comedies like Rosario + Vampires and that might be enough to give it a long life in manga land.