Rasetsu
Chika Shiomi

Morality: C+
Writing: B+

When Rasetsu was fifteen years old, a powerful demon marked her and said he would return to claim her on her twentieth birthday–unless she could find her true love first. Now eighteen, Resetsu has all but given up on finding a boyfriend; instead, she’s learned to use her psychic powers working for a small agency that exorcises ghosts. Her partner is Kuryu, a master of kotodama–the power of words–whose relentlessly cheerful personality hides a dark past. As the story opens, Rasetsu meets a cranky psychic librarian named Yako and strong-arms him into joining the agency. But Yako has his own secret: when he was in high school, he broke his heart by falling in love with the ghost of a long-dead psychic . . . who happens to look exactly like Rasetsu.

This is a modest but extremely enjoyable series. At first it’s just an episodic collection of ghost-busting escapades–a little creepy, a little suspenseful, and a little humorous. But as the series goes on it slowly builds tension through the revelations about the characters’ pasts, the development of the inevitable love triangle, and the looming threat of the demon’s return. The artwork is generally pleasant and sometimes striking, though I wish Yako and Kuryu wouldn’t sprout such enormous shoulders at dramatic moments. It’s the characters, though, that really make me enjoy this series. Yako is hilarious and adorable (because how can you not adore a cranky librarian?). Kuryu is sometimes creepy, sometimes sympathetic, and interesting to me even though I’m not often a big fan of the Tall, Dark, and Mysterious type. And Rasetsu herself is a great heroine: she’s strong and brave sometimes to the point of brashness, but she’s also palpably young and sometimes quite vulnerable–without either side of her character undercutting the other.

The worldview of Resetsu is generically pagan. Ghosts are people who died traumatic deaths; sometimes they’re just stuck reliving their trauma and sometimes they’re back for REVENGE. Either way, they can be forcefully exorcised or persuaded to ascend into the light. The various psychics have their powers Just Because, and they try to use them for good. I do like that the heroes are not just concerned with protecting the living, but also giving peace to the dead; and there are several storylines where they end up helping people who explicitly do not deserve it, which is pretty neat. And the conclusion of the story affirms the power of unselfish love.

Content warning: some of the ghosts are a little gruesome, the demon’s intentions towards Rasetsu are obviously less than chaste, and of course, you don’t want to read this if ghost stories creep you out.

Posted by Rose | July 31, 2011

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