Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation Vol. 1 (Viz Media/Shonen Jump)

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muhyo-header.jpgTwo youthful Legal Exorcists make their living by solving supernatural crimes and serving up mystical justice to ghosts, demons, and all manner of evil spirits.

 

 

208 pgs. B/W, $7.99

(W / A: Yoshiyuki Nishi)

 

Instead of following the traditional shonen (boys' manga) formula and focusing on a pair of teenage ninjas, Yoshiyuki Nishi's Muhyo & Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation follows two youthful Legal Exorcists who make their living by solving supernatural crimes and serving up mystical justice to ghosts, demons, and all manner of evil spirits. Though the art is excessively cartoonish at times, Nishi's childlike drawing style successfully undercuts the horror inherent in many of Muhyo and Roji's cases. The "horror" on offer here is of the Saturday morning variety-sure, there are grotesque worm creatures, an animated marionette, and other visual shocks, but they're all age-appropriate, and more silly than scary.

The cover to Muhyo & Roji Vol. 1. Click for a larger image.In addition to a "monster of the week" that needs to be subdued or dealt with, each section of this volume tackles an emotional issue. One tale finds our young heroes mending a broken relationship between a girl and her deceased friend, another tackles demonic possession, and a third examines the classic manga theme of stalking. Muhyo is easily the most interesting member of the duo-a squat, super-deformed practitioner of "magic law," he seems to relish teasing his clients. Roji is a nebbish, nerdy clerk who strives to keep Muhyo in line, with little success. As a comedy duo, they're completely useless-if there are any laughs to be had here, they come from laughing at Nishi's fantastically bizarre monsters. A little more character development would go a long way here, and it'd be nice to see Roji stick up for himself a bit more, given the extent to which Muhyo currently dominates the book. Still, this title should delight shonen fans (and their parents) who are searching for a blend of comedy and horror, minus the gore. | J. Bowers

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