Otaku USA Magazine
A First Look at New Manga Yokai Buster Murakami

Yokai Buster Murakami joins Shonen Jump this week!

She’s a modern-day exorcist who’s scared of everything. He’s a stone-cold skeptic with no filter. Together, they’re keeping the Reiwa Era safe from yokai of all varieties… by absolutely dunking on them. Yokai Buster Murakami is the newest addition to Shonen Jump, taking the spot left over by the recently-cancelled Green Green Greens. Penned by One Piece in Love creator Daiki Ihara, it follows cowardly Kuin and no-nonsense Murakami on their paranormal adventures. But how does its first chapter stack up? Let’s take a look.


The Concept

He ain't afraid of no yokai

Yokai Buster Murakami starts out in fairly comfortable territory. Creatures from folklore and young exorcists are commonplace in manga and anime, to the point that many fans outside Japan learn about Japanese legends by way of their favorite series. The expert and the skeptic is a tried-and-true combo, too. But in this case, the skeptic wields a special power of his own: the power to weaken the spiritual energy of yokai with common sense and blunt talk.

The first chapter sees Kuin facing down a frankly terrifying kappa, with Murakami whittling its power down by poking holes in old legends. Why leave its weak spot covered? Why frequent places that are isolated in the modern day? Why are kappa so into butts? By the end, Murakami shows that his incessant questions actually have their merits.


Digging Deeper

Murakami's true motivation

First chapters of new manga are difficult, and Yokai Buster Murakami is no exception. That first chapter has to lay out the basics, grab the reader, and hint at what’s to come in the space of a longer-than-normal installment. In this case, we do get a bit of depth. After his sick dunks on the kappa, Murakami explains his reasons for wanting to help Kuin on his mission. It’s rather sweet, actually—even though he still couches his decision as “common sense,” there’s some clear affection there.

We get a pretty decent range of both art and story in these thirty-odd pages. Ihara shows off both character art and some cool monster designs, with promises of more to come. But can we expect it to continue?


Going Forward

Murakami and Kuin team up

This first chapter of Yokai Buster Murakami rests largely on one joke: Murakami debunking yokai logic. Considering it’s the “selling point” of the manga, it’s natural that most of the first chapter will be dedicated to it. That leaves minimal time for things like character interaction and broader story. However, it’s fair to remember that this is just the beginning: a one-shot to convince the reader to give this new title a bit of their valuable Jump reading time.

We still know very little about Murakami, Kuin, or the new frenemy they gain by the end of the chapter. (Except that this new frenemy has some really odd viewing habits that he’s no longer trying to hide.) Now that we’ve got the gist of the story in this first chapter, we’re looking forward to seeing how the central gag weaves through the lead pair’s relationships, dealings with other yokai, and potentially a friendly jab at the ghost-hunting genre. If we get to see those in action, this title could have some staying power.

For now, this first chapter is free to read on the Viz website and Shonen Jump app, so why not give it a look?

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. Beyond the world of anime, she's a writer for Doctor Who expanded universe series including Iris Wildthyme and the City of the Saved, as well as an editor for the critically-acclaimed Black Archive series.