Here’s a blast from the past series, courtesy of mangaka Shinohara Chie. Ryouko’s Spirtual Case Files (not to be confused with the other Ryoko’s Case Files) began in 1987 and ran for four volumes. The story focuses on Ryouko and her fateful meeting with a man’s soul that takes over the body of her deceased cat, Pou. The man has no idea who he is or what happened to his body, but knows for sure that it’s being kept somewhere in a comatose state. At first Ryouko wants nothing to do with this new Pou, but agrees to help him after he protects her from malicious spirits that are drawn to her spiritual powers.
What I liked most about this short series was the unlikely mix of shoujo and horror art techniques. It’s rare that you get flowery bishouen scenes on one page, then nightmare-inducing imagery on the next one. Shinohara’s also not afraid to kill off characters like they’re in a Higurashi or Umineko game. Arguably, the horror elements lessen with each volume, as Ryouko and Pou’s search for Pou’s real body intensifies. I was a little disappointed by that, and the series could have been much longer with tons of different kinds of demons or spirits. Then again, after only four volumes, Pou and Ryouko’s method of exorcising spirits was getting as played out as a Star Driver battle scene.
The shoujo element of this series is ever-so-present through the growing affection between Pou and Ryouko. They often defeat ghosts with an attack of blinding light, a la ZA POWA OF LOVE. Their relationship gets a tad bit awkward to see, because…..well Pou’s currently a cat. He also has the power to possess other human beings, so we also get uncomfortable pseudo-incestual vibes when he possesses Ryouko’s older brother. Don’t worry, he gets strong enough to interact with Ryouko in just spirit form by the time they get super lovey dovey.
I enjoyed this manga, and while it has its flaws, I’d give it a solid 7/10. Now I’m inclined to check out some of Shinohara Chie’s other works. I don’t believe this series was purchased for U.S. release, but online translations are available up to Chapter 10 so far and RAWs are floating around as well.
But be sure to lock your windows while you’re reading….fufufufufu.