Slow down, friend. The following content is incredibly perverted.
This manga is 18+, not safe for work, and is really rather sexual.
Should you be pure of heart, avert thine eyes.
Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.
Youkai Shoujo – Monsuga (妖怪少女 －モンスガ－, Monster Girl) is a fighting/harem comedy series with lots of fanservice (expect nipples and questionable crotch-shots) by Funatsu Kazuki (ふなつ一輝), probably best known for his cooking manga Addicted to Curry (華麗なる食卓, Karei Naru Shokutaku). I think this series is hilarious. Don’t misunderstand, while I think the jokes in this series are definitely funny, when I say I think this series is hilarious, I mean I think this series — the series itself, the fact that it exists — is hilarious. While Youkai Shoujo technically qualifies as a harem series, it’s rather unconventional in execution, making it just delightful in my opinion. I tend to hate harem series and avoid them like the plague these days. I haven’t liked a standard harem series wholeheartedly since I was maybe 17. The “average guy who somehow makes six gorgeous women drop their panties because he’s just so nice” premise alone just twists my nuts. Therefore, when I do appreciate a harem, it needs to be doing something special, and Youkai Shoujo definitely does some things special. In terms of ongoing ecchi (perverted) battle comedies, I honestly think it might be the best.
Nishizuru “Junk” Yatsuki is a fairly unremarkable 20-year-old virgin working as a freeter (basically, a freelancer/person who does odd-jobs) at some gadget store in Akihabara (hence his shirt, which says “Junk Store”). It’s a pretty common belief that around power and electricity, ghosts tend to gather, and that’s the logic Youkai Shoujo operates on. Akihabara — a central location for huge nerds — is famously known as Electric Town (Denki Gai) and so is a hot spot for ghosts and evil spirits. Junk is one of the few people who can see these ghosts, and with this power he does…nothing, really.
Right, there are malicious spirits, but Junk still doesn’t do anything about them, choosing instead to just avoid them. He can tell the bad ones from the good or harmless ones from “smell”, evil spirits smelling horrible. So, this oddity aside, he spends his days as a simple, pretty normal otaku. He visits a maid cafe he likes to admire a maid he’s fond of.
He comes home (a fairly large home, for what it’s worth) to a ghost that pesters him often and a grandfather that rarely does anything.
The day ends and starts again.
One of these days, the maid he likes (named “Moru-chan”) asks him about ghosts and youkai. He admits his belief in ghosts, but scoffs at the idea of youkai (which does him no favors with Moru-chan). Youkai are basically mythical Japanese monsters based on superstitions. There are youkai based on noticing someone’s footsteps at night, youkai based on echoes you hear in the mountains, or simple monsters that hang out in certain places. It’s pretty clearly nothing real, but their high variety and long history make them ripe for the picking in fiction. Junk is almost extra skeptical regarding youkai because in his 20 years of living he’s seen plenty of ghosts but never any youkai. That changes this day.
But before any of that, he stumbles on a pair of kids looking to get something down from a tree. He moves to help them and gets a face full of panties.
We’ve seen this girl before. She appears on the first page, where we see the main character battered and bleeding before a large, mysterious person. This has not been brought up ever again after this point, but I figure I may as well mention it.
The girl’s name is Ayatsuji Rokka, and she’s a moron. Before we get into why that is, a quick summary of the following events: her dress rips, he gives her his shirt to cover up. They meet again the next day and Rokka gives Junk his nickname (it’s specifically “Junk-ya”, or “junk seller/store” but Junk alone gets the point across). Junk finds that he’s stunningly not awkward around Rokka (in fact, it feels like he’s drawn to her), smoothly taking her out to eat and eventually bringing her to his home when she feels unwell. Here, Rokka carelessly reveals that she’s a rokurobi.
After eating some kind of energy that comes out of the terrified Junk-san’s mouth (in a rather suggestive manner), Junk falls on his ass and tries to process what just happened. A lot happens after this, such that it’s kind of pointless to summarize. Youkai Shoujo actually builds on its story, setting, and characters fairly slowly so trying to explain even the early parts could get pretty messy. I’ll do my best, and then smoothly transition into discussing the cast.
The long and short of it is, Junk initially distrusts Rokka because youkai are generally considered to be malevolent and he’s worried she’ll eat/possess him or consume the ghost that haunts his house. The ghost is that of his little sister, Nanao, and the reason he ignores her is since he can’t do anything with her and doesn’t want her to be reminded that she’s incorporeal. Eventually, he decides to keep Rokka around because Rokka (as a spiritual creature) can see Nanao and likes to play with her. Furthermore, Rokka earns his trust after helping him take care of this youkai who was haunting Moru-chan, the maid:
Taking up a sacred wooden sword made by his grandfather and with Rokka’s aid, he determines to take care of the bad youkai plaguing Akihabara.
Giving him this task is Nagi-san, a fortune teller/exorcist who operates out of Akihabara. Nagi is an interesting character, immediately coming across as mysterious when we meet her. She’s always dressed in cosplay, but is rather blunt and deadpan instead of wacky as her outfits might suggest. She’s definitely strange, but she’s very subdued about it. She has a strong air of responsibility to her, as if Akihabara is her domain, and even the powerful youkai that Rokka and Junk subdue becomes her servant. She’s clearly very confident as well as very knowledgeable regarding youkai, and she keeps the plot moving forward steadily.
And speaking of plot, it’s revealed that the biggest reason Junk agrees to fight youkai is for his sister, Nanao. It turns out that Nanao is not actually a ghost, but is instead a manifestation of her soul. Her body is in a persistent vegetative state and the cause is unknown. There are youkai around that can separate and transfer/insert souls, though, so Junk figures if he can meet one then maybe Nanao can be returned to normal. Right now, she’s like a 10-year-old in a 16-year-old body, and her overall situation depresses him.
Mercifully, the situation improves! While Junk-san beats up a lot of youkai and most of them just slink off and say they won’t cause trouble again, some end up becoming pals. The one pictured is rather rude, but becomes a pal. He/She/It is Hinna-Gami, a doll youkai specializing in quickly cutting things up with a razor blade. Mostly, it does this to clothing, but its cantankerous disposition makes it clear this youkai chops things up simply because it’s enjoyable, not because it’s arousing. It adds a lot of amusement to the cast by being a blunt asshole later on. Its reign of fanservice is ended by another pal, a wall youkai (nurikabe).
Her name is Makabe “Icchan” Ichiru, and while she looks like a little girl she’s possibly the oldest among Junk’s allies. Don’t worry, she’s not really a character who gets sexualized. Instead, she’s a not-so-secretly childish youkai who talks in an ancient dialect with a lot of obsolete words and insists she’s not a kid. She’s pretty no-nonsense for the most part, and eventually becomes another tenant of Junk-san’s place along with Rokka and Hinna-gami. She becomes a particularly good friend to Nanao.
Shortly after we get our new recruits, we meet the best girl.
Itoshige “Hime” Kuroe is just great. She’s a tomboyish girl who loves video games, specifically fighters. Naturally she, too, is a youkai. Unsurprisingly, she’s also one of the youkai Junk ends up having to pummel. During the battle with her, a major aspect of the series is introduced: Junk can “fuse” with youkai and use them as incredibly powerful weapons.
When called upon, Rokka turns into a giant power-arm with an extendable fist that really wallops other youkai. I must say, I like how toy-like the arm looks; it makes this really stand out among power-ups. This is a “spoiler” since this doesn’t happen among the currently translated chapters and even takes a while to happen in the raws, but when he calls on other youkai they’re toy-like as well. We know that Junk can fuse with youkai other than Rokka, but it really takes a while before that happens.
And with that, you basically know how the series goes. You get arcs where a youkai is causing trouble and someone (sometimes Junk, sometimes another character) takes care of it in battle. Along the way, it becomes increasingly clear that while Junk-san’s primary goal is to save his sister, he’s also making it something of a goal to befriend youkai. His first youkai friend is Rokka, so let’s talk about her.
Rokka is a goddamn pervert.
Here is where it starts becoming clear that Youkai Shoujo is a different sort of harem manga. In the first place, Rokka is smitten with Junk-san, but she makes it clear readily and often that she is also a big fan of girls. At some point you could even argue that this series is about her harem, Junk included. She even has a “first girl”!
I fucking love Rokka, seriously. I think she’s a riot. Most of the youkai in this series are simplistic and easily amused and Rokka is no exception. She laughs freely, is excitable, and it doesn’t take much to make her pleased with herself. Her goofy, perverted sense of humor is regularly amusing, she almost always has a sense of levity to her even in some very dire straights, and she isn’t annoyingly jealous of any other girls that pursue Junk (rather, it’s quite funny when she’s jealous). She’s just all around great.
For some reason, Junk doesn’t seem to want to pursue anything with her, but she feels like an exception rather than a rule here. Usually, the main character will just completely want to avoid progress with any of the girls, but Junk definitely has his interests. Rokka is special for some reason, not that he doesn’t find her attractive.
It also doesn’t really matter what Junk likes, because “that girl the main character already has feelings for” in this harem (in this case, Moru-chan) doesn’t actually like him romantically, and even takes quite a while to like him at all. In fact, it seems her biggest love interest is her childhood friend, a girl. It isn’t subtext, either; at least one of these two is all in on the lesbian train. Moru-chan is also a fujoshi (“rotten girl”), meaning her primary interest in romance is boys’ love, so she’d like to see guys paired with guys.
So that leaves one actual, viable love interest for the main character until chapter 56, which is one less than that viable love interest has.
Suzunari Nia takes a bit longer to actually enter the series, but when she does Junk is firmly outside of her radar. Instead, it’s pretty much entirely on Rokka that she becomes another resident of the Nishizuru household. She’s a nekomata (two-tailed cat) youkai who’s very standoffish and taciturn, but can be moved to tears with some simple things. Rokka becomes fascinated with her, and she grows to admire Rokka in turn. Their relationship is surprisingly similar to an average perverted main character/tsundere main heroine pair.
Basically it doesn’t take long for this guy’s so-called harem to be in shambles, if it was ever a harem at all. Of course I like this series if it’s like that. As it turns out, the relatively pathetic main character is only appealing to a few people who have seen him when he’s being strong and manly. Ordinarily Junk just comes across as a meek otaku because…that’s what he is. He can be heroic, but it’s very rare, and even in the thick of battle he can often feel scared and be cowardly. He’s a perverted otaku who doesn’t always have pure intentions, usually gets slapped if he does something worth getting slapped over, and is only spared a slap by the few that actually like him.
Even among the youkai that end up rooming at his place, it takes a while for some of them to honestly warm up to him and consider him a friend. Nonetheless, he protects them and those he considers important. Really, Junk feels like a guardian of many, not necessarily a “harem protagonist”. While he still gets in crazy situations where girls’ panties or naked bodies are in plain sight, sometimes accidentally grabbing with his hands or pushing in his face as harem protagonists are wont to do, he isn’t exactly going around lighting hearts on fire with love and passion. This is a guy who slowly becomes a hero and is slowly recognized for it, but doesn’t find himself rolling in ladies after the fact. I think this is excellent, and it’s also the biggest reason I find this series funny. It completely subverted my expectations, and is basically exactly what I could want from this kind of harem premise.
This may not work for everyone. Some might find Junk’s patheticness too pathetic, or the fact that Rokka makes more progress with girls than he does annoying, or that his “first love” already having a first love is just heresy, but I really just love all of it. Of course, it’s possible that Junk could get more love interests in the future, and I will admit if that happens my mood could somewhat sour on this series, but at least Junk experiences genuine character development throughout this series and grows more and more determined over time. I can believe it if more females become attracted to that. Even then, the atmosphere of Youkai Shoujo is generally so relaxed and easygoing that I wouldn’t sweat it anyway.
I think Youkai Shoujo is fun and damn funny. A good sense of humor can carry me through even a bad series, but Youkai Shoujo is actually not bad. This is one of the funnier manga I’ve read, getting plenty of chortles from me (not on all things, I don’t get what this guy’s deal is), but even as a story this manga is honestly solid. It’s not amazing or even great, it’s just a firm good. While the pace is rather slow (seriously, it feels like things happen thirty chapters after you expect them to), every individual chapter is paced well. Action is portrayed nicely, the art is overall very good, and it’s rare to find a chapter that isn’t at least a little funny. That said, the series thankfully also knows how to be sad/heartfelt, and has some great emotional scenes too. I think Funatsu-sensei did just about as good as one can do with a perverted battle manga. The series feels like a slow-growing family of characters, Junk isn’t the exclusive focus of the series so he never feels overbearing or overly important, tension can be genuinely high, conclusions to battles are regularly satisfying, and if it wants to make me feel emotions then it will.
Damn, it’s just good. That scene the panel above is taken from does something really rare, too: using something that you’d otherwise not really give much thought to for a powerful, touching moment.
Alright, wrapping things up. What else can I praise about this series? I like how the youkai in the series are perfectly comfortable with being youkai. It’s a bit difficult to explain, but basically they don’t think twice about their powers and abilities. Rokka will just…stretch her neck! How? Dunno, magic? Why? Maybe to see something farther away, maybe to catch something, maybe because she’s relaxed. The surprises she pulls out come to her without thinking most times, too. In this setting, youkai subsist off of fear from humans, and as a rokurobi Rokka is pretty good at shocking/scaring/surprising people, like it’s an instinct. This and other weird habits from youkai make them feel distinctly “other”, rather than simply humans with funky abilities. It’s not exactly Anko-san of the Deep Sea Fish level of “odd people, odd culture”, but Funatsu-sensei definitely did give this setting and the characters that inhabit it some thought.
And, well, I like this. This series gets a high recommendation from me and without any caveats. Feel free to read this, just not at work! You can import Youkai Shoujo from Bookwalker (guide), CDJapan, honto (guide), or ebookjapan. The Bookwalker, honto, and ebookjapan copies are digital.
Coming up, a review on my third favorite manga of all time. Thanks for reading!