Almost no fanservice, no crude humor, and the plot arrives at last! But is it too late to save the patient?
Writer/Artist: Yuki Sato
Translation: Stephen Paul
Adaptation: Stephan Paul
What They Say
It's not easy being a doctor for ghosts and goblins, but someone's got to do it! Kuro, the doctor, and his friend Kotoko have to deal with thieves, dragons, and giant spiders, but their bravery is really tested when someone in the spirit world places a curse on Kuro's head. Kuro has devoted his life to helping others so who could possibly want him dead?
On paper, Yokai doctor sounds like the perfect series for me: Medical mysteries starring a menagerie of Japanese spirits and demons, with a little fanservice on the side? "What could possibly go wrong?" one might ask, but if you look at the reviews for the first two volumes of the series, you'd get the answer "Plenty." I like fanservice, if done with some style, and I'm the type that gets excited for the ghost story episodes that most fans would consider worthless filler. So, to give the series a fresh look and a second opinion, I started reading with volume three. I found it to be nothing groundbreaking, but I enjoyed it. Curious to see if this represented an actual increase in quality, or just a difference of opinion, I glanced through the first two volumes. They both proved to be just as silly and tasteless as has been previously described. However, the third volume might just be what the doctor ordered.
With this volume, it feels as if Sato decided to quit goofing around and actually get the story in gear. Fanservice is isolated to a single image of Kasuga in short shorts, and Kuro drops the sexual harassment and begins to act like your typical earnest shonen hero. The volume begins by finishing the showdown between Kuro, and Kaie, a former childhood friend who wants Kuro's blood for a mysterious purpose. This plays out like a standard shonen showdown until Kaie summons a night parade of 100 demons, in a last-ditch attempt to win the battle. The yokai are detailed in several pages of glorious phantasmagoric excess, replete with oozing ectoplasm and ripping fangs galore. The demons prove impossible to control, and Kaie once again loses his head, if not his life. Further investigation reveals Kaie needs Kuro's blood to free the trapped spirit of a young girl, Marie, who is being held hostage by powerful yokai who want war between the world of humans and the world of shadows. It's your standard shonen boilerplate, but it's executed with style.
Sato then shifts gears and presents a series of smaller, episodic stories. First, a cute, if trite, tale about an abominable snowman who just wants to make some human friends. The next chapter introduces Kusushi, a ne'er do well thief with a ridiculous suit and eyepatch who promises to bring nothing but trouble. Promises are kept, as Kusushi soon delivers a kidnapped spider princess, with a phalanx of angry tarantula guards in hot pursuit. Of course, everything gets wrapped up neatly with Kuro saving the day, but the art for this chapter is quite clever. Seeing spectral x-rays of an attempted suicide come to life and attempt to convince Kuro to just let her die is delightfully macabre.
Volume three shows a massive improvement in story and art for the series, and there are hints that it could very well represent a turning point. The next volume looks to introduce Kuro's yokai counterpart: It appears that one of his yokai mother's eggs was stolen and raised by humans. If Sato keeps up the quality of this volume, I could find myself liking this series quite a bit. Of course, it's just as possible that volume four will return to a series of tired boob and panty jokes. Regardless, I'm looking forward to volume four to see which path the series takes.