Mitama Security: Spirit Busters 001-003 – Manga Review

Synopsis: Rena’s haunted by spirits, but when a strange guy comes to bust them, he may be more of a hindrance than a help! (Official Shonen Jump Synopsis.)

(Warning: Spoilers to Follow):

Review:

It was only a matter of time before Shonen Jump’s latest additions included the requisite gag manga. Mitama Security unfortunately feels like a pretty standard, non-stand out effort. We take a generally well-worn idea, in this case a girl haunted by spirits and a man with the skills to deal with them, and turn the concept on its head, attempting to turn the dramatic into the comedic. Like a lot of gag manga it’s got a central gag it over relies on, failing to produce enough additional and creative comedy to make the title feel unique. Let’s Jump In!

Mitama Security introduces us to Joh Mitama, a SecReity Agent (Spirit hunter) agent who helps individuals deal with the spirits that haunt them. Mitama’s only trouble is he’s perhaps more afraid of the spirits than his clients are. Our other lead is Mitama’s main client to be, Rena Haze. She’s a 1st year high school girl plagued by a near endless supply of spirits. That said Rena is pretty used to it by now and doesn’t really need Mitama’s help, though she’ll be getting it anyway. The story proceeds much as anyone might expect. Mitama pops onto the scene and attempts to deal with Rena’s spirit troubles. His efforts are laughably pathetic from start to end, that is until he finally cries from the sheer fear, which awakens his true spirit battling prowess.

What’s paramount for gag manga isn’t so much lovable characters, or a gripping plot, although have either is never a bad thing, but the sheer comedic wealth on hand. Unfortunately Mitama Security doesn’t really prove itself as anything extraordinary. The series’ central joke is Joh Mitama’s sheer ineptitude for dealing with ghosts and how often his efforts are hindered by his own, overpowering fear. It’s a fine gag in and of itself, but it’s important to find ways to switch that up. It’s not really until the back half of the first chapter we start to see the series stretch itself, finding other humorous takes on standard shonen tropes: Like a background character providing exposition to understand what’s happening. In this case one of the evil spirits decides to weigh in.

It’s surprises like that that make or break comedic manga, and unfortunately Mitama Security just doesn’t have a lot of them. The way Mitama Security progresses is ultimately a lot like you’d expect, rarely catching you off guard with a surprising or unexpected development.

Chapter 2 isn’t much to write home about either. A lot of fledgling manga essentially repeat their first chapters in the 2nd chapter, as if trying to prove to the audience, editors, or perhaps themselves that the premise can be accomplished in a more standard page length. Perhaps it’s also to make sure audiences get what the series is going for, hoping that maybe anyone who missed Chapter 1 can pick up Chapter 2 without losing understanding for the premise. Whatever the case Mitama Security at least tries to inject a few new elements, in its second outing, by shifting the location to Rena’s school, although we don’t seem to meet any ongoing side characters. There’s also an attempt to insert an emotional element to Rena’s story. In the 1st Chapter we don’t discuss the emotional impact of having dozens if not hundreds of spirits haunting her. Here we see that Rena has been accused by peers of merely wanting attention whenever she tried to talk about the spirits no one else can see. This heart helps to make Rena a more sympathetic character, even if the comedy isn’t spectacular just yet.

Chapter 3 varies things up a little further, showing Rena’s home life, her, predictably, poor cooking, and Mitama’s attempts to save her from yet another haunting. In this case rather than attacking the spirits physically Mitama solves the problem through cooking instead, again helping to vary up the idea enough that it doesn’t feel like we’re just sort of repeating the same thing again and again.

So far Mitama Security is a decent offering, but nothing stand out. It’s got time to grow though, and what’s here isn’t the worst start to a gag manga I’ve ever seen. If our writer, Tsurun Hatomune, can find more varied comedy, and surprise us more often, this could survive as one of Jump’s few gag manga offerings.

 

That’s it for this week! Let me know what your thoughts are on Mitama Security: Spirit Busters!

Mitama Security: Spirit Busters is published weekly in Shonen Jump.

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