Mitama Security: Spirit Busters 004-010 – 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:

Despite my hopes that Mitama Security’s comedy might improve with a few more chapters to flesh things out, the series has hardly budged in overall quality. Even with two of these seven chapters acting as highlights, the rest are so middling and aggressively mediocre that the best we can hope for with Mitama Security is something extremely hit or miss going forward. Let’s Jump In!

This batch of chapters starts off strong. Chapters 4 and 5 both act as early highlights. Chapter 4 introduces a much needed supporting character, Soya Kurosu, a seemingly more capable Spirit Buster whose one flaw is he lacks any and all spirit sense, meaning he can’t even see what he’s supposed to hunt. Soya brings two avenues of comedy to the series. 1: his own brand of bumbling spirit busting prowess, and 2: a tortured, bizarrely adversarial friendship with Mitama. Soya’s use in subsequent chapters is also pretty hit or miss, but here, as character introductions go, he’s spot on and his inclusion feels like a much needed and welcome addition to a series that hasn’t proven it’s got enough innate, conceptual jokes to keep things from getting stale.

Chapter 5 one ups Chapter 4, offering a positively novel story that gave me hope the series could become more versatile. The chapter showcases a misguided spirit falling in love with Mitama and the awkward, pitiable attempts at flirtation and love confession that follows. What’s so great about the chapter is it turns the series on its head, taking it away from the already stale spirit cleansing antics and into another genre entirely.

Unfortunately Mitama Security can’t keep up this level of quality for long. While the weekly scenarios do continue to shift from pure spirit hunting, Mitama Security reveals another, far more devastating problem: One-note ideas. Chapter 6 sees Mitama’s efforts to get Rena to try Tapitapi, a frozen dessert, at the local convenience store. Trouble is the place is haunted by child ghosts, making Mitama’s self-appointed mission seemingly impossible. The trouble is we pretty much have that single joke: Mitama’s inability to cope with the horror he feels at the sight of the child ghosts. This gag is, somehow, supposed to carry a 17 page chapter near entirely by itself. It’s only backed up by a brief gag showcasing that if it’s anyone other than spirits, Mitama is actually pretty bad ass, but even counting that we’ve got two jokes carrying 17 pages, and the dialogue isn’t nearly witty or funny enough to make this plot feel clever and engaging the entire way through.

Chapters 7 and 8 are much the same. Chapter 7 tries to introduce another new character, Kojime Edoichi, grandson of the great detective Holmezaburo Edoichi. Kojime’s whole shtick is that he’s a horrible detective, more prone to misunderstandings than he’ll ever be for deductions. It’s a fun, if tired, idea for a character, but one that can’t possibly carry an entire chapter by itself, yet that’s exactly what happens and honestly leaves it as perhaps the worst chapter of this bunch. Chapter 8 also tries to shake things up with Mitama realizing that Rena hardly seems scared of the spirits around her, and attempts to spook her by dragging her around to various haunted areas. The gag, of course, is that Mitama is far more scared of the spirits than Rena is. It’s a funny gag, but the problem is it’s the series’ central conceit, and we’ve already beaten that to death for 6 of its first 8 chapters.

Things do turn around a bit with Chapter 9 and 10. Soya tries to cheer Mitama up after his efforts went south in Chapter 8. Soya’s presence helps to boost things, but only just as the entire chapter hinges on the comedy of their misguided friendship and little else. Even Chapter 10 is fairly so-so as Rena is confronted by an evil spirit collector, with the central gag being that she’s not in any actual danger at all, heck Rena and her spirits are the ones to be feared.

At the end of the day I can’t help but feel Mitama Security isn’t as clever as it really needs to be, not if it wants a long run in Jump. Too many chapters hinge on one gag, often comedy that simply doesn’t offer enough variety to make for a compelling, full chapter of hilarity. There’s ways to solve this. Introduce more characters, come up with snappy one-liners, more inventive mini-gags that last just a few panels, etc. Unfortunately Mitama Security is only our author’s second manga, and his last title, cancelled before hitting 50 chapters, was also a comedy, meaning this is his second go at it. My feeling is that this is probably as good as Mitama gets: Periodic highs peppered between otherwise generally mediocre content. If you’re looking for a forgettable chuckle, Mitama gets the job done, and only just. I suspect that it doesn’t have long in Jump, not with how many beloved series are currently running.

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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