The sleepy town of Makurazaka is being haunted by the ghostly “Steel Lady Nanase”, and it’s up to Kotoko to investigate in this new series from the creator of Blast of Tempest!
Two years have passed since Kotoko and Kuro had their first encounter with the supernatural at the hospital, and the two are now going out with an uncertain degree of seriousness. Kuro’s ex-girlfriend, Saki, now works at the police department in Makurazaka, and begins investigating the rumour of Steel Lady Nanase, the supposed ghost of dead idol Karin Nanase. To her misfortune, Saki encounters Nanase one night but is saved by Kotoko, who has begun investigating the case herself on behalf of the area’s yokai. Although the two might not like each other very much because of their mutual connection to Kuro, they reluctantly team up to take down this fearsome ghost.
How Was It?
I ended up enjoying In/Spectre’s first volume much more than I expected thanks to its compelling mix of supernatural mystery with a dash of romance, and I enjoyed the way that the story was effectively divided into an extensive prologue before skipping forward two years to tell the mystery of Steel Lady Nanase. This volume devotes itself to continuing the building of this mystery, and on the whole, I really enjoyed the methodical way that it developed this storyline as Kotoko and Saki continue their pursuit of the ghost. One thing I really enjoyed was the way that this volume really commits to the task of fleshing out the mystery in detailing Nanase’s backstory in a fairly comprehensive manner in an interesting extended look at her backstory. I really liked that Nanase herself was explored so thoroughly in terms of drawing out a detailed backstory for her, and this gave the mystery a sense of emotional weight that would not have otherwise been present. I was also happy that the mystery didn’t feel half-baked at all in providing an appropriate level of context to the case at hand without dragging along, and I felt that this volume, like the previous one, succeeded in drawing me into a full-fledged mystery.
Part of what made In/Spectre’s first volume so enjoyable was how entertaining each of the characters were, and this volume definitely shares this trait. I thought Kotoko was developed really well in the first volume in terms of demonstrating her charming persistence in the context of her somewhat tragic backstory, and this volume continues her development as she collides with Saki throughout as they work together. Together, Kotoko and Saki get the spotlight in this volume, and I thought that this worked really well because of the way that both the personalities and motivations of both of these characters were previously established. This made for an interesting experience as these two polar opposites clashed with one another in a humourous way, but what really stood out for me was the way that both of their personalities were explored in reference to each other as the mystery and their respective backstories entered the picture. Kotoko and Saki’s unconventional partnership of sorts comes to a climax towards the end of the volume as the mystery reaches a head, and I liked that their conversations throughout the volume gave these final scenes a considerable amount of emotional weight that would not have otherwise been so satisfying. The interactions between the two are also just plain funny at times – we see both of them needle each other in a way that livens up this story considerably without feeling silly in a way that might detract from the tone. As noted above, the mystery is compelling and taken seriously enough, but the characters keep the proceedings balanced as a whole.
Complementing the development of Saki and Kotoko in this volume is Kuro, who is largely absent from this volume but manages to affect the goings-ons by proxy as we learn more about him through Saki and Kotoko’s conversations. This was an unconventional choice, but I thought it was actually quite fascinating to see him held at arm’s length in a way that really heightened the emotional weight of his appearance during the second half of this volume even if the romantic elements of this volume were much less pronounced as a result. I enjoyed that we get some backstory once Kuro arrives back in the picture, and I thought this segment was well-done and nailed the eerie tone it attempts quite effectively. The volume ends off on an appropriate emotional note that feels like the proper culmination of the emotional beats drawn out here to cap off this volume in a satisfying way, and I definitely want to see more of these characters going forward as they attempt to solve the mystery.
The consequence of the methodical approach that this volume takes in carefully developing its central mystery is that the action is rather sparse in comparison to the numerous expository scenes. This volume is unrepentantly a slow-build, and it suffers in some sense from being the middle segment of a story that began in the previous volume and will end in a future one. That said, enough is put on the table to chew on in the development of this mystery as well these characters that I was genuinely entertained throughout, and the fact that on reflection I enjoyed this volume quite a bit stands as a testament to this volume doing something very right with its story and character-building. The one real action scene towards the end stands out more as an emotional experience, and the art never really gets the chance to stand out here as it did in the first volume. That said, the art is still well-drawn on the whole, particularly in portraying the characters in ways that get across their emotions effectively.
In/Spectre Vol. 2 is a compelling read for the way that it lays out an impressively fleshed out mystery in the context of its likable and well-developed characters. I really enjoyed watching Kotoko and Saki banter through the course of their investigation, and this culminated really well in a climax that really benefited from some of the emotional lifting done earlier on. We also get a mystery that feels appropriately detailed, and those looking for a fun mystery story should definitely be checking out this volume.
In/Spectre Vol. 2 was written by Kyo Shirodaira and drawn by Chashiba Katase, and is currently serializing in Kodansha's Shonen Magazine R magazine. It is translated into English by Alethea Nibley and Athena Nibley and published by Kodansha Comics USA.
Date of Publication: January 10th, 2017
Author: Kyo Shirodaira (Story) + Chashiba Katase (Art)
Translator: Alethea & Athena Nibley
Editor: Ajani Oloye
Publisher: Kodansha Comics