Content Warning: This review discusses the inclusion of sexual assault in Ghost Reaper Girl Volume 1
With its cover, Ghost Reaper Girl looked like exactly my jam. Cute guy with a cute girl fighting demons together and running amok. Well, that’s there but there is a whole world of problems—the kind really makes me side-eye shonen. Ghost Reaper Girl Volume 1 is created, written and illustrated by Akissa Saike. The Shonen Jump Edition in English is published and localized by VIZ Media with a graphic novel translation by Amanda Haley and touch-up art, and lettering by Annaliese “Ace” Christman.
In Ghost Reaper Girl we meet Chloé. A 28-year-old woman who looks like a teenager and has dreamed of leading a glamorous life as an actress ever since she was little. But her role as a b-horror star and her spontaneous displays of violence aren’t helping her reach her goal. After a casting couch situation reveals that it isn’t just creepy old men who want her but ghosts and demons too, she gets the chance to join a mysterious and charming new man. Only problem is he’s a loli and entirely awful. But Chloé forms a pact with him anyway to become the Ghost Reaper Girl and take down the evil spirits that have escaped from Hades.
Okay. Ghost Reaper Girl Volume 1 is bad. Despite its cool concept and its honestly gorgeously weird art, opening with an attempted sexual assault and then casting one of the main characters as a self-proclaimed “loli” is just all kinds of ick. In fact, our lead Chloé is continually put into situations where the threats to her aren’t world-crushing circumstances but people wanting to get inside her body. While possession is commonplace in any demonic or supernatural series, here, the excessive sexual language and double entendres are too much.
Some of this could be forgiven if there wasn’t the very specific choice to make the specter of loli hang over every single one of these interactions. I don’t think I’ve been this viscerally uncomfortable reading a manga in a very long time. In fact, the only reason I completed it was because I knew I had to write this review. Excess is the reason none of this story works. Remarks on Chloé’s extremely young appearance and how it gets around legality make this all feel extremely bad. I’m not sure if it’s because of my own age or the fact that I’m a female critic, but there wasn’t a single moment I didn’t feel uncomfortable.
The real shame is that Saike’s artwork is extremely good this entire volume. With interesting choices made for representing the ghosts possessing bodies, how they do it, and how they’re exorcised—and of course, how attractive our male lead is. Additionally, there are interesting world-building elements that would be great to follow, specifically on the nature of the abyss and the state of emergency alert we see at the volume’s beginning.
However, I can’t recommend Ghost Reaper Girl on those things alone. The attempt to turn loli into something quirky and not something that should be rebuked and the constant threat of sexual assault is too much to suggest anyone sits through. I don’t know why this series exists.
Ghost Reaper Girl Volume 1
However, I can’t recommend Ghost Reaper Girl on those things alone. The attempt to turn loli into a punchline and not something that should be rebuked and the constant threat of sexual assault is too much to suggest anyone sits through. I don’t know why this series exists.