Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter

tr. from French by Marie Velde. illus. by Cécile Brun & Olivier Pichard. 128p. glossary. Tuttle. Aug. 2018. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9784805314968.
Gr 3–6—Like a love letter to traditional Japan, this graphic novel takes readers off the beaten path to explore the mountains, coast, and small towns of Niigata prefecture alongside a pair of adventure-seeking French tourists. Based on the authors' own travels, the delightfully quirky narrative begins when Olivier and Cécile stumble into a secondhand shop and buy a camera that's said to capture images of otherworldly creatures known as yokai. Intrigued by local legends and folktales, the travelers talk to townspeople and visit shrines, hoping to catch the supernatural on film. Each episodic chapter delves into the question of whether the natural and supernatural coexist side by side, and concludes with a yokai photo, revealing that Olivier and Cécile did indeed encounter spirits—though they may not have realized it at the time. Translated from French, the dialogue is appealingly straightforward, and beautiful, detailed watercolors of changing autumn leaves and steaming bowls of udon depict rural Japan.
VERDICT Light on character development and plot but brimming with charm, this stunning volume will enchant ghost story enthusiasts and those interested in Japan.

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