BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter by Cécile Brun and Olivier Pichard, iIllustrated by Cécile Brun, translated by Marie S. Velde [in Booklist]

In fall 2014, Cécile Brun and Olivier Pichard (fictional versions of the artists who comprise Atelier Sentō) traveled to Niigata Prefecture on Japan’s west coast. To escape the rain, they duck into a dimly lit shop, where they discover a camera that can allegedly “shoot supernatural creatures.” It’s a mere ¥500, although the film is ¥10,000. Brun invests, and despite Pichard’s protestations, the hunt for yōkai – trickster spooks – and other ancient apparitions is on.

Welcoming locals, mysterious strangers, toothsome meals, and spooky legends all lead the intrepid duo through otherworldly adventures in this fantasy travelogue. Their stopovers eventually yield eight curious blue-and-white photographs, each layered with stories and spirits.

As artists in the story, the couple uses “mostly traditional techniques” that include watercolor, colored pencils, and printmaking. As creators, they imbue their youthful alter-egos with anime charm, from Brun’s oversized opaque glasses to Pichard’s stubborn cowlicks. Aided by Velde’s smooth, succinct translation, the duo “share a Japan that’s uncommon” in panels rich with cultural details and sensitive representation, with just enough chill-factor to ensure entertainment along the way.

Review: “Graphic Novels,” Booklist, July 1, 2018

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult

Published: 2018 (United States)


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