Takeuchi Masami has been kicked out of his house by his uncle after the death of his father. The meager allowance his uncle sends him is hardly enough to find a decent place to live, so at the beginning of the story we find him shacking up at his school, while his cute classmate Kagome Nishino is trying to help him find an apartment.
As it turns out, she has just found the perfect one, and whisks Takeuchi to a bare, unfurnished place and talks him into moving in right away—in fact, spending that same night there, alone, and without even a futon to lie on. It turns out that she has an ulterior motive: she is heavily into the supernatural, having just formed a "paranormal research club" at their school, and the reason the apartment is so cheap is because it is said to be haunted, something she conveniently does not mention to Takeuchi, who almost dies of fright that night when all sorts of spooky things begin to happen all around him.
Now here’s something novel – take a bunch of school kids, stick them together in a club, give them a bunch of adventures and then stick a love triangle on top of that. Ok, I was being sarcastic – let’s face it, it’s a theme that’s been so well trodden over time, the carpet’s worn through to the floorboards. However, that’s not to say that Yui doesn’t try his best to bring something new to the genre and in a way he has, ending up with an enjoyable little romp.
Personally, I like the use of the two opposing Kagome’s (that's their first names by the
way) – Nishino who wants to see ghosts and can’t and Kasuga who can see them and really doesn’t want to, nor does she want to be a part of the club. That is until she lays eyes on Masami and sees him as a potential solution to her problem. You see - how does one say this politely – Kasuga’s ability so see spirits rests upon the fact (as with all good miko) that she’s still a maiden. Should she lose her maidenhood, then in theory, she’ll lose the ability too. Hence her *ahem* interest in Masami, who is of course, holding a flame for Nishino and thus isn’t quite as responsive as she’d like. The last thing Nishino wants, of course, is for Kasuga to lose her skills, as she’s the club’s only link to the spirit world, and this leads to an amusing interplay between the three protagonists during the tale.
As for the rest of the story, well it’s fairly typical stuff, as Masami finds himself first haunted by the disembodied head of his dead mother (Freud would have a field day with him, methinks), and the hunt for the source and solution to the mystery takes off at breakneck speed. It’s generally well done and covers the whole gamut from creaking cupboard doors, possession to long forgotten, creepy shrines and family secrets. The story becomes fairly involved, as more secrets are revealed surrounding Masami’s family, as well as the ties that bind the two Kagome’s together. It does, sadly, get a bit far-fetched as the story progresses, especially once Masami becomes aware of his own “powers,” but I guess that’s to be expected from a shounen-esque storyline, although Yui more than compensates with a refreshingly surprising ending.
Something else that surprised me – artistic philistine that I am – was how much I enjoyed his character design and artwork. The girls’ designs in particular convey a sense of spunkiness, exuberance and fun and I must confess (at the risk of sounding like a dirty old man) that that played a large part in me picking up and running with this particular manga. Yui’s also not afraid to switch repeatedly from ”normal” to “deformed” character styles, using it to great effect to enhance the comedic moments.
At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a fun little story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but manages to bring a little something new to a well-tried formula, Kagome Kagome is an enjoyable, and short, read.