This volume represents the longest story the series has told to date. In fact, it’s so long that I didn’t realize at first that it actually started in the previous volume. Go figure. Anyway, Misaki is still on vacation at a hot springs resort in Hakone, trying her best to escape from the pressures and responsibilities that surrounded her back in the real world. Much as she’d like it to continue, outside forces intervene and force her to don her S&M gear and get back to ghost talking. Said outside forces include her associate Soichiro who has roped budding medium Ai and Misaki’s stalker Mitsuru into joining him on his quest, the asshole detective who tried to use Ai’s powers for his own benefit in the last volume, and a suicide circle also visiting the area.
It may sound like there’s a lot going on here, but the biggest problem with this volume is that it feels like a regular story that’s been stretched out far beyond its length. When a series that usually tells two or three stories in a particular volume, you’d naturally expect one that takes more than a volume to tell to be a really big deal. Regrettably, this is not the case. Though the narrative does pick up some momentum towards the end, and we do get some hints as to Yuo -- the mysterious antagonist’s -- motives, I didn’t feel as though we were witnessing a pivotal chapter in this saga.
Though this volume was disappointing, it wasn’t a complete loss. After disappearing for most of the previous volume, it felt good to see Misaki back in action again and her presence does give the proceedings more energy than they would’ve had otherwise. There are also plenty of effectively creepy scenes throughout the volume, most of them focusing on the ghost of Mitsuru’s former lover, and the flashbacks which illustrate some of the character’s own personal hells. Unfortunately, when the series isn’t focusing on the creepy it’s usually because we’re seeing Soichiro act like a total goofball as he’s used in the most ham-fisted way to move the plot forward. Seeing him drag Ai and Mitsuru into the middle of a lake on a boat because he “felt” that Misaki would be there is both not funny and dumb. The creators seem to be laboring under the idea that having Soichiro act like a total goofball is absolutely HILARIOUS and he should be given several scenes in each volume to reinforce this fact. After five volumes, I’ve yet to find any of his antics amusing.
Still, despite my misgivings about this volume, I’ll be picking up the next one when it comes out in May. With Misaki back to work, I’m hoping we’ll get more stories that channel the best creepy and sexy parts from the second and third volumes while keeping the goofiness to a minimum. This series has done better before, and we’ll see if it can do better again.