ONIBI by Atelier Sento


Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter
by ; illustrated by ; translated by
Age Range: 10 - 14
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A couple of foreign travelers search for ghosts and spirits in the countryside of Japan.

According to Japanese legend, onibi are ghost lights, rather like will-o’-the-wisps, and yokai are supernatural monsters, spirits, and demons. Originally written in French, this graphic novel follows two foreign children, Cécile and Olivier (presumably child avatars of the creative duo, Cécile Brun and Olivier Pichard, who work together as Atelier Sento), as they travel around Niigata Prefecture. While there, they purchase an old camera that’s purported to capture the yokai on film. Using their camera, they explore this rural area, listening to eerie legends and visiting its haunted places. Unfortunately, the yokai like to play tricks and can sometimes be mischievous and dangerous. Each chapter centers on one of the pictures taken on the trip and tells the story of how it was captured. Overlaid with ghostly illustrations, these photos are real pictures printed using the cyanotype process, which gives them a mysterious blue color. (A three-page minicomic explains the process.) Basing their adventure on real people and places in Japan, the French duo creates a spooky yet intriguing spirit world overlaid on our reality. Using a combination of watercolor and colored pencil, the illustrations are done in a beautiful traditional Japanese style, and the device of the camera in the hands of white tourists is an artful one, given the theme of intersecting worlds.

A must for anyone intrigued by the hidden spirit world and how it crosses over into ours. (maps, glossary) (Graphic fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 2018
ISBN: 978-4-8053-1496-8
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Tuttle
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2018


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