I’m probably much harder to please with monster-hunting manga than any other subgenre. There’s just so much of it, it usually has to be both outstanding and irresistible to really catch my attention. Butterfly doesn’t really fit into this category for me, but there are a few things about it that make it quirky and potentially interesting. First of all, this series is actually seinen manga written by a woman. I have great fondness for other seinen by female authors like Soryo’s ES (Eternal Sabbath), so those publication details did make me more intrigued about the title. While this is a seinen series, it is set in high school with a male main character who is not all that great at school. Ginji refuses to write any career goals as he heads into his final months of school. His life is changed when he meets Ageha, an elementary school kid with glasses and long hair who promises to pay his debts if Ginji will work them off by doing some ghost busting.
Ginji hates the idea of ghost, but he’s haunted by an event that happened to his older brother. When Ageha suddenly appears before him, asking if he wants to “Go and kill…all the ghosts in the world together,” Ginji is extremely skeptical. He tags along on one of Ageha’s missions and finds out that the exorcisms he’s going to be involved in are a little different than he expects. It turns out that Ageha has the ability to manifest images of the things that haunt people, and Ginji has the ability to destroy them. So Ageha is effectively exorcising people’s worries and fears by giving them a form that Ginji battles with. Ageha and Ginji have complementary powers, but the way they work isn’t fully explained in the first volume. Ageha is a bit of a mysterious being as well, because while people tend to assume she’s a girl, others maintain that she’s a cross-dressing boy.
Aikawa’s art is clear and easy to follow during the action scenes, but lacks a unique style. I was fond of Ageha’s mannerisms, just because after reading The Secret Notes of Lady Kanako, I’m happy to see yet another glasses-wearing protagonist with social issues. While Butterfly didn’t totally win me over with the first volume I was intrigued by the idea that Ageha is manifesting people’s internal demons, and Ginji’s destruction of those illusions brings the afflicted some peace. I’m curious to see if some of the mysteries behind Ageha’s origin and the nature of the duo’s complementary powers are explored more in the next volume. I think that Butterfly would probably appeal most to older high school students and adults who want a slightly different spin on monster hunting manga.
Review copy provided by the publisher