The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window vol. 1 – Tomoko Yamashita

3 out of 5

An intriguing start, dusted with Boys Love elements in an amusing but not distracting – for a non-Boys Love reader – fashion.

Yamashita jumps right into the premise: the nervy Mikado can see ghosts; the brazen Hiyakawa has a skill for speaking to them. When their souls “touch” – besides being a very sexual experience – Hiyakawa can better dismiss the spirits, allowing the duo to work as ‘cleaners’ of various hauntings, our first six chapters taking them from job to job.

Tricornered Window approaches our pairing from an odd couple perspective, not only in how the two leads’ personalities are quite different, but also in terms of how little Mikado wants to do with Hiyakawa. The former would rather ignore the ghosts (they scare him) and stay working at the bookstore; the latter keeps marveling over Mikado’s innate skill at this spirit-bashing business, and reminding him how good it feels when they’re soul-bonded, which also provides a ton of humorous not-so-double-entendres about penetration and orgasms. The general acceptance of what they’re doing is also fun – Mikado’s boss at the bookstore gladly gives him time off to work alongside Hiyakawa.

Yamashita touches on some deeper notes beyond the episodic events and BL hijinks, as we find that Hiyakawa has occasion to help the police with some reoccurring murders, which introduces the concept of curses, and a repeating mention of a name: Erika Hiura. The chapters in this first volume are a little herky-jerky in juggling banter versus story, but since it’s somewhat framed from Mikado’s relatively naive perspective, the pacing feels somewhat matched. This carries over to the free-flowing dialogue, which is a little more difficult to parse at times: the tails on Yamashita’s word bubbles are very short, and she has a tendency to let conversations drift across panels, detached from the speakers, so it can sometimes be a little wishy-washy as to who’s speaking.

Tomoko’s art is pretty basic – smooth-lined, lithe characters, and panels that are mostly talking heads. It’s effective enough for the dialogue-based flow, but perhaps also telling – in a positive way – that the story is entertaining enough, despite there not being an especially artistic flashiness to it. Flipping through the book won’t cause one to pause on any pages, but stopping to read a few can make it any easy sale, and as opposed to being left with a question as to whether or not this is all going anywhere, there’s definitely a clear sense of a world developing behind these rather laid back first chapters.