The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window vol. 2 – Tomoko Yamashita

4 out of 5

A perfect expansion to the tale, pushing the tone slowly out of the comfort zone of BL meet-cute commentary, and showing where further story dimensions lie – setting up some fairly surface level relationship parallels, but then also starting to dig in to not only more challenging versions of that, but also something more layered, and interesting, regarding the nature of feelings and relationships themselves.

Volume 2 of Tricornered Window essentially follows the set up of Volume 1 – each chapter introduces a spook, and Mikado nervily investigates, with plenty of wink-wink gags comparing spiritual soul-touching to penetration and visually simulating oral sex when pulling a ghost out of someone, and this would be pretty obnoxious if Yamashita presented it all as being especially clever, but the tone of these scenes is so in your face that, humorously, side characters look askance and ask What’s Going On?

But the changeup here is that it’s not always Mikado and Hiyakawa working together – Mikado finds he has a much different dynamic with Keita, or when working on his own – and we also start to get some drib-drabs on Mikado’s background, fleshing him out beyond a nebbish stand-in, and, more directly surprisingly, bringing Erika Hiura in as a full-on character, a move which likely would’ve been delayed by many writers. Instead of dispelling the mystery of her involvement in the curses Mikado / Hiyakawa have seen, it complicates matters: she’s nowhere near being a straight-forward “villain,” and again introduces intriguing complexities into how we’re reading this story – it is not a meet-cute, and slowly peels back layers to peek at more frightening emotions, such as obsession, and aggression.

This is all being massaged into the story carefully, though, so that we’re still able to maintain a light tone, even as these layers are being added. Yamashita’s “floating” dialogue is a bit easier to read this time around, but that can be either because the characters are growing into their roles more or that I’m more used to it two volumes in, or both. However, the limitations of the art are still there, with the more ethereal concepts not served well by the stiff, simplified linework. You definitely get the gist, and the “shift” into the spiritual realm is clear, thanks to black or white backing colors, but I have to rely on context to understand some of the other stuff.