The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window vol. 4 – Tomoko Yamashita

5 out of 5

This is coming together so nicely, subtly moving us into deeper and more complex territory, whilst having started off as quirky, supernatural homoerotic BL. Reading this gives me such a bizarre feeling, where it’s incredibly lighthearted – Yamashita has found a funny balance with the gay “subtext” in this volume, turning it into an ongoing back-and-forth between two characters who are completely naive in their own, but different, ways; and mixed into this are amusing episodic interactions with spooks – but then also hauntingly affecting, as the on-the-nose metaphor for spiritual invasion / relationships becomes more nuanced, and grey, indirectly asking questions about consent, and want, and need. Backing this up is the tip-toe into a plot with some teeth: curses being purposefully applied to people and places for unknown reasons; emotional abuse; the yakuza! That last bit is a special surprise, because it’s delivered so offhand that it’s easy to overlook how serious that is – which is a good encapsulation of how this series has been evolving.

The comedy and ghostly interactions in the volume work well because they’re mostly down to facial acting and body language – which Yamashita does really well – or directly depicting the spirits. It’s when the choreography is more intensive, or the visuals more aethereal, that the artist has trouble keeping pace, but neither is required here.

I really want this in print, dammit.