Kamikakushi Ryou Kitan by Tojitsuki Hajime

Kamikakushi Ryou Kitan

BL = Bozu Love

I had a rough start with Tojitsuki Hajime.  Several of her earliest manga struck me as very bland, very forgettable.  At some point, either she matured artistically or gained enough freedom to draw whatever she wants (probably a bit of both!) because her recent manga are refreshing additions to BL.  Kamikakushi Ryou Kitan revolves around the supernatural occurrences and tasks undertaken by the resident monks.  This isn’t your average Shinto shrine or priests.  It’s an unremarkable employee dormitory, but the residents have some pretty remarkable (if somewhat random) styles that are heavily influenced by skater, street, and hip-hop cultures.  There’s even some “bozu atama” or shaven heads that you’d associate with monks and/or punks! Kamikakushi Ryou Kitan is a collection of occult stories that feature these modern day monks.

While there’s a large cast of supporting characters, the focus is Tsukumo Chiaki (“Chuckie”) and the company’s new employee, Janome Hakuoumaru.

Chiaki has a cool, even temperament and is the type who is nice to everyone, yet holds no one special.  Hakuoumaru is a bit dark, but also has a capricious nature.  Chiaki practices purification and exorcism while Hakuoumaru comes from a family that curses and causes misfortune.  The two are essentially opposites and have very different methods, which is a common theme in the stories.

"Bye bye!" Hakuoumaru has a very direct way of dealing with spirits.

Soon after moving into the dorm, Hakuoumaru attaches himself to Chiaki, claiming he loves him and that it must be fate!

That's a lot of different ways to say "HELL NO" Fight on, Maru!

While it might be the first time they’ve seen each other, it’s not their first encounter.  Two years ago, Chiaki removed a curse laid by Hakuoumaru, whose right eye was (unintentionally) scarred by the rebound.  The most intriguing parts of this manga explore the dynamic between the two.  The relationship is somewhat overshadowed by the overall story, but we learn a lot in the final two chapters, which I’ll focus on.

"As long as you're interested in me, even if it's pity or guilt... it doesn't matter to me. For that, one eye is a small price to pay." Chiaki, your personal alarms should be blaring!

Turns out, they are very distant relatives and Hakuoumaru not only wants to know more about Chiaki, but also wants to welcome him into the Minoh household.  Despite having no family ties himself, Chiaki dismisses the offer.  However, there’s one mother-like presence in his life:  an umbrella woman spirit who diligently waits in the distance for him whenever it rains.  As a child, Chiaki approached her and was spirited away for days. After being returned, Chiaki didn’t hate her.  He recalls that for a few days, he experienced a maternal presence, even if he’s too smart to ever approach the spirit again.  This spirit is the catalyst for change in the relationship and understanding between the two boys.

The umbrella woman is Chiaki’s distant ancestor and while her intentions sound nice, she does spirit away people.  One of the other dorm guys always walks Chiaki home on rainy days as a silent show of support.  When Hakuoumaru learns that the umbrella woman is not only potentially dangerous, but also that she has a connection to Chiaki and holds his interest, he’s displeased and takes action.  This is a pretty big turning point and shocked me–the yandere switch is flipped and he destroys her with a box-cutter.  It doesn’t end there.  Once she’s gone, Chiaki doesn’t particularly say or suspect anything. Frustrated that nothing has changed, Hakuoumaru deliberately goads Chiaki with the weapon that is imprinted with the image of her violent end, declaring he exorcised her to piss him off and win his attention.  Because she was special, and he was not.

"Why won't you look at me?"

I love this new dynamic between the two.  Chiaki finally sees Hakuoumaru, Hakuoumaru takes direct action towards Chiaki, and I always love a good male yandere character (I need more yandere BL in my life!).  Does Hakuoumaru really love or hate Chiaki, the person who scarred him for life?  Are those two emotions clearly separated?

Unfortunately, the manga doesn’t progress much past this point and there’s no huge conclusion or culmination to their relationship.  It feels cut-off early, which is a shame.  There’s room for more, especially between the two boys. Despite that, the material is a great read.  However, if you need sex in your BL, this is not the right place to look.  The author amusingly assigned seme/uke roles in the afterword since it never got that far.  There’s a lot of comments out there along the lines of “Hmm, it doesn’t really feel like BL, but it was awesome anyway and I want more!” and for the most part, I agree with them.  I value those brief yandere moments over a whole volume of some generic, boring relationship.

A glimpse of Hakuoumaru's room at home. Oh you crazy thing!

This manga is a visual treat. There’s so much fun, flashy fashion that I want to show it off a bit, so here’s a brief fashion show by the boys of the Kamikakushi Dorm!

Their winter look. Maru's hat ♥

Maru's older sisters will not lose a funky style contest.

Chiaki greets some customers that own a club.

Laundry day! Nice shirt, Maru. I like the hairy leg peeks we get~

Two other dorm residents. Despite limited roles, you don't forget them!

It’s just a fun book to flip through and take in all the lively art.

Along those lines, there’s one more big thing I like about this manga.  Body shaming is a widespread issue and like other media, it surprises me how exclusionary manga can be, particularly within BL and general romance. There’s this hypocritical impression “Everyone is beautiful! You’re beautiful just as you are! BUT HEY, no fatties in my BL manga! Only beautiful or classically handsome men! No baldies or anything less than minimal, perfectly sculpted facial hair! And definitely no leg hair, gross! Only hairless, skinny, trim, or muscled dudes are allowed in my SEXY TIME!” Bah. I guess not everyone is beautiful then, huh?  Even if someone doesn’t find it personally physically attractive, appearance alone shouldn’t invalidate merit or entertainment value. That’s one thing I love about this manga. There’s variety in appearance and it’s not some big deal that’s integral to the plot. That’s just who these guys are, no explanations needed. While I like “ugly cute” manga, it often goes out of its way to loudly announce “Hey, I’m so ugly that I’m cute. Now, love me!!” I’d love to see more varied body types and larger age ranges, especially in romance and/or BL manga. I’d like to see it in all characters, not just the “token fat kid.”

It’s rare to win me back after having such a rough start, but I’m supportive of Tojitsuki Hajime’s more recent, distinct style.  I really enjoyed the supernatural adventures of the residents of the Kamikakushi Dorm!  BL = bozu love!😀

23 responses to “Kamikakushi Ryou Kitan by Tojitsuki Hajime

  1. 「Even if someone doesn’t find it personally physically attractive, appearance alone shouldn’t invalidate merit or entertainment value.」
    I support this. Wholeheartedly. =)

  2. i was surprised when i saw “supernatural” listed in the genre on mangaupdates. tojitsuki’s artstyle in here is very different from her earlier works, and i much prefer this. i laughed when i learned that these men were monks. the “bozo love” is witty ;D. i thought this manga was about a gang and bromance. didn’t expect it to be a BL. this manga looks very interesting! *added to list of manga to check out when I can read japanese*

    • I’m with you, I love her recent stuff a lot. The author scribbled BL = Bozu Love in her afterward and I thought it was the perfect slogan for this manga! I wish I could take credit for that brilliance :3 It’s heavily focused on the supernatural-theme and has hints of BL, which is mostly one-sided and not emphasized until Maru went batshit yandere insane, ha. It’s a good one, definitely worth checking out in the future.🙂 There’s a couple of oneshots from Sakitcho Dakedemo translated that I think you’d enjoy. The ones with the tattooed guy and the DJ/MC were fantastic and done in a similar style. More bozu love in that book too😀

      • what a witty woman. she still has that love for writing supernatural stories that i saw in her older series though.
        i just showed my friend this post earlier today, and she totally agreed w/ me on this not looking like your typical BL.
        i’m hoping/praying/intensely yearning to go to kinokuniya this winter break, and i heard there’s a huge selection of japanese manga. i shall be on the look out for this and yamashita’s works.
        do you know if kinokuniya has a huge selection that could have unique BL like this?
        FFUUUU maru is so cute. THAT HAT.
        are there hints that chiaki could reciprocate the feelings?
        OOO thanks for rec; you know my taste too well
        damn these manry men of hers

        • Well, it matters which store.. I’ve been to the Seattle, Chicago, and most recently NYC Kino (even that was 3ish years ago) and they don’t really carry BL. They snuck in one or two Yoshinaga Fumi BL titles and that was it. At least at that time, they didn’t have a section dedicated to it in store. You have to order online through them.

          I love dat hat and her sexy men😀 Maru had this darkly cute quality to him, even if he went all stabby on shit. Or maybe because he did lol.

          Well, towards the end it was certainly more feasible.. Chiaki was actually acknowledging Maru and even called him back to the dorm after he walked out. It leaves thing open and up to your interpretation.. except the afterword where she felt like assigning roles (I was like whaaaat, WHEN DOES THIS HAPPEN lol).

  3. also, i agree w/ what you said about body shaming, and the versatile looks in this manga is one of the reasons that makes it so appealing to me.
    when i read, “While I like “ugly cute” manga, it often goes out of its way to loudly announce “Hey, I’m so ugly that I’m cute. Now, love me!!” “, i thought of aitsu no daihonmei (i think i spelled that right?), which i loved but yes, i think that it’s a bit irritating that the looks still end up being emphasized.
    random, but have you read Kikoenai Koe and/or the sequels? it has the ugly/cute boy theme that i like. the art’s odd, but it grew on me.
    i’d love to see larger body types in manga too!

    • It’s sad when you think of the narrow range of bodies we see in BL and romance manga in general, so stuff like this makes me very happy😀 Especially when it’s not drawn to our attention. I love Aitsu no Daihonmei as well, but it’s very upfront about him being ugly and uses it as a running gag and focus. I read Kikoenai Koe (because it was ugly cute) and thought it was decent. I haven’t pursued the sequels yet. If they fell into my lap in English, I’d read them. I wasn’t crazy enough about them to hunt on my own, although I do appreciate that it’s more subtle about the ugly/cute theme.

      • it’s also sad to see the narrow range of storylines in BL😦 ORZ
        but i guess that makes the special ones that much more special😀
        gotta try to remain positive these days haha
        true. i have a thing for slit eyes too….if that’s the word
        i seee. for me, i thought the way the mangaka presented the story was very interesting, and kind of fresh for me. i thought the dialogue at times were awkward, but idk if that’s just the translation or the story.
        it bothers me when i read translations…that i feel that there’s something the english version cant convey from the japanese.
        like something’s missing. it reminds me how hard it would still be for me to read japanese even if i understand how to read it.
        how long have you been able to read japanese? did you take classes?

        • It seems like we have to dig in the right places to find good stories. It’s easy to fall into bad manga traps. I didn’t read the raw version of Kikoenai Koe, so I don’t know if it was a translation issue, original writing issue, or just awkward characters.. all a possibility. For other manga, certainly there’s times when I’ve read both English/Japanese and I think something is missing. Oddly, I enjoyed reading Matt Thorn’s translation of est em “Red Blinds the Foolish” than when I did raw. A rare exception🙂

          I’ve been reading manga in Japanese since.. around 2000, so over 11 years. I took a few years of classes while I was attending a big university for other stuff and just kept up with my hobby reading.

          • hmmm i get notices of other users’ receiving replies but my own. i see how it is gmail. or i have too much crap in my inbox to sift through hahaha.
            i actually emailed matt thorn because i read on wiki that he taught est em, and i was curious on what he taught her. i loved how in this one article he was saying that est em’s works were to sophisticated to be translated by some “hack” lol.
            i’m unable to read raws, but when i read translations, sometimes i get the feeling….that something else isn’t being brought through by the translations.
            that’s pretty cool! i actually borrowed some books and started learning hiragana and katakana😀. it’s so hard for me to remember symbols T^T. i have some weird methods of remembering some of them though hahaha

            • I remember that article about him not wanting some hack take a hack at her beautiful stuff :3 I’d agree that most of the time, things are lost in translation, not highlighted or enhanced like his work. Good luck studying😀 I actually had a lot of fun learning kana. It just takes time and practice!

  4. You know… I don’t think I’ve ever read Tojitsuki’s works that have been scanlated to English? Tsurezure was kinda disappointing though, even though it’s about a hentai mangaka and his assistant who’s a new BL mangaka. Their relationship’s kinda… sudden. Thus, I didn’t buy anymore of her works after Choubi. But, your review for Kamikakushi completely convinced me to get it. *v*!!

    • You’re not missing much when it comes to her early works. Lesse, I have Hatsukoi no Yamai (4/10), Shiroi Neko (4/10), and Zenryaku – Dear (6/10). Around 2007ish and beyond, it gets a lot better. I have Sakitcho Dakedemo (3 chapters in English I think out there?) and *that’s* the one that convinced me to give her a second shot. I’m glad I did. I’ve only peeked at Tsurezure and want to get a paper copy of it and Choubi now. She has lots of oneshots and many do seem sudden–that’s why I liked Kamikakushi. You have 5 chapters of big plot to go through. I only talked about a small aspect of it! I hope you enjoy reading it😀

  5. Well, I don’t like yanderes at all since destroying the things / people your “beloved” adores is not a character trait I appreciate, no matter how good of a “Freudian Excuse” the perpetrator has. (The only type of “something-dere” I like is kuudere; the cold-and-distant –> sweet-and-helpful transitions are lovely) But I’m definitely reading this manga! Supernatural is my all-time favourite genre, and finding it in a BL is a very rare treat.

    As for the whole ‘physical beauty’ deal — I agree with you…for the most part. There’s only one thing I cannot stand in manga (or any other visual medium), be it romance / BL or not — and that’s facial hair. No matter how handsome the guy might look with it, I end up disliking him for no reason. I was terrified of beards / moustaches / stubble when I was a kid (thank goodness by father and grandfathers are determinedly clean-shaven!), and though I’ve grown up and the fear is gone, the dislike still remains. People laugh at me for it, though that’s understandable LOL.
    But the “they must be beautiful / handsome / hot / sexy or I won’t root for their love” mindset is too weird. It’s somewhat linked to the unhealthy obsession people these days seem to have with physical appearances, I guess. Even in real life, there are a disturbing number of people who think that “beautiful (or “good in bed”, as a more…risque variant) = a good choice of romantic partner”. Ugh.

    • Due to his trade and the environment he was raised in, he doesn’t doesn’t know anything different. It’s not unlike how Chiaki doesn’t know how to bring people in closer. They’re interesting contrasts that the supernatural stories draws out of them.

      Okay, the facial hair thing is kinda different, but not just a result of turning up your nose at it. I come across that mindset all the time. “I don’t think the guy is attractive. I won’t read it.” It’s so shallow and makes me want to pull my hair out. It’s like these people don’t realize it’s okay to read/watch things where you don’t want to personally shag all the characters silly.. it can still be very interesting! If anything turns me off, it’s terrible or absent personalities in characters.

  6. I also had a bad first impression of Tojitsuki Hajime. Her drawings and stories read by me were nice, but nothing more. But thanks to your review I discovered that she is capable to sth different. This manga looks really great. Designs and story seem to be really great:>

  7. Ah, it was different for me! The last chapter of Sakitcho Dakedemo (the tattooed guy) was the first thing I read of hers, so I was definitely blown away by the theme and the wit and just how it felt like, “is this my story?” So yes, I was a bit underwhelmed when I started to check out her older works. There were some particularly nice stories, and I have read “A Happy Person” from Hatsukoi no Yamai a lot of times since I really like the twist haha

    Sakitcho Dakedemo should fully be available in English soon ;~; It’s just amazingly different and witty.

    If I were to read something like this years ago, I think I wouldn’t be able to appreciate it. I think as I grew older my tastes changed and the art I liked before didn’t reach my standards when I viewed now. After a while, all the stick figures can get bland. Sometimes, I find a mangaka to adore and I start to just find anything similar and get into such a phase.

    What I really liked about her recent work is the infusion of unexpected themes, such as that tattooed guy, the DJ and the MC (without ever getting too explicit), and the hardcore physicist wanting to prove time travel. I didn’t realize I could welcome the variety of body types this easily; it was the entirety of the art style that draws me in. Some artists can really hold on their own and “own” the way they draw.

    And thanks for writing up a review for this, for I may never be able to understand this even if I get the raws🙂

    • Ah, I love Sakitcho Dakedemo–that is a great introduction to her stuff! Right at the top of her game😀

      I’ve also noticed my standards changing–I’m less impressed by average stuff these days. It’s not that there’s anything terribly wrong with them, just.. not much right either. It leaves me very indifferent. Over time, I guess it’s to be expected.

      In contrast, Tojitsuki’s work is so versatile like you said, with lots of different themes scattered throughout. I just started reading her supernatural shoujo story Ore to Kanojo to Sensei no Hanashi and there’s more of the good stuff there! She’s really growing into her own style and I love it.

      You’re welcome and I’m glad you enjoyed reading about it😀

  8. Wow, I’m really out of it. I didn’t notice that this mangaka, the mangaka who drew Shiro Neko, and the mangaka who drew Sakitcho Dakedemo was the same person, even thought it’s all under the same name. She’s really versatile! I really do like her older stuff that’s been translated, but I’m really keen on trying her new stuff. I wish her new stuff would either get fan translated or localized.

    • They are very different, so unless you’re closely watching the name, I could completely see anyone missing the link between her old and new stuff! It would be great to see her newer stuff translated, particularly the supernatural stories like this one and the shoujo pair Ore to Kanojo to Sensei no Hanashi/Boku to Kanojo to Senpai no Hanashi. There’s a need for more good supernatural BL and shoujo!

  9. Pingback: BL Fantasy/Supernatural Manga Selections | the manga habit

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