Posted Oct 03, 2023 by Mark Devera
The air feels cool, and the sun sets early. The fall leaves are hitting the ground, and the world smells like pumpkin spice. Summer has officially turned to autumn, which means we’re now in Spooky Season! We at Yen Press absolutely love Halloween. As the publisher of Black Butler, Toilet-bound Hanako-kun, and way too many witch books to count, it’s basically Halloween every day of the year for us here. We’re thrilled that the time of year has come when we can share our supernatural and spooky side with the rest of the world…at least more than we usually do!
We’re kicking off spooky season with four amazing recommendations that capture the essence of Halloween. By that, I’m referring to Yen Press manga that are a mixture of the haunting supernatural along with the fun and cute. (If you’re looking for true horror to darken your October days, read this great article featuring recommendations from our very own Morgana Santilli.) Let the spookiness commence!
by Suzu Akeko
In the world of monsters, where scaring and tormenting humans is a way of life, even monster girls need to pass their classes, graduate, and get a job! Enter Class Z: a bunch of failures more likely to be frightened and bullied themselves. Can this ragtag group of underdogs become successful full-fledged monsters?
To start off, we recommend a new addition to our ever-growing list of fun supernatural manga: The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls. Much like Yen Press classics Toilet-bound Hanako-kun and A Terrified Teacher at Ghoul School, this manga takes place at an unconventional school—one in which the girls who attend are learning to become full-fledged monsters! In a school like this, one would expect to see vampires, ghosts, and witches, but our little school in the monster realm also includes a wider variety of scary creatures not often seen in Halloween media, such as jiangshi, oni, and spider girls. Like schools in the human realm, these girls study traditional subjects, such as world history and physical education, except their classes entail learning which kinds of humans to avoid (such as those pesky priests and exorcists) or hunting demons (it’s apparently good exercise). Unfortunately for our main girls, they’re quite bad at monster school. Fortunately for us, watching them fail is hilarious!
The brilliance of The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls is the juxtaposition of how horrific it is with how cute it is. Suzu Akeko is an amazing illustrator who excels at character designs; there’s no mistaking any of these highly detailed and distinct characters for each other. Akeko-sensei is also a master at making you say “Aww!” These monster girls are just too cute! Every page is filled with adorable eye-candy artwork and is an absolute treat to look at…which is interesting to say, because many of the pages are also filled with body parts and decapitated monster girls. (Don’t worry! They come back to life.) If you’ve never found yourself wanting to hug a corpse-eating ghoul, The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls is here to change your worldview!
Written by Darren Shan
Art by Takahiro Arai
Darren Shan was an average kid until destiny brought him to the Cirque Du Freak. Now Darren’s immersed in a shadowy world inhabited by vampires, werewolves, and strange creatures the likes of which he’s never imagined, and his life will never be the same! Discover the manga adaptation of internationally acclaimed author Darren Shan’s Cirque Du Freak, here in a new oversize, deluxe omnibus format!
Our second Halloween recommendation is a Yen Press classic, a series from our storied line of graphic novel adaptations of beloved young adult fiction—Cirque Du Freak. The tale of Darren Shan is hands down one of the best manga we’ve published, an absolute masterclass in adaptation and true comic brilliance. As Cirque Du Freak progresses, it becomes an epic tale of a centuries-old conflict between vampire factions that is tied into the fate of the world, but at the start and at its core, it is a fun supernatural story and a perfect Halloween read.
The Halloween aspects of Cirque Du Freak are best captured in the early volumes of the series. The first omnibus alone may be one of the most Halloween-y books we’ve published. This is instantly apparent the moment we are welcomed to the titular circus and its operator, Mr. Tall, both of which have a classic creepiness about them. From there, we meet the many members of Cirque Du Freak, including werewolves, snake-people, and vampires—supernatural and superpowered individuals who come to be our hero Darren’s most trusted friends. Takahiro Arai effectively captured the dark and macabre essence of the Cirque Du Freak as well as the warmth they bring as they become Darren’s adopted family. For anyone who fantasized about being a part of a band of paranormal misfits, this manga’s got you covered!
By Yugata Tanabe
Once upon a time, there was an elderly woman. She lived alone, save for a darling black cat that she doted on. After many years, the cat finally gained the ability to transform—“Look, mistress! I’ve turned into a human. Now I can repay your kindness!” Alas, the kitty was just a little too late to help her owner. Legend has it she now wanders the Demon Realm, looking for a place where she belongs…And so begins the tale of Sumire the nekomata and her splendid work as a monster maid!
Why is it that some of our cutest and most beautifully illustrated manga are dark fantasies? We’ve seen this with Black Butler and PandoraHearts, and more recently, we’ve seen this with our third Halloween recommendation: The Splendid Work of a Monster Maid by Yugata Tanabe. If Kaoru Mori were to ever draw a horror manga, it would probably look like The Splendid Work of a Monster Maid, as it is filled with detailed character designs and breathtaking artwork to tell a compelling story of a fallen prince and his three monster maids.
The case for The Splendid Work of a Monster Maid being a Halloween read is made right from the first chapter taking place in a mansion in a dark forest. It is there we meet an evil ice witch and our three monster maids that include a naive nekomata, a stitched-up undead, and an adorable android. From that point on, our monster maids take on a variety of missions in which they meet a wide array of Halloween-themed friends and foes, such as lantern-headed scarecrows and undead mad scientists. The Splendid Work of a Monster Maid will keep you reading for its many thrills as well as comfy slice-of-life moments, and it will continually entice you with its cute artwork. Also, much like The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls, this series will leave you wanting to hug a zombie.
By Atsushi Ohkubo
Maka is a scythemeister, working to perfect one particular scythe until it is good enough to become Death's Weapon—the weapon used by Shinigami-sama, the spirit of Death himself. As if that wasn't unusual enough, her scythe is a demon scythe called Soul Eater, which can change form from a scythe to a human-looking boy. In order to make Soul Eater powerful enough to be Death's Weapon, he must eat the souls of ninety-nine humans and one witch. Along the way, the two of them face many different challenges, including a cat witch named Blair (who happens to have a thing for Soul) and a teacher who's been turned into a zombie (and wants him to join her!). Her fellow students, like the shadow ninja weapon meister named Black☆Star who always needs to be the center of attention, aren't much help, either. It'll be a miracle if Maka even survives, let alone manages to make Soul Eater into the Death Scythe.
Soul Eater has been one of the most iconic manga and anime properties for over a decade. As one of our earliest series, one which was published in our magazine Yen Plus, it is also a Yen Press classic. Even years after we published the first volume of Soul Eater, the series remains one of our top sellers. Walk the floor of a convention today, and you will still see cosplayers dressed as fan-favorite Soul Eater characters, such as Maka and Death the Kid. The amazing action and epic story this manga tells are definitely a big part of what has made this series beloved for so long, but just as important are the unique Halloween themes that has made it stand out from the countless action manga that have come and gone since Soul Eater first captured readers’ hearts.
What series can be considered more of a Halloween manga than Soul Eater? I mean, it takes place in Death City, features a grim reaper headmaster, and has the creepiest moon you’ve ever seen. And let’s not forget about the many paranormal friends and foes, such as werewolves, witches, zombies, and even a Dr. Franken Stein. If there’s any doubt that Atsushi Ohkubo had Halloween in mind when making Soul Eater, look no further than the jack-o’-lantern on the cover of the first volume. Soul Eater is THE most Halloween manga ever. Case closed.
I hope you enjoy some of this year’s Halloween recommendations. Be sure to check our news section and our social media for more spooky reads as we make our way to October 31st!