Chloe Love is a struggling actress, best known for playing Ghost Reaper Girl, the main character of a cult horror movie about a high schooler in a blood-soaked bathing suit hunting down evil spirits. These days though she is mostly playing dead bodies, and at 28 she isn’t getting any younger. A former street orphan with a tough and violent childhood, all Chloe has dreamed about is a glamorous life with fame and financial stability, but her dreams come to fruition in the most bizarre way possible. After being attacked by a film producer spewing ghosts, Chloe is dragged into the world of Kai (a spirit hunting evil ghosts that have broken out of the underworld) and Arkham (the institute that employs hunters and maintains order between spirits and the tangible world). What lies ahead is an action-filled romp that is a cheeky mix of horror references, thrilling fights, and Sailor Moon adjacent transformation… if Sailor Moon transforms into cat girls, chain-slinging baddies, and brutal nurses!

Each time Chloe merges with a spirit to take on their powers it manifests into a different costume and set of abilities based on the spirit. This makes every new merging unpredictable, and sometimes hilarious. Her main two forms are with the spirit Kai, which manifests into her main “Ghost Reaper Girl” persona with chains and a scythe, and with the spirit Noel, who is a cat-type spirit with speed and adorable cat ears. While Chloe is sexy, humorous, and an absolute badass, the monsters she fights are not. They are anything from grotesque versions of Slimer from Ghostbusters to Lovecraftian abyssal horrors—and each volume brings something new and unexpected. Violence and mortal consequences are always one slip-up away.

This may be one of the most fun mangas I have read in a long time. It seemingly has everything; from over-the-top battle moves, sexy cosplay, laugh-out-loud humor, a badass protagonist that is as unsinkable as she is adorable, and—best of all—horror references for days! Every chapter is unpredictable, and the art never fails to impress. Creator Akissa Saiké, formerly known for the manga Rosario + Vampire, has created something wonderful. While filled with battles and occasional gore, the tone always errs on the light side, with friendship and good conquering evil. As the story progresses, Chloe began to remind me of  Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket, if Tohru’s ever-growing band of friends and admirers was populated by overpowered monsters and spirits. My favorite is Shoggoth, derived from the Lovecraft fictional character, but in this world, it has been fused into the body of a former high school girl assassin. “Shoggy” and Chloe never fail to make me laugh, with their adorable hugging… even while covered in blood and monster guts. One of the more hilarious parts of the manga is that Kai turns into a scythe when he lends his powers to Chloe, but a Clippy-esque scythe with googly eyes and a ridiculous smile. It kills me every time.

Even though this is a Shonen Jump title, I would argue it manages to be a wonderful blend of Shonen and Shojo tropes. The action plays alongside fun fashion, there is a whole “will-they, won’t-they” thing building, a budding harem (of boys and girls hooray!), saucy dialogue but gentlemanly behavior, and a main lady who is as resolute as she is adorable. Though it sort of falls into the “chosen one” trope, with Chloe plucked off the street for having up-til-now unknown amazing abilities, her true strength is that she believes in herself more than anyone and proves that merging with the spirits is only part of her power. It’s incredibly hard not to root for her.

The horror references are what really got me though. Although I would not categorize Ghost Reaper Girl as a horror manga, it’s clear that a lot of love for the genre has been poured into the story. From clear Lovecraftian inspiration to very subtle B-horror references—and one hilarious and not-so-subtle one—as a horror fan I felt myself constantly delighted. Wanna see Herbet West as a doting and somewhat creepy father to a Cthulian horror trapped in a teenage girl’s body? Ghost Reaper Girl‘s got you covered! Want to see Lovecraft fan art with sexy anime boys and girls? Boom! Gotcha covered! Want a few funny references to Pinky J-horror and cult classics? Ghost Reaper Girl sees you over there, and says ‘Yes!” It never failed to tickle me every time I spotted something new.

Sadly, Saiké has just recently announced that he will be taking a break from writing and illustrating the comic because of health reasons, but vows to return. I genuinely hope so, because this one really feels like it is building towards something wild, and I hope I get to be there for the ride. Even so, this is one not to be missed. With four volumes out currently, there is still much to dive into. Give Ghost Reaper Girl a look today!

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