All right, it’s time for the next cancelled Jump title. I pretty much binged the whole series in one day (Aside from the first chapter) but it’s not very long at 15 chapters so that’s not ultra impressive. It’s a series with an interesting core concept about yokai and exorcists so this could have been the next big thing. Unfortunately it stumbles out of the gate and never really got interesting enough to break out. Additionally a huge chunk of the story makes absolutely no sense and I will get into that later on.
So the basic plot is that the world is filled with Yokai and Exorcists have to take them down. Unlike other stories, all humans know about Yokai and Exorcists are given a pretty good amount of social power. For example, the main character Kazami can skip class if it’s to fight an exorcist. It’s just a normal part of life to the point where kids even watch the fights from the roof sometimes as they laugh at the exorcists. It’s all fun and games which means that the exorcists must be doing well since people aren’t afraid of the Yokai.
As we’re introduced to Kazami, we find out that he’s from one of the most well known Exorcist families. In this world there are two ways to become an Exorcist, to have incredible skills and pass some tests or to be born into a family. Kazami’s the latter case so he’s an exorcist but his skills are terrible. His only good skill is a forbidden one that he can’t use as it involves borrowing the powers of a Yokai that he comes into contact with. If he ever uses this power then in the best case he will be stripped of his title and in the worst case he will be quickly executed.
Kazami’s life was going well enough when one day he bumps into a girl named Paira. She’s rather bossy but the only girl who will give him the time of day aside from his childhood friend Rino who is always belittling him. Paira turns out to be a SSS rank yokai with incredible abilities but she wants to be human. So she intends to have Kazami keep on draining her abilities and then she will be human once her powers have been fully drained. At that point she will marry him but Kazami is scared of the prospect. Can he drain all of her power and become one of the world’s greatest exorcists?
Kazami’s a terrible main character, there’s no other way to put it and that always starts the series off on the wrong foot. For starters part of his whole gimmick is that he’s a perv and is constantly desperate for any girl. He’ll even let a Yokai go or ditch his duties if it means he can be a part of a group date. That kind of trait you would usually see in a side character or something but not the lead. It’s an unspoken agreement that your main character can’t be like that because then how can you root for him?
He never learns his lesson throughout the series and as Paira is effectively the fanservice character of the series, it doesn’t make for a great dynamic. Here’s where the series doesn’t make any sense though. Kazami wants any girl to take notice of him and here comes Paira, a girl that he finds to be extremely attractive and he flirts with her instantly. This should be a win/win for both of them. To extract her abilities he has to make physical contact with her, usually in iffy ways so he’ll have fun doing that and it will even help him become a stronger exorcist.
Meanwhile she wants him to do this because each time he extracts her abilities she becomes more human. Her goal is to become human and marry him. Then for no reason, Kazami suddenly changes his goal to any girl but Paira. It comes off like the guy just doesn’t want commitment, he wants to mess around but not to marry her. After all, he still glances at her quite a lot and gets distracted all the time but when she mentions marriage then he bulks to the point where he tries to avoid her. This entire character dynamic makes absolutely no sense.
If the author wanted to write a dynamic where Paira is the pushy one and Kazami is the timid lead who doesn’t want to be in a relationship then they shouldn’t have established him as being someone who is obsessed with girls. This dissonance destroys the manga early on. Now you can still have a good series with a bad main character but it’s incredibly difficult and doesn’t help your case of trying to avoid cancellation.
Also, Bone Collection has a real fanservice issue. It’s quite unfortunate because the last few titles have been avoiding that fairly well but this one didn’t. Just about any scene with Paira tends to get dicey. The series really leans on this aspect which is a shame and it shows that the writer didn’t have a lot of confidence in the story to hold its own without doing something like this.
The art isn’t quite as high end as most of the other titles either. It’s not all that bad, some of the proportions aren’t quite right for obvious reasons but otherwise the action scenes seem good enough. I can picture this series getting better with the artwork the longer it went on. It just didn’t last long enough to get to that point. So now lets talk about the characters.
I already talked about Kazami and why I don’t like that guy. You just can’t get past his personality and nosebleeds so that’s a thumbs down for him. Then you have the childhood friend who you may have thought would be the main heroine for a chapter or two but she is quickly taken out of the story. Rino’s an interesting character because she’s quite unique for the childhood friend type of character. She is consistently insulting Kazami and while this is in a comedic way where she doesn’t realize what she is doing, it happens enough times where you have to think twice about this.
She is a talented exorcist and wants him to do better but doesn’t know how to show it. She also seems to like him but can’t admit to this either which gets a little trickier once Paira enters the fray. At that point Rino is really out of luck in just about every way. There’s more that could have been done with her but ultimately her character arc ends when she is put on silent and her texts go into oblivion which was really unexpected but I think the author just got tired of the character.
Paira has a really big presence here and she’s okay. One issue I have with making her a SSS rank yokai is that she never looks this powerful. She has trouble with everyone and while it’s hinted that this is in due to her powers being drained and being in the human world, this makes it hard to take her seriously. She was casually beaten by one of the exorcists back in her true form. So if this is the power of an SSS yokai then that’s a bit concerning for them. I suppose it’s a twist if the Exorcists are actually the guys with the upper hand this time but it sure doesn’t feel that way.
Power levels aside, I do like how forward she is about her goals. She talks about marriage and wanting to be human right away without beating around the bush. That part’s commendable and her final ability of being able to activate a reality marble of sorts where she summons a wedding was also very original. In a way her fun personality is wasted on Kazami as a foil but I’ll give her a passing grade.
One of the worst characters here has to be Akina. He’s Kazami’s older brother and an expert exorcist so you’d expect this guy to be a big player right? Wrong! Paira humbles him almost immediately when the guy starts to put on airs. She completely breaks him to the point where he becomes her slave. She rides him around the house like a horse and insults him quite a bit. Paira was able to get this power position because she got some strong blackmail material which didn’t help his case either. Akina is a good example of a character who had some potential but then completely blew up in an instant.
Then you have the twins Sakurai and Runa but their inclusion is problematic as Kazami points out. See, the whole “Using yokai energy” thing is completely forbidden. The characters beat this into Kazami throughout the series yet near the end we find out that among the top ranking Exorcists there is a pair who uses this casually. Really?? Why is this such a big deal then? They’re doing the exact same thing as Kazami and Paira but not getting any heat about it.
There’s not enough world building for any explanation here. I’m sure the series could give us something but it just seems to undermine everything about the process. As characters they aren’t bad but they basically exist just to train Kazami and Paira into being stronger fighters and don’t do much on their own. They seem a bit young to be fighting Yokai but when you have super powers I guess that evens things out.
Then you have Abe, the first Exorcist King to appear. She’s a fun character and has a few twists up her sleeve. See, she uses a puppet body which happens to look like a very buff dude but her real form is just your average teen girl. She gets a lot of hype since even Paira is completely terrified of her. Abe’s abilities are definitely the real deal and this time it makes sense since she is one of the highest ranking fighters in the series.
I would still argue that Paira should win this fight easily but maybe being an SSS demon isn’t all it’s cracked up to be right? I liked Abe, she brings in a lot of energy to the team dynamic which is something the heroes needed. She has the power needed to back up her tough talk and she’s also fairly reasonable for one of these higher ups.
Compare her to the next king we meet in Shishino and there’s no competition. This guy thinks all Yokai are evil and won’t listen to reason. He doesn’t really appear enough to get more development than that. Don’t even mention the final 2 kings as they get wrecked by the demon Kyubi off screen. So much for the Exorcists right?
That leads us to the final boss of the series, Kyubi. I was glad we got at least one real boss at the end of the series instead of all the monsters of the week. Don’t get me wrong, you need those guys for pre arc but if the series is going to be cancelled early then I at least want my memorable final fight. Kyubi does well in that role as he takes down multiple kings and establishes himself as a true threat. He had to be strong too since after Kazami and Paira’s training they were so strong that they took down an arc’s worth of fighters in one page. The arc had been shaping itself up Saint Seiya style with the heroes having to destroy a bunch of towers and each one was guarded by a powerful Yokai. Little did the villains realize that the heroes were in a completely different league by this point and would win in a single shot.
Kyubi has a lot of confidence and it’s deserved since he was utterly dominating everyone for a while. The fights are cool and I like his design. Easily a candidate for best character in the series. Surprisingly the series decides to end on more of a comedic note than with a serious climax though. Remember that whole reality warping into the wedding thing? Well, that happens in this part as it ends the series and it turns out that Paira can turn the whole place into a wedding arena.
It was a creative way to bring every single member of the cast into one room, I’ll give the series that. People just pop out of nowhere and since it’s magic you can’t really complain about it right? It certainly feels rushed as this power comes out of nowhere but I do like that it implies Paira has been holding out on us the entire time. I would like that twist because it restores some of her SSS rank hype. It may be a little too late but it’s better than nothing. The series even squeezes in a time skip epilogue which is rare for these titles.
So at least you have a complete story here. Albeit a rushed one but it’s a start. So what would I have done differently to keep this one from being cancelled? Well, the obvious answer here is change Kazami’s character entirely so he is more of a timid kid who wants to be a great exorcist but has no skills. It’s been done many times in the past but it still works and would also explain why he is reluctant to use his skills with Paira since he would be way too shy around girls for something like that.
Now you’ve got a more traditional setup and a main character that won’t have you rolling your eyes the entire time. As a second step, definitely reduce the fanservice and since the series isn’t being cancelled, you don’t have to turn the serious final boss into a happy wedding. Instead you play the fight straight and that will work quite well. These are my quick changes to try and salvage the series. With that it could have worked because then you’ve got a nice adventure story which may tick off all of the usual boxes of a generic adventure at first but then after that it would have time to slowly become its own thing.
Overall, Bone Collection has a decent premise, it just didn’t live up to its potential. That’s to be expected with these quick cancelled series since they were cancelled for a reason right? Some have still been quite solid though, but this was not one of them. It’s not bad like I Tell C but it’s just not very good either. I wouldn’t be recommending it to anyone and if you wanted a classic exorcist title you’d be better off with D Gray Man or Twin Star Exorcists. There is no shortage of exorcist manga titles though so I would recommend any number of them over this one. Bone Collection will just end up fading away into obscurity.