It’s really been a super long time since I’ve read the Muhyo & Roji books. I was certainly surprised when it got a show pretty much out of nowhere but I guess the fans must have been loyal here. It’s a very retro kind of title and I’d say you can even feel that from the character designs and such. I thought the manga was decently good although nowhere near the top of Jump and would be more mid-low tier compared to the average one there. the show is decent as well, not very good or anything but it makes for a good adventure watch.
The show starts by introducing us to Muhyo and Roji who have a supernatural agency where you can go in and tell them about your problems. They will help you overcome whatever supernatural menace is wrecking your life. It’s sort of like the Mob Psycho setup there. This is how the group gets to meet new characters and friends as their agency keeps on completing quests. Roji is really the assistant here as he has no talent with the supernatural and tends to get in the way. This is balanced out by his being the much more emotional one who really wants to help others. Muhyo tends to always be in a bad mood or just be sleepy. He’s one of the most skilled executors in the world so he can exorcise spirits with ease but doesn’t always find the energy to do so.
That’s effectively the pre arc here although it ends almost immediately so the show can skip right to the plot type elements. Pre arc’s fun and all but usually the story is where things get good so I can see why the show would do that. This way we get to see the main villain and a preview of things to come. Naturally as season 1 this won’t wrap up all of the plot threads but a good amount of things happen here and the heroes get their first true fight.
So first lets talk about some of the pre arc adventures and the characters that are introduced as a result of that. One of these cases involves a kid named Kenji who doesn’t buy into the supernatural. In fact his group of friends are doing a test of courage at a “haunted” temple. You just have to run up the steps and tag the house so he shows up to basically rub it in Muhyo and Roji’s face. Unfortunately they know that the danger is very real and show up to save him in the nick of time.
Kenji never quite stops being rebellious but at least now he knows about the supernatural. His role in the show is really pretty small after his opening appearance but he’s around. There’s one fun scene where we see how he broke into Muhyo and Roji’s office. As far as the kids go I didn’t really mind him.
Then you have Nana’s introduction case. She is a photographer but lately weird things are appearing in her photos like a hand or even a face that she doesn’t know. The fact that even a normal human* can see this is pretty concerning so Muhyo and Roji are on the case. It’s one of the more emotional cases here as the spook isn’t quite evil although I would say he did a very poor job of expressing that. It ties into Nana’s backstory where her father began taking fake pictures for money. This led to his eventual destruction and then as a spirit he wanted to watch out for her but eh….he just wasn’t very good at this.
Now, Muhyo mentions that as a spirit you start to lose your mind so I guess the father just couldn’t think of anything very well. The fact that he didn’t turn violent too quickly helps a bit but I don’t give him much points for willpower because it was definitely the bare minimum. Nana is a solid heroine. Unfortunately she doesn’t have any powers here so there’s not much she can do to support the characters. She’s around and is a nice person but in this kind of series I do feel like that puts you at a bit of a disadvantage right from the jump if you can’t fight at all. She also has to put up with sketchy types like Yoichi so you feel bad for her from the start.
There’s also a pre arc story with a girl whose friend fell in the train tracks and seemingly wants revenge. The friend was not a very good person from the start though as she got super jealous right from the start. I think both characters could have handled it better, but I really don’t put the fault on the main girl for trying to have a normal life. She wasn’t rude to the friend or anything but the other girl took it way too hard. At least we got a happy ending of sorts there…not super happy honestly but Muhyo does his best to make sure the punishments aren’t too bad.
I should explain about the punishments and the overall system now. So as an executor Muhyo is able to invoke different passages from his book which summon creatures to come and take down the evil spirits. These summons take up a lot of energy and if you aren’t strong enough then you will be absorbed as well. Only some have the talent to be executors which is why you don’t see everyone with books. There aren’t a whole lot of them based on what we see in season 1 and even less that are quite powerful.
Muhyo’s summon depends also in part on where he wants to send the creature. If it’s a total monster with no redeeming value then he’ll send it to hell or one of the more deadly places. If it’s a misunderstood creature that went down the wrong path then he may try to get it into purgatory or somewhere where there could be a happy ending. Beyond that the series doesn’t go very in depth with it but it’s really all that you need to know.
The only downside to this is that you can’t have very interesting action scenes in this way. The battle ends when Muhyo finishes his summon which is pretty much a one hit KO technique. There’s not much else to it so usually the action scene might be the villain blasting at him while Roji or one of the other characters block. The only true action scene I’d say is in the final episodes. That’s why I’d call this more of a supernatural adventure or case of the week kind of show. Action can be a bit misleading even though this is Shonen Jump but then you get into the arguments of chase scenes being action scenes and so all of these are action scenes. A better way to put this might be that there aren’t many fight scenes but still action scenes. All in all, I just wouldn’t use the term action to describe this one too much.
I’d prefer if the characters could fight physically since I think that would make the whole thing more engaging but I suppose it’s just not like that sometimes. As for the first main plot, well we have a brief adventure where Enchu makes his first move. He unleashes a curse that spreads through touch so everyone has a face growing on them and it’s spreading fast. Muhyo will have to hurry if he wants to solve this before the sickness goes too far. If that happens that it’s game over since the rest of the exorcist/executors aren’t very powerful.
It’s a solid adventure although one that’s over as soon as it has begun. It’s a particularly rough ride for Roji who just can’t compete at this point and slows the team down. Additionally, it’s the introduction of Yoichi who is easily the worst character in the series. All he does is harass Nana most of the time and remind the heroes why they should be beating him up. Turns out he was a childhood friend of Muhyo although they don’t really hang out anymore and I don’t blame Muhyo.
Yoichi’s a character I definitely would have liked to have seen toned down a bit here. He’s just such a bad character and I don’t think we’ve seen a character this pervy in quite a while, at least on the heroes side. If you think about it, the days of characters like Keigo, Roshi, and Jiraiya are pretty much gone. The modern Shonens don’t really go that route which is definitely a good thing and I suppose in another way that shows this title’s age a bit. So yeah the sooner Yoichi’s written out the better.
The show is fairly good about not including too much fanservice. Of course you have all the Yoichi moments of him being sketchy but beyond that there’s only one hot springs episode. It’s the worst episode in the whole bunch though because it ends with the characters actually encouraging this random guy to be a perv to finish his novels. Really? Also, Nana is okay with this and being the one watched but it’s still completely awful for every character involved. Ugh, it would have been nice if at least someone had said this was a bad idea!
The final arc is the longest one as the gang heads over to a mansion where the monsters are getting out of control. The heroes were requested to help by the young Biko who found out that one of his tags was removed. Without the tag, the spirits will get free and cause mayhem so Muhyo’s the guy for the job. The issue is that this is a whole mansion filled with evil spirits and it’s hard to exorcise more than 3 in a day without being completely drained. Making matters worse is that one of the demons is Sophie the face ripper, a being that can assume someone’s appearance after ripping their face off. Anyone in this mansion is now a suspect so they have to keep their guards up.
This is definitely the most intense arc in the season and certainly the most violent one as well. They don’t call Sophie the face ripper for no reason after all as she really goes all in on this. The show doesn’t hold back and the sound effects will probably seal the deal for you on this being a very intense moment. On the whole I wouldn’t say the show is super violent or anything but mixed in with the designs for the demons and the moments are quite striking. The series has some unique designs like the faces that appear on everyone and even chomp other people as they get close.
Sophie herself makes for a very imposing villain. Her abilities are the real deal although the only reason she wasn’t quickly sealed away is because Muhyo was busy beating up on the weaker ones first which zapped his energy. Otherwise she probably wouldn’t have lasted but you do have to use strategy to help out and so Sophie did a good job. She also took out a fair number of fighters on her own so she deserves some credit there.
We get some new characters here as well like Biko. I wasn’t a fan of Biko though. She’s one of those characters who cries quite a bit and talks tough but can’t back it up when it counts. She really gets in the heroes’ way most of the time and can’t even do much in the way of blocking. All she has are the seals which don’t always work but can’t use barriers or spells. That’s really not going to get you far here and she was just annoying most of the time.
Rio is the other big character to show up and she’s better than Biko although I can’t say that I’m a big fan either. She gets an origin story where we see how the town was awful to her. It does always make it hard to root for the city to be saved when you get an origin story like this though. Absolutely nobody defended her and that was disappointing. You’d think that there’d be someone to report this too or someone who could help out unless the city was truly corrupt all the way through like the Hidden Leaf Village. If that is the case…then yeah this place is pretty awful.
Rio went through a whole lot without a doubt but of course that can never be an excuse for going down the wrong path. What hurts Rio for now is that she’s not all in. I always say if you want to be a good villain or a good hero then you have to be all in. You can’t be on the fence or regretting your actions the whole time. Same when you make a hard call and destroy a villain or save a city instead of another one. I don’t want a scene with the character yelling in regret later or crying the whole time. You just have to own it and move on which Rio has not done yet. She is strong in a fight though so at least she will be ready for the adventures to come.
As for the other villains, Teeki gets to appear a bit but he doesn’t have any real fights yet. As Enchu’s right hand man you have to assume that his role will only get bigger. I can see why he was upset at Enchu for not letting him finish off Muhyo though. This was the perfect chance to get the heroes out of their hair once and for all but of course it wasn’t quite the right time for Enchu.
Enchu is the main villain of the series and certainly makes some moves in this season. We see that he was rather unbalanced from the start as the pressure to be the Executor was too much for him. His mother was super sick as well so he really needed the position to get higher up, more money, and more connections. Unfortunately for him it just wasn’t to be and so he basically went crazy. He went crazy so fast though that it does seem like he would have turned evil at some point. For now he’s not a great villain or anything as I’ll need to see some better motivations than a quick revenge here. I would argue that Rio’s backstory was a lot sadder than his at this point in time.
Finally we have the main characters. First up is Roji who isn’t very talented but tries his best. He’s a very earnest character who means well so he’s not bad. You wish he could improve a little quicker though as he spends most of the season getting in the way the whole time. He finally learns how to make some basic barriers in the climax though so that should follow him through into season 2. As a comic relief character Roji also works well. From the duo I much prefer Muhyo but Roji holds his own as the partner.
Finally there’s Muhyo and while his attacks may not have a lot of variety, they get the job done so it’s hard to argue with the results. When you need a demon/spirit taken down then you can always count on Muhyo to accomplish this. He may be grouchy a lot but that only serves to make the character more entertaining. His weakness of losing stamina so quickly is a big one but since it’s built into the universe it isn’t like that’s a weakness exclusive to him either. The duo have a good working relationship going with solid banter so that’s good.
In short, Muhyo & Roji’s a fun adventure. It doesn’t really feel like your average Shonen Jump adventure either since there’s less big fights and it’s more focused on the supernatural elements but that does help it stand out. The character cast isn’t great and like the manga there aren’t any super strong aspects of the series that would have me put it at the next level but it does enough to stay in the green.
The animation is good. It’s nothing particularly noteworthy but the animation is smooth and there’s a lot of good movement here. It’s the definition of average for me. You can tell that it’s a modern show and things get a little flashy during the climax so it serves its purpose. The designs look intense in motion and I like the effects for the summons (Although the recycled animation each time is a bit much) and barriers as well. The soundtrack didn’t have any real memorable themes though. The opening wasn’t great either but it’s not bad.
Overall, I guess that described a lot of the show. It’s certainly not bad but everything is just good enough to keep it that way without going further. We’ll see if season 2 is able to improve on this. Still, if you like the supernatural and dealing with spirits/demons then this is a show you could have some fun with. At the end of the day as long as you can have a fun time watching the show then it’s worth checking out. Especially since it’s only 1 cour for the season so it’s not like it’ll take you all that long to check out.