Yo-Kai Watch Vols. 1 and 2 TPs
Publisher: VIZ Media/Perfect Square
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Price: $9.99 (ea.)
Creator: Noriyuki Konishi
Format: 192 pgs., B&W, Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9-781-4215-8251-1 (Vol. 1) and 9-7814-2158-252-8 (Vol. 2)
Age Rating: All Ages
ICv2 Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

This series is so derivative of Pokemon that there seems to be a joke about it in the opening chapter, in which the main character finds a magic vending machine that dispenses rocks in a very familiar shape.

From that point on, though, this game-derived manga is actually cute and funny, and will appeal to kids who want something like Pokemon that isn't Pokemon.  As such, it works fairly well.

For kids who have played the video game, there is an explanation for why the watch doesn't quite match the design in the game… basically, the artist wasn’t given enough information soon enough.  Still, the basic concept is that the gadget helps the main character [Nate Adams] communicate with Yokai, who are kind of the ghosts of creatures, objects and concepts.  Over the course of the stories, he meets the yokai of a cat killed by a car, who spends the afterlife trying to get better at fighting back.  He meets the yokai of a discarded rice ball that resented being not eaten.  He meets the yokai of forgetfulness, and yokai of happiness and depression.

The general framework of the stories is that he meets these yokai and either has to learn to communicate with them or to defeat them in some kind of combat, after which they become friends and will answer his summons in the future.  The artwork is typical for all-ages manga, with wild facial exaggerations and goofy stuff.

Some kids will find it to be too derivative, but the stories are cute and fun.  Some may find the cat yokai's death to be disturbing, especially when used to set up later jokes.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.