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Literature / Psychic Detective Yakumo

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Psychic Detective Yakumo (or in Japanese Shinrei Tantei Yakumo, or 心霊探偵八雲) is a series of novels by Manabu Kaminaga. The series has been running since 2004 and spans nineteen volumes as of August 2020 (twelve belong to the completed main series, six to side-stories, and one to Yakumo's youth).

One day, college student Haruka Ozawa's friend Miki goes on a test of courage with a friend at a building said to be haunted. Suddenly she loses consciousness for no apparent reason, and must be admitted to the hospital. Due to the suspicious circumstances, Haruka decides to enlist the help of the cynical, sarcastic Yakumo Saitou, a supposed psychic. After realizing he's a fraud when it comes to having psychic abilities, he reveals that he can see ghosts, and will assist her. During the investigation, they get attacked, and it turns out his left eye is red, and that this is the eye with which he can see ghosts.


The series has spawned two completed manga series: one by Miyako Ritsu, subtitled Akai Hitomi wa Shitteiru (The Red Eye Has a Clue), and the other by Suzuka Oda who is the character designer for the anime as well. It has also inspired a live-action drama, a stage play, and a Thirteen Episode Anime series by Bee Train which aired on NHK in Fall 2010. Manabu Kaminaga has also written a prequel spin-off called Ukikumo Shinrei Kitan (浮雲心霊奇譚 or, in English, Strange Talk of Psychic Ukikumo) set in the Edo period, which has six volumes as of August 2020.

Unfortunately, anime aside, there is no official translation for the either manga or the novel. note 


Psychic Detective Yakumo provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: The most obvious case is Yakumo's mother, who attempted to strangle him when he was younger. This turns out to be a bit more complicated.
    • In volume six of the novel series, it is revealed that Yakumo's biological father has also been Dead All Along, his ghost trying to drag Yakumo down to his own level of despair so he can take over his body. This is also true in the Oda manga.
    • In the anime, Nao used to have a twin brother. His red eyes reminded their mother of his father (her rapist), which made her panic and drop the newborn baby.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Plot elements of the manga arcs had been shortened or cut out to fit the Thirteen Episode Anime adaption, and some character roles have been changed or added in to avoid plot holes. For example, Tatsuya is a co-worker of Haruka's instead of an acquaintance she met at Miki's party. Both the Ritsu manga and the anime only cover the beginning of the series. The Oda manga does cut out and change a few things from the novel, despite otherwise following it closely.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In both manga adaptations and the novels, Haruka has matching brown hair and eyes. In the anime adaptation, she has pink hair and light purple eyes. Her hairstyle also varies between adaptations.
    • Yakumo's biological father has silver hair in the anime.
    • Most of the characters are given otherworldly hair colours in the anime, including, purple, green, and pink.
  • Adults Are Useless: In the anime, Haruka's mother seems strangely fine with sending her daughter into what could be a dangerous situation and barely puts up a fight to talk her daughter out of it. This isn't true in the novel, where she insists on coming along.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Yakumo, obviously.
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Haruka blames herself for the death of her twin sister, Ayaka, when they were seven. Yakumo helps her get over it in during the first case, but she still suffers from this to a lesser extent, and only much later in the story has she begun to move forward.
  • Animal Motifs: Yakumo is compared to a cat especially when he's sleeping (and a caterpillar when he's in his sleeping bag). Gotou is often compared to a bear, especially by Yakumo.
  • An Astral Projection, Not a Ghost: In the anime, in the midst of all the actual ghosts, one apparent ghost turns out to be the projected spirit of a terminally ill but still-living girl, whose anxiety about her impending death causes her to project her spirit to other people at night while she's sleeping.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Haruka delivers one to Tatsuya in the Ritsu manga when it's clear that, in spite of being the culprit for an accidental hit-and-run murder, he's only considered for his own welfare, triggering Haruka's memories of her late sister.
  • Awesome by Analysis: Yakumo is by far the most observant and perceptive character in the series. What is still more impressive is the way he puts things together, sometimes reaching Sherlock Scan heights.
  • Badass Bookworm: Although not a bookworm, Yakumo is apparently very well-read and does not appear physically imposing, but he is actually both moderately strong and good a figuring out what needs to be done in a crisis.
  • Badass in Distress: During the "Connected Feelings" case, Yakumo is held captive by his Dead All Along biological father, and is saved by Haruka's arrival and his mother's ghost.
  • Bishounen: Yakumo, also a good number of the other male college students who pop up.
  • Book Dumb: For a detective, Gotou is far from well-read. For example, a discussion about adipocere has him asking "who is this Eddy Poser guy you keep talking about?!"
  • Break the Cutie: This is what happened to Yakumo's mother, who was revealed to have been kidnapped by the man with two red eyes and was raped and impregnated by him. It is also implied that this was taken further leading to her attempted murder of Yakumo. Multiple antagonists attempt to do this to Haruka in order to "break" Yakumo, when they're not going for a more direct route.
    • This has actually been Yakumo's biological father's goal for Yakumo from the very beginning, and the misfortune he brings leads to the character in question self-isolating to keep the people around them safe.
    • In all continuities, Miyuki Nanase has had to deal with this from her family, especially her father. However, unlike Yakumo, this just opened her up to the influences of Yakumo's Dad.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Considering the amount of time the guy spends asleep and cutting classes, you'd never think that Yakumo is a deductive genius.
  • Broken Bird: Yakumo fits this to a T (see Dark and Troubled Past).
  • Brutal Honesty: Yakumo never sugar-coats anything, which usually ends up being reassuring rather than infuriating (probably because he knows when to shut up, among other things). A certain middle-school principal, on the other hand...
    • Haruka tends just to say what ever she thinks, while it sometimes gets her into trouble, it is usually harmless, and on occasion it is even beneficial (for Yakumo, at least).
  • Captain Obvious: In the anime, Doctor Sakakibara, upon seeing Haruka and Detective Gotou, runs away from them. They had never met him before, but Gotou chases him anyway.
  • Child by Rape: Saitou Yakumo is this.
  • Cool Shades: The mysterious red-eyed man (and, in the anime, his female accomplice Miyuki Nanase) always sport these and frequently practices Sunglasses at Night.
    • the latter case is interesting, because although the character exists in the Oda manga, she doesn't wear sunglasses.
  • The Coroner: Hata is a necrophile, but an otherwise good coroner (this is lampshaded in the novels and in the Sazuka manga). It's downplayed in the Anime, however.
  • Creepy Child: The ghost of the boy from the "Dark Tunnel" arc.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Yakumo, when he has his contact lens on. Haruka in both mangas and in the novels, but not the anime.
  • Cute Mute: Nao.
  • The Cynic: This is one of Yakumo's defining characteristics.
  • Damsel in Distress: Haruka is an ordinary person, so when being attacked by murderers and the like, she tends not to fare very well. This is justified by the red-eyed man designating her as a target to get at Yakumo and downplayed by her sometimes figuring that it would not be a good idea to provoke her captors or by being drugged. At other times, Haruka manages to be a Defiant Captive, or even a Damsel out of Distress, by misleading her violent captors and provoking them.
  • Darker and Edgier: The anime somehow manages to be this in regards to both manga adaptations; the stakes are upped from the start, with the hidden room case becoming a Serial Murder case instead of an Accidental Murder case with a single victim. Additionally, the murderer in question attempts to burn down the house with Yakumo and Haruka in it, rather than Yakumo and Haruka being caught off guard by an unknown assailant while investigating the house.
    • In general, the severity of crimes is increased where possible, such as Tatsuya non-fatally hitting the ghost boy and then getting a local mechanic to finish the job instead of hitting the child fatally and then poorly disguising his actual cause of death.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: In the very first chapter, Yakumo reveals that his own mother tried to kill him when he was younger. As the series progresses, further details are described, including that he's a Child by Rape and that his almost-step-father was murdered by his biological father, among other things. To make things worse, most people are terrified, disgusted, or show pity or a strong aversion if they see his left eye. Not to mention all the fun of always seeing the dead.
  • Dead All Along: This ultimately is the case for several characters, including Yakumo's parents and his biological father.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Yakumo is constantly being Tall, Dark, and Snarky without any change of expression (when he isn't, something is up). Haruka and Gotou periodically manage to send a barb or two his way, mostly Haruka.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Thanks to Haruka, Yakumo starts to open up in his snarky, stoic way. This is lampshaded by Isshin in both manga series and Gotou in the novel and the Oda manga.
  • Disappeared Dad / Missing Mom: These seem to be very common in the Saitou family (partially a case of Deceased Parents Are the Best, with one exception).
    • There is also a case where a child's father became abusive after his wife walked out on them.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In the first volume of the novel and in the beginning of the Ritsu manga, ghosts have a more direct effect on the world and Yakumo can show people what ghosts look like; both of these characteristics disappear afterward.
  • Empty Eyes: In the anime, Miki has these while possessed by 4 different ghosts.
  • Eyes Always Shut: In the Ritsu manga, Yakumo's uncle never is drawn with his eyes open.
  • Family Eye Resemblance: Turns out that the ghost-seeing red eye is a family trait. This is part of The Reveal, and is also a plot point in a spin-off, Ukikumo Shinrei Kitan.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Yakumo and Gotou use each other for the common goal of solving cases. Yakumo uses the information Gotou possesses as a police detective, while Gotou uses Yakumo for his ability to see the dead.
  • First-Name Basis: In the novel and both manga versions, Yakumo tells Haruka to call him by his first name so it would less of a hassle. In the anime, she starts calling him "Yakumo-kun" on her own, much to Yakumo's initial chagrin.
  • Freakiness Shame: When Haruka discovers Yakumo's red eye after he wounded from an attack, Yakumo tells her she must be disgusted (in the Ritsu version) or thinks that she would scream (Oda version). Instead, Haruka is the complete opposite and reassures him of it. She even thinks it's "pretty." In the novel, she sees it and says it's beautiful before Yakumo has a chance to comment, not that he doesn't refer to her as strange for this reason afterward.
  • Friend on the Force: Gotou and Ishii. Hata to a lesser extent.
  • Genius Sweet Tooth: This is lampshaded in the Suzuka Oda series, where after interrogating the ghost possessing Miki, Yakumo needs to rest a while. It cuts to him eating ice cream at a cafe, with his excuse being that after "being forced to use his head," he needs sugar. Another Omake in the same also plays on this.
  • Gratuitous English: This is restricted to the anime. A bit in the opening song. Not to mention Nanase Miyuki's singing a whole verse of "London Bridge is Falling Down."
  • Green-Eyed Monster: In the anime, Haruka was a little saddened to see Yakumo with another girl in the second episode, but as it turns out, the girl was the client who had asked him to investigate the episode's ghost.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Nao.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Yakumo and Haruka are often mistaken for a couple, which always has Yakumo providing a rude rebuttal of this kind or simply insisting otherwise.
    • In the novel (as well as the Ritsu manga and the anime), early in their acquaintance, Yakumo jokes that Haruka has bad taste considering Tatsuya, which, given her opinion of Tatsuya, disgusts Haruka, eliciting this response.
  • Heroic BSoD: Haruka goes through one of these when she finds out that Shiori is dead. Later on, Yakumo goes through one when Isshin is murdered in order to "break" him.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Yakumo and Haruka both have bouts of this. In the novel and in the Oda manga adaptation, Yakumo feels frustrated that he can not help others and can only "see" using his red eye. In the Ritsu manga adaptation, Haruka feels she can not help others in spite of so many people helping her. Gotou shows symptoms of this, even though with regard to a case which is unrelated to him, Hata tells him this makes him unsuited for being an officer.
  • Hollywood Fire: The first episode of the anime.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: This happens in the Locked Room case, although differently depending on the adaptation. In the novels and both manga, an accident is claimed to be suicide without any proof. In the anime, Takaoka-sensei asks who murdered someone who is missing. In both cases, it is a big tip off.
  • I See Dead People: The English title is actually something a misnomer to Yakumo: he isn't psychic, he has the physical ability to see ghosts.note  Not only can he see them, he can communicate with them and can show an image of them to others (only in the Locked Room case).
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All incarnations of the series are divided into "files," each one corresponding to a different case.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Between Gotou and Yakumo, no matter what the people in question say.
  • Invisible to Normals: The aforementioned dead people.
  • It's All About Me: Tatsuya. According to Yakumo, he's inconsiderate for always only thinking of himself and what solely affects him. And if anything doesn't go his way, he'll just laugh it off. As it turns out, Yakumo is completely right.
  • It's Personal: For Haruka in the Message From the Dead arc when her friend Shiori is killed.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: This is a constant throughout the series in all of its incarnations. Somewhat justified by the ghosts typically being in the same condition that they died in, as well as Yakumo's theory that ghosts are clumps of emotions (since most people in the first world aren't nudists).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In the novels and both manga series, Yakumo tries to hide it, but he really is a kind person when you come down to it. This results in him being so contrary that in the beginning of the third novel, he is referred to as "Japan’s representative for contrariness." That said, he comes off more as a Jerkass in the anime.
  • Kimodameshi: The first case, the Locked Room, happens because of one of these.
  • The Klutz: Ishii, on top of being bumbling and believing in the occult, to point where you'd think he'd trip over a pea.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Yakumo is one of these. He's always got a rude, sarcastic remark for everyone, but he still assists the police department in solving murder mysteries. Not to mention requests from the dead or people he cares for, although he complains the whole way.
  • Lighter and Softer: The anime takes plots from the other three versions, but nevertheless some of the twists in the anime are much more lighter compared to its counterparts.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Aside from the red eye and seeing ghosts, Yakumo's personality is the polar opposite of his biological father, and this is lampshaded by the "son."
  • Limited Wardrobe: Only in the anime! Come on, a female college student who wears the same outfit everyday? At least she finally changed in the last anime episode for Isshin's funeral. Everyone did, actually.
    • Yakumo almost never wears anything other than the worn out clothes he keeps in the club room, and Haruka does comment on this in the novel and the Oda manga.
  • Love at First Sight: In the Oda manga version and anime adaptation, Ishii sure seems a bit smitten with Haruka. In the former, he even thought she was an angel.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Oddly zigzagged. It turns out that the red-eyed man is Yakumo's father, the latter refuses to acknowledge it as a Child by Rape.
  • Magic Eye: Yakumo has one normal black eye, and one red eye that can see ghosts. He wears a contact lens to cover it, though.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: This happens in all three of the cases in volume one of the novel, as well as their adaptations in anime and manga, only replace "accident" with "suicide." In the Locked Room case, it was not so much making it look like anything as simply claiming it to be so. In the Dark Tunnel case, this was played straight by differing people depending on the adaptation, by avoiding an accident looking like it had been caused by them. Finally, this is the crux of the Message From the Dead case, the Big Bad pulled this twice, first by making her husband's poisoning look like illness, and later in order to fake her death.
  • Meaningful Name: Mentioned in the novel, the Ritsu manga adaptation, and the anime, Yakumo roughly means "multilayered clouds."note 
  • Memento MacGuffin: Seemingly the red gemmed necklace that Yakumo always hold onto. It belonged to his mother. He later lets Haruka hold onto it.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Yakumo hilariously convinces Gotou that Ishii has a thing for him. Ishii doesn't; he just loves the occult and thought Gotou was a psychic detective instead of Yakumo. Ishii actually is infatuated with Haruka.
  • Mysterious Protector: In the anime, Takeda Shunsuke seems to be one for Yakumo and Haruka.
  • Naïve Everygirl: Haruka is an older, more mature version, who doesn't have body image or tormentors to worry about. However, in all adaptions, she is overly trusting of people she hardly knows and is less difficult to convince when she has no moral objections (there she is strong). Also, Haruka is shown to be very conscious of her face without makeup.
  • Not What It Looks Like: After Haruka goes to Yakumo's place to consult him on seeing a ghost in her apartment, he starts taking off his shirt to change into a warmer one. Gatou happens to pick that time to drop in on Yakumo to ask him about a case. Subverted in that Gato knows it's not what it looks like and is simply a Shipper on Deck for Haruka and Yakumo.
  • Odd Friendship: Age aside, the athletic and dramatic Gotou and the lazy and stoic Yakumo have an odd yet solid friendship. As an energetic idealist, Haruka also seems like an odd match with Yakumo (possibly also a case of Opposites Attract, depending on the ultimate state of their Ship Tease).
  • One Head Taller: Yakumo is this in comparison to Haruka.
  • Paranormal Investigation: Well, it is about a guy who can see ghosts... That said, in the series, ghosts can't directly cause physical phenomena (they can do plenty indirectly, however).
  • Parental Abandonment: After attempting to strangle him, Yakumo's mother disappeared; we don't know what happened to his father. In the anime, his father turns out to be the silver haired antagonist that's been trying to provoke Yakumo, and his mother is revealed to have been Dead All Along. Meanwhile, in the novel and in the Sazuka manga, it turns out that both of his parents and his biological father are all revealed to have been Dead All Along, the former two due to the latter's machinations.
  • Parental Substitute: Yakumo's uncle, Saitou Isshin, this would cross into Happily Adopted territory, if Yakumo would allow it.
  • Pet the Dog: As Yakumo starts defrosting, he slowly becomes less mean to Haruka or even kind. The degree depends on the version.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Tatsuya shows elements of this, including assuming that Haruka likes him (she doesn't) and refusing to admit responsibility for his actions.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Subverted for Yakumo, whose left eye is red and allows him to see ghosts. Also subverted for Isshin, Yakumo's uncle, wears a red contact lens to match Yakumo's left eye in order to understand him a little more and share his burden. However, played straight with the mysterious man who is revealed to be Yakumo's biological father (his appearance differs between adaptations).
  • The Reveal: The red-eyed man turns out to be Yakumo's biological father, and Shinsuke Takeda is Yakumo's mother's fiancé. Then there's Nanase Miyuki, who hides behind multiple identities.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: It varies between adaptations. In the novel and the Ritsu manga version—Yuuichi and Shiori, in the Oda version—Kazuhiko, and in the anime adaptation— both Yuiichi and Kazuhiko. In a way, it's easy to sympathize with Haruka, considering that all these people are her friends.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Ishii and Gotou.
  • Shipper on Deck: Gotou is this in all versions for Haruka and Yakumo; in the novel and in the Sazuka manga, Shiori, Isshin, and Haruka's mother join in.
  • Ship Tease: This goes on with Yakumo and Haruka to Will They or Won't They? levels.
  • Shout-Out: In the anime, a self Shout-Out in episode eight, Makoto holds a card with the words D-Station written on top (D-Station is a subdivision of Bee Train the studio that animates the series, even the address is the same).
    • Another takes place in episode twelve:
  • Shrines and Temples: Seen from time to time since Yakumo's uncle is a Buddhist monk.
  • Spirit Advisor: Haruka's dead sister Ayaka is sort of one for Yakumo and Haruka (in all versions). In the novel and in the Ritsu manga adaptation, Shiori is also one for Haruka.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Potentially unintended, but the final scene of episode 2 plays south Asian carnatic singing over the red eyed man's henchman showing someone potential sacrifice victims with which he may be able to revive his daughter.
  • The Stoic: Yakumo usually has indifference plastered on to his face, even when he's being more expressive, which is lampshaded more than once. As he opens up, Yakumo shows a few cases of being Not So Stoic (usually in worry), as well as a few instances of being plain-old expressive.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: In most versions of the Locked Door case.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Yakumo and Gotou make it seem this way.
  • Together in Death: Azusa and Shinsuke Takeda.
  • True Companions: Gotou spends several moments of volume eight of the novel thinking about how he thinks of Haruka and Yakumo as family members (of sorts).
  • Tsundere: Yakumo seems to be incapable of being honest about being close to people and thus ends up this way.
    Yakumo: If I'm bored to death that day and have errands to run nearby, I might make an appearance [to your concert].
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: This happens a lot in the series, usually Haruka is somehow connected to some other occurrence, sometimes this is due to the machinations of the mysterious red-eyed man, other times, not so much.
  • Unbelievable Source Plot: The series has elements of this. Detective Gotou tends to keep the fact he's using a college kid who sees ghosts to help solve cases well under wraps. Yakumo himself, not so much, although in the beginning he does hide his ability to see ghosts... by using some tricks to make people think he's plain psychic to get some extra cash.
  • Unfinished Business: This is why ghosts are attached to the human world and cannot move on. They are left behind clumps of feelings, whether it's the desire to be avenged, to the desire to live, to have their bodies found and cared for, or genuine feelings for a living person.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Yakumo has constant bedhead due to sloppiness, this does not interfere with him being Tall, Dark, and Handsome.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Gotou and Yakumo, type two. In the novel, Gotou risks and eventually loses his job helping Yakumo escape when the latter is under suspicion of murder.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The anime does not show what happened to Tatsuya in the end of third episode, but it can be assumed he'd been arrested for the hit-and-run, as in the other versions he appears in.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In the Ritsu adaptation and in the novels, Tatsuya thinks Yakumo dislikes him because he's "close friends" with Haruka. Yakumo just doesn't like the guy, and every single thing Tatsuya does makes Yakumo's dislike deepen. Haruka is in complete agreement with Yakumo on this one — she's just less blunt about it most of the time — making this even more glaring.
  • You Wake Up in a Room: When Takaoka-sensei or Yuuichi (depending on the version) thinks he killed Yuri after hitting her a little too hard, he hides her body in a basement. Turns out she wasn't dead after all. Until she either suffocated or starved to death while trying to claw her way out of the room.