Manga Depicts the Adventures of a Psychic Civil Servant

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kanae Kikuchi points at a panel showing a page from the manga in front of Natsume Soseki’s study recreated inside the Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo.

The manga “Mayonaka no Okaruto Komuin” (Midnight Occult Civil Servants) has been enjoying a huge following as of late. The story is set in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, and features many real-life places there such as the Kabuki-cho district, the Tokyo metropolitan government complex and the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.

The manga has been adapted into a TV anime and a play.

In creating the work, the author, Yoko Tamotsu, has received the cooperation of civil servants working at Shinjuku’s ward office who hope readers will learn more about the wonders of Shinjuku.

The manga’s serialization started in the July 2015 issue of the monthly manga magazine Gekkan Asuka, published by Kadokawa Corp. It can currently be found on the publisher’s manga website, Comic Newtype. The manga is also available in book form. About 1.2 million copies have been printed in paper and digital editions up to the 14th volume. The TV anime version was broadcast on Tokyo MX and other channels from April to June in 2019, while the theatrical adaptation was staged at a club in Shinjuku’s Kabuki-cho district from late October to early November last year.

The manga’s lead character is Arata Miyako, a new recruit who has been assigned to the Shinjuku ward office’s section for nighttime local exchanges. His job is to deal with occult phenomenon caused by “Another” — nonhuman beings, such as devils, angels, yokai spirits and monsters. Arata, who possesses the supernatural ability to understand the language of Another, gets involved in various incidents.

“Shinjuku is well-known all over the country and is a chaotic place, so I thought it’d be the perfect setting for the story in which Another appear,” said Kadokawa’s editor in charge of the work.

Tamotsu often went to Shinjuku to study the buildings and the cityscape so she could more realistically draw them. This summer she visited the Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum, a facility run by the ward that appears in the 14th volume of the manga. Kanae Kikuchi, a ward official in charge of the museum, guided Tamotsu through the facility. The artist was able to accurately depict the novelist’s study in her manga, which is recreated on the museum’s second floor.

Panels displaying original pictures from the manga were displayed at the museum for three weeks from late October, and the facility carried an interview with Tamotsu in its newsletter.

“I drew the study so the characters’ movements in the building would be realistic,” she said. “I hope many people will visit the museum because it is a place where you can almost see the footsteps of Soseki.”

“Mayonaka no Okaruto Komuin” features outlandish elements, such as some odd urban legends that Arata solves, and one of his bosses happens to be a former male escort. Despite all of this, Arata is a cool-headed person who always speaks calmly.

“As a public servant myself, I can connect with Arata, who faces tasks he must sort out professionally for the sake of the residents in the ward, even if the tasks are mundane,” Kikuchi said. “I feel as if I am watching a young staff member in the ward office growing into their role.”

The cover of the 14th volume of “Mayonaka no Okaruto Komuin” (Midnight Occult Civil Servant)