If a spirit is in need of exorcising, magic is required – specifically, magical law. The young Muhyo is a talented Executor who runs an exorcism business with his apprentice Roji, banishing spirits by using the laws of magic and its corresponding articles. Their investigations see them facing all manner of spirits as they seek to protect their clients and deliver the appropriate sentencing on the ghosts that ail them. However, it’s not just spirits the pair need to be careful of. As Muhyo becomes the target of a dangerous figure within the magical law community, Muhyo and Roji must contend with forbidden magical law while trying to keep colleagues and clients alike from being caught in the ensuing crossfire.
Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation – Season 1 is a series full of horror and supernatural elements that often dives into more dramatic fare than one might expect based on its cartoony exterior. The anime’s foundations of two characters running an exorcism business makes for a solid premise for a standard monster of the week series, as customers come to Muhyo and Roji for various jobs involving the exorcism of dangerous or misunderstood spirits which have taken to haunting a variety of locations such as train stations, temples, and a hot spring. Muhyo is the youngest magical Enforcer and resident sassy gremlin and is a fun rendition of ‘protagonist who is very competent but conceited’, with Roji acting as his less competent foil who tries his best regardless and has dreams of working alongside Muhyo as an equal. The two balance the series well, with Roji a necessary component of the story to create stakes as Muhyo is such a powerful practitioner of magical law that generally spirits don’t provide him with much of a challenge.
Spirits are generally dispatched very quickly by Muhyo, with other characters such as Roji essentially tasked with buying time during exorcisms so Muhyo can cast complicated spells or get to his tools. Because Muhyo is so powerful it makes the series a little repetitive and low stakes, as each episode tries to figure out ways to keep Muhyo away from the spirits long enough for there to be drama, only for him to then immediately show up and fix the problem by defeating the spirit. But what Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation lacks in early episode stakes it makes up for with a spooky and often blood thirsty ambience that defies the series’ cartoony exterior, and an excellent four-part finale which shows the extent of Muhyo’s powers and the danger of relying too heavily on them.
In Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation, exorcisms are pursuant to special magical law articles related to the crimes being committed – if a spirit commits a crime, they are sentenced based on the rules of magical law and punished accordingly. Since the existence of the spirit itself is a crime, there is not much wiggle room to fudge around with the laws and generally most spirits in the series are found immediately guilty and sentenced with a one way ticket to hell – usually through calling on other spirits to execute the punishment. For particularly tricky exorcisms, Muhyo can summon objects and armour to protect himself and use magic abilities such as summoning magical stunning needles to knock people out. The law aspects of magic are not delved into that much throughout the series, and if a new concept is introduced it generally only has an impact in the episode it is introduced in. For example, a magical rule is established in an early episode that if a magical lawyer accuses a spirit of the wrong crime, the punishment given will rebound onto the Enforcer. This is a really cool in-universe rule that could have a lot of neat implications for future stand-offs with spirits. However, the rule doesn’t come up again and it makes the magic in Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation feel one note.
Though the understanding of the magical law society and how it functions within the broader world of Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation is fairly sparse, it works well enough for the story the series is telling. The series provides the basic context necessary to support its premise – there is a secret community of magic users with their own town that teaches magic to students so they can learn to be magical lawyers (magic users) and judges (those who can’t use magical law but can use magical tools).
There is a sense, particularly late in the series, that there is something rotten about the way the magical community functions. Characters such as Enchu, Muhyo’s old schoolmate turned bitter enemy, embraces forbidden magical law following a series of personal and academic crises, and the Magical Law School teacher Rio has consistently been used and taken advantage of within the magical community. However, despite these instances, Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation doesn’t offer much additional insight into the world of magical users beyond its basic premise of rooting magic in law. But not every series needs a Hunter X Hunter or Deca-Dence level of worldbuilding – Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation still functions as a solid series and tells a complete and satisfying narrative without the additional embellishments.
For fans of spirits and yokai in their anime, Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation – Season 1 offers supernatural ambience in spades with a twist. Although the magical law aspect of the show isn’t fully explored, it still adds a neat element to the supernatural genre that I hope can be explored further in additional seasons.
© Yoshiyuki Nishi/SHUEISHA, “Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation” Production Committee. All Rights Reserved.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.