The Voynich Hotel (2006-2015)

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Three volume manga that is pretty hard to categorize or summarize. It has a lot of fantasy elements (ghosts, witches, demons) and one science fictional one (an utterly useless police robot), but it’s not exactly fantasy or science fiction either. It’s about a hotel on a small island, where bizarre and weird stuff happens daily, yet most people act rather indifferent despite knowing how strange all this is. They take it in stride and go on with their lives (or as is often the case, their afterlife).

The main plot arc is about three witch sisters who got destroyed by European invaders and how one of the three survived to the present day (alive, her other sisters are still sort of around) and now works in the hotel and gets closer to one of the guest, who is former yakuza guy and run away with all of his boss’ money. Nearly every character has a crazy backstory like that and often the more fantastical elements seem like the most mundane aspect of them.

Despite having a main story arc, the romance angle between the witch sister and the former yakuza (though this is overstating things as the romantic aspect is downplayed in favor of situational comedy and the other stuff that is going on 99% of the time), the entire plot is often side-tracked, e.g. into a murder spree and a gang of youngsters trying to solve the crime (as well as the above mentioned police robot making fun of the robot cop cliche), into a demon creating his competitive hotel, a female trio of drug dealers, the assassination attempts of the former yakuza guy and so on.

A lot of the individual plot elements seem like running gags that went out of hand, a lot of the individual characters arcs intersect with each other and when they do usual hilarity and mayhem ensues. It’s overstaffed, overstuffed and most of the time just plain bonkers. But it’s also a lot of fun.