Ghost Reaper Girl Is Deeply Influenced By H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos

Warning! Spoilers ahead for Ghost Reaper Girl chapter 21!

Those who have only read the first few chapters of Ghost Reaper Girl are unaware that mangaka Akihisa Ikeda finds a great deal of inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Most of the references he makes earlier on appear to only share a name in common, but the comparisons become much stronger later, especially upon the introduction of the Great Old Ones and the actual monster Cthulhu.

The more concrete correlations to Lovecraft’s universe are exciting after Ikeda teased fans with characters who he obviously named after carious Lovecraftian beings that ostensibly shared no similarities. The first connection was introduced in chapter 13 with the mention of beings known as the Great Old Ones. The Great Old Ones are referenced throughout the Cthulhu mythos as malignant gods who once ruled over Earth, and many cults were formed in honor of them. The most infamous of these ancient rulers is Cthulhu himself who appears three chapters later in the manga and resides in R’lyeh, a sunken city located deep under the Pacific Ocean, according to Lovecraft. The wretched monster doesn’t do much during his sole appearance in Ghost Reaper Girl besides speak as he ominously presides over the chaos that ensues under his watchful gaze.

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Before Cthulhu’s grand appearance, the first prominent Lovecraftian reference in Ghost Reaper Girl is Nyarlathotep, a branch director of the ghost organization Arkham Bullet who is immensely powerful and harasses the series’ eponymous hero aka Chloe Love. Originally, the first few chapters create the luckily false impression that her only connection to her Lovecraftian counterpart is her name. Mangaka Ikeda also teased especially sharp readers by referring to her as The Crawling Chaos, just like Cthulhu’s Outer God Nyarlathotep. At first, the only other similarity was that Cthulhu’s Nyarlathotep walks the Earth disguised as a human just like Ikeda’s character. However, Cthulhu’s Nyarlathotep usually takes the form of a man while Ghost Reaper Girl‘s rendition is a woman, though she does enjoy changing her identity through cosplaying, currently having an affinity for nurse costumes.

Later chapters, however, introduce more distinct connections. When she possesses the heroic host Chloe Love, Nyarlathotep manifests as an Egyptian-esque symbol. This is crucial since Cthulhu’s Nyarlathotep sometimes takes the form of an Egyptian Pharoh. Later on, in chapter 21, she appears as a “divided soul.” Although an odd and adorable character, Nyarlathotep’s divided soul shares some resemblance with a version of Lovecraft’s god that has a head so elongated that it looks like it’s wearing some sort of serpentine-like tail.

Another prominent Lovecraftian character in Ghost Reaper Girl is Shoggoth whom Chloe lovingly refers to as Shoggy. Cthulhu‘s Shoggoths are amorphous, shapeshifting beings, while Ghost Reaper Girl‘s Shoggoth is anything but. She’s a cute albeit terrifying killer. Although an adorable girl, she, too, is genetically engineered like Lovecraft’s monsters. In fact, when her creator Dr. West reveals that she was made from a corpse and maneater genes, the image of a maneater that’s shared with readers is unmistakably one of Cthulhu‘s Shoggoths. The manga’s Shoggoth also exhibits the same characteristically odd behavior as the Lovecraftian monster, only able to utter the word “Tekeli-li.”

These are just a few of the many Lovecraftian influences in Ghost Reaper Girl. Interestingly, mangaka Akihisa Ikeda found a great deal of inspiration from another gothic creator for his popular vampire manga Rosario + VampireTim Burton. However, he didn’t go to such lengths as he is with Ghost Reaper Girl. Although Ghost Reaper Girl has been on hiatus for a while, fans will likely get to enjoy even more Lovecraft references from the prolific author’s Cthulhu mythos when the manga resumes later this month.

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Author: Steven Blackburn