Netflix’s Sandman universe have just been joined by a pair of supernatural sleuths.

This week, the streaming service debuted Dead Boy Detectives, based on comic book characters co-created for DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint by writer Neil Gaiman and artist Matt Wagner. Gaiman has shepherded The Sandman’s cast of characters for 35 years in 2024, including several of the ghostly gumshoes’ tales. The detective duo made their first appearance in the Sandman comic and later appeared in other Vertigo books as well as their own miniseries. Charles Rowland and Edwin Paine are the deceased detectives in question, who have chosen to solve supernatural crimes rather than pass over to the great beyond.

Yuku Kitamura portrays Niko Sasaki on Netflix’s Dead Boy Detectives, a character not found in the comics and created for the streaming series. Niko is a neighbor and friend to agency member Crystal and eventually becomes a member of the Dead Boy Detective Agency, but that’s not her only connection to supernatural. In connection to her father’s death and an infection by otherworldly parasites, Niko can see ghosts, which, along with her Scooby Doo-inspired sleuthing skills, makes her invaluable member of the agency.

I spoke with Yuyu Kitamura recently about her involvement with Dead Boy Detectives, collaborating with the creative team in making Niko whole-cloth for the series, what drew her to the character, and how Niko acts as the light for our heroes. Yuyu is just a delight in this series and (without spoiling anything) gets to stretch her acting legs in so many fun, thoughtful ways. Everyone is bringing their A-game to Dead Boy Detectives, and the same is especially true of Yuyu Kitamura.



FreakSugar: Before we get to the series itself, how did you get involved with Dead Boy Detectives?

Yuyu Kitamura: Dead Boy Detectives came through my team like many auditions, but I was immediately drawn to the character when I knew who Niko was to me. Her essence and soul reminded me much of my younger sister. My dad was my reader for the tape and it was a strange, comical, and slightly cringey experience trying to act my heart out when my dad would give me notes. But as I auditioned for the part, I was excited to audition for a character that felt modern. She was Japanese like me, that went to school in the States, didn’t have an accent, and felt like a layered character. That was important to me.

FS: What can you tell us about the role of Niko and her role in the series?

YK: Niko is the light in the group. To me, she’s a character that represents love and brings out a side of humanity that the boys have forgotten from their many years of being “dead”. We meet her as Crystal’s neighbour where they live across the hall from one another at the Tongue Tail Butcher Shop and she’s acting unusually supernatural herself.

The thing about Niko that I treasure is her ability to love, even when the world has dealt her unfair cards. Her optimism and ability to always root for her friends is a quality that I found truly impactful while filming and served as a reminder to find ways to see the world with gratitude.

Not to mention, she serves looks with her incredible, colourful outfits.


DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. (L to R) George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne, Kassius Nelson as Crystal Palace, Yuyu Kitamura as Niko Sasaki, and Jayden Revri as Charles Rowland in episode 4 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023


FS: Every role is different and evolves from what’s on the page. How has Niko’s role changed from being hired to having it realized as the series progresses?

Niko didn’t exist in the original DBD graphic novels, and so it was a true collaboration between myself, [Dead Boy Detectives showrunner] Steve Yockey, and our head of creative departments. It was important for me to find the intersection of honoring Steve’s vision and bringing my ideas of who Niko is. I wanted her to feel authentic, in this already larger-than-life insane world of our show.

She’s a young woman figuring out her place in the world, and allowing people to see her for who she is. Her quiet confidence and sensitivity are her super powers. I mapped out her vulnerability and growth for her journey that felt grounded but didn’t forget that she’s a fun character who finds herself in trouble one way or another.


DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Yuyu Kitamura as Niko Sasaki in episode 3 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023


FS: What’s the collaboration with the rest of the cast and crew been like?

YK: Collectively, this show is made with love and passion from our amazing cast and crew. The truly wonderful gift of an experience was because of the people I got to work with and it’s been an absolute blast getting to work alongside them. Every day was insane because when else will you be filming a scene in hell, then another with a spirit and ending with a fun day of acting to a jar?

FS: If you had one final pitch for Dead Boy Detectives, what would it be?

YK: It’s your next supernatural obsession. There’s nothing like our show on screens now, and if you want to cry or laugh or feel slightly scared, give Dead Boy Detectives a chance. I promise you, we won’t bite!



Dead Boy Detectives is streaming now on Netflix.

From the official description of the series:

Do you have a pesky ghost haunting you? Has a demon stolen your core memories? You may want to ring the Dead Boy Detectives.

Meet Edwin Payne (George Rexstrew) and Charles Rowland (Jayden Revri), “the brains” and “the brawn” behind the Dead Boy Detectives agency. Teenagers born decades apart who find each other only in death, Edwin and Charles are best friends and ghosts… who solve mysteries. They will do anything to stick together – including escaping evil witches, Hell and Death herself. With the help of a clairvoyant named Crystal (Kassius Nelson) and her friend Niko (Yuyu Kitamura), they are able to crack some of the mortal realm’s most mystifying paranormal cases.

As part of The Sandman Universe for Netflix and based on the beloved comic series from Neil Gaiman, DEAD BOY DETECTIVES was developed for television by Steve Yockey, who wrote the first episode and serves as showrunner alongside Beth Schwartz as co-showrunner. Greg Berlanti, Yockey, Schwartz, Jeremy Carver, Sarah Schechter, Leigh London Redman and Gaiman serve as executive producers of the series from Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television.

PRODUCED BY: Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television

KEY CAST: George Rexstrew, Jayden Revri, Kassius Nelson, Jenn Lyon, Briana Cuoco, Yuyu Kitamura, Ruth Connell, Lukas Gage, David Iacono

SHOWRUNNERS: Steve Yockey, Beth Schwartz


EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Greg Berlanti, Steve Yockey, Beth Schwartz, Jeremy Carver, Sarah Schechter, Leigh London Redman and Neil Gaiman


BASED ON: Characters created for DC by Neil Gaiman and Matt Wagner

FORMAT: 8 episodes


And the trailer for the series: