Monday, December 20, 2010

「ジッチャンの名にかけて!」

「 みんな5年前のままじゃない。やっぱり変わってるんだ・・・そして、これからも・・・・」
『金田一少年の事件簿:雪影村殺人事件』

"Nobody is like they were five years ago. Yes. Everyone has changed... And they will keep changing...",
"The Casefiles of Young Kindaichi: The Yukikage Village Murder Case"

I usually don't discuss manga here. Not because I don't like the medium. Neither because comics don't belong here (because they do!). I deal with detective fiction here, as the site description says in the sidebar, which includes a wide range of different media. Besides books, movies, TV-series and games have also been discussed here. And the alert reader surely has noticed I read Meitantei Conan ("Detective Conan") and Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo ("The Casefiles of Young Kindaichi"). So why are they not discussed here?

Mostly because of the way the medium is set up. Stories are often quite short, which I think is harder to discuss than a single story. Another problem, especially in Conan, is the fact that stories are often spread amongst several volumes, and I don't really like discussing a single part of a story. Yes, I am still thinking about how I'm going to discuss Nikaidou Reito's four-part Jinroujou no Kyoufu ("The Fear of Werewolf Castle"), the longest detective story in existence.

Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo though, is slightly easier to discuss though. Most stories since the reboot in 2004 have been longer, two volume stories. The only problem is that scriptwriter Amagi and illustrator Satou produce only two volumes a year. It just takes so long for a new story. But it is better than nothing at all, I guess.

 This year's Renkinjutsu Satsujin Jiken ("The Alchemy Murder Case") is once again a rather classic Kindaichi Shounen. The story? Kindaichi is one of the three finalists in a TV programme with a lot of money at stake. These three finalists, together with three TV personalities, are gathered at Alchemy Mansion to shoot the footage for the final strage. The Alchemy Mansion, located on an island (of course!) was once the home of self-proclaimed alchemist, who had disappeared many years ago. As the TV crew make their preparations for the shooting, one of them is killed by a mysterious man dressed like... a man with a mask and a cape (I guess he is supposed to look like an... alchemist). And a sword. A giant sword. More murders occur and Kindaichi has to solve a locked room murder, the mystery of the disappearing murder weapon and prove his actress friend Reika is not the murderer. The elements that make up the bread and butter of the Kindaichi Shounen series.

At this point, I am not expecting new story set-ups in the Kindaichi Shounen series, I'd rather think I'd somehow not like such a change in the series. It's just something I'd expect from the series. So what kind of story did scriptwriter Amagi build with the classic elements? A solid classic story with few real surprises (on a meta level), which ranks among the better stories since the reboot. 2006's Gokumonjuku Satsujin Jiken ("The Jailgate Cram School Murder Case") is still the best since the reboot in my opinion, but Renkinjutsu Satsujin Jiken's use of the location and space for the creation of the mystery reminded me of the better Kindaichi Shounen stories.

The biggest problem I have with this year's volumes is the amount of fanservice it provides. Not the sexual-type of fanservice. But while appearances of him and her and such and so from the series' past can be fun, using it too much just cheapens the experience. It feels like almost every story since the reboot has relied on the nostalgia factor to a certain extent, which is just a shame. Go create new classic characters!

The same holds for Meitantei Conan 70. While I won't discuss it in detail, appearances of both KID and Hattori in a single volume is sort of overkill. Even if both stories are actually quite good. KID's flirt with the Ryouma boom in Japan is kind of entertaining and the Hattori story, which takes its cues from The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes series) and The Inugami Clan (Kindaichi Kousuke series), is one of the more interesting stories of the last few years! But still, using both Hattori and KID in quick succession just cheapens the experience.

And yes, I decided to discuss manga this time because I couldn't keep up with the one-post-a-week rate. It's not really cheating as I abide to the rules! Trying to finish a (snowy) detective novel before the new year though! 

Original Japanese title(s): 天樹征丸、さとうふみや『金田一少年の事件簿 錬金術殺人事件 上・下』/青山剛昌 『名探偵コナン70』

6 comments :

  1. Hey Ash,

    Great reviews, as always. But after reading your little critique on the latest Kindaichi, I honestly have to say that I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything spectacular. It seems the same old, same old to me – and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the plots are still build around the avenger-from-the-past motif and cribs its tricks from other stories. You would almost start to hope for character developments a la Sayers/Marsh to distract the reader from these annoyances.

    The latest Conan sounds fun, though! :)

    I, too, am reading a couple of snowy, holiday themed detective stories. Yesterday, I finished "The Creeps" by Anthony Abbot, which has a fairly standard plot that lacked ingenuity, but overall entertaining enough to look pass some of its weaknesses – especially the part with the psychic experiment in which the ghost of a missing woman, wailing eerily through a receptive medium, moans about her bones not having been properly buried, was for a brief moment, almost Carr-like. But, alas, he proved to be not in the same league as Carr and Talbot.

    The next book, well, more a short novella really, on my list is Very's "The Murder of Father Christmas," about a small, snowy village, stolen gems and two murders, which I hope to finish before Christmas.

    Oh, by the way, Leo Bruce's "Case with Four Clowns," one of the scarcest titles in the genre, has been finally reprinted – and I think the front cover is enough to give you nightmares! Please, please read it... :D

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  2. I'm still thinking about what I'm going to do next year: at a rate of one book a week, I'd still have enough to last me till next year! While I'll certainly try to keep up with my Western detective fiction, it will play second fiddle to Japanese detective fiction at least for 2011, I think. Clowns don't sound attractive though.

    The snowy detective I hope to finish this week is Shimada Souji's second novel, "Naname Yashiki no Hanzai" ("The Crime at the Slanted Mansion"), which takes place in a house in Hokkaidou built at a slant.

    And if I don't make it, I'll "cheat" again with a manga review. Or a best of list. Or something like that.

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  3. Hye Ho-ling. iam a kindaichi fan from malaysia.
    i really love whodunnit movies, plus manga ( kindaichi only.) this week in malaysia they just published 1st volume of alchemy series. could you please tell me who is the culprit n how she/he did it?

    email me. afiq_azam@yahoo.com

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  4. Hi,

    I'm sorry, but it's been a while since I read them and I can't really remember who the killer was. And I don't have the volumes at hand at the moment, so I can't check either.

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  5. Ho-Ling;

    i have read the review in internet - a short one.
    the killing has something to do with the door(?).
    btw, please share with me any whodunnit movies you know. i have plenty to share.

    afiq_azam@yahoo.com

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  6. Ho-Ling, do you have facebook?

    afiq

    afiq_azam@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete