「 しかしある先輩が、ぼくにひとつの福音を与えてくれた。それは、名探偵の名前は漢字三文字がよい、ということ。金田一、加賀美、二階堂。そうだ！霧ヶ峰はエアコンなどではなく、名探偵にこそ相応しい名前だったのだ ！」
"But then a senior told me something good. All great detectives have three characters in their name. Kindaichi. Kagami. Nikaidou. Yes! Kirigamine wasn't a name for the air-conditioning, it was the name suitable for a great detective!"
"Kirigamine Ryou's After-School Hours"
If I were to exclusively review audio dramas, my post-count would explode, I think! They take no time at all! Hmmm, let's go back to my homework. A paper scheduled for right after New Year is just evil (or: A Lesson In Planning: How To Avoid Doing Everything The Last Few Days).
As a supplement novel, Houkago wa Mystery to Tomo ni features a different protagonist from the main series: Kirigamine Ryou, a tomboyish second year student and vice-president of the detective club. Her heart is definitely in the right place, having an almost surreal passion for finding mysteries (especially of the impossible kind) and even already having made her name-card, but she is actually usally not playing the detective part in the stories: she is certainly not dumb, but it seems there's always someone better around her (even though she's the vice-president!). As a protagonist, she is awesome though, being both sharp and clueless at the same time and she is certainly strong enough a character to carry her own series. The setting is also fun: the mysteries are all set around the after-school campus, with club activities going on. The stories convey an actual school-feeling (without convining it to 'class' situations), which actually few mysteries set at schools manage to do (without resorting to the old school festival setting).
I had actually been waiting for Momogre's adaption of Houkago wa Mystery to Tomo ni, which was scheduled for today, but then I discovered that NHK already did a 10-part radio drama adaption of the book in their Youth Adventure serials earlier this year. I totally digged the Youth Adventure's adaption of Norizuki Rintarou's Ni no Higeki, so I had high expectations for this adaption. Which were totally justified. I love Asagura Aki's Kirigamine Ryou and even though the adaption may seem short, with 10 episodes of 15 minutes each, the pacing of the stories is just impeccable (which is also probably because of Higashigawa's writing style) and never feels too hasty. The original book featured eight short stories, but they sadly enough only adapted six stories (leaving out Kirigamine Ryou and the Invisible Poison and Kirigamine Ryou and the Tragedy of X, the latter being one of Higashigawa's own favorite stories, having spent 10 years (!) plotting this short story). Making it interesting to see what Momogre's going to do.
In Kirigamine Ryou no Kutsujoku ("Kirigamine Ryou's Humiliation"), our hero gets assaulted by a thief in the audiovisual materials room as she visits the E-Building, an annex built in the shape of the letter 'E'. She and some other people she meets on the way chase the thief across the building until they reach the only open exit of the building, but it seems he has disappeared: someone was near the exit the whole time and swears nobody left the building. How did the thief escape from the E-building? The solution might seem obvious, as it certainly invokes a certain mystery in a room of the yellow kind, but that's actually Higashigawa's specialty: making you think that the story's probably simple and easy to solve because it's so light-hearted and funny, but there is usually something deeper behind it. The solution is good, because it really fits the school-setting, something that not many mysteries set at school can say.
Kirigamine Ryou no Gyakushuu ("Kirigamine Ryou's Counterattack") starts with Ryou who comes across a paparazzi camera-man one day after school. The cameraman had been waiting in front of an apartment the whole day, trying to get a picture of a rising star actor and his girlfriend, both of them alumni of Koigakubo Academy. The cameraman is sure both of them entered the apartment (seperately), but needs a picture of them both together. After some events however, Ryou and the cameraman are invited to the room themselves by the woman, who says that she knows what the cameraman is thinking, but that she is not dating the actor and nobody entered her room at all. Ryou and the cameraman search the room and discover that the room is indeed empty. Was the cameraman wrong? Or did the actor just disappear from the room? Once again Higashigawa plays with the expectations of the reader/listener, luring him in a false sense of security and 'ha, I already know this trick', only for him to reveal his layered trap. It has parallels with Higashigawa's own Jisoku Yonjuu Kilo no Misshitsu, both stories featuring a room under observation and an impossible escape, but the latter story is also burdened by a rather hard-to-believe murder trick.
Kirigamine Ryou no Zekkyou ("Kirigamine Ryou's Scream") is the only story adapted that was only one episode long (15 minutes), but it was enough to convey this short, yet fun little story about a student who was attacked on the running grounds of the school. There were no footsteps around him except for his own and the girl who discovered him lying unconcious on the ground (and she couldn't have hit him, as seen from the footsteps), so who attacked the boy and how? A somewhat incredible solution, but it fits the humorous tone of the collection.
Kirigamine Ryou no Houkago ("Kirigamine Ryou's After School Hours") is a really fun misdirection story, that starts out with Ryou and her friend Nao discovering a delinquent student smoking in a little storehouse, but the story develops in rather unpredictable ways from that point on, so I don't want to spoil it. A lot of fun in this story is because Ryou (and therefore the listener) has no idea what's going on. Higashigawa did a very nice job with this story, having carefully clued everything, yet at the same time succeeding wonderfully at hiding the truth. There is actually an official web-movie version available of this story (to be found at the 'actual' Koigakubo Academy website), which I really recommend to people who want to have a taste of Higashigawa's unique sense of storytelling (no subtitles though!). The production is pretty good though and the way they did the first-person narrator thing... is just genius. And cute.
Kirigamine Ryou no Okujou Misshitsu ("Kirigamine Ryou's Locked Rooftop") features something that totally seems like an urban legend: as Ryou and a teacher are on their way back home, a girl falls on top of the teacher. Ryou checks the rooftop right after the girl landed on the teacher, but it finds it empty and the staircase was watched the whole time, so Ryou concludes that it must have been an attempt at suicide. Which the girl (who fortunately didn't die) denies, saying that she was called to the roof and pushed off there. What happened on the roof? Did the would-be murder just disappear in thin air? A somewhat flawed mystery: the solution is rather simple and a bit disappointing even, but the same elements could have resulted in a more impressive impossible crime, which they mention it themselves in the story. On the other hand, the elements that could have made this a more impressive mystery can only be made known the listener after the solving of the crime, or else there is no mystery at all. A conundrum.
Kirigamine Ryou no Nidome no Kutsujoku ("Kirigamine Ryou's Second Humiliation") is once again set at the E-Building, like the first story. And once again features an impossible disappearance. Ryou happens to find a student who was attacked in the art room in the E-Building and is then attacked herself. Her attacker runs back into the hallway of the E-Building and Ryou wouldn't be the vice-president of the detective club if she didn't give chase immediately. Like in the first story, the attacker manages to escape even though all the exits being watched. Despite the story being set at the same place, with the same type of impossible situation, this story is quite different from Kirigamine Ryou's first humiliation, featuring a totally different kind of solution and even features a second, hidden problem and thus feels surprisingly fresh.
All in all a very fun short story collection, that manages to combine humor with orthodox detective plots with great success. It works great as an audio drama too, with a great Kirigamine Ryou voice-actress. Now I'm very interested in Momogre's adaption too: as I wonder how the adaptions of Momogre and NHK's Youth Adventure differ.
Original Japanese title(s): 東川篤哉（原作） ＮＨＫ青春アドベンチャー 『放課後はミステリーとともに』: 「霧ヶ峰涼の屈辱」 / 「霧ヶ峰涼の逆襲」 / 「霧ヶ峰涼の絶叫」 / 「霧ヶ峰涼の放課後」 / 「霧ヶ峰涼の屋上密室」 / 「霧ヶ峰涼の二度目の屈辱」