"We are like two parallel lines, never to run across each other's path. But even though we never cross, we're always right next to each other, like twins"
"The Case Files of Young Kindaichi: The Russian Doll Murder Case"
I mentioned in an earlier review I couldn't get used to reading novels of a screen. That was three years ago, so what I do think now, in these days of digital publishing and all?.... I still can't get used to it. Oh, and in other news, there's a new TV drama based on Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo coming! Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo NEO will be produced by the same team behind the TV specials of the last two years, and I quite liked this year's one, so looking forward to it!
Takatoo Shounen no Jikenbo ("The Case Files of Young Takatoo"; official English title Kindaichi Case Files: Takato's Side) is a spin-off one-shot series starring Takatoo Youichi, the arch-nemesis of Kindaichi Hajime of the Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo series. In the main series, Takatoo appears as a genius magician who sees crime as art: he offers his magic to those with murder in their hearts in the role of a crime consultant; thinking out the complex murder plots, but never actively engaging in the crime himself. In this spin-off, we see a young and slightly more innocent Takatoo, having just entered an elite school with top marks. He's invited to join the school's magic show club and slowly starts to get used to normal school life. Until one night, the members of the magic club are invited to witness a sick magic show with the decapitated head of one of the club's members, which disappeared from a locked room. Everyone thinks it's just a stupid joke, but the next morning, they discover that the member has really been murdered. Who is the Death God Magician who performed the 'magic', and why did he murder the poor victim?
Kindaichi Case File: Takato's Side was serialized in Kodansha's MangaBox app, available for no charge at all (and also in English, by the way). So even though I don't really like reading of a screen, I could hardly ignore the series, considering it was free of charge. A normal paper volume will be released too, by the way.
As a detective story, Takato's Side was pretty disappointing though. The murders may be shocking and bloody and all (though not by series standard), but with the story revolving around stage magic, and the way the murders are presented, it's very easy to make an educated guess at what happened behind the scenes. As such, Takato's Side is definitely just a very mediocre story, even disappointing (especially if you consider the fact that Amagi Seimaru wrote the ending of the Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo 20th Anniversary series just before this story!).
Also, the story is basically the same as the famous Seven School Mysteries story of the main series, which was also featured as the very first story in the anime and live action series continuities: both Hajime and Takatoo enter a school club; a upperclassman dies, the body disappears for a while from a locked room. It's really the same, and while I get the idea of them wanting to present Takatoo as a darker version of Hajime, giving him a similar background story, as if he was an evil mirror clone, this is a bit too much of a rehash in my opinion. The only thing good is the ending, which is because unlike Hajime, Takatoo won't guilt-trip the murderer or try to convince him he's wrong, but it's too little to really matter.
I was actually quite surprised I was so disappointed with this story myself: there have been other Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo spin-off stories (featuring the genius Super Intendent Akechi Kengo of the series), but they worked much better both as character studies as just standalone detective stories. This was just a mediocre story.
Kindaichi Case File: Takato's Side is just fanservice for those who want to see a bit more of the genius criminal, but it's nothing special as a detective story. But then again, here I am complaining about something I didn't even pay for.
Original Japanese title(s): 天樹征丸 (原） さとうふみや (画) 『高遠少年の事件簿』