Thursday, December 8, 2011

"A railway guide, you say. A Bradshaw - or an A B C?"

Mr Hercule Poirot, - You fancy yourself, don't you, at solving mysteries that are too difficult for our poor thick-headed British police? Let us see, Mr Clever Poirot, just how clever you can be. Perhaps you'll find this nut too hard to crack. Look out for Andover, on the 21st of the month.
Yours, etc.,
A B C.
"The ABC Murders"

So even though I already owned a copy of Edogawa Rampo's (excellent!) Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination, I bought another one this week. Why? It was only 50 eurocents at the university library? Should I have left it there in the hope that someone with good taste would pick it up? Maybe. But I couldn't take chances. A book this excellent must be cared for and given to a proper reader.

But anyway....

Just to make it seem like my blog is about audio dramas (which it is not), the third review of a Momogre audio drama in a row! But a more... special one. The previous two audio dramas were based on Arisugawa Alice's novels, but the third of Momogre/KiKKa's mystery audio dramas is actually based on Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders. Yes, that classic, that famous Poirot story of a serial killer who kills according to the alphabet (the first victim was a person whose name starts with an A, in a town that starts with an A, etc, etc). That goold old classic which I am not going to review here, because it is like trying to write something innovative about Murder on the Orient Express or The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: I doubt I have it in me to actually offer new, interesting critical insights into these classics. It would probably just end up in meaningless praise (deserved praise, but not particularly adding to the discourse). But anyway, The ABC Murders is also a story that has been adapted to several media, including audio dramas. I for one very much like BBC Radio's adaption of The ABC Murders and so I was (maybe unfairly) expecting a lot of this Japanese adaption of the classic.

20 seconds into the drama however, I was very much tempted to switch off the audio-drama.

[Timestamp: 0:07] Poirot: "Please read this."
[Timestamp: 0:17] Hastings: "A letter? Now you got me. We meet again after a long time, so a love letter from Hercule Poirot?"

I did my best impression of Marge Simpson's groan here.

Was Momogre, with quite a big BL catalogue, going to add a BL subtext between Poirot and Hastings? That question was what bothered me quite bit, even though in the end it turned out that this first conversation was pretty much the only Marge-Simpson-groan-worthy line. Luckily. But still.

The overall adaption of Christie's masterpiece is pretty good though. While I do think that one vital clue's importance has been downplayed a bit in this adaption (though somewhat understandable because of the relation with the English language), the story is brought very well and for people not familiar with the original work (even if that's blasphemy), this audio drama will offer a fairly faithful adaption that brings you all the excitement of chasing the infamous ABC killer all across England together with Poirot and Hastings. In fact, it is extremely similiar to BBC Radio's adaption of the novel (and I am tempted to think it might have been used as a point of reference). 

There is one big difference though. Poirot himself has changed quite a lot. Like in the anime series Agatha Christie no Meitantei Poirot to Marple, Poirot first of all loses most his linguistic characteristics (his French Belgian accent), which to me, as someone who has studied role language and translation, is quite interesting. The second point is that Poirot has become quite a bit younger now (as seen in the cover art), resulting in that Poirot is now a young-ish gentleman who would probably be the perfect son-in-law. Or husband. Which probably has something to do with Momogre's normal audience, but on the other side, if the Christie estate allows Disney to sex up Marple, why not Poirot, I guess.

All in all an interesting experiment, this Japanese take on an English mystery classic, and the drama is certainly worth a try, but now I'm a bit worried how Momogre is to handle future mystery audio dramas that feature detective + sidekick duos.

Original Japanese title(s): モモグレ (原作:アガサ・クリスティー) 『ABC殺人事件』


  1. Hahaha, they seem to have recently toned down on the BL releases, luckily. And I think the mystery series is aimed at a slightly different audience. At least I hope they won't add any of it to future works because that would send me running away. (I wanted to say in horror, but that is not true. Lately BL pops up almost everywhere so I have developed a sort of indifference to it).

    I am wondering, should I read the novel before/after listening to this or not? It somehow feels like there is no way I would be able to review (or appreciate, for that matter) an adaption without knowing the original, yet I am also scared of being to critical in my comparison if I do...

  2. If you would have showed me that picture separate from this review, I would've probably assumed that it was a nifty drawing of either Wimsey/Parker or Vance/Markham.

  3. @エリ: except for the whole young Poirot thing, this is a fairly good adaption of the whole story. Like I said, this adaption is very much like BBC Radio's adaption of the book, and they are both quite faithful to the original plot. Momogre's adaption features quite a lot of young VA's though, changing the average age of the characters quite a lot, but the fundamentals are solid.

    So I don't think you would miss something substantial by not reading the original, neither do I think that it would influence your view on the audio drama this dramatically if you do choose to read the (absolutely awesome) original.