Tuesday, January 10, 2012

「心に並べても未完成なパズル 」


"You don't judge cases by their size"

Welcome to another entry in Short Shorts. Or wait, this is actually the first Short Shorts. Am I really going to call this Short Shorts? Hmm. Anyway, this is where I post things that aren't nearly interesting enough to justify a whole post on their own, but are somewhat acceptable if thrown in with some other bits and pieces. The bits and pieces are unrelated, but who cares?

I bought Speak of The Devil over a year ago and decided yesterday to finally read it. Speak of the Devil was a radio drama (this being the script) written by John Dickson Carr and is basically an enhanced version of She Slept Lightly (which is collected in 13 to the Gallows). A historic mystery where a man is haunted by his desire to meet a girl who is supposed to have been hanged some years earlier, but the mystery is rather light and the sappy love story really asked a lot of tolerance of my part. Speak of the Devil and She Slept Lightly are also extremely similar, so there is actually no need to read both stories. Are there actually scripts available for Suspense? Carr had some interesting stories there, which would have been much more enjoyable to read than Speak of the Devil.

Reverse Thieves has a pretty interesting segment where they discuss homages / parodies to detectives in non-related anime/manga series. To name some of my own favorites: The Serizawa Family Murder Case, a chapter in the classic Golgo 13. In fact, Golgo 13 is a name that might be mentioned more often from now on. The titular Golgo 13 is the world's number one professional assassin. And that's pretty all to the story. The stories often involve international politics in the background, but most of the interesting stories are when Golgo is forced to make an impossible snipe. Thieves like Lupin might be experts on how to make a seemingly impossible theft, but Golgo 13 is an expert in overcoming the odds and assassinate people in seemingly impossible situations. You know, the more I think about it, the more I think I really should write something more extensive about Golgo 13 sometime.

But anyway, The Serizawa Family Murder Case is might be an origin story for the perfect assassin. The story has a slow start, but presents the reader with a very interesting impossible disappearance halfway through the story. A woman is seen entering a hotel room, shortly after followed by a man. Police officers have all exits under surveillance. After some time however, the man exits the room, complaining that the woman still has not come! The police has no idea what's going on: they swear they saw the woman enter first, but the man says she was never there and simply thought that she was late. A search of the room shows that she has really disappeared from under the police's nose. The solution is a pretty suprising one if you weren't expecting a locked room mystery in your Golgo 13.

Another locked room mystery I had totally forgotten about is in King Ottokar's Sceptre, the eight album in the Adventures of Tintin series. I will refer to Tintin as Kuifje (his Dutch name) from now on by the way, because Tintin just feels strange. I haven't seen the new movie (and I seem to be the only one who genuinely enjoyed the videogame), but rewatching the 90's TV series reminded me of the locked room mystery in King Ottokar's Sceptre. In it, the titular sceptre disappears from a guarded room, with the only person inside being knocked out. While the solution is pretty simple and arguably maybe a bit childish, it's still a pretty entertaining story.

For me, reading/watching detective fiction is something I usually do on my own, so I naturally keep all my thoughts I have to myself. Occasionally I cry out some incoherent stuff, but it's usually a silent process. As I watched some episodes of (the awesome) Game Center CX however, I realized how strange it is to hear someone else think out loud while confronting a piece of detective fiction. In episodes 105 and 113, section chief Arino challenges the two detective games Hokkaidou Serial Murder Case - Disppear to Ohotsk (sequel to Portopia Serial Murder Case) and Kamaitachi no Yoru. While in episodes with action-based games, most of the fun of the show is derived from seeing how Arino struggles to progress in the game, these two episodes show a surprisingly sharp Arino trying to solve the murder cases in those games. Most Game Center CX episodes are filled with expressions like "Aaah, game over!", "Jump!!", "Need more lives!!", but as these kind of tensions are usually not present in detective games, Arino is forced to think out loud, to voice his deductions in order to fill out the 60 minutes of the show.

 And it's actually really fun, hearing how someone tackles a detective story. When you watch a detective show with someone else, you'll occasionally voice your deductions, but in these two episodes, Arino has to talk constantly because he is the only person in front of the camera and he has to pull the viewers in. It is really strange to follow a person's complete train of thought while playing a detective game, or engaging in any kind of detective fiction, but it's really interesting to see how people's way of thinking and deducing differ, even if the input (the story/clues) are the same. It's more fun that simply comparing solutions, because here we see the complete picture of how Arino progresses through the story and changes his ideas as he encounters new evidence. And sometimes bumbles around. Greatest moment of the Kamaitachi no Yoru episode? When the protagonist in the game exclaims he know who the murderer is, while Arino exclaims in return that he has no friggin' idea who the murderer is.

Thus ends this short short. I'll probably forget about the existence this type of post.... by the end of next month and will probably invoke it again in six months or so. That increasing pain in my head is also probably trying to tell me I should sleep now.


  1. The one part that asked a lot of me, while reading Speak of the Devil, was the incredible coincidence that brought all the characters to together halfway through the story, but it's a nice yarn if you're a fan.

    Anyway, there are radio scripts from Suspense and Appointment with Fear collected in The Door to Doom and Other Detections, some of them from broadcasts that can't be found online, but you have to be a fan to enjoy that book as a whole.

    It collects all of his earlier stories, written as a teenager for his school newspaper, which shows him grow as a writer from infancy to adulthood. The book also contains a few horror stories, Holmesian stage plays (performed by the members of the MWA!) and essays – including "The Grandest Game in the World."

    I have yet to read the translation you posted a few days ago, but rest assured, I will get on it as soon as possible. Yes, I'm horrible...

  2. Oh, take your time, it's not like it will disappear ;) (Of course unless the copyright-holders come complaining, but that seems very unlikely at the moment...)

    I'm actually pretty much through my complete reading pile now (after more than a year!)... Yes, I have a couple of unread books left, but I don't really feel an urge to read them (and I got them for free anyway).

    Problem is that I really shouldn't buy books the coming two, three months, leaving me with... nothing to read. 'Cept for rereading some books. Which I'm doing now actually, though this time I'm reading 813 in Japanese instead of English.

  3. Hello Ho-Ling. Never thought you would review a Golgo 13 story and that too the Serizawa family murders.I watched the movie and the tv anime series but golgo's origin was never revealed there.Its hard for me to get the manga by Vi,but now you can shed some light on that story.For many years i have been curious to know this story ever since I heard of it.Would you please spoil some points for me ?( Obviously in cryptic words )For instance,who committed the family murders & why ? what's golgo's connection to it? And please explain the vanishing trick.Basically I want a summary filled with spoilers.I would be grateful to you if you could keep my request.

    And by the way,I love reading your reviews.I bought the the Decagon House Murders some days ago.Would love to read a Kosuke Kindaichi Novel translated by you.

    If i remember correctly from the canadian cartoon series, the sceptre vanish had something to do with the camera,right?

    1. Regarding the Golgo 13 story (you can decipher the text through rot13.com): Gur Tbytb 13 fgbel vf gbb ybat gb rkcynva, ohg vg'f nobhg gur cbyvpr vairfgvtngvba va gur zheqre bs zrzoref bs gur Frevmnjn snzvyl, n pyna bs nffnffvaf bs juvpu vg'f fhfcrpgrq Tbytb 13 vf npghnyyl gur lbhatrfg fba jub xvyyrq uvf bja snzvyl jura ur jnf n xvq. Gur inavfuvat gevpx unf Tbytb ragre gur ubgry ebbz nsgre gur jbzna. Gur jbzna jnf gura phg hc va cvrprf, obarf pehfurq, naq syhfurq qbja gur gbvyrg cneg ol cneg.

      And yep, that was the Tintin trick.