Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Beware the Beast from Below


When I'm selflishly convinced about things
They often tend to backfire on me,
But even so I want to live on, more for tomorrow than today
"Not Alone" (Deen)
By now, I might as well rename the short shorts posts. The idea was to do shorter reviews on multiple things in one single post, but nowadays it's just the most recent volumes of Conan and Kindaichi Shounen every four months.

April is always a big month for Detective Conan. A new volume is usually released together with the annual film, and occasionally extra merchandise is released too. Last year had a new 3DS game for example. No games this year though, but a new volume was released mid-April (+ shipping and stuff usually means I'm two, three weeks behind with my review). Detective Conan 86 obviously does not have the impact the previous volume had (which was basically catharsis after many years of world building), but overall I thought it was an okay volume. The volume starts off with the conclusion to A Mystery Sunken in A Midsummer Pool, which started in the previous volume. The mystery of a dead body suddenly appearing in a hotel pool is surprisingly easy to solve, as I am absolutely sure I have seen the same basic idea at least two different times in other detective manga also. Nothing more than a filler story, even if we get another hint at the 'main' story, as it seems that everyone's favorite female high school student detective apparently has some (never before revealed) ties with one of the main characters of the series.

The second story, The Boy and the Nice Lady, has the Detective Boys discovering a dead body (when don't they!) in her apartment room. A little boy who had become friends with the victim was asked by her to keep an eye on her door as she was expecting three different visitors who could mean trouble. And she was right, for she was found hanging from the ceiling. The story is a bit more complex than the usual three-suspects-which-of-them-was-it and I definitely enjoyed it for that, though I was not that big a fan of the overall story (which seems overly convoluted).

The Inn With the Kamaitachi has Hattori and Kazuha join the regular gang as they investigate a photograph of a kamaitachi, shot at an inn in the Nagano Prefecture. The youkai appears to be running over a hot spring in the picture, which would definitely mean something supernatural is going on. Things start to get really creepy when people are indeed attacked by an unseen 'wind sickle' and finally, the old owner of the inn himself is killed by an actual sickle (the Grim Reaper kind of sickle). I have a feeling Hattori & Kazuha often appear in stories featuring ghosts, and they are usually fun. This one is OK; the main trick of the kamaitachi running over the hot spring is pretty ingenious, even if a bit unlikely and the overall atmosphere is good. The final story, The Kawanakajima Murder Case will continue in the next volume, but already shapes up as an interesting cop-killer story, as the members of a detective unit are killed one by one, with as most likely suspect, the one-eyed police detective Yamato.

Overall a decent volume with two amusing stories, though I have to admit that the last, incomplete story caught my attention the most. But with Aoyama's recent hiatus (because of an operation), I guess the release of the next volume, and the one after that, might take a while.

And as always, a new volume Kindachi Shounen no Jikenbo R ("The Young Kindaici Case Files R") followed right after Detective Conan's latest release. Volume 5 surprisingly starts with The Student Akechi Kengo Case Files, a short story starring series regular Superintendent Akechi in his younger years. In the past, Akechi has also starred in his own spin-off series in his high school, as well as his early police days, but this time Akechi appears as a second year university student. Akechi visits a university festival to find Rena, his old upperclassman at high school and nowadays a popular radio personality of the university radio club. Their old teacher is worried that Rena might be in some trouble and hopes Akechi can help her. Sadly enough, he's too late, as a corpse is found at the festival and Akechi suspects that Rena killed the victim to get out of said trouble. However, Rena has a perfect alibi: she was presenting a live radio show during the murder.

The story is short, but good. I thought the trick was quite ingenious, even if a bit predictable because it is not the first time Kindaichi Shounen has featured such a scheme (so it might be a bit easy to see through). The semi-inverted approach is something we often see in the shorter Kindaichi Shounen stories, though those are usually a lot more funnier too (this one is not particularly laugh-inducing). Oh, and two points: for those interested, Akechi Kengo is also starring in a currently-running spin-off series, but illustrated by a different artist. Two: This particular story had a rather big problem when it was originally serialized: due to the paper and ink quality, a large of part of the solution was actually unreadable in its original publication in the magazine Shounen Magazine (it was written on a blackboard, so white on black background). Not sure if someone got fired for that mistake, because readers probably would want to know the explanation of a murder plot.

The rest of the volume is filled with a good part of The Antlion Trench Murder Case, which has Hajime, Miyuki and newsreporter Itsuki trapped in basically the most ridiculously designed building ever in the middle of a desert. Seriously, the Kindaichi Shounen series has featured quite a lot of weird buildings For The Sake of Plot, and I can appreciate a well designed building, but I can't even start to enjoy this story because of how little sense the building makes. And the story does have some interesting points, with a professor doing research in fears and traumas and machinery monitoring everyone's vital signs. But just looking at the building makes my head hurt. Anyway, Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo R 5 has a good start with a short, but good story, but the longer one is just not as amusing.

And that was it for this short short. Hmm, I have the feeling these short shorts aren't as short as they used to be, so I might have to rework this corner the next time. 

Original Japanese title(s): 青山剛昌 『名探偵コナン』第86巻, 天樹征丸(原)、さとうふみや(画) 『金田一少年の事件簿R』第5巻


  1. Ugh, I can't find scans for Kindaichi R volumes 4 and 5... T_T

  2. I've seen the 3DS game but Jesus christ it's long. Was actually planning in asking about it but you already got an article about it I see.

    1. The 3DS Conan games aren't that long, I think both games took about 13 hours or so each? Marionette Symphony was a lot better than Phantom Rhapsody though.

  3. Antlion Trench I see,
    I was wondering though, the name of the building is "Antlion's Nest" in my Country's release and I learned it was actually "Antlion Moat" after quick search and Google translate after finding the volume I bought had a rather questionable translation. So, which one is correct? "Does Antlion's Nest" count as liberal translation? I'm kinda confused at this point.

    1. Nest is a good translation too. Trench is the more literal translation, but in extension, it obviously also means nest here (because the trenches together = nest). Nest is the 'prettier' translation, though I think I chose trench initially because it had connotations with warfare, which I liked because the building was used as a wartime facility.

    2. I see, both are good translation in a way.
      Speaking of which, After reading through the RAW which I illegaly found (yeah, sorry, the killer in earlier chapter said this:
      "Youkoso, watashi no arijigoku he"
      Is it all right to assume the killer tried to say "welcome to my ants' hell" or something?

      I didn't know skimming throguh RAW can be this fun, I don't know if asking you will make you feel, inconvenient to say the least...

    3. The insect Antlion is called an Arijigoku in Japanese, so literally an "Ant Hell", because, well, the name does suit an insect specializing in setting up traps to capture and eat ants :P

    4. At least the larva stage, yes.
      That's fitting, although it makes me think this case was made solely to make this pun and random Itsuki reappearance after one fans asked for it :P
      Once again, thanks!