Kindaichi Case Files Volume 5 Review

Each case in this manga is a stand alone mystery, and we are still fairly early in the series. So while reading in order will be better to understand the recurring characters, it’s not necessary to enjoy the individual stories.

Hajime Kindaichi is tricked into qualifying for a treasure hunt on an isolated island, thinking his family is in financial trouble. The reward soon becomes the furthest thing from his mind when the fortune seekers find themselves trapped on the island with a murderer.

 

1099538

 

The Kindaichi Case Files manga continues to be somewhat formulaic in that each case is set up in classical mystery style. We get some set up, meet potential victims/suspects, something bad happens and away we go. The fun with this series is the way pieces of the story combine and the fact that Kindaichi’s adventures are always pretty distinct, interesting, and clever. Treasure Isle gives us a particularly weird cast of characters with diverse reactions to what’s happening. This mystery felt different than the others, which is always nice in a genre where things can get repetitive. I really liked the twists in this one and the way it all came together. As always while some plot details will remain obscured until spelled out there are clues throughout and the main mystery is solvable.

One of the best volumes yet. Highly recommended.

Kindaichi Case Files Volume 4 Review

Each case in this manga is a stand alone mystery, and we are still very early in the series. So while reading in order will be better to understand the recurring characters, it’s not necessary to enjoy the individual stories.

After three cases finding Hajime Kindaichi during his travels matters of life and death now visit him closer to home. When an old school building is scheduled for demolition threatening letters arrive from the “Afterschool Magician,” a legend around the school with ties to seven gruesome mystery stories passed down through the years. But the threats become something worse when the mystery club starts investigating the rumors.

 

700325

 

Smoke and Mirrors is a solid blend of several plotlines that converge nicely at the end. Themes of magic and misdirection are incorporated well and provide nice layers and twists to the mystery. The ties to the school’s history and previous investigations into the seven mysteries added a good amount of intrigue to the story. As a whole I found this volume a slight step down from the previous ones, although not for any particular reason I can point to and it is still quite good. As usual there are clues throughout and while some story details will be beyond deduction the core of the mystery is solvable.

The translation of this particular mystery presented some extra difficulty for the publisher, which they handled well and explain in detail at the end.

Overall another solid installment featuring our favorite high school detective.

Kindaichi Case Files Volume 3 Review

Each case in this manga is a stand alone mystery, and we are still very early in the series. So while reading in order will be better to understand the recurring characters, it’s not necessary to enjoy the individual stories.

Hajime Kindaichi travels to a remote villa during winter break as an intern for a reality tv show, Shock TV. When a supposed prank turns into an actual murder he must team with an old acquaintance from the police force to not only stop the killer, but to do it faster than a new superintendent with something to prove.

 

1099496

 

Like the previous volumes we get set up and meet key characters upfront and then descend into a tense race against time after the first body hits. One of the things I like most about this series is how it finds unique ways to put little twists on established mystery elements while still retaining a classic feel. Leaving Miyuki home for this one and having a cop on Kindaichi’s side for a change shakes up the dynamic a little and makes things interesting. There are also some nice turns the mystery takes during the volume including a wonderfully clever double twist. The characters were strong here and seeing Akechi try to solve the mystery in parallel was interesting.

These stories do require some level of suspension of disbelief, and a key element to this one strains it quite a bit for some readers. Personally I didn’t find it much more implausible than some of the things in the first two, but be aware that while things are kept in the realm of reality and proceed logically drama does take precedence when needed. As usual there are clues throughout and while some story details will be beyond deduction the core of the mystery is solvable.

A fair amount of this story hinges on the visuals and the art does a great job conveying atmosphere, tension and all the relevant information.

I really enjoyed Death TV and Kindaichi’s adventures are clearly just getting started.

Kindaichi Case Files Volume 2 Review

Each case in this manga is a stand alone mystery, and we are still very early in the series. So while reading in order will be better to understand the recurring characters, it’s not necessary to enjoy the individual stories.

 

The Mummy’s Curse brings our highschool detective and his best friend to a strange isolated village in the country by way of a school scandal. When preparations for their classmate’s arranged wedding are interrupted with murder Hajime must unravel the truth behind the village’s curse.

 

896850

 

Like volume 1 (The Opera House Murders), this is a classically built murder mystery. Some key setup and all the players established up front and then the danger and tension hit hard and build rapidly. There are a lot of interlocking layers here to explain and the resolution spans most of the second half of the volume, but it’s all done very well. One of the main secrets is a classic twist that has been seen before. But everything comes together and is used in unique ways and combinations, making this a very interesting read. There are also some great little touches and instances of the author playing with preconceptions. Subtle clues are available and while the reader will never piece out every little detail the core mystery is solvable, which makes these stories particularly intriguing.

The art is extremely good. It’s well detailed, easy to follow and conveys atmosphere and tension wonderfully, acting as a great component to the storytelling.

The Mummy’s Curse is a strong second installment in Kanari and Sato’s mystery series and continues to build momentum for more stories about our young detective.

Kindaichi Case Files Volume 1 Review

The Opera House Murders introduces Hajime Kindaichi, deceptively smart grandson of a famous detective and under-achieving best friend of straight-A student Miyuki Nanase. An isolated retreat for a drama club practice already darkened by the recent suicide of the former lead gets even more tragic when guest start dying in a similar manner to the play they’re rehearsing – The Phantom of the Opera.

 

1099494

 

This is a murder mystery with all the classical trimmings. Our cast and the setting is slowly established to start and then from the first strike on it’s a tense race to figure everything out and stop the killings. The various layers to the story and twists to the mystery are extremely well done and all integrated together flawlessly. And while there are pieces of the motive not revealed until the end there are clues and a good chunk of it all is solvable as you read. Add in a carefully developed dark and dangerous atmosphere and a smart adversary and it all comes together quite impressively. There is a fair bit of exposition towards the end, but it’s presented well and is needed to unravel all the cleverly connected elements of the solution.

The art is detailed, clean, and easy to follow. This is all extremely important for a mystery, where establishing clues, characters and even the geography of their surroundings can all be vital to having the plot unfold properly.

I’ve always loved a good mystery, and Kanari and Sato’s manga about a deceptively bright high school student descended from a famous detective is a wonderful collection of them. The Kindaichi Case Files is a fantastic series and The Opera House Murders gets us off to a great start.

After Hours Volume 2 Review

“What do I want to be? What do I want to do?”

Emi’s unexpected relationship with the captivating Kei progresses, drawing her further and further into Kei’s personal circle as the pair tries to sell Kei’s friends on holding an event that will push them all to their limit.  But Emi had a life, unhappy as it was, before meeting Kei, and her failure to disclose the details to Kei hangs heavily over her head …

 

39778841

 

After Hours continues to be something special in this middle volume of the series. As I remarked in my review of volume 1 the choice of adult protagonists has a hugely positive effect on the story, with complex perspectives and problems, as well a refreshing frankness about their happiness and the realities of adult relationships, underlying Emi and Kei’s tale that keep it all feeling natural and genuine. Also important is that they both make mistakes, and they both have to deal with the consequences of their choices, which gives a nice, resonant layer of depth beneath the core story of two women falling in love.  It’s highly compelling to follow Emi’s point of view as she’s drawn further into Kei’s world, and I’m really looking forward to the 3rd and final volume

Imperfect Girl Manga Review

“Looking back on it now, I realize that incident is what turned me into the novelist I am today. An author is someone who creates tales, but an aspiring author is someone who lies, and nothing more. This incident happened ten years ago, when I was in college, and merely an aspiring author. If those events never took place I wouldn’t have become much of anything at all, which is why I think I need to thank her, thank that girl …”

 

I’ll be sharing thoughts on the entire series (volumes 1-3) as a whole here. I will try to keep it as spoiler free as possible, but the above description from volume 1 by the publisher does NOTHING to convey what the series is really about so I will have to get into some plot details to properly discuss the points I wish to make.

 

34595092

 

Ok, so the book description provides an intriguing hook and is connected to the narrator’s personal arc, but gives pretty much no information or framework about the plot. I find this to be an issue mostly because the story is pretty messed up. The college aged narrator is kidnapped and held captive by an elementary school girl after randomly seeing her act oddly at the scene of an accident where her friend was killed. Exactly what you’d expect, right? No, me neither.

From that disturbing premise came a manga that was unsettling in a lot of the wrong ways yet still extremely compelling and intriguing. I was constantly torn between wondering where things were going and being afraid to find out. Oh, and wanting to shake the main character for being an idiot. The girl was a far more interesting character, and even in context of all the strange happenings, emotional issues being addressed, psychological elements, etc, the narrator’s actions and reasonings often overstepped from those of someone in over their head and dealing poorly to flat out nonsensical. On top of that I considered abandoning it after the second volume also due to how creepy it was, but continued since there was only one left to go and I was admittedly curious.

 

I am glad I finished it. The overall concept of the story and pieces of what was being built towards were as interesting as certain elements along the way indicated. But it all could have been much better executed. It strayed too often from psychological suspense towards full on horror, and certain, important context regarding the narrator’s actions seemed short changed due to pacing issues and info dumps. I don’t know if these issues were in the source material or an effect of adaptation, but overall I wish the journey was approached differently to do more justice to the admittedly compelling underlying story line.

Overall I felt this short manga series both tried too hard in some ways and not hard enough in others. Again, it could all relate to the source material. Part of me wants to recommend anyone who can stomach the premise read it anyway because of the things it does do right and some of the thought provoking themes struggling to transcend the telling, but between the uncomfortableness of the approach and missteps along the way I really can’t.