By Leroy Douresseaux
Sep 10, 2006 - 13:43
KAMEN TANTEI, VOLUME 1
CARTOONITS: Matsuri Akino
ISBN: 1598164996; soft cover; Mystery; Teenage-13+
200 pp., B&W, $9.99
Haruka Akashi and Masato Nishina are best pals and students at the Agasa Academy. Haruka, best known as Haru-chan, is a plucky and smart girl who loves to solve mysteries, and Masato is a shy boy who avoids danger. They’re also budding mystery writers, composing under the nom de plume, Taro Suzuki, and they’re the sole members of their school’s Mystery Novel Club, a subset of the Manga Club. They enter a mystery-writing contest and catch the eye of the creators of the contest, Akihata Publishing.
However, the amorous attentions of a fellow student towards Masato lead the duo down the path of being amateur detectives. When Masato’s movie date, Atsumi Takenouchi, is found with a rope around her neck and dangling from her dorm room ceiling, the hunt is on to find the murderer. Or is it a murder? Later, Haru-chan and Masato run into a dead end while investigating the case. Suddenly, mysterious man appears – Kamen Tantei, the Masked Detective. Unasked, he offers his help to our intrepid duo and helps them solve the mystery. That’s just the first chapter of Kamen Tantei, for there are other whodunits. Whenever Haru-chan and Masato are in danger while on the case, Kamen Tantei appears.
A light-hearted and silly concept, Kamen Tantei is fluffy, but filling foodstuff for those who want mystery comics in the tradition of something like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. It has a touch of Sherlock Holmes, with the whimsy of something like “Scooby-Doo.” The art by creator Matsuri Akino is light on super-deformed and chibi, and is pretty consistent except for some caricature and abstraction. This is fun, and it may be some of the best mystery comics geared at the teenage audience. Kamen Tantei’s appearances seem to hamper some of the chapters – causing them to wrap up in too pat a fashion – but this is still fun stuff.
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