Manga-ka: Matsuri Akino
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: September 2007
Synopsis: “While investigating a murder at a mountain lodge, an argument erupts between our two young detectives – one that proves to have alarming results when each calls to Suzuki for help. Later, it’s a time of change as Haruka prepares to start college, leaving Masato behind to run the Mystery Novels Club by himself. But with our duo separated, what future is in store for the Masked Detective?”
Volume four marks the end of Matsuri Akino’s Kamen Tantei. Though completion of any series you enjoy is always a bit sad, I was relieved that this short series ended before it had a chance to be cut, or infinitely suspended, by Tokyopop. Wonderment to me then when I realized this final volume had actually been out for almost a year and I never knew! Shame on me. The book itself surprised me too, upon reading, becoming quite random in its execution and taking the plot in a slightly different direction. Instead of just being a couple of oddly desensitized teenagers solving murder mysteries, much of this volume focuses on the mysterious Taro Suzuki and the truth behind his existence. Problem being for my review is that it’s hard to talk much about it without ruining the surprise!
Odd thing I can say though, is that only when I got to the end of the book did I realize that the surprise had happened. The revelation of Taro Suzuki’s existence was so smoothly integrated into the plot, that it just sort of happened instead of having some sort of climatic moment of revelation. On one hand, I liked how smooth this transitional acceptance was (as if these facts had always been there) but on the other hand, it would’ve been nice to have a little more oomph to the final volume. By the end though, I still wasn’t sure what was fact and fiction anymore for the crime-solving duo, but I think it ended up being more fun that way!
So along with the weird but interesting Taro Suzuki angle, the last volume combines aspects of what its had all along: lively characters, simple mysteries and some supernatural elements tossed in to keep things a little different (and satisfy Matsuri Akino’s love for the occult). The mysteries here are never really too in-depth, and there’s more focus on them being a mystery than actually being a mystery, more tell-than-show if you know what I mean. So while there may not be enough real bulk for the mystery buffs out there, reading a series about someone so passionate about them still makes for a neat experience.
As for other aspects of the book, I continue to have a huge soft spot for Matsuri Akino’s artwork so of course I continued to love it here. It’s a style subjective to taste but I can at least say it suits mine just fine! I’m also in love with the design of the story’s lead female, Haruka. Guess I’ve also got a soft spot for spunky girls with short black hair. Maybe a bit of narcissism on my part, as if I wasn’t a bit of an artist myself, I’d use pictures of her for a personal bio in a heartbeat. Though the short run it’s also been a decent release by Tokyopop, the usual fare with no bells and whistles but it nicely gets the job done. I have to give props to their design work on the front and back covers which suit the book perfectly.
All in all, Kamen Tantei fits perfectly at its four-volume length, short but sweet, and over before it had time to get at all tiring. It was fun, and a little quirky, and I enjoyed every volume of it. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommended picking up volume one and seeing what you think. It’s a pretty good representation of this entertaining series from start to finish. So, goodbye to you trio of mystery-solvers, may you live comfortably in the minds of your readers (“Of course, that’s only if you choose to do so.”).
Review written August 26, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo.
Book purchased from vendor at Fan Expo 2008