Written by: Yozaburo Kanari
Art by: Fumiya Sato
Published by: Tokyopop
Dindrane’s Manga Warnings:
- Child murder
- Butterfly abuse
- Spouse abuse
- Pretty kimono you won’t get to wear
- Teenage cleavage
Fans of manga know that manga has as many genres within it as any other kind of books do, including murder mysteries. One such title is the long-running Kindaichi Case Files series. The mysteries were originally published chapter by chapter in Kodansha’s Shonen Magazine; Tokyopop is collecting and collating each entire mystery as a single volume, making for a hefty read at the same price as other manga volumes. Volume 17 of this series, The Undying Butterflies, is another interesting mystery that will keep you guessing for some time.
[ad#longpost]The star of Kindaichi Case Files is Hajime Kindaichi, an under-achieving but brilliant 11th grader and grandson of the Japanese Sherlock Holmes, Kousuke Kindaichi. At his side are a selection of loyal police officers who have been aided by him in the past, and his would-be girlfriend and best friend, Miyuki Nanase. This volume, readers revisit details of an earlier volume: the loyal assistant to a brilliant butterfly researcher might really be Eiji Touno, escaped murderer from an earlier Kindaichi case. The gang must investigate and so pose as journalists sent to report on the discoveries made by Madarame, wealthy butterfly dilettante. Almost as soon as Our Heroes arrive, however, they are embroiled in even more mysteries and soon, murder. As the deaths mount, each left pinned and arranged like a butterfly specimen, Kindaichi races to save the lives of his hosts and struggles to unravel a mystery that might be older than he is.
The cast of characters is interesting and full of enough quirks to keep you guessing about the identity of the murderer(s), as well as who is really guilty of what other crimes that may or may not impact the current mystery. We have enough villainy and innocence to go around, with secrets and hidden motivations galore.
Fans of mysteries in general should check out this series; it’s interesting to see the illustrations and details of the descriptions. Nothing is ruined by the images, and the story is indeed enhanced by seeing the emotion on the faces of the heroes and suspects. Fumiya Sato’s illustrations are understated or detailed by turns, as the story demands; she is an experience and skilled manga-ka and knows when to pull back and when to step up to enhance the story without overpowering it. Similarly, the writer, Yozaburo Kanari, knows when to supply details that either provide clues or red herrings without just playing silly games with the reader. Rarely does Kindaichi pull knowledge out of nowhereâ€”Kanari plays fair with the reader. As always, Ray Yoshimoto’s translation is top-notch.
If you love mysteries, manga/graphic novels in general, or Kindaichi specifically, then definitely pick this one up. If you haven’t given manga or this series yet, then Kindaichi Case Files #17: The Undying Butterflies is a great place to start; even though the mystery references a loose end from an earlier case, no knowledge of that case is required, other than what exposition provides. Check it out today.