Thursday, December 18, 2014

Exapnding Holmes: Sherlock Bones!

Sherlock Bones, volume 1, story by Yuma Ando & art by Yuki Sato. Graphic novel. 

I am a big fan of comic books, and have even posted about comic-book various adaptations of Holmes novels here and here and here. But this is the first Japanese manga that I’ve ever read. But I knew that if I was going to jump into that world, a Sherlock Holmes pastiche was the way to go.

Here is the premise – if this doesn’t work for you, then the rest of the story won’t work for you. Sixteen-year-old schoolboy Takeru adopts a dog, who can communicate with Takeru when he finds the father’s pipe. It turns out that the dog is the reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes, who believes that Takeru is Watson. Takeru names his new dog Sherdog (of course he does). The dog strongly dislikes the name of course he does).

Nobody in Takeru’s family thinks the dog is particularly smart, until he helps solve a hit-and-run case in the first chapter, “Encounter of the 100th year.” Takeru is excited with the prospect of having a crime-solving dog, as the entire rest of his family are current or former police officers.

The bulk of this volume is the second tale, “The 12:20 Mystery.” A student is killed, and Sherdog knows who did it. But can he and Takeru prove it? As the mystery unfolds, it is a surprisingly strong mystery involving a teacher’s secret son, bullying, camera angles, distances and times.

The story was strong in this volume, in terms of both the mystery story and the characterization of Takeru, Sherdog, and the family. The PE teacher was very strongly characterized, as well. I don’t know enough about manga to tell whether this is good or bad manga art. To my Western eyes, it appears to be standard manga art. That art style, and the black-and-white nature of the presentation, and the size of the book, all took me a little while to get used to. But once I did, I found myself reading a very fun homage to The Great Detective, and a pretty good story in its own right.

I can foresee myself picking up the next volume or two, to see if this quality of story remains as the series progresses.

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