by Jiro Taniguchi
published by Fanfare/Ponent Mon; $25 US
I checked out this mystery because I adore the detailed thin line art of Jiro Taniguchi (The Walking Man). That’s on display, but the story is nothing to write home about.
In a plot that could have been part of Murder, She Wrote, mountain climber Shiga heads to Tokyo to find the missing daughter of his dead best friend. There’s more to it than that, thematically — Shiga had an additional connection with the widowed mother, and the girl turned to him as a cross between hero knight and father figure — but not much else plotwise, except for the “oh noes! young girls are prostituting themselves for money to buy designer gifts!” shock that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever read teen manga.
Scratch that TV comparison. It’s more like Dragnet. A clear, direct investigation that proceeds through a place where youngsters are seduced into evil, ultimately requiring hard work to restore comfortable order. Supporting characters don’t have much motivation to change their minds or assist beyond what the plot requires at the time. Shiga solves the mystery through sheer determination. It should surprise no one that his climbing skills are needed during the rescue climax — it’s that kind of book, directly comparing the peace of the mountains with the concrete canyons of Tokyo.
The adrenaline-fueled melodrama does provide for impressive graphics, and I cared enough about tough nice guy Shiga that I was glad to see him come out of his shell, but this isn’t a classic, just an enjoyable, thick read (over 330 pages).
Here’s another review. The Quest for the Missing Girl due in December in comic shops (although Amazon says it’s scheduled for February 2009); the order code is OCT08 4157. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)