story by Yuma Ando; art by Yuki Sato
published by Kodansha Comics; $10.99 US
What if Sherlock Holmes were reincarnated as an adorable puppy dog? That ran around with a pipe in his mouth because that’s the only way he could magically communicate? And only with Takeru, his Watson, because the pipe was a family heirloom?
It would make for fun and cute mysteries, that’s what. This light-hearted romp is actually short on deduction — the reader sees the crime and then follows the boy and his dog as they prove to the authorities what really happened and who did it, so there’s no “solve it yourself”. Most of the surprise in the stories comes from how very observant a puppy “Sherdog” is.
I found it entertaining to watch the little doggie and his master figure out how to catch the bad guys. There are two cases here — a golf pro who tries to murder a blackmailing rival and make it look like an accident, and a teacher who fakes a student’s suicide. The real mysteries are how they worked out the crimes, constructed to give themselves alibis, and the motivations, which come in late and are underdeveloped.
The sequences, based on the tales here, fall into a pattern, where Takeru, coached by Sherdog, points out a piece of evidence that could be incriminating, then the accused explains it away, and repeat. It’s almost Columbo-like in that “just one more thing” way. And heck, you have to appreciate a school-set crime where working out a physics equation for trajectories is key to the solution.
The opening chapter, a stand-alone story, serves as an excellent introduction to the cast (particularly when combined with the introductory character list), although it does require Sherdog to be somewhat slow on figuring out a phone con. He falls for it at first, even, and there’s a good deal of coincidence between playing with the TV and the answering machine. (That’s not the only coincidence, as another story depends on him answering a call of nature and actually seeing the murder committed.) Still, the image of the determined dog, firmly gripping his pipe and ready to spring into action to protect those he cares about, makes up for a lot. More of that, please.
It’s silly, but I do love a good dog manga, and combining that genre with the current Sherlock trend is enjoyably goofy. I’ll have to hunt down the first two volumes and catch up. In addition to the two main stories and introductory chapter in this one, there’s the beginning of another mystery and some welcome translation notes. (The publisher provided a review copy.)