Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Sixteen-year-old Takeru Wajima is the son and brother of policemen, but he's really more interested in getting a new dog from the shelter than solving crimes. He gets more than he bargains for, however, when the dog he adopts starts sending him telepathic messages before picking up an old British pipe, which allows him to speak to Takeru. It turns out that his new pet is actually the reincarnation of the great detective Sherlock Holmes, and he thinks that Takeru was once Dr. Watson! It looks like Takeru will be following in the family footsteps after all...
Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle's supreme detective, has gone through many incarnations since his original appearance in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887. Within the last few years alone there have been blockbuster films and two television reimaginings of the great detective, and now Yumia Ando and Yuki Sato, by way of Kodansha USA, are bringing us another one. This time, however, the conceit is slightly different – sure we've got Holmes in the modern world, like in Elementary or Sherlock, but this time the man is a dog.
Not to be confused with the 1984/85 television anime Sherlock Hound, Sherlock Bones is the story of what happens when the world's greatest detective is reborn in the modern era as a puppy. A slightly nonplussed Holmes regains consciousness in a canine body (possibly in a lab? The opening pages seem to imply it.) and quickly begins to utilize his smarts and skills to spring himself. The next thing we know, high school student Takeru Wajima is on his way to the animal shelter to pick out a new dog. Something about the floppy eared pup the worker warns him away from makes him choose that dog, and soon Takeru and his new friend are on their way home. They meet up with Takeru's policeman father, who asks him what the puppy's name is. A voice in Takeru's head tries to tell him “Sherlock,” but what comes out of his mouth is “Sherdog.” It is not until he gets home and his new dog snatches up an antique pipe an uncle brought back from London that he learns that it was Sherdog himself attempting to communicate. Sherdog explains (presumably in a plummy British accent) that he is the reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes, and that years ago, this was His Favorite pipe. From the kanji on Takeru's bike, which spells out the syllables “wa to son,” he has come to the conclusion that Takeru was once Dr. John Watson, and that their meeting is obviously destiny.
As set ups go, this one is zany, but a lot of fun. Takeru really isn't sure what to do with his new talking pet, especially since no one else can hear him, but some of Sherdog's actions certainly suggest the truth of the story he tells, such as the successful way he solves a crime on the way home and his refusal to defecate in the yard. (He's a gentleman, you know.) The manga quickly moves on to the first real case in chapter two, which is made up of some very timely themes, and that case takes up the rest of the volume. It is solved, making this a very nice introduction to the new series that allows it to be sold on its own merits rather than forcing readers to endure a cliff-hanger created as a series hook.
The case involves the death of a school bully, whose actions earlier lead a boy to commit suicide. When Sherdog reads about it in the paper previous to the bully's demise, and Takeru is clearly upset by what has happened. When the lead bully is then found dead, Sherdog and Takeru solve a case that means something to those involved, and Takeru is obviously conflicted about the possible murder of someone we suspect he secretly feels deserved it. The case is interesting in that we the readers quickly know who did it and why, and thus the entire puzzle is about the “how.” This allows Ando to build the suspense based on whether or not the killer will be able to get away with it and gives us plenty of time to ponder whether or not we want that to happen. It's a loaded subject, and while Ando never goes as fully into it as he could have, it is still handled well.
Yuki Sato's art is pleasant to look at, with Takeru sporting a distinct look that separates him from his classmates without making him look utterly ridiculous and making Sherdog really cute. For the latter, it's really about the wrinkled skin on his legs, implying an adorable puppy quality in the way that many statements about his cuteness cannot convey. Fanservice is provided by the homeroom/swim teacher Karen Kikuchi, which is a bit of an odd choice, mostly because it makes her clothing choices stand out as unprofessional, particularly her choice of swimsuit. It is also a bit at odds with the scarier moments, which on one level works, as it ups the shock factor. Sato makes great use of the two page spread and the Higurashi-style evil face he uses is downright chilling.
Sherlock Bones isn't quite sure what age group it wants to appeal to, with its mix of “aww, puppy” and truly scary moments, but it is a very enjoyable read. The mystery is both believable and well-constructed, Takeru is a sympathetic protagonist, and Sherdog is a fun idea fairly well executed. Now that Young Miss Holmes has ended, manga fans looking for their dose of Holmes can find it here. The premise is entertaining, the mystery is enjoyable, and at only seven volumes, this isn't a scary investment of time or money. So come along with Takeru and Sherdog – the game's afoot.
Overall : B
Story : B+
Art : B
+ Fun premise well executed, Sherdog is very cute and Takeru is distinct. Mystery is interesting.
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