by Rebecca Silverman,

Sherlock Bones

GN 7

Sherlock Bones GN 7
Now a full-fledged detective, Takeru (and Sherdog) continues to prove the plastic surgeon's guilt in his patient's “suicide,” despite the lack of help from fellow youthful detective Munakata. He later helps his high school friend when she is accused of a hit and run before moving on to the death of a comedian in this final book of what is optimistically titled “part one.”

This volume marks the end of Sherlock Bones, which is a shame for two reasons: one, it isn't terribly conclusive, and two, this has consistently been a fun, entertaining, and occasionally scary mystery series from one of the writers of The Kindaichi Case Files, and the ending of this one is a bit of a blow to mystery manga fans who already lost the former when TokyoPop ceased operations. Fortunately the series ends on a fairly high note, with Takeru proving that he can be just as good a detective as Sherdog and three satisfying cases.

The book opens with the rest of “The Stolen Face,” which began in volume six. The previous three chapters set up the actual murder of a woman who was badly disfigured by a plastic surgeon, and now when volume seven opens, Takeru, Munakata, and Sherdog have arrived on the scene and formed their differing opinions: Takeru and Sherdog believe that the plastic surgeon murdered the woman while Munakata buys into the much easier suicide theory. This means that Takeru must not only prove that the doctor did it, but also disprove his (human) partner's lazier version of events. Munakata is a fairly annoying character, as he continually feeds the criminals excuses for their behaviors, but that does fade out as the volume progresses. (This is partly because he's not present for the second case.) The mystery (such as it is; rather than following more traditional Holmes/Dupin mystery formula, where we have to figure out who the murder is, Sherlock Bones uses the more modern technique of having the reader know precisely who the murder is and having us watch the detective try to prove it) is good, with Takeru impressively using his intellect, Sherdog's hints, and the resources available to him as a member of the police force. Slightly more troubling is Sherdog's constant thought that there is something “off” about the suspect that has nothing to do with the case – it is heavily implied that the plastic surgeon is gay. We see him looking at muscle man magazines, speaking in an affected way, and referring to himself as “Yoshihito-chan.” This is a red herring and Sherdog is the reincarnation of a 19th century British man who would have had very different views of homosexuality, but it does stand out as something that doesn't quite work, even if it isn't actually homophobic.

The second case revolves around Nanami and her senior traffic officer, who accidentally commits a crime and tries to pin it on Nanami. This case is remarkable in both that it is fairly short and that we can see that the officer clearly made it worse on herself by trying to avoid confessing. As mentioned before, it is also a case worked solely by Takeru and Sherdog, and Takeru himself takes a more active, observant role than previously, leading up to the final case, which does not involve Sherdog at all. Munakata and Takeru have to solve the murder of a comedian in a stage play, and for the first time we really see them work together to find an answer rather than Munakata giving in to his jealousy at not being the only Special Snowflake on the detective force. It also reassures us that, should Sherdog someday disappear, Takeru really will be fine. He has the skills and the intellect to be a master detective all on his own – all Sherdog is doing is training him.

The fanservice, while still present, is generally less than in earlier volumes, although we do get a scene of Miki in her underwear and Airin in the all-together. More humorously, in the final chapter Airin barges into Takeru's room wearing a tight T-shirt that reads “Interrupting Boobs.” Yuki Sato's art continues to make use of both frightening images (the use of Noh masks in the plastic surgeon case is very effective) and lighter fare, such as the Nanami chapters, which rely on situational information rather than frightening depictions of the murder. Sherdog remains cute and cuddly, and the tantalizing hints present at the end of the book make it doubly too bad that the series appears to have ended. The note in by Sato in the end tells us that it was “put on hiatus,” and this volume was published in Japan in 2013, so perhaps there is hope. But even if there isn't, Sherlock Bones' seventh book still delivers engaging mysteries and an awfully cute puppy version of The Great Detective.

Production Info:
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B

+ Good stories, Takeru comes into his own, clearly not strictly needing Sherdog to solve cases.
Still a sort of weird mix of cute puppy/gruesome murder, some plot threads left very unresolved. Some issues with anatomy, particularly the women.

Story: Yuma Ando
Art: Yuki Sato

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