Holmes of Kyoto, Vol. 5

By Mai Mochizuki and Shizu Yamauchi. Released in Japan by Futabasha. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Minna Lin.

If nothing else, Holmes of Kyoto has let me know that I would be an absolutely terrible detective. Each of my last two reviews has had some equivalent of “well, I was wrong about _____, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have to worry about ________” for a while. And each time I’ve been wring. And I’m wrong again. Fortunately, that’s not the only mystery in this series, which holds an awful lot of genre balls in the air. It’s a travelogue, as we see Holmes and Aoi (and others) traveling to Amanohashidate and getting long scenes explaining why it’s so amazing. We get mysteries, as a Sherlock Holmes society is startled to find they have their own mystery to solve at one meeting. We have the ongoing not-quite-there-yet romance between Holmes and Aoi, and the book sometimes feels like a ticking clock counting down till her 18th birthday. And we get another appearance by Holmes’s Moriarty, Ensho, and their ongoing cat and mouse battle, which is far more deadly serious than previous books. The series gives you bang for your buck.

We get four stories here. In the first, Aoi and Kaori go on a hot springs trip they were invited to before, with Holmes and Akihito tagging along (and Holmes’ dad, so it doesn’t look skeezy) and meet up with Kaori’s sister, who’s now working at the same hot springs… and has a secret. In the second story, Holmes takes Aoi to a meeting of the Sherlock Holmes Society in the area, and there’s also a potentially valuable manuscript… which is promptly stolen. In the third story Holmes and Aoi go to a soccer exhibition match and try to resolve a burgeoning love affair between a player and his ex-teacher. And finally Holmes has to deal with Ensho, who is reduced to burgling the antique shop… as well as dealing with things he’s been putting off for some time.

I want to dance around actual spoilers, so let’s discuss some other stuff. I’ve said this before, but the series is very frank about knowing about what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of an age-gap relationship, and Aoi being seventeen still is mentioned quite a few times. The Sherlock Holmes Society was the funniest part, with lots and lots of Doyle and Holmes trivia (I am amused Holmes saw the manuscript was a fake because of the handwriting, rather than, judging by the summary, because it was mawkish crap). I was also highly amused at Holmes’ soccer fandom, as he talks about the excitement of the local team constantly being promoted and relegated… as if that’s a good thing. That said, the highlight of the book is absolutely the final story, which is 100% thriller. I also have to empathize with Ensho a bit here… Holmes’ “you can achieve anything in life, no matter how poor you are, if you work hard enough” is kind of ergh.

There’s still many, many volumes of this series to go in Japan, and I am curious to see where the series goes from here. If you enjoy mysteries, antiques, or deftly handled college boy/high school girl romance, this is a good read.

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