Holmes of Kyoto, Vol. 6

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

After five books that are essentially interlocked short story collections, this volume is the first to have one story for the entire book. It has a lot that it’s trying to do at once. Holmes and Aoi are now a couple (her 18th birthday comes at the very end of this book, though these two are not going to be getting more intimate anytime soon), and are negotiating contact and embarrassment. Someone is stealing a bunch of minor pieces of art, the only connection between them seemingly being a link with Buddhism. And Komatsu, the detective we saw in a previous volume, tries to go to Holmes for his detective skill rather than his antiquing skills, as his daughter has gone missing. All of this ends up interconnecting with kids using cannabis and a meditation and study seminar ending up being the gateway to a dangerous cult. And… this is starting to sound a bit ridiculous, isn’t it? And yes, it is. I’d argue this is the first volume in the series that simply didn’t work for me.

The parts of the book that do work are the parts we’ve seen in previous novels. There’s a lot of fun nerditry going on here about both various types of antiques and also Buddhism in general, and Holmes explaining it is a lot of fun. His pedanticism is even weaponized towards the end, as he tries to cause a distraction by rambling on to a guard about his need to whistle loudly before he sleeps being related to a misapprehension as a young boy, and keeps spewing garbage for so long it’s really impressive. I was also amused at everyone seeing Holmes’ attention to detail as being scary and villainous, and Aoi – not denying this, but saying she’s used to it. They have a fun relationship, and I am pleased that it’s developing at a slow pace. That said, due to the nature of the book Aoi is far more of a passive narrator than usual.

Unfortunately, that leaves the main plot as the part I didn’t like. Not to get political at all, but “cannabis is bad and leads to taking stronger drugs and also getting drawn into creepy cults” is not going to win me over even when it’s well written, which this isn’t. The relationship between the detective, his ex-wife and his (kidnapped) daughter is meant to be sympathetic and realistic, but it feels like it was piling complication on top of complication in order to make the stakes higher. As for the cult itself, having some of the staff be genuinely part of the meditation seminar, some of them part of the cult, and all of it being secretly controlled by a politician, except wait, WAS IT REALLY? There are at least two twists too many towards the end, and honestly I got lost. I also suspect the author was trying to contrast the heated, emotional relationships of the other high school girl in this book with Homes and Aoi’s mild, restrained “we’re waiting on intimacy” pairing, and… it’s OK, I get it, so you don’t have to shove it in my face.

I am hoping that this is just an unfortunate blip in the series, though the blurb for the next volume does not fill me with confidence. In the meantime, perhaps we can get back to antiques?

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind