Saturday, August 17, 2013

Q.E.D. volume 13 review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Q.E.D., vol. 13, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B

(A younger Touma helps Alan Bred get his Wings OS working.)

Saiyaku no Otoko (Calamity Man, Magazine Great, 2002). Alan Bred (bre-do = "Bread", "Bred" or "Brad") is the president of Alan Soft, makers of the Wings OS that runs on 90% of the world's computers. He starts out by narrating the chapter and complaining that even the world's richest man has his problems. As he practices fly fishing next to his pool, his secretary, Elly, comes up to have him sign some papers. Alan's problem? Signing papers and being bored. As he's about to sign a check to donate money to some charity, he changes his mind. Next, we see Alan at Sakisaka High School, challenging Touma to a contest. When Touma was still in the U.S., he'd happened past Alan's offices where Bred and his team were struggling to get the first version of Wings to work. Touma had glanced over the code and made corrections, and Alan told him that if Wings was successful on the market, that Touma should come back and ask him for a job. Instead, Touma went to Japan, so Alan has set up a game and the boy has until April 1st to beat him at it, otherwise on Sou's 18th birthday, he'll have to pick U.S. citizenship and start working at Alan Soft. (Touma is Japanese but was born in the U.S., so he has dual-citizenship until age 18.) Touma and Kana take the invitation and go to Alan's yacht, where the charity money had been used to buy a Rembrandt painting. The game is that Touma has to get the painting out of the yacht before the deadline.

(Alan gets told that his painting was made by one of Rembrandt's students.)

Also on the floating art gallery is the president of the charity who really needs the money, and members of the Dutch Rembrandt Protection Society. The RPS has been trying to get all of the authentic Rembrandts back into the hands of the Dutch government, and they really hate Alan for having the kind of money to thwart them like this. As Kana and the charity guy follow Alan around in the hopes of getting a chance to steal the painting (which is heavily guarded on the yacht in the harbor), they watch as some old guy attempts to talk Alan into trading what he claims is a work by one of Rembrandt's students for a different painting that has been authenticated. During this time, Touma is pretty much absent from the story. Questions: Who is the old man? Does he get the painting from Alan? What is Touma doing during all this? Who wins - Alan or Touma?

No science, just a discussion of Rembrandt's paintings and the fact that even after all this time, certain works that had been believed to be Rembrandt's turn out to have been painted by one of his students.

(A cut-away view of the Sazae tower.)

Kurain no Tou (The Klein Tower, Magazine Great, 2002). A small town is looking at revitalizing itself, and the starting point for that is to treat a special 4-story tower as a cultural heritage site. The mayor is trying to get the current owner, Rin, to sell the property to the city, and has contacted an architectural research firm to evaluate the tower for him. The firm's rep is a friend of Sou's father, and since Mr. Touma is overseas, Sou is hired to visit the tower and take photos. We're not told exactly where the tower is, but it was constructed by a rich property owner 100 years earlier and was dedicated to the goddess Kannon. Called Sazae Tou (Turban shell tower), it has a twisted-helix style ramp that runs along the inside wall from the ground floor to the top, and then back down the other side. This allows pilgrims to go up and down without retracing their steps, and requires having a separate entrance and exit. There are Sazae towers in Saitama, Fukushima and Gunma. This particular tower supposedly has special powers, and the story is that one day, the owner disappeared; one year later, his mummified corpse mysteriously reappeared on the top floor.

(Touma assembles the suspects to give the big reveal.)

The participants in the story are the mayor, who wants to capitalize on the tourist potential of the tower; Rin Umehara, the old woman that now owns the property and doesn't want to sell it; Kiyoe, Rin's daughter; and, Tetsuo Emura. Tetsuo is a nice guy, until he starts drinking and turns mean. He's currently going through a divorce and working chores for Rin to make money to pay the divorce settlement. Part of the agreement with Rin is that he doesn't touch alcohol. Kiyoe has also gotten divorced and is living with Rin. Because of the way the ownership of the land works, if Rin dies, Kiyoe doesn't get anything and the city will able to snatch up the property for cheap. On the other hand, Rin refuses to permit Tetsuo and Kiyoe from marrying while Emura is still trying to pay off his other debts. Amidst all this drama, Rin goes missing. The group searches for her, with the Mayor, Kana and Touma simultaneously going up both ramps of the tower. Half an hour later, Kiyoe gets the feeling that someone is in the tower, and she finds her mother on the top floor, hanging from a rope around her neck. Questions: How had the previous owner's body disappeared for 1 year? What is the "mysterious feeling" people get when going up the ramps? Did Rin commit suicide? If not, how could her body have been smuggled into the tower without anyone searching for her seeing it? Did the carpenter that built the tower know something that no one else does?

No science. Just a discussion of towers dedicated to the goddess Kannon, and a little bit on creative architecture. The title comes from Touma saying at the end that the Sazae Tower is a little bit like a Klein bottle.

Comments: Following the end of book 12, Kana is kicking herself for hugging Touma on the riverbank. She's in agony, while he seems to have pretty much shrugged it off. When "Calamity Man" finishes, the president of the charity is so happy to get his money that he hugs Kana, then has to explain that in the U.S., hugging people is a fairly common practice. Kana is relieved that Touma hasn't misread her action as meaning that she actually likes him. "Klein Tower" doesn't have anything to do with Klein bottles, it's just kind of an excuse to add a little science that had been missing from the rest of the book. There is a big plot hole though - if the original owner's body was somehow hidden inside the tower after he died, why didn't anyone notice the smell? Anyway, if you wanted to see a resolution to "The Hand of the Witch", then you need to read all of book 12, and "Calamity Man".

No comments: