Friday, September 13, 2013

Q.E.D. volume 26 review

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Q.E.D., vol. 26, by Katou Motohiro. Grade:C+

(Kana forces Nitta to give up his most prized possession.)

Natsu no Taimukapuseru (Summer Time Capsule, Magazine Great, 2006). On the way home one day during the summer, Touma and Kana happen past a construction site. Kana mentions that during the economic bubble, an apartment building had been put up that went largely unoccupied. When she was still in elementary school, she and her friends would visit empty buildings to look for ghosts. Once, they tried going into this building, but discovered it wasn't empty. Now, it's being torn down to make room for something else. Kana leaves in one direction while Touma prepares to go in another. Suddenly, one of the work crew yells that they've found something - it's a locked box with Kana Mizuhara's name on it. She'd buried a time capsule there and forgotten about it. In fact, she can't remember what any of the stuff is when she opens it at the high school the next day.

The box contains an old game cartridge, a worn baseball, a marble, and a photo. In the photo are: Kana, a couple of the kids in her current class, and two kids that had moved away shortly after the photo was taken. One was a boy named Nitta. Kana can't remember anything about him, but the more she learns by talking to fellow classmates and old teachers the more it looks like she bullied Nitta mercilessly. Questions: Who is Nitta, and why did he and the other boy move away? Who does the baseball really belong to, if it's not Nitta's? Is there any importance to the old game cartridge in the box? Was Kana really such a bad person as a child, and if so, why doesn't she remember it?

No science. The "memory trick" was also used in "The Three Birds". Kana as a child is cute, and absolutely unbeatable at marbles.

(The first good picture of Kana's mother.)

Kyouhansha (Accomplice, Magazine Great, 2006). Kana's father has just won about $500 USD from the lottery, and he takes his wife and daughter to a nice restaurant recommended by a coworker. Unfortunately, before the food can be served, the chef finds a dead body in a locked storeroom in the basement (after all the ruckus settles down, the three of them have ramen from a street seller). The chef, Yousuke Murase, immediately confesses to the crime, but doesn't say anything beyond "I did it". From the investigations, it's learned that the victim was a loan shark that was threatening to put the restaurant out of business. The owner, Kazuyo Hori, had been running the place on her own since her husband was killed in a car accident some years earlier. Yousuke had been lured from a 4-star hotel to help out his friend's widow. When Kazuyo was younger, she and her husband had gone to France and purchased a painting from an unknown artist, which is now hanging in the dining room. The loan shark wanted that painting as the first step in his game of foreclosing on the restaurant and putting it out of business, but Kazuyo wouldn't sell it because of its sentimental value. All four people in the restaurant (Kazuyo, Yousuke, the sommelier and a part-time waiter) wanted the victim dead

(Kazuyo, Kana, Yousuke and the painting.)

Questions: How did the loan shark get into the storeroom if the owner was the only one with the key and no one had seen him enter the building? Is the chef covering for the owner, or did he actually commit the murder himself? If he is the killer, why is he confessing to it? Did the chef have an accomplice?

No science. No interesting other stuff.

Comments: While it's fun to see a little of Kana's past, and to finally get a good view of her mother, there's not much else really new or unusual here. Kana's inability to remember events other people tell her about pretty much mimics the storyline in "The Three Birds". And, the ending for "Accomplice" has the standard problem all crime stories exhibit when the victim is a thug and the killing is justified - the arrest of the killer is unsatisfying. Arguably, the restaurant owner will lose her restaurant through Touma's actions, and everyone else will be out of a job. While this isn't a good example of "justice at work", it is kind of representative of the Japanese concept that "the weak are the meat for the strong". Put another way, the victim's job is to remain the victim. Overall, this volume is recommended only if you like Kana.

(Inside joke. The MOS Burger chain turns into "Osu! Burger" The guy in the bottom right panel was one of the two kids that had moved away after the photo was taken. He's a soccer player, but his older brother had played in Koshien. The brother had committed an error that caused the team to lose in the first elimination round, and he'd received so many death threats afterward that the family had to move elsewhere for their own protection.)

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