Saturday, September 21, 2013

Q.E.D. volume 29 review

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Q.E.D., vol. 29, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B

(Mr. Pirate and Mordar talk elephants.)

Erefanto (Elephant, Great Magazine, 2007). The story starts out with a young man and woman on a tropical island. The woman asks what the guy is going to do if his dream fails to come true. The man had never thought that far ahead, but the two of them would probably break up. Then he'd become a pirate and return to steal her treasure chest away. The scene jumps to the high school as Kana tries to sneak herself and Touma past some weirdo who has set up camp at a construction site near the school. The guy is dressed in a jacket and jeans, with a white undershirt and a pirate bandana. He's trying to find an audience to talk to about space aliens, sea piracy and elephants, but the only one willing to listen is Mordar, from the school's mystery club. The rest of the club is trying to get Mordar to be more serious and help with the cleaning chores (previously, the first year student that had stolen their room turned out to be a masochist who loves being ordered around by Enari Queen. He had been doing all the chores, but he'd overheard Enari talking about wanting a bed mattress filled with penguin down, and now he's in Antarctica putting feathers in a bag one at a time). Mordar mentions the pirate treasure the weird guy is searching for, so the entire club, including Kana, follow the pirate to an office building near the Sumida river.

(Touma fails to explain Poincare.)

The group walks into a room on the top floor and finds a safe, but it's too heavy for them to pick up. The students run away in a panic, while Mr. Pirate slowly strolls out. The next day, Kana and Enari return to the building only to find the safe is gone. They talk to the owner of the office the safe was in, and she acts unsurprised. They review the security footage from the camera aimed at the room, and it shows the pirate walking out without the safe. Meanwhile, the pirate had collapsed due to stress and malnutrition, so after a brief hospital visit, he's allowed to sleep in the mystery club's room. The pirate takes the kids to a shed near the main train tracks and shows them the safe. Mordar figures that based on past conversations with him, Mr. Pirate had used an elephant to steal the safe, and then a UFO had teleported the pirate, safe and elephant to safety. When they ask him, the guy says that he put the safe into a coffee cup that he then put in his pocket. While the kids are panicking at the thought of being arrested for burglary and breaking and entering, Touma confronts the pirate in a classroom. He starts writing a proof on one blackboard, and the pirate continues it on another. While the pirate is busy, Touma explains that the guy is really a brilliant mathematician, specializing in the field of topology.

(How coffee cups and donuts are the same thing.)

In topology, objects that share the same surface definitions are interchangeable. That is, a water glass resembles a sphere; a coffee cup is the same as a donut, and a cooking pot looks like a torus. All of the conversations Mr. Pirate had had with Mordar were really lessons in topology (clean proofs are "elegant", failed proofs are "elephants"). Turns out that he'd been working on solving Poincare's Conjecture, one of the seven puzzles for which the Clay Mathematics Institute was offering a $1 million reward (along with the Riemann Hypothesis). Unfortunately, Perelman proved the conjecture first and it was confirmed in 2006. So, this guy turned pirate to settle an old score. When the explanation is over, the safe is opened to reveal a small toy elephant. Then, Mr. Pirate's current girlfriend drives up and says that their boss will be angry if he doesn't return to his job at the bank in Switzerland. The only question left to be answered is: What kind of coffee cup can hold a 200 pound safe and yet also fit in your pocket?

The main science is a fairly deep introduction into Poincare's Conjecture, with a superficial overview of topology. The equation on the cover of the manga directly relates to the proof.

Douki to Aribai (Motive and Alibi, Great Magazine, 2008). Makio Aonori is the art teacher at Kana and Touma's school. He's teaching Touma about pointilist styles, then has to leave early to attend a dinner meeting with his former teacher, Fukuzou Kuromame, along with former classmates Youzou Ryokucha and Akira Akagome. Seems that Fukuzou has been diagnosed with diabetes and has had to give up alcohol and heavy foods, but he tells the younger three to enjoy themselves in his house while he goes to bed early. He vows to keep living a long life, but the next morning he's found dead in his bedroom from an insulin OD. There's no suicide note and the medicine dosages are strictly controlled, so the police investigate each of the three men. Makio had discovered that Fukuzou had plagarized some of his paintings, which is why he was the only one to give up being a painter to work as a teacher. However, Kana thinks that Makio is innocent and pressures her father to keep looking. As the story progresses, Det. Mizuhara learns that Fukuzou had had a different girlfriend prior to getting married - Mitsuyo Shirokoma. Fukuzou and Mitsuyo had been driving when their car went out of control and killed a woman on a bicycle. Mitsuyo had been the one behind the wheel so she was given a 3-year prison sentence. However, she'd been treated for whiplash, and the chiropractor tells the police that the type of strain she received had been typical of a passenger looking in the direction of the impact. So, not only wasn't she the driver at the time, but Fukuzou had married someone else while she was doing time for his crime. She died later, but her son grew up under another name - Youzou Ryokucha. The thing is, both Youzou and Makio, who have motives, have solid alibis; and Akira, who has no alibi, has no motive.

(Youzou in the top panel, from bottom left Akira, Det. Sasaduka, Makio, Det. Mizuhara.)

During the approximate time of the murder, Akira had been in one room watching a movie, and he went to Makio's room to investigate a bumping sound. Makio had been in his room the entire time, waiting to play shogi against Youzou. And Youzou had been in full view in the library room before joining Makio to play shogi for the rest of the night. Questions: What caused the bumping sound? And, how could any of the three sneak into Fukuzou's room to administer a second dose of insulin without the old man waking up and fighting back?

No science, just a look at the police investigative process, and a comment on an artstyle where you paint the entire picture in green, let the paint dry, then come back and add the next color.

Comments: I love the pirate story, both for the math, and for the pirate character. The mystery club continues to prove themselves unworthy of the name, but they do provide the best joke in the chapter - the first year has been in Antarctica for several weeks, and he sends a postcard back saying that he can't get enough penguin down for an entire mattress, so would Enari be willing to settle for half a pillow? Regarding Motive and Alibi, I finally noticed something that I've kind of been suspecting had been occurring in other chapters - the suspects' and victim's names are related to the plotline. But, it's really blatant this time: Aonori - Green Seaweed; Kuromame - Black Beans; Ryokucha - Green Tea; Akagome - Red Rice; Shirokoma - White Pony. That is, in a story about artists, all the character names include words for colors. I don't think I'll go back and recheck every single chapter, but I will be a little more careful about looking for this kind of in-joke in the future.

The end credits for the movie Akagome was watching includes: Music Supervisors - Naniwa Mozalt; Alicia San = Lin Beagle; The Beach = Gene Anderson; A-1 Low = Peter Carter; Red Leaves = Elizabeth W.; Gully Water = Michael King.

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