Hello, and welcome to this week’s manga review of my series I Read It So You Don’t Have To. In this segment, I’m going to review Shonen Jump titles that are fully available on Manga Plus, where you can read official releases for free. I aim to cover whatever fits this criterion in their library, whether I enjoyed it or not. I might compare the titles to well-known series, but it’s to give the reader a taste rather than pitting them against each other. The reviews will contain light spoilers. Hope you can come across a title you might enjoy.
Title: Ron Kamonohashi: Deranged Detective
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Supernatural
Author & Artist: Amano Akira
Release Year: 2020
Status: Ongoing, has 26 chapters.
Totomaru Isshiki is not suited for detective work. From that statement, you can guess what he’s working as. He’s in an investigative team, but he’s so stupidly straightforward and kind-hearted that he gets tricked and lets the culprits go, or gets lost in his work to an extent that he starts causing problems. He still cares about people, though. There’s a serial killer out there and their fifth victim was just discovered, and Totomaru knows that it isn’t right of him to sit still when citizens are in danger and afraid. A senior coworker of his, Kiku-san, suggests he should visit a private detective because he’s the only person who could solve such a case. And that’s what Totomaru does.
Right when he’s about to ring this mysterious detective’s doorbell, he hears a voice saying “Don’t get your hopes up!!”. Totomaru struggles to convince the owner of the voice until he mentions Kiku-san’s name, but the guy in the photograph and the one who just opened the door look like two completely different people! We learn that Kiku-san has been trying to partner Kamonohashi Ron, our ‘deranged’ but brilliant detective, with someone from the investigation team but the detectives before Totomaru have all ran away. What’s more, Kamonohashi has been living in his flat, secluded for the past 5 years but the moment he hears about a case he has to solve it. Thus begins the unorthodox partnership of the two polar opposites.
Did the artwork seem familiar to you by any chance? Or maybe you’re already a fan of Amano Akira’s works? They are also the mangaka behind the famous Katekyo Hitman Reborn! (or Reborn! for short), and did the original character designs for the Psycho-Pass series. Although I know how popular it is, I haven’t seen Reborn!, so excuse my comments which might come from my ignorance of Amano’s original works. I should also remind you that my collaboration offer still stands, if you wish to review a title yourself, you can reach out to me on Twitter. Let’s roll.
What works in Ron Kamonohashi?
- This is, of course, very characteristic of me, but I drooled over the pages. It’s to be expected from someone who’s been working in the industry for almost 20 years, but I’m still amazed at how clean, easy to understand, and beautiful every panel is. My favorite part of it all is how expressive the facial expressions are, and how elegant the backgrounds were. Perfect in every way.
- ‘Quirky and smart paired with naive and kind’ is a dynamic that can do wonders if done well. Not only it can be a good source of comedy, but it can also raise some compelling questions. No surprise that one of my favorite series in the previous seasons was Kabukicho Sherlock. We are all familiar with such settings and we kind of know what we are getting into with this title as well.
- The comedy heavily relies on the usual boke/tsukkomi style that we are familiar with (you can think of Gintoki-Shinpachi, for example). This is a style I find funny, and enjoy it when it’s incorporated into the dynamic well.
What doesn’t work in Ron Kamonohashi?
- Here comes my but’s. I honestly wrecked my brain to understand whether this manga is supposed to be taking itself seriously or it’s a parody of the genre, but I have no idea. And this affected my experience a bit negatively. It probably lands between the two, which makes the series confusing.
- Characters are a bit two-dimensional to my liking. Totomaru is the tsukkomi in the duo, and believe me if I had time, I’d collect his facial expressions because 95% of the time he’s screaming. He’s constantly surprised and retorts that way. I’d like to see variety; he could be a balanced combination of exasperated, indifferent, sad, angry but most of the time he’s not. There are scenes that those expressions work, but it gets tiring and bland quickly.
- The same goes for Kamonohashi. The ability to write a compelling and believable smart character is a topic other bloggers have talked about before. Kamonohashi, at times, looks like he’s just there to be quirky and weird, but at the same time, he has amazing deduction skills so he just… vibes until the end of the chapter, and then bam! The case is solved. The initial chapters lack the depth they’re supposed to have.
- One of the reasons why these cases seem superficial is probably we, as the reader, are not invited into solving these puzzles and we never become a part of the investigation properly. For example, in the first chapter, after Kamonohashi sees the fifth victim, he takes Totomaru to a store that sells designer clothes and then takes him to a barbershop, saying “something needs to be done with his shaggy hair”. And that’s all we see. Until two panels later, turns out that the barber there was the culprit behind the serial murders. There are no hints that we can look for or no development whatsoever for us to track. It’s more in the lines of weird things happen and then the case is solved. In the end, it only feels like Kamonohashi knew what happened beforehand, rather than intelligently deducing and figuring it all out.
Which is a shame, to tell you the truth, because the series has potential and it could turn out great, but fell short. I don’t know if some of the parts I have criticized were the artist’s usual style rather than being done ‘badly’ so I apologize if that’s the case. While I listed a lot of negative points, I plan on sticking with it for a while longer, hopefully, it’ll get better.
Thank you so much for reading! Next time, I’ll be reviewing Excuse Me Dentist, It’s Touching Me! by Yamazaki Sho. I’ll be taking tomorrow off, and see you on Friday for a BL review. Take care ~
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