Comic Books Magazine

Sherlock Bones Vol 1 Review

Posted on the 06 November 2013 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG

Sherlock BonesTitle: Sherlock Bones (Tanteiken Sherdock)
Genre: Comedy, Mystery
Publisher: Kodansha (JP), Kodansha USA
Story/Artist: Yuma Ando, Yuki Sato
Serialized in: Weekly Shonen Magazine
Translation: Alethea Nibley, Athena Nibley
Original Release Date: September 17, 2013

It’s hard to say with a straight face if Sherlock Bones is going to become a long term favorite, but despite a few tropes that remind me shounen hasn’t really evolved in a while and attempting to figure out if I can take Sherlock Holmes — you know, that supposed famous Detective Sherlock Holmes — as a British mutt, it has a lot of potential to be a manga that you can keep on your shelf thanks to its first mystery arc, its pace between telling us needed information and not boring us with trite information, and its two likable main characters. It will have to prove it can be a bit more than that, but it’s off to a good start.

My experience with Sherlock Holmes is not all that lengthy. It’s been at least 2 or 3 years since I’ve read a fictional Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (That would be this hefty book), and while I know I enjoyed most of the mysteries and detective stories and enjoyed the banter between Sherlock and Dr. Watson, if you asked me to recall some stories now you can bet I’ve forgotten all about them. I’m pretty sure that’s a terrible thing, so let’s not linger on that part any longer. The point is I do have some experience with Sherlock, and going into Sherlock Bones, there’s no way I would hide my skepticism once Sherlock, turned into a dog, popped up in my face. It didn’t take me long, since he’s appears in the first few pages locked up at an animal shelter. He is picked up by our main protagonist, Takeru Wajima, an almost excitable yet understandable kid who soon realizes that what he picked up is the reincarnation of the famous detective…and he has no way to get out of all the upcoming mysteries and crimes coming his way.

What makes Sherlock Bones work as a whole starts with the first mystery arc. The first actual “mystery”, which served as development of Sherlock and Takeru, involved Sherlock just proving that he’s a sleuth of a highest order in figuring out what that businessman, whose car got hit by a motorcycle, was hiding in his trunk. The longer, more involving mystery took place at Takeru’s high school, where two suicides took place: one where a student jumped off due to bullying, and another that stabbed himself…or did he? While I think some moments made me shrug because when it was explained in detail I understood (Hint: one important part of the mystery involves math, and I kind of suck at that), I was compelled because it ultimately came down to how did the killer kill the student, not who did it (the killer is revealed immediately), and putting it all together with Sherlock as a dog (he does have limitations), also along with the interaction with said killer, made it work well enough.

The only problem for most of that arc was the artwork. Overall for the whole manga the art’s fine and distinctive, but in trying to instill a sense of evil intentions and that there’s a hidden persona behind the killer, it actually came off to me as silly and completely unnecessary, or trying to be really dark, but failing to show that darkness. You’ll instantly know what I mean at the first full page spread that encapsulates the type of drawing Yuki Sato wanted to convey, but it didn’t come off as shocking or as impactful as the moment should be. It unfortunately was the opposite. It didn’t impact my overall satisfaction with Volume 1, but it’s something that did bother me a bit, since this was tried a few more times in the arc.

You generally know what you’re in for when you check out a manga for the first time: you’re either in it for a few more volumes, or you’ll be done after a few chapters. Sherlock Bones is something I can be interested in to see if it can get better from here, and if you’re in need of a good mystery manga, this seems solid right now. It does need to have a whodunnit at some point. It also needs to stay away from the typical shounen stereotypes (high school friend that is a girl and aside from not being developed at all in the volume, we get a shot at her being embarrassed), but I think I’m asking for the impossible. Just be consistent, since that doesn’t happen at any other time in the manga. And maybe the art for these elaborate cases can get its meaning across at some point. Thankfully though, everything else seems solid, and has a chance to be pretty good.

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