Manga of the Month: Holmes of Kyoto

Holmes of Kyoto (京都寺町三条のホームズ) by Ichiha Akizuki

 Based on the ongoing novel series, Holmes of Kyoto brings Holmes into the modern era as a young graduate student and apprentice in an antiques shop.

Aoi has only recently relocated to Kyoto. When we first meet her she is skulking outside the Yagashira antique shop debating whether to go in for an appraisal. There she meets Kiyotaka (aka Holmes) who not only reveals much about the items she brings in, but also reads her intentions like an open book. Before Aoi knows it, she has agreed to work part-time at the shop and hone an eye for antiques. Together they find themselves wrapped up in minor mysteries around the Kyoto area.

The Holmes of this story possesses many qualities that have become a staple of the character like being able to read deeply into tiny details of a person’s demeanor, words, clothing, and other attributes; a penchant for being aloof; and not always being completely tactful. Kiyotaka is far less abrasive that some versions of the character. He does have a teasing streak, but is often kind and shows himself to be vulnerable early on.

Both Aoi and Kiyotaka are dealing with loses of love and form a bond over it. While Kiyotaka is further along in his recovery, and has wisdom to share on the subject, it is still clearly a painful piece of the past.

So far the mysteries they’ve encountered have been family affairs where Holmes is brought in to quietly decipher the answer. He gets to the bottom of things, but not without dredging up some family troubles or secrets along the way.

What I enjoy most in the series is the interjection of bits of history whether it be on the intricacies of antiques like pottery and paintings, or on Kyoto’s traditions like the Saio-dai chosen for the Aoi Festival or the Tengu spirits of Kurama-dera.

I initially started watching the anime for this, but I’ve put it aside in favor of the manga. Both are adaptations, but I found the pacing and artwork in Ichiha Akizuki’s version a better matched to the atmosphere of the series.



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