Ongoing Investigations: Case #170

After getting lost in the mail the first time, I finally got my copy of Young Miss Holmes (casebook 1-2). I was already aware of this series in Japanese and had looked at a few volumes previously so I was looking forward to actually reading it. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t really get good until the last case in the volume but perhaps that will lead into a better continuation book.

Christie is the niece of Sherlock Holmes a man she admires and therefore is constantly trying to impress with her own stunning intellect. She inserts herself into cases where ever she can leading to some annoyance on the part of her uncle. But Christie is quite capable as are her maids so it isn’t annoying having her rush into danger. Christie notices details and observes people in classic Holmes fashion.

The only problem is, Sherlock Holmes himself is already in the first three mysteries. Christie comes off as rather frivolous to the plot since Holmes also figures everything out. This leads to lots of over explanations about what occurred in the crime. In fact, in the third (and worst) story Holmes gives his assessment of what has happened but Christie is somewhere else completely so we hear it again as she tells it to another person.

Speaking of the third story which is about a vampire, the entire thing felt out of place. In a Holmes mystery, you expect a supernatural phenomenon to be disproved as the culprit in a case and it is. However, vampires are shown to truly exist in the world. Also they give terrible advice. But worst is the final solution to the the conflict of telling the family the truth about what had occurred in their home. The entire thing was just dumb and happened to be the longest story of the bunch.

Despite all that, the last case in the book is good! Holmes is away so it falls to Christie completely. This one involves a cypher, a secret past, and a murder. It has a good twist and allows Christie to shine as an individual.

The main problem with Young Miss Holmes (originally titled Christie High Tension) is it that is comes off more like odd self insert fan fiction that anything else. Each of the five stories in the book are classic Sherlock Holmes mysteries. They don’t even change the names so you know exactly which ones they are. The set up for the cases is even exactly the same. So if you have read the Red-Headed League you know the story in advance. The only real question is how does Christie get involved and what does she do in the background.

So in many ways it just comes off that there is the random niece of Sherlock Holmes that pops up in cases but then does not do THAT much because you know it has to be Sherlock who solves the case. It is like the whole time in the background there was a little girl who was ALMOST as smart as Sherlock Holmes but you just never heard about it. And in the end it never really mattered. So at least in the Adventure of the Dancing Men it might be just a copy and paste of the original story with Christie in the place of Holmes at least Christie gets to shine in that story. In all the other stories she comes off as vestigial.

Which is a shame because she is a delightful character. She has an adorable spunk that makes her very charming balanced with a good amount of competence and panache. The main problem is that she is right next to Sherlock Holmes who is pretty much the pinnacle of the genre. The brightest candle does not seem as impressive next to the full force of the sun. I know that Narutaki wanted to like her so much. I mean she rides an awesome dog as her faithful companion. That is Narutaki catnip.

Her servants are also quite charming. Nora is always delightful whenever she is around. Her relaxed whip-smart sass is just dangerous as her actual whip.  The extremely religious Ann-Marie is the prim and proper maid who also duel wields pistols as an interesting dichotomy to her character. Miss Dunbar becomes her governess during the course of the first book. She quickly realizes that there is nothing can can teach Christie as she is already operating on an intellectual higher than most adults. Her main mission is to teach her student to be socially functional without trying to repress the unique qualities that make Christie exceptional.

The person who is not a delightful character is Mina Tepes who appears in a cameo in the third story. Thankfully she is not the super sexualized character she is in her own manga. I don’t think it would have been fun to read this book after Narutaki had puked all over it had they used the canonical Mina Tepes. But this really makes her a bizarre character to use in a cameo. She is distinctly written as a Young Miss Holmes character so she has none of the appeal to a Dance in the Vampire Bund reader but as an actual vampire she distinctly takes away from normal setting of the story. She distracts the reader far more than anything she might add to the story.

I think Young Miss Holmes would work far better if Christie were solving her own mysteries instead of being in background of classic mysteries. The connection to Holmes is great but she need to get out of her uncle’s shadow to be her own character. It would let her and her companions stand out more and really come into their own. There is a strong framework there. They just have to have the confidence to let it stand on its own.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #153

I continue my morbid curiosity with the Akiyuki Shinbo and Nisio Isin duo by watching the first two episodes of Nisemonogatari because there is no way Narutaki was going to watch this with me. I know some people have been commenting that for better or for worse Nisemonogatari has a different feel than Bakemonogatari. I think the difference between the two seasons is minor but important. I did not use the word subtle because the difference is the pacing of the fan service in the new arc. Bakemonogatari definitely had fan service in it. Each arc in the original series introduced a girl, her supernatural problem, and the fetish she embodied. And so each arc played up that girl’s brand of fan service to all but the most fan service desensitized.  But this current arc is ostensibly about Koyomi’s two sisters but unlike the previous arcs this one really had the other girls getting a good amount of screen time in another girl’s arc as opposed to their cameos early in the story. This means that they now have to cram in a full cycle of story, reference humor, and fanservice that is particular to that girl in a much shorter amount of time making all three components more obvious. So anyone watching for the titillation will probably not notice the difference or only be delighted to be so nicely catered to. But anyone else will either consciously or unconsciously notice the change in the rhythm of the story. The art is still rather gorgeous and the dialog still has a snappy pace. I am just pointing out the big difference that will determine if you want to continue to delve into Koyomi’s supernatural adventures.

D.Gray Man Volume 17 starts off by throwing us into the middle of a virus outbreak that has occurred while the Black Order is also trying to move to their new location. The first few chapters are really out of control and crazy (and ridiculous overall), especially because everyone has  turned into zombies. As the zombies are infecting everyone, Allen tries to figure out the cause and how to cure it. After that insanity, we then get to actually focus on the Black Order group’s move. Allen and Lenalee go first, allegedly to open portals, but there are ulterior motives. The best part though is the reappearance of Cross Marian, who probably has the most shocking story in the volume. There are some major problems for both Allen and Cross, and so even though it initially seems like a jokey volume, it’s actually quite an important one.

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