THIS is what I’ve been looking for! Lately I’ve taken an interest in horror manga/anime, I’ve been pleased with what I was seeing but I felt like there had to be something better out there for a murder mystery series. The Kindaichi Case Files is one of those “better” series I’ve been looking for, in fact so far it’s the BEST murder series I’ve EVER encountered in any form (that includes manga, anime, books, and regular TV Shows). This series has everything that I was yearning for, humor, intelligent killers, emotional background stories, and revenge! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoy well done tales of vengeance. By the end of each story I was half cheering on for the killer who had been so terribly wronged by their victims in the past. Although I warn you the manga is currently Out of Print (OOP) outside Japan and although most volumes are easy to track down used on Amazon, there are a few that are difficult to come by at a reasonable price.
Japan Positive Reception/Honors
Kindaichi is one of the earliest works in the mystery manga genre, basically it’s THE mystery manga. The Kindaichi series started serialization in Weekly Shōnen Magazine in 1992. In 1995, the manga won the Kodansha Manga Award for shōnen. In Japan, there is a total of 56 volumes with 35 cases, 17 Kindaichi’s short cases and 7 Akechi’s short cases. Together, the volumes have sold over 60 million copies in Japan, making it one of the best selling manga of the 1990s.
Summary (Wikipedia said it best)
Generally I write my own summaries, but in situations where the way the summary is written on Wikipedia is what is the deciding factor for me in trying out a series, I put that summary in my review. They described this anthology of mysteries better than I could.
“Kindaichi mysteries are whodunnit stories featuring (usually multiple) gruesome murders, often with a supernatural tinge. and frequently feature a locked room mystery or other seemingly “impossible” crimes, such as a murder occurring when all surviving suspects have (apparently) airtight alibis.
A notable distinction of The Kindaichi Case Files is that the killers are not depicted as psychopathic murderers and the murders are never committed for financial reasons alone. The identified killers all have deep rooted problems, often involving great emotional trauma through the greed or thoughtlessness of others, as their reasons for committing the murder(s). Thus the killers are often portrayed as sympathetic figures, as opposed to cold, calculating killers in some other mystery series.”
I haven’t read much Sherlock Holmes, but from what I have read I feel that Kindaichi is a good representation of a modern day version of Sherlock Holmes because of how specialized he is. Kindaichi is a high school student that has a genuis level IQ, but can’t bring himself to focus and apply his genuis anywhere but solving mysteries. When not waist deep in murder victims he is a cheerful, goofy, slacker. He also loves the sight of beautiful girls (much like any other high school boy). Although it’s apparent he has more special feelings for his childhood friend Miyuki over all the rest.
She somehow always ends up as Kindaichi’s sidekick during these murder mysteries. She doesn’t usually contribute anything worthwhile to the case, gets into danger fairly often, is jealous of Kindaichi’s interest in other beautiful women, she is all of the things that usually make me absolutely loathe the token female characters in series like these. But despite all these flaws I actually like her, she is nice girl with good intentions. Her presence adds something positive to the series, I think it’s better this way than if Kindaichi was the only consistently re-ocurring character in the series. There are other characters that re-occur but only Miyuki and Kindaichi are in every story.
I also am watching (and enjoying) Detective Conan, but there is simply no comparing Kindaichi to Conan. Kindaichi is in every way its superior when it comes to the main character and the mysteries themselves. Although Detective Conan is probably far easier to make suitable for children than Kindaichi. So Conan anime/manga is easily obtainable, but Kindaichi is not. Even though I started Conan before trying out Kindaichi, I now use Detective Conan mysteries to fill the void that my incomplete Kindaichi manga series left open.
(Lack of) U.S. Positive Reception/Honors
Currently this manga series is OOP outside Japan, Tokyopop released the first 18 volumes and stopped due to bad sales numbers. Although they lost the rights to Kindaichi when Kodansha pulled the rights from all of their series away from Tokyopop. I can’t comment on how good of a job Tokyopop did on the translations/editing since I have no access (or understanding) of the original Japanese manga volumes. I will say though that I think it’s GREAT that each individual volume is usually twice the size of a normal manga, and contains an entire murder mystery story. Although they did split at least one story into two manga volumes. The anime is not currently available subbed or dubbed.
It’s series like this that make me wish that all manga was simply available in a high quality digital format! Why? Because here I am recommending a series with all my heart, but not every volume is easily tracked down. PLUS perhaps if manga distributers didn’t have to take into account actually going through the process of manufacturing the book itself this series might stand a better change of being rescued and being completed in the U.S.