Let’s just pretend I posted something in January. I certainly meant to! (I had a moment of panic just now thinking I wouldn’t even be able to get one in for February, since the site was down for me for a bit and tomorrow I won’t be home from work before the month’s over in MJ’s timezone, but I made it!)
This month’s request is actually a license rescue. I’m not sure if that makes it more or less likely than something that’s never been licensed before, but it does seem that quite a few things are being picked up for a second go-round, so I refuse to give up hope!
Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo, aka The Case Files of Young Kindaichi, aka The Kindaichi Case Files, is one of my very favorite manga of all time, possibly even my number one favorite. Last year saw its twentieth anniversary, and though I haven’t been reading it since the very beginning, it has been a very long time since I first fell in love with the series. (It’s weird to think that if Kindaichi actually aged, he would now be in his mid-thirties like me, rather than an eternal teenager!)
I can see why it would be a daunting project to tackle. The first series, consisting of twenty-seven volumes (with a total of nineteen cases awkwardly divided between the volumes), ran from 1992 to 1997 and was followed immediately by the second series, which consisted of ten volumes (seven cases, all either single or double-volume stories, which eliminated the problem of getting to the end of the book and finding yourself left hanging in the middle of a mystery) and ran until 2001. That was supposed to be the end of it, but (thankfully!) it ended up restarting in 2004 with what has been referred to as simply “the new series.” This series was also released with one case per volume (or divided into two volumes for some of the longer ones) and resulted in nine cases spread over fourteen volumes. Then in 2012 the formerly “new series” was rebranded as the 20th Anniversary Series, with three volumes having been released in that line so far with a fourth due in March (and annoyingly, they’ve gone back to the same format as the original series, rather than the more superior “one case per volume” format of the second and third series).
So that’s a total of fifty-four volumes (or thirty-seven cases) just in the main series, and it’s still on-going! Not to mention there are also six volumes of short stories and two volumes featuring Police Superintendent Akechi. And if you really want to be thorough, there are nine novels as well. (It’s also spawned four different drama series (the most recent of which just started airing a few weeks ago), as well as an anime.) That’s a lot of material to work with.
One thing I really like about Kindaichi (aside from the fact that they’re just good mysteries) is that people never kill for money or jealousy or petty stuff like that. It’s always revenge. Inevitably when Kindaichi reveals the killer, the killer will launch into a sob story about how the people they murdered wronged them (often those who were murdered turn out to be murderers themselves), and I’m not going to lie, I eat that sort of thing up with a spoon. Hearing the killer tell their story is probably my favorite part of the cases, though the reveal as to how they pulled it off comes a close second.
The first eighteen volumes were released by TokyoPop, but the series was dropped long before they went out of business. If it was dropped due to low sales, maybe another company would be hesitant to pick it up, but in that case a digital-only release might be the way to go. The translation and editing still requires some investment, but it’s not as risky as traditional publishing.
You might be wondering why we need another mystery series when there’s already Detective Conan, but apart from the fact that there can never be enough mysteries, Conan and Kindaichi are different types of series. Although both are murder mysteries, Kindaichi is much more realistic (well, as realistic as you can get when you’re talking about a high school boy who stumbles across murders wherever he goes) and serious compared to the Inspector Gadget-y hijinks of Conan.
Both for people who love Conan and are looking for more mystery manga, and those who want something different, Kindaichi is a good choice, and I hope that eventually it becomes available to more people.