Saturday, June 29, 2013

Q.E.D. volume 2 review

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Q.E.D., vol. 2, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B

(The adventure starts!)

Rokubu no Takara (Rokubu's Treasure, Great Magazine, 1998). The lack of a callback is never more blatant in this series than with this story. There's absolutely no correlation between how things start out and how they end (except for the fact that at the beginning some servant is pleading with his mistress to not open a sealed box for fear of unleashing the demon Rokubu and at the end, there's no Rokubu). Kana and her classmates are playing in the olympic-sized swimming pool in Touma's building. Kana wonders where Sou has disappeared to, and one classmate answers back with "who cares? He's a weirdo. All that's important is that we can take advantage of him now". Kana beans the kid with a water polo ball and then rescues Touma, who has passed out at the bottom of the pool. A caretaker comes in with a package for Sou - it's a worm-riddled manuscript sent by a professor in the U.S. that Touma had studied under. The professor writes that she was contacted by a Japanese girl asking for help in decyphering the text, and she figured that Touma would be more easily able to visit the girl's estate to talk with her directly (rather than containing a curse, the sealed box had the manuscript, which spilled out when the cover was opened, and is now completely out of page order).

(The girl explains the history of the Rokubu legend, localized version.)

On hearing that the estate has hot springs, Kana drags Touma out to a remote town, where a villager gives them directions. Unfortunately, the local beat cop is already at the estate investigating a crime involving some other university researchers. The two of them get to the estate just as a big storm sweeps in; the rain washes out the only bridge, trapping everyone there for several days. The first night, one of the research students is found dead with a spear through his chest. The next night, the professor is attacked by the demon, and the third, another student is killed with a ice pick to the back of the neck. According to the legend, Rokubu was a wandering priest that had visited the village several hundred years ago and had been killed by the villagers who coveted a solid gold statue he had been carrying. Rumors in the village are that the estate's wealth was derived from that gold, and that Rokubu is still haunting the place, looking for revenge. So, is there a ghost demon? Why were the students killed the way they were? Does the worm-eaten manuscript hold the key to the whereabouts of the gold statue?

There's no real science this time, just a short mention of how aspirin can work as a blood thinner, and some background on the Rokubu folktale that is told in a number of places around Japan.

(Touma relates the history of the Bugatti Royale.)

Rosuto Rowaiyaru (Lost Royale, Great Magazine, 1998). Kana and a friend, Iwasaki, are coming out of the local kendo dojo one night when they encounter Touma staring into a police car and wondering if he could get a ride in it. Iwasaki needs a ride to get to the hospital, and the cops also training at the center offer to help out the three kids. At the hospital, they find a strange Frenchman threatening Iwasaki's bedridden grandfather regarding the whereabouts of a mythical 7th Bugatti Royale. Ettore Bugatti had produced 6 of the Royale monster cars (21 feet long and 7000 pounds each) between 1927 and 1933, initially only for royalty, but there were only 3 buyers then, in the middle of the Great Depression. Old man Iwasaki had gone to a French museum with "proof" that a 7th Royale exists, but then collapsed and now refuses to tell anyone where the car is. When the Frenchman leaves, the old man tells his granddaughter to believe in him, so Kana forces Touma to figure out all the details.

(At home in Touma's apartments. Top panel: The chief suspect.)

Turns out that old man Iwasaki's best friend is/was the CEO of a department store chain, and is an avid car collector. Kana and her friend think that this CEO stole the Bugatti, but his cars are available to the public to view, and he specifically states that there is no such thing as the 7th Royale. Kana and Iwasaki do a lot of sneaking around and trespassing in an attempt to find the car on their own, but they fail. Touma visits the old man in the hospital, who gives him a hint - "The Treasure of Troy". The questions raised are, how can there be a 7th Royale if only 6 were built? Where did the old man find it? How does the smuggling of Heinrich Schliemann's Trojan treasures into Russia at the end of WW II relate to the Royale? Why would an old friend betray someone over a car like this? And where do you hide a 21-foot-long, 7000 pound car, anyway?

No real science in this chapter either, but there is a detailed discussion of Buggati Motors, and some cultural information regarding Troy.

Comments: In the early books, Kana is shown to have quite a few friends, while a lot of effort is put into demonstrating that Touma is an outsider that virtually no one else wants to associate with. Which actually works to Sou's benefit, because it gives him more time to do the stuff that he actually enjoys. Recommended.

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