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Q.E.D., vol. 8, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B
(Local fisheries patrolman tells Kana about the accident scene.)
Fo-ringu Daun (Falling Down, Great Magazine, 2000). Kana's class has gone to a mountain resort for a bungee jump adventure Kana was tasked to arrange. But, the site, set on a bridge over a gorge, has been closed because a dead body was found in the river bed below. Kana learns that the victim was an experienced fire fighter, and would have neither committed suicide, nor slipped off the bridge by accident. The two suspects are firefighter trainees at the school where the victim was an instructor. One student is the son of a locally famous firefighter that had died rescuing the other student 10 years earlier. The first student is driven to be as good as his father was, but he's afraid of heights and was about to be kicked out of the school. The second student provides a shaky alibi, and it looks like he killed the instructor as revenge for his friend.
(Both trainees are in a big crunch!)
Questions: Why is the friend setting himself up for a fall so obviously? Why did he stop trying to keep the instructor from kicking out the one that is afraid of heights? How can someone terribly afraid of heights construct a scene where the victim falls from a bridge?
No science, just a little background on firefighter training.
(Why it's bad to try to say "boo" to Kana.)
Gakuen Saikyou Soukoku (The Great School Festival Disaster, Great Magazine, 2000). The students at Kana's school are setting up their annual club fair. Kana's kendo class is putting together a maid cafe. Other groups include a rakugo (traditional Japanese comedic storytelling), a haunted house and a rock band. The school is locking up for the night with the students inside, and each of the 4 groups has something that another group wants - blackout curtains, speaker amps, or to have the sound volume turned down. The malfunctioning rock group amp blows a building fuse and since it's going to take so long to reset the breaker, they all sign out with the security guard to get dinner. When they get back, all four rooms have been trashed in some way. Since everyone has alibis, they're all innocent and guilty simultaneously. The singer for the rock group wants to hit on Kana and he accuses Touma of getting in his way for looking like the hero in solving the crimes. Touma does his "alone in a crowd" routine, but is eventually forced to explain what happened, as long as everyone promises to not hold grudges.
(Rock singer trying to impress the girls.)
The questions are: Who is not guilty? And what was the timeline for each of the crimes?
And, no science. Just a look at school classmate dynamics. The real appeal for this story is in seeing Touma learning how to interact with other people normally. One thing that gets me about Japanese culture, though, is the attitude that it's the victim's fault for not paying more attention when the bad guy hurts them. We see this with the shoplifting girls blaming Yuu when they smash her into a wall, and again this time when the singer pushes Touma out of the way so he can act like the big guy in wiring up the sound system for the maid cafe. While I've only encountered this once personally myself, it does figure into manga stories very heavily. So, I'm guessing that bullies and villains can easily shrug off any guilt for their actions because it's always "the other person's fault" that something bad happened to them.
Comments: It's pretty easy to pick both of these stories apart. They're not great, and not really in keeping with the rest of the mysteries we've seen so far. But, they're not really horrible, either. Recommended if you want to practice reading Japanese.