Friday, December 27, 2013

C.M.B. volume 3 review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

C.M.B., vol. 3, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B


(Tatsuki working in the family's public baths.)

Ushinawareta Reri-fu (Lost Relief, Monthly Shonen Magajin, 2006).
Sho Bentley is the chief researcher at the British Museum, and he's very upset that the previous curators gave all three rings to some Japanese kid as playthings. He talks to a colleague, who tells him that the easiest way to get a ring is to have the boy hand it over voluntarily. Sho takes his private chef, Linda, to Japan, where they arrive at the Shinra museum just as the boy complains that he's got no visitors. Not having a ladder leading up to the second floor isn't helping things. Sho insults the museum for having trash, and displays with no one to look at them, and challenges the boy for one of the rings. Seems that a few days ago a ship arrived in Tokyo carrying an Aztec stone relief carving. The carving is broken into several large pieces, and the central piece is missing. The bet is to see who can find the thief that took the missing piece. Shinra adds that if the missing piece isn't found, being able to say what goes over the altar of the relief will be sufficient. Sho assumes that the answer is "a human sacrifice" or "a human heart". While Sho runs around Tokyo trying to track down his suspect, Tatsuki yells at Shinra for not taking the gamble more seriously. She's learning that having the rings means that you can amass as much money as you want to conduct research or obtain exhibits, and that they're really valuable. Shinra's main clue to her is the Scrotum Humanum (misspelled in the book as "Scrotum Humnum"), a dinosaur bone that actually looked more like a fossilized human scrotum. That is, be careful about how you view things.


(Shinra does his big reveal to Sho and Linda. The key point is that the two human figures aren't looking in the same direction.)

Questions: What does Shinra's clue mean when applied to the relief? Where is Sho's thief and what happened to the missing piece of the relief? What goes above the altar on the carving? While Shinra is risking one of the rings, Sho's part of the bet is a gold statue from Columbia.

The science involves Aztec sacrifice practices, Carl Linnaeus' view on the purpose of a museum, and the mention of the "humanum scrotum".



(Urban legend about a bamboo sprouting out of a corpse.)

Toshi Densetsu (Modern legend, Monthly Shonen Magajin, 2006).
A few of the girls are trading ghost stories in school, and the boys laugh at Shinra for thinking that they're true. The first is a body found in the trunk of a car in the forest, where the dead victim apparently called a road side service company from a cellphone with dead batteries. The second is a body found in a tree next to a busy street - the victim had been dead for months but no one noticed until Autumn when the leaves fell from the branches. The third is a body found in a bamboo thicket, a bamboo sprout apparently growing out from the corpse. Shinra eventually realizes that the 3 stories are related and may have been originally spread by 1 person, with the implication that there may be one more story that hasn't surfaced yet. Meanwhile, Tatsuki is wondering who is preparing Shinra's meals, and he tells her that "Shige" has been feeding him at night. They go to a teishoku (set dinner) restaurant called "Kanariya" (Canary), run by Shigeko Kanamori. Shigeko used to be a singer, but her throat gave out and she had to quit the band. She hasn't been in contact with the other members since then, but the photos she has in the shop from that time indicates that she has a strange sense of humor. Additionally, she knows of Shinra's upbringing and the fact that he was adopted by the "three fathers" of the British Museum. She comments that Shinra's mother was a bit "weird", and had died when Shinra was 4.


(Mihama likes to play the saw.)

Tatsuki and all the other classmates go running around Tokyo trying to track down the person starting the urban folk tales. He turns out to be the owner of the Mihama music instruments store, and is currently buying a wicked looking saw at a DIY home supplies shop. They follow him to a shed, where he claims to be fixing up an old boat, which he'll paint "bone white". The kids are convinced that the old man is planning to kill someone, so they try to sneak back into the shed, only to be caught when Mihama calls the police on them. During this, Shinra is in his museum, feeling lonely because no one is visiting him. He talks about this with Shigeko, and she tells him to make friends, who can then become customers. He takes this the wrong way, and tries to attract visitors by showing them his mummified poisonous frog. This backfires, and Tatsuki promises to help him as "payment" to the Wunderkammer. Shinra invites everyone to the boat shed, and unravels the mystery. As thanks, some of the students print up free tickets to the Shinra Museum, which includes a much-needed map. Questions: How are the 3 ghost stories related, and why is Mihama spreading them? What's the fourth story? Is there a reason why Shigeko's restaurant is named Kanariya?


(Lyrics to the children's song, "Canary".)

No science, beyond the social effects involved in the spreading popularity of urban legends. The story revolves around the lyrics of a popular children's song.


(Back cover)

Comments: The solution to the trick in "Lost Relief" was pretty obvious, and is a common children's puzzle using paper cutouts. However, we are told that Shinra is age 14 right now, and we get to see Tatsuki mopping the floor of her family's sento. Tatsuki talks Shinra out of accepting the gold statue from Sho at the end of the chapter, and it looks like the boy doesn't receive a "payment" this time. In "Modern legend", we learn a little bit about Shinra's mother, and the fact that at least one person in Tokyo knows background information on him. Neither of the stories are earthshattering, but they are fun if you like science with your puzzles.

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