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C.M.B., vol. 07, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B
(Shinra witnesses the locusts first-hand.)
Hikou (Locust, Monthly Shonen Magajin, 2007).
We get 4 short stories this time. In the first one, a local prefectural government official has received national money towards building a freeway through the mountains. Half of the villagers in the affected area want the increased traffic and spill-over cash that the city would receive, but the other half is protesting the environmental damage already being caused to the area. Specifically, the mountain is being ravaged by locusts, and the birds that would eat them have abandoned the area because their nesting areas have been cut down. One local kid had seen someone related to the "Shinra Museum" communing with birds, and he wants to get "Shinra's" help to prove that the rare bird in question, the fairy pitta still exists. 4 of the kids secretly go to Tokyo, but they think that the more mature-looking Tatsuki is Shinra. Back in the village, the boy's father refuses to listen, being firmly in the councilman's camp. The councilman wants to use insect killer to wipe the locusts out, which would also kill many of the remaining birds. When the councilman learns that the fairy pitta has been spotted nearby, he hires a helicopter to stir up the locusts while Shinra and the others kids are on a narrow hiking trail, causing the first boy to fall off a cliff and be laid up in the hospital. Question: How does Shinra deal with the locusts?
(The fairy pitta likes Shinra.)
Some discussion of the environmental effects of Japanese road construction, and a look at the fairy pitta. Shinra's payment is a bird feather.
(Mao seems to think that the tunnel had been used for atomic weapon research, hence the Geiger counter. The door in the top right panel weighs 600 pounds. The door to the lower left is where the body is found in place of the research data.)
Tetsu no Tobira (Iron Door, Monthly Shonen Magajin, 2007).
During WW II, a specific set of tunnels in one hill were used for some kind of research. After the war, the tunnel entrance was sealed up and a manufacturing plant built on the land. After the economic bubble, the factory was shut down and the entire complex laid dormant. Artifact hunter/broker Mao approaches Shinra to go with her into the tunnel to find out what had been locked behind a 600-pound iron door at the back (she's been commissioned to find the research data for a collector). The door had previously been operated by an electric motor powered by a diesel generator, but it had exploded. Now, the door has to be pushed open by hand, which is too much for one person. When Mao, Shinra and Tatsuki force the door open, the room behind it is discovered to be empty, except for the dessicated corpse of a guy named Gomoku. The prime suspects are the caretaker of the keys to the tunnel front entrance locks, and Takashi Konuma, a historical researcher that had asked Gomoku for help in investigating the tunnel. Since the door is too heavy for one person to move, how did Gomoku get locked inside? Why? What kind of research was conducted in the tunnel, and why was Mao holding a geiger counter while she was inside it? What was Mao expecting to find in the room behind the iron door, and what happened to whatever had been there?
(Shinra tells Det. Kujirazaki about Gomoku's involvement in the WW II research work.)
Some discussion of Japanese military research during WW II, and how vibrations can make certain kinds of work easier. At the beginning of the chapter, two Buddhist monks asked Shinra for help in recovering some statues that had been stolen from their temple. Shinra's payment for solving the mystery is for Mao to return the statues.
(Shinra likes Japanese diving beetles; Tatsuki hates cockroaches.)
In Za Shimin Pu-ru (In the Civic Pool, Monthly Shonen Magajin, 2007).
During the hot summer months, Tatsuki likes to retreat to a quiet, remote swimming pool run by the city. One of her friends, Hiroko Harisu had gotten into a fight with her mother over the disappearance of a concert ticket Hiroko had purchased without permission. Hiroko wants to run away from home and stay with Tatsuki, so she introduces the other girl to the swimming pool as a way to get her to calm down. Suddenly, several other of the Meiyuu school students are crashing the pool and Tatsuki's happy place isn't happy any more. To complicate matters, people are suddenly discovering individual Japanese diving beetles in the pool.
(Hiroko and the concert ticket.)
Questions: What happened to the concert ticket? Where are the beetles coming from? Why do people mysteriously appear and disappear in the pool? The main science involves optics again, and a discussion of how the diving beetle can dive. Shinra's payment is to keep two of the beetles.
Za Ta-ku (The Turk, Monthly Shonen Magajin, 2007).
Tatsuo Tagame is the owner of a successful chain of restaurants. He uses his money to collect wind-up dolls, and Shinra has helped him in the past in adding to his collection. One night, Tatsuo holds a party for fellow collectors to show off his latest addition - a recreation of The Turk. In the late 1700's to the mid-1800's, the Turk had been exhibited as a mechanical marvel able to play chess against anyone, but it was eventually exposed as a hoax - that someone was sitting inside the base of the mechanism and manually controlling the wires. This time, Jim Cohen and Yuri Kurovnoff have built a new Turk and Yuri gets inside while Jim asks people to volunteer to play against the machine. After a few minutes, one of the wires breaks and the demonstration is suspended. The next day, Tatsuo storms into Shinra's museum to complain that someone had snuck into his collection and stolen some of the more valuable artifacts during the party. He demands that Shinra expose the thief.
(Giving away the secret.)
Questions: Who is the thief? How did they get to the collection without the guards spotting them? The main history is a discussion of the Turk, with a bit of digression into the principals of stage magic. Shinra's payment is to keep The Turk.
(Back cover: Shinra's latest addition to the museum.)
Comments: No new information to add here this time. I especially like the section on The Turk. Overall, the artwork is good, but it can be occasionally inconsistent. The motives are still kind of weak. Recommended if you like the rest of the series.