Friday, January 24, 2014

C.M.B. volume 11 review


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

C.M.B., vol. 11, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B


(Temis goes diving before her ship blows up.)

Faisutosu no Enban (The Phaistos Disk, Monthly Magajin, 2008).
Three stories this time. In the first, we see a woman on a boat getting ready to do some scuba diving. Shortly after she enters the water, the captain opens the drink cooler and discovers a ticking time bomb. The bomb goes off, killing the crew and stunning the woman. The scene shifts to Santorini island, in Greece, where Mao is paying off on her agreement from the last story to show Shinra her private collection. She, Shinra and Tatsuki enter a small shop and are met by Bia Burusuto (Sounds like Bea Brust), an Europol agent investigating Mao for dealing in stolen goods. Bea tells them that Mao has at least 13 shops set up around the world, that they know of, and this is the smallest one. Shinra sees a ring in a case, and he's thinking about buying it, except that Mao already has a customer lined up for it. The ring is related to the "O-Parts", which in English are called OOPs (Out-of-Place Artifacts). In this case, the ring was used to make the Phaistos Disk in the 2nd Millennium BC as an example of moveable type predating the Gutenberg press by a long shot. The customer is Pan Sirius, younger brother of the Greek shipping magnate Andres Sirius. Andres is currently going through a nasty divorce with his wife, and is on his way to visit his girlfriend, Temis Trey, the victim of the earlier boat bombing, in the hospital.


(Shinra relates the events when Pan was found kneeling over Elias.)

Pan offers to take the group out on the Aegean sea on his yacht. During the ride, which includes a free lunch, Andres' wife Elias shows up to talk to Pan. A minute later, there are 2 gunshots. The group runs down the stairs to the main deck where they find Pan kneeling over Elias' corpse, holding a gun. Bia is put on the case and Mao's ring is confiscated as evidence, so she demands that Shinra fix things so she can get it back. The investigation stalls when a suicide note in Elias' handwriting is found, and it looks like there are 3 equally likely solutions: 1) Elias committed suicide; 2) Pan killed her, missing the first shot, which put a hole in a window, and then hitting her with the second; 3) a diver entered the yacht behind Elias and shot her from the doorway. Pan, Andres and Temis all had motive; and both Pan and Andres practice clay pigeon shooting everyday, which leaves gunpowder residue on their hands and clothes. Shinra mentions that the Phaistos Disk has yet to be translated because there are too many possible meanings for each symbol. This is the key to solving the current case, which also has too many solutions. Main question: Who is the killer if it wasn't suicide?

The science relates to OOP artifacts, and there are mentions of both the Mayan rocketship, the 500-year-old jet plane and the thousands-of-years-old crystal skulls. We also get to see Gutenberg again.



(Kantarou shows off his $30,000 tea cup.)

Hatsugama Jiken ("Hatsugama" Case, Monthly Magajin, 2009).
It's the beginning of the new year, and Shinra has been invited to the Nanase household for dinner. He marvels over all the food, prompting the family to ask him what he's had for previous new year celebrations. He answers that Shigeko Kanamori had been making bento dishes for him before going off on vacation herself. So, he'd eat alone in the museum. Kana vows to demand an accounting from Shinra's foster fathers if she ever meets them. Then, her grandfather drops by to relate his own tale of woe. He's a member of an exclusive tea ceremony school, and the leader is a guy that loves showing off his skills. The leader, Kantarou Kuromatsu, head of the Kuromatsu department store chain, is holding a Hatsugama (tea party) at his house, and the old man wants to bring Shinra along to put Kantarou in his place. Thus it is that Tatsuki and Shinra find themselves at Kantarou's house with the other two guests - Masahiro Asano and Tomoko Nakahara. Asano is president of a distribution company that wants Kantarou to buy more products from him, and Nakahara is a university professor asking for more donations to her school. Kantarou turns down both requests saying that he can't justify them, then brings out his latest acquisition, an authentic Kuroraku tea cup that he bought for 3,000,000 yen (30,000 USD).


(Shinra gives a brief history of the top, kite and paddle.)

Tatsuki's grandfather (finally given a last name here - Kyokawa) asks Shinra to make a comment about the tea cup. The boy doesn't care about that; instead, he comments on some toys that had been set out to decorate the room. The kite, badminton paddle and top are all antiques and worth a lot of money in their own rights. Kantarou is stunned to learn that the toys are worth anything, and that's enough to make Kyokawa happy. At the end of the day, as everyone is getting ready to go home, Kantarou discovers that the tea cup is missing, the box it had been in now holds the top. Kantarou accuses one of them of being a thief, and Shinra promises to explain everything in exchange for the kite, paddle and top. Since everyone had been in the tea room with the cup at different points during the day, all of them had opportunity. Questions: How was the cup replaced by the top? Why hadn't Kantarou noticed the difference in weights when he'd held the box before? Where is the cup now? Was there an ulterior motive in stealing the cup?

The only science involves a discussion on gyroscopes. There is some history on the tea cup, top, kite and paddle. Otherwise, this is just a minor story about people that like practicing cha do. One side note is that during the time Shinra is at Kantarou's, Sou and Kana, from Q.E.D., try dropping by the museum to say "Happy New Year", but they leave before Shinra gets back.



(Hideyoshi locks himself in his house following his wife's death.)

Marujime Neko (Marujime Neko, Monthly Magajin, 2009).
Hideyoshi Hiraya and his granddaughter, Yuki, are visiting the museum to ask Shinra for help. Seems that Hideyoshi has been having a string of bad luck, and a souvenir he'd bought for his late wife near the time of their honeymoon, a porcelain cat, might be the cause of it. Yuki had been talking about the problems to Tatsuki at school, and Shinra had asked if the cat had something like the Greek "alpha" character on its back. Yuki said "yes", so the boy tells her to have her grandfather bring the cat to the museum. However, rather than giving an answer he just asks the old man to give him the cat. Yuki and Hideyoshi storm out and Tatsuki is left having to apologize, since Shinra won't explain himself. Then, over the next few days, even more strange things happen. First, there was a broken window in the house, then a string of firecrackers exploding in the backyard, a shoestring breaking (a sign of something bad about to happen) when Hideyoshi is preparing to go fishing with a friend, and then finally, as he's about to climb a ladder up to the roof, the bottom rung breaks and messes up his ankle. He's taken to the hospital, and there he decides to give the cat to Shinra because he's convinced it's cursed.


(Hideyoshi has a bad dream.)

The cat is called a Marujime Neko, which is a variant of the maneki neko legend. In one version (The Temple Cat), during a storm a wealthy feudal lord was standing under a tree near a shrine when he saw a cat raising its paw as if to tell him "come here". When the lord approached, lightning struck the tree. To thank the cat for saving his life, the lord became friends with the shrine priest, the shrine became prosperous and began making maneki cat statues. But, there's at least a second legend (The old woman's cat). An old woman and her husband had to get rid of their beloved cat because they were so poor. One night, the cat appeared in both people's dreams telling them to make a clay sculpture. The next day, the two make a clay statue of their cat, and it sells very quickly. The couple keeps making the same statue and become prosperous. According to Shinra, the couple's name was Marujime, and they marked their statues with the circle (maru) around the "jime" (〆) character, and they're now collector's items.

--- Spoilers ---

During the time Hideyoshi is having his problems, he's visited by three people: Yuki, the house caretaker, Yoshie Kawamura, and his fishing friend, Akira Yano. However, there are two others that visit sometimes - Yuki's parents. When the firecrackers go off, and when the window is broken, Yano is mysteriously right at the door. Yano tries to get Hideyoshi to go fishing to get out of the house, but when his shoestring breaks, he refuses to leave. On the other hand, Yoshie is the one that asked him to climb up to the roof for some reason. Questions: Is the cat cursed? If not, is there a different reason behind Hideyoshi's "bad luck"? Is there a reason why Shinra wants the cat but won't explain himself to Tatsuki?  Actually, the answers are addressed when Shinra asks if the old man has been robbed recently. He sends Yuki to the cabinet that has the photo of her deceased grandmother, and she discovers that the money and bank book are gone. Shinra then says that the window had been broken to make the old man check his valuables so the thief would know where they are. The thief had planned on taking them when the old man went to check out the firecrackers, but Yano's surprise visit thwarted him/her. Finally, the thief sawed through the ladder rung to put Hideyoshi in the hospital and out of the way. The culprit is then shown to be Yoshie. And the reason Shinra wants the cat is that Hideyoshi had locked himself up in his house following the death of his wife, and the only way to get him back outside and living again is to move the memento of her to the museum so he has to leave the house to visit it.

No science, just the history of the Marujime cat.


(Back cover)

Comments: Some nice artwork in this volume. I didn't know about the OOP artifacts or Marujime Neko before, so those were interesting. Fortunately, the motives are a little more reasonable this time around, and that's good. Overall, recommended.

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