Saturday, February 1, 2014

C.M.B. volume 14 review

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C.M.B., vol. 14, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B

(As the story opens...)

Wa-rudo.Endo (World's End, Monthly Magajin, 2009).
Three stories this time, with this one being the longest of the group. The story starts with a glacier somewhere frozen, with two people out on the ice, one kneeling, the other standing and wearing a parka. The kneeling one asks where he is, and the other smiles and answers "World's End" in English. The scene skips to 8 days earlier, with Shinra visiting his rival for the 3 rings, Sho Bentley, at the British museum. The boy had received a photo from Mao in exchange for the music box crank stolen in the last chapter. It's a picture of the legendary colias imperialis (misspelled as "colias imperials" on the back cover), a butterfly supposedly found around the Sandwich Islands (Hawai'i) or Port Famine (Strait of Magellan in Chile). There are only 11 specimens known now and they're all 150 years old, so it's assumed the imperialis is extinct. The photo implies that someone has found a more recent specimen, and Shinra wants to examine the museum's exhibits. Sho wants the boy expelled for consorting with blackmarket dealers, but changes his tune when Shinra says he's going to Argentina to meet with the person that supplied the photo to Mao. So, Shinra, Tatsuki, Sho and Sho's chef (Linda) all take the next flight out. First, they meet with Senator Alicia Gaudini-Javier, who says that the picture had been taken by her husband, who had died in a fall. She points them to a guy named Grosse, who works at the national museum and was a friend of her husband, Al. Grosse doesn't know anything about the imperialis butterfly either, but he mentions that Al had been in the army 30 years ago during Argentina's "dirty" war, when thousands of people disappeared due to government kidnapping and murder. Shinra notices a photo on the wall of Alicia and 3 other men, and asks if the one standing next to Alicia is Al. Grosse says that it was a friend of theirs, named Ricardo. Later, Shinra gets a note to go to a Tango bar, and a stranger comes up to ask to see the photo of the butterfly. He tells them to go to Fuego island and ask for a Raul Kosk Banca. The group does that, not realizing that they're being watched. Meanwhile, Grosse and the second guy are kidnapped by guys in black ski masks and khakis.

(Raul, a butterfly collector, is waiting for Shinra to arrive.)

On Fuego, a taxi driver takes them to a remote cabin in the mountains, and an old man with a heavy white beard greets them. He tells them about Al's time in the army, and how eventually he was coerced into participating in the torture and murder of civilians. At the end, Raul says that he can't tell them where the photo of the imperialis was taken, but he's happy that they'd listened to his story to the end. On discovering that Grosse and the other guy have been found, both of them having been drowned, Shinra realizes that the photo was a decoy. Questions: Who took the photo? What does Shinra mean it's a decoy? How exactly did Al die 30 years ago? Where was the latest C. imperialis found? What is "World's End"? Will the killer be punished?

(Tatsuki confronts Alicia.)

This is one of the darkest stories in the series so far. The history details Argentina's bloody government war against its people 30 years ago, and includes graphic scenes of dead bodies and torture. The science lesson involves Joseph Bank's trip on James Cook's ship, the Endeavour in 1768 and the discovery of the C. Imperialis. The speculation in the story is that the bodies of the butterflies were found trapped in one of the glaciers on Darwin mountain, near Raul's cabin.

(Shinra finds some collectables for his musuem in Haru's shop.)

Sugoroku (Sugoroku (Board Game), Monthly Magajin, 2010).
Shinra and Tatsuki visit a small toy shop. The old woman running it, Haru Niijima, is friendly but completely unaware of what modern toys are or of the value of the toys she has in stock. Shinra discovers several shopping bags worth of rare collector's items, so the woman treats them to tea. Her husband was the one to open the shop, and he loved collecting and repairing old toys. However, he'd died 2 years ago. Haru is thinking of closing the shop and going on a world trip with her two closest friends, Akiko Shibauchi and Fuumi Okinotori. Unfortunately, those two suddenly stopped talking to her and she doesn't know why. Tatsuki takes pity on the old woman and visits Akiko, where she is told that Haru had stolen $200 from them. Fuumi had wanted to see a music concert by Enka singer Tarou Kobushi, and had given $100 to Akiko to buy tickets for the three of them ($100/ticket). Neither Akiko nor Haru like enka, and Akiko doesn't know how to use automated ticket machines, so she gave $200 to Haru to get their tickets instead. But, Haru hadn't known about the concert and claims to have never gotten the money, thus Fuumi forbade Akiko from ever talking to Haru again.

(Tatsuki, Hihi-maru and Shinra play a game of Life. Then, Shinra shows off his copy of the Ur game)

Questions: Did Akiko really give the money to Haru? Where did the money go? Why does Shinra talk about early board games (specifically, the Royal Game of Ur)?

No science, just a brief overview of the Royal Game of Ur. Note that all three women's first names include the names of the seasons (Haru=summer, Aki=fall, Fuu=winter).

(Kousaku likes Keiko.)

Hanaya no Musume (The Woman in the Flower Shop, Monthly Magajin, 2010).
Keiko Sone, age 24, runs a flower shop. Across the street lives Kousaku Kizaki, 23. Kousaku graduated from university but currently works part-time at a convenience store along with Chisato Wakai, age 16, a friend of Tatsuki's. Kousaku is infatuated with Keiko and has been watching her through binoculars for some time, while Chisato is crushing on Kousaku. One day, Kousaku tries going to the flower shop to talk with Keiko, but is surprised by some guy, and he bolts from the building. Later, Kousaku uses the binoculars to spy on the shop, and is devastated to see the guy, Kouta Kawanishi, 29, and Keiko in a tight embrace. The next day, Kouta slinks out of the flower shop in a suspicious way, so Kousaku goes inside only to discover Keiko dead. He makes an anonymous call to the police and tries writing a letter to Kouta to get him to turn himself into the police. But, things go south and Kousaku finds himself being investigated for the murder, with blood on his coat, his fingerprints in the shop, and Keiko's ring in his pocket.

(Kousaku visit's Shinra's museum and learns about Charles Darwin's speculation over the existence of the Morgan's sphinx moth.)

Along the way, Kousaku learns about Shinra's museum from a friend and he goes to visit. Shinra greets him and talks about the Morgan's sphinx moth, which had originally been speculated to exist by Darwin in 1862, but it wasn't confirmed until 1903, after his death. In the meantime, his colleagues all laughed at him. Kousaku uses this information to "re-evolve" himself by returning to school to become a lawyer and win Keiko's heart. That is, until Keiko gets killed. Questions: How is Kousaku getting framed, and if it's not Kouta doing it, could Chisato be the villain? How does Shinra get involved and how is Kousaku saved?

(Kousaku discovers Keiko's body.)

The only science is on the history of the Morgan's sphinx, and Darwin's speculation that it had to have an extra-long tongue in order to allow it to be the insect that pollinates the Christmas orchid.

(Back cover)

Comments: As mentioned above, World's End is the darkest story in the series so far. The motives are strong, but the artwork and continuous killing off of the characters left me a bit queasy. I like the toys and games in Sugoroku, but the "mystery" is just fluff. Since I like backgammon, I would like to try playing its ancestor, the Royal Game of Ur. Flower Shop is also a dark story, and reminiscent in a way of Hitchcock's Rear Window. The motive is ok, but there's not really a good reason for Shinra to get involved at the end, so that's kind of a plot hole. Overall, this volume is recommended if you like butterflies and moths.

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