Friday, June 26, 2015

Q.E.D. iff volume 1 review

Ok, the first volume of Q.E.D. iff is now out (as of June 17, 2015), and there's really no major differences from the original series. As far as I can tell, the only reason for the name change is to mark Q.E.D.'s running in Monthly Magajin R. Anyway, I already wrote up the first story, iff, so I'll repeat it here as-is.

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

Q.E.D. iff, vol. 1, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B

iff (Magajin R, 2015)
The story starts out with a question of why some people fight each other and others don't, then jumps to a sculpture artist who is discovered murdered (strangled) in a locked room, and finally joins Kana and some classmates. Her class is going to graduate from high school next year, and they're worried about the situation they'll be leaving in the laps of the younger students - the building used for the kendo dojo is really rundown. There had been money promised to the school for a new building, but for some reason it's failed to materialize. Kana and her friends decide to pay a visit to their delinquent donor, arriving at the sculptor's studio just as Kana's dad, the homicide detective, is questioning the victim's students and secretary on their whereabouts. The solution makes itself apparent - the money has been frozen while the police try to determine how the sculptor died.

Kana talks Touma into helping her, and he agrees only as long as she does all the work interviewing the suspects. She does this, while Touma works on moving into a new building (the caretaker at the apartment complex he had been living in had complained that the weight of the books in Touma's library was causing structural damage to the floor of the building. Touma solves this issue by buying a house with a sunken first floor for his library.) The suspects are: The artist's secretary (who is also one of his many former wives), his number one student (who is frustrated that his teacher has chosen to take a younger, female student to his latest exhibition in New York), the younger student (who wants the artist's money and the opportunity to get her own agent), and a young woman hired to act as a nude model for the artist's latest work (maybe she didn't like his sexual advances).

(Touma explains the idea of IFF.)

The story is 96 pages long, and of course Touma identifies the killer and the secret of the locked room. The only real difference in justifying the change to the name of the manga is that Touma used a new introduction when making his deductive argument - "iff"; or, "if and only if". As in"A can be true if, and only if, B is true".

(Komakichi discovers Kaijirou Tategami.)

Ryoushi Rikigaku no Toshi ni (In the Year of Quantum Mechanics, original to the book)
Motohiro posted an advertising video for this story on his Facebook page, and in it the title is given in English, so that's what I used. Komakichi Tadzuna is a "researcher" in a quest for free energy, and he has a real estate agent take him out to the middle of the mountains where he thinks he'll be able to find a power spot. They encounter a small cabin, which Komakichi thinks is perfect. The roof caved in during a mudslide decades ago, and there's a pile of rubble and tree branches in the middle of the room. Komakichi pushes them aside and discovers a mummified body propped up against the back wall, with a rifle in its lap and a death poem (Like the flower returning to the seed and the bird to the egg) written on the wall.

(Touma talks about the early history of quantum mechanics, and the two factions including Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Born and Schrodinger.)

Meanwhile, in a university in the big city, astrophysics student An Tategami is mad at being told that her research paper still isn't good enough and needs to be rewritten. A classmate comes into the room and shows her a story about the mummified body, which has been identified as Kaijirou Tategami. An says that's her long-lost great-grandfather. And, Kana is visiting Touma in his new house, where he's sorting through some old science magazines from the 1920's that he just bought from a collector in Kyoto. An old notebook falls out from one of the magazines, and Touma determines that it belonged to one of the science writers, Ryougo Hizume. Turns out that the magazines had been found in the hut with the mummified body, and became the property of Komakichi, who then sold them to the collector. Touma and Kana go to the hut to talk to Komakichi, and encounter An, who is on a similar quest after finding an old family scrapbook that had details of a slaughter that took place on her great-grandfather's land 80 years ago. Touma and An then try to piece history back together again from the information in the notebook and scrapbook.

We get a flashback to the 1920's, when Ryougo Hizume was working at the science magazine, trying to report on the then-current on-goings in the new world of quantum physics in Europe. In the middle of the hurricane were Neils Bohr, Schrodinger, Heisenberg and Max Born. The problem was how to reconcile Einstein's view of matter with the emerging idea of quantum probability, which resulted in the Copenhagen Interpretation, and Schrodinger's refutation in the form of Schrodinger's Cat. All of which are WAY, WAY over Ryougo's head, and he doesn't know how to report it. He notices a newspaper published by the "Tategami Church", which is getting some attention during the "occult boom". Seems that an old man named Kaijirou Tategami has formed a village in the countryside for his cult, and is reportedly performing miracles in healing the sick and infirm. Ryougo goes out to investigate, and discovers that the old man is very charismatic, highly interested in science, and intent on leading his followers to "Tama no Sekai" (an alternate world where peace and harmony reign). Unfortunately, the police are interested in the goings-on in the cult also, because there's a rumor that they're harboring a fugitive killer (which is true, his name is Gonzou Kura, and he'd murdered 7 people, including the wife and children of Shinta Abumi). Abumi, a former math teacher, joined the cult while trying to track down Kura, and Kaijirou told him to forgive Gonzou as the first step to rejoining his family in Tama no Sekai.

(Kaijirou explains the idea of negative probability.)

As time goes by, Ryougo quits the science magazine and becomes the editor of the church's newspaper. He learns more about some of the other people in the village, and is brutalized by the police for not telling them where Gonzou is. He also watches Kaijirou relieve the suffering of bedridden patients, and knock out unbelievers just by holding the Mirror of Enma in front of them. Occasionally, Kaijirou would talk to Ryougo about things like multiple dimensions, parallel universes, and the idea of negative probability, which dovetails with Touma's explanations of quantum mechanics. According to the notebook, one day Kaijirou and Ryougo were up in the hills to visit the old man's retreat, a small shack he had built, when there's the sound of gunfire from the village, and the police come in and arrest everyone there. A number of bodies were found in the aftermath, but the shooter was never identified. Supposedly, the old man told the reporter that there was something he could do to right everything, and that's the last time either of them saw the other, and then the notebook ends. However, newspaper articles in An's family scrapbook say that Kaijirou had been in the main shrine building in the village when the police burst in with guns blazing, and they were the ones that killed nine of the parishioners before arresting everyone else. Kaijirou had been spirited out of the village by someone and disappeared. This is where the scrapbook account ends.

Questions: What really happened the night of the massacre? How did Kaijirou get to the hut and why was he mummified? What happened to Ryougo? How did the Enma Mirror work, and was Kaijirou really performing miracles? Does Komakichi succeed in his quest for free energy, and does An drop out of school in disgust?

(Back cover)

Comments: iff is a straightforward locked room mystery, and is the only place where the phrase "if and only if" gets used in the book. In the Year of Quantum Mechanics is one of the first stories in a long time to return to Q.E.D.'s scientific roots, with a rather extensive overview of the 1920's debate over whether "God plays dice with the universe". There's not a lot of depth, but there's still the expectation that the reader has some understanding of the terminology being used. Unfortunately, there's no real connection between quantum physics and what Kaijirou was doing. On the other hand, the massacre was in part triggered by a scientific flaw in the old man's logic in describing the nature of God and Tama no Sekai.

Recommended if you like the rest of the series.

Direct Youtube link for Motohiro's video

No comments: