Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: CMX Manga (Flex Comix)
Author: Tamio Baba
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T+ (Teen Plus)
Release Date: Available Now
I can see inner demons!
I have to admit that I’m a sucker for mysteries and I love manga like Case Closed that offers different cases in each volume. This is what drew me to Tamio Baba’s interesting manga series, Deka Kyoshi, and why it took me by surprise despite the fact that its premise is like the movie “Kindergarten Cop” but with a supernatural twist.
The shocking death of a teacher at Fuka Elementary School has the police baffled. Did Shimizu-sensei jump out of her condo’s balcony or was their foul play? In order to find out, Detective Kohei Toyama is ordered to go undercover as Shimizu-sensei’s replacement as the new teacher of Class 2. While the prospect of having to teach a group of fifth graders is appealing to the big man, the Police Chief reminds him that this is only a temporary gig until he solves the case.
Class 2 seems like a typical fifth grade class with a class bully, a shy girl, a really tall and mature-looking girl and a number of other troublemakers. What doesn’t make this your average bunch of rowdy fifth graders is Makoto Miyahara … a boy with an unusual secret that makes him not only a jumpy kid but also the target of bullying. When Toyama – who is so tall that he literally breaks the top frame of the doorway – bursts into the room he does so to come to the defense of Miyahara who is being bullied by the class bully named Naoki Kimura.
Looking into his case, Toyama finds out that Shimizu-sensei had considered Miyahara something of a liar as well as somebody with an overactive imagination. The truth is that the boy sees people the way they are inside and the sight is ghastly and monstrous. You see, Miyahara can see a person’s inner demons that manifest in a grotesque way when something bad is about to happen. After Miyahara realizes that Toyama-sensei is the type of teacher that cares about his students, he tell him his secret and Toyama believes him! So begins the strange partnership between an undercover cop and a boy with a rare gift.
Together, they solve the inner demon problems of Kimura the bully, an event that makes Miyahara believe that the inner demons can be chased out of a body by having the person face his or her own demons. To top it all off, the boy also comes to learn Toyama’s true occupation and the reason he came to Class 2. What he doesn’t know is that Toyama’s investigation reveals that Class 2 is in trouble and might be targeted by some unknown entity that might be behind the death of the class’ teacher.
Along the way, though, they solve other cases involving the other students of Class 2 … a few with the aid of the beautiful school nurse, Reiko Narita. In one case they discover that the tall girl in the class feels less and less like a child thanks to a growth spurt. One case involves a student who is shoplifting manga from a bookstore. In another case, the quiet girl in class might just be a wrist cutter and finally the students dare themselves to check out the school at night when rumors that the ghost of their dead teacher might be roaming the school halls.
Of course, what makes this a unique series is Miyahara and his ability to see a person’s “Synthe” – as Toyama and Miyahara call it – and what they to do make it go away. Despite the dark tone of many of the cases, the series never really takes itself too serious. In the case of the manga shoplifter, both Narita and Toyama are disgusted by manga only to find themselves actually enjoying the confiscated copies. Because of his height, it’s funny to see that his students have nicknamed Toyama as “Mr. Big” and laugh as his attempts at swimming.
Volume 1 of Deka Kyoshi is the start of a series that is actually fun to read despite the fact that the series feels all too familiar. The supernatural twist is a good one and the characters are almost immediately likeable without being too cartoon-ish. The different cases are even interesting with the final one being emotional and beautifully written. If the series continues on its course we might just be looking at another rare favorite.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
The sudden death of a teacher in Fuka Elementary School begins an investigation by Detective Toyama who goes undercover as a teacher. Little does he know that there is something unusual going on at the school and only a boy gifted with the power to see a person’s inner demons can help solve the crime and help the students of Class 2.
Tamio Baba’s artwork is serviceable but not extraordinary in any way but the style does suit the story well enough and the monstrous inner demons do look great.
Deka Kyoshi is a manga series with a lot of promise and was can see from Volume 1 and in the same way we love series like Case Closed we find ourselves drawn by each individual case. The characters do stand out as well, which is what makes this a surprisingly pleasant series with a lot to offer.