888 Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: DrMaster
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 182
  • ISBN: 1-58899-292-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: 888

888 Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     September 10, 2005
Release Date: August 01, 2005

888 Vol.#01
© DrMaster

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kuwata Noriko
Translated by:Michiko Nakayama
Adapted by:

What They Say
So you want to run your own detective agency, eh? Take it from Hisago, the manager of the Suehiro detective agency, it's not easy. Firstly with no clientele there really isn't much left to do? Watch how much trouble these guys get in to as they deal with Shimeki's strange affection for his dog, unsolved romantic bitterness and offering counseling to future would be clients. The witty comedy takes the idea of cool detectives and turns it on its ear.

The Review
When you call on the Suehiro what you get is 888 (three eight) - casual and efficient detective work with an emphasis on casual.

The packaging for 888 is nice. The cover is straight out of the Gentosha version. This cover features the four main characters together behind a green panel on a white background. To their left is the original logo and the artist is listed at the bottom of the piece. The opposite cover has the same characters in super deformed mode watching Pomeranian Kobayashi-kun dance on top of the volume description.

Inside DrMaster keeps the original volume headers, with kanji, along with all the original chapter headers. The printing is a little off. The print is not very clean so lines almost seem to smudge and fade. This title does not have a lot detail, so seeing the line work like that was disappointing.

At the end of the GN, we are treated to an ato-gaki from Kuwata detailing her many passions - pachinko, Rinji-kun and casual wear. That is followed by two Kobayashi-kun mini-manga, a contents section and section detailing fan-mail address info.

Kuwata's art is not very complex but it does the job. There is very little detail. Almost no depth or texturing on the character designs. The cast looks really flat but stylish. Everyone is rather casual, but that is a part of the charm. These characters are just supposed to be normal people looking to relax at work, and they look the part. No spikey hair. No boom boom bodies. Just three normal looking young adults. Kuwata does switch from normal to SD quite a bit, so that might take a bit to get used to. Lines are relatively thin and a little weak. Unfortunately, the printing is a little off, so the linework doesn't look good all the time.

The layout is not very active and backgrounds are pathetic. The focus is mainly on the characters. You see a lot of close-ups and rarely do you see full body images or much detail on the scenery. The pacing is very slow as well.

My history with DrMaster titles has been hit or miss - horrid for one title and excellent the next. This title happens to be one of their good ones. I did not notice any glaring typos or punctuation issues, and the translation was smooth from start to finish. Personalities came out well from the start. This is important for some of the characters tend to have to act, schmooze and manipulate their ways through their investigations and their personal lives. Outside of them forgetting to erase editor notes on one panel, I did not notice many typos.

SFX are translated with subs in this series. Generally, DrMaster does this better than most studios and this series is no exception. What makes them unique is their use of smaller subs, so they rarely compromise art in their smaller sized GNs. The use of small subs also gives readers a chance to take in all of the artist's work - character art, background art, layout and writing.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
What do you get when you add Hisago and Shimeki?

Don't know?

The answer is 888.

888 is the incredible detective combination that makes up prominent members of the Suehiro Detective Agency. You may not have heard of Suehiro, but if you know 888 then you know how good the two detectives at this small agency are some of the best at what they do.

Shimeki Mori is a respected detective... with a knack for solving cases based on hunches. Shimeki is cool and calculating, so he knows better than to solely rely on gut feelings. Therefore, he tends to diligently work on each case he is assigned. He has a mentality where he admits he "does his best at everything; even if his opponent is a new born infant". That ever gives up attitude makes him work efficiently and relentlessly. He never gives up... unless his love Kobayashi-kun calls him. Ultimately, Shimeki is a man of two extremes. On one hand, he is sensitive to the feelings of others and their troubles. He is able to use his deductive abilities for his work. Then there is the side where he is completely oblivious to those who have personal relations with him.

Hisago Mitsukazu is the other face of Suehiro. He is the manager, the brains and vision behind Suehiro. He is the person who decided to break away from the cold world of corporate work, to create a smaller more personable detective agency. By partnering with Shimeki one can easily tell he has a knack for finding the right people for the job. He may be very lazy and extremely casual, but he is just as professional as any detective out there. Hisago uses his brains and his connections to do his work. That gives him time to run his business the way he sees fit, even if that means prolonged slow periods.

Essentially the two are Suehiro. They do the ground work, but in the office there is another important member we mustn't forget. Tsukumo Nagi handles the administration for the two guys. She is in charge of daydreaming, coming up with complex romance schemes and knitting. Despite her position Tsukumo might have the best job at Suehiro. She gets to observe two men all day. Yeah she would rather have more co-workers to socialize with (this job is nothing like what she reads in novels and manga), but she does not have much work or external pressure (her fantasies can make up all the pressure she needs).

So maybe you have not heard of Suehiro. That should not come as a shock. However, there are few detective agencies that work with such skill and such a casual attitude. They provide something unique that people appreciate... If only those people helped bring in more paying customers.

Most detective manga focuses on the cases the sleuths are trying to solve. Gathering evidence, forensic work and interviews are utilized to shed light on the facts. Picking up on the clues gets readers to be active in their reading and also helps dictate pacing and mood. That also gives writers a chance to develop their writing style by introducing new elements to the established world the cast lives in. Each new case with its own mysteries demands new formulas, new plots and traps to trick readers with. From start to end, mystery manga uses the readers own curiosity to its advantage.

Kuwata turns the detective mystery inside out with 888. With this cast the focus is on the detectives as they struggle to get work. We hardly ever get to see them in the field doing their thing. Instead, we experience their social issues and get to know the characters through the style of investigative deduction each character specializes in. Analytical or intuitive, through connections or through hunches these characters are good at what they do because they are always doing what they are paid to do. Even Tsukumo plays a part as a counselor and bitter romantic.

What Kuwata ends up with is a title where the detectives are trying to out sleuth the other in day to day things. When we do have cases we jump to them being solved. Cases are too easy to deal with in comparison to the complexities of friendships and romances. It is a crazy idea; one that moves much slower than most mysteries. But this is no ordinary mystery. It's almost slice of life with investigative tinges. That alone makes this title worth while.


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