Writer/Artist: Youaburou Kanari and Kuroko Yabuguchi
Translation: Joe Yamazaki
Adaptation: Lance Caselman
What They Say:
A frame-up is in full swing when a sneaky art thief pegs Kohei and Shingo for a crime they didn't commit. Mone Shimakura, a young girl who's out for justice, fervently believes that Kohei had a hand in her father's untimely demise. Can Kohei convince her of his innocence and send the real culprit to the clink? Also, Studio Gimmick is hired to help a young railway heiress whose life has been threatened. Could another FX artist, using the same tools that Kohei received from his mentor in Hollywood, be involved as well?
What We Say:
In Volume 3 of Gimmick!, Kanari's storytelling style digs its heels even deeper into the stereotypical shonen manga formula. The volume starts by wrapping up the six-chapter "Over the Rainbow" arc started last time around. After (surprise!) Kohei catches the bad guy fairly quickly, the rest of the story's conclusion is spent clearing up some questions about Kohei's past. The culprit tells Kohei that he bought his disguise from an anonymous man wearing a black "Unholy Silver Spatula" identical to Kohei's own spatula. This information triggers Kohei to flash back to the origin of his silver spatula, given to him by his Hollywood mentor J.T. shortly before his unexplained disappearance.
After this flashback chapter, the story heads into the first five chapters of the "TB Confidential" arc. At the beginning of the arc, a rich businesswoman named Kasumi Kobayakawa hires Studio Gimmick to help her survive her 20th birthday party -- the trick is that she stands to inherit the family business if she announces her succession at the party, and that she's been receiving anonymous threats to cancel the announcement. As a way to drive home the danger Kasumi's facing, a disguised assassin ambushes her right after Kohei's meeting. The disguise reminds Kohei of his old mentor's handiwork, and the mysterious black spatula makes a reappearance late in the volume ... the implications are earth-shattering. (Okay, not really.) After the fifth chapter's cliffhanger ending, there's a one-shot yakuza story thrown in for good measure -- which is probably the most interesting part of the release, since it doesn't linger long enough to bring Kohei's silly backstory or his pathetic way with women into the picture.
Even without the story explicitly tying all the plot threads together yet (and Kohei seemingly oblivious about what the black spatula, the mysterious villain's skill, and J.T.'s disappearance have to do with each other), it's blatantly obvious what story twist Kanari's trying to set up here. And that's really Gimmick!'s biggest problem: it doesn't pack enough surprises to keep the reader's interest. Like with Volume 1, this doesn't make the story so much outright awful as frustratingly derivative. The FX techniques (which pop up less and less as the story progresses, unfortunately) and nudity are still the only things that set Gimmick! apart from the sort of writing that you'd expect to find under Viz's Shonen Jump imprint.
And if that's all you expect out of Gimmick!, then its most recent installment won't do anything to suddenly make you dislike the series. On the other hand, readers who are still sitting on the fence about this one should probably take Volume 3 as a sign to put their manga budget towards something more interesting.