Secret Chaser Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: C
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-59816-341-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Secret Chaser Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     August 08, 2006
Release Date: June 13, 2006


Secret Chaser Vol.#01
© TOKYOPOP


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Tamayo Akiyama
Translated by:Patrick Neighly
Adapted by:

What They Say
Tatsurou Shinozaki is a priest with a past that's shrouded in secrecy--until a mysterious women strolls into his church announcing she's looking for the "red penguin." When the police are pulled in to help, suddenly the woman isn't everything she seems to be. She drops a post-hypnotic suggestion on a detective, and the journey to uncover the red penguin takes a mystical turn that unveils a shadowy society linked to Tatsurou...

The Review
It is always frustrating when reading a mystery where everything is solved off the page, with the lead character only showing up to explain how it all magically fit together.


Packaging:
This is probably one of the worst TOKYOPOP print reproductions I have read. It is very muddy and the moiri is in full effect. The paper weight is also on the lower-end of the scale. The cover image is also not all too clear with a garish logo and other added artifacts. Included as an extra is the manga-style epilogue from the creator.

Art:
Wow! I haven't seen lines this thick since reading some early 70s-80s shounen action material. Where's the speed lines!? The style is definitely CLAMP-esque, which is accurate given Akiyama's former ties. There is not a lot of background art, which is hidden by the creative panel layouts. It is a very color dark book, which fits in nicely with the mystery premise of the title.

Text/SFX:
SFX are not translated. The English script reads well enough and there is some care to keep the transparency effect of some of the text.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
I'm sure many of you have either heard of or been the unfortunate victim of a bait and switch. It's a deceptive tactic used to lure in customers by promising some great deal on an item, which may or may not exist, only to then be encouraged to buy a similar more expensive item. This is sort of the feeling I got while reading the first volume of Secret Chaser. Possibly a harsh exaggeration, but what starts off as an interesting premise quickly derails into mediocrity.

Using the church and his role as priest as a front, Tatsurou Shinozaki is really a paranormal detective by night. He even has his own crew, including a pop idol who also leads a double life in the field of investigations. The mood is dark, a little creepy, and ripe for a story that follows a group of detectives finding their way through the urban underground solving complex crimes.

The main mystery in this first volume follows a real police officer and a curse of a black dress. It is a little overdone, trying a bit too hard to twist and turn the story as it progress, but the main offense is that the whole mystery solving aspect gets thrown out the window. Shinozaki, the character with the most potential in the book, acts from behind the scenes almost the entire book, only showing up to explain how a mystery was solved--rather than, you know, actually showing the reader! The final chapter of the book finds Shinozaki's crew sitting around talking about the aloof priest, which is a terribly contrived and erratic way to develop his character.

Comments
Given the interesting premise and (mislabled) "Horror" category, I went into Secret Chaser hoping for something a bit darker and more meaty that it turned out to be. It is always frustrating when reading a mystery where everything is solved off the page, with the lead character only showing up to explain how it all magically fit together. In the end, this title will probably just end up swimming in the sea of manga mediocrity, although maybe the former CLAMP ties will prove me wrong.

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