If you’ve read any of Koge-Donbo’s other works, such as Pita-Ten, then you are familiar with the art style of oval faces with large, dark eyes. Yoki Koto Kiku is a one-shot manga, a parody of the famous detective novel “Inugami-ke no Ichizoku” (“The Inugami Clan”), staring Kosuke Kindaichi, Japan’s answer to Miss Marple and Pirot. Thus this manga has a lot of translation notes, as the reader is assumed to be familiar with the original source. Unfortunately, the necessary inclusion of all of these notes in the back of the book really makes the reading experience very jagged, and when the in-jokes have to be explained, they lose their punch.
The title comes from the triplet Nekogami siblings that make up three-quarters of the cast: Yokiko (Yoki), who wants to be a professional performer; Kotosuke (Koto), an expert koto player with a heart condition; and Kikuno (Kiku), who is overall girly in her love for arranging flowers, ribbons and singing. One day, the triplets’ grandfather dies, leaving the family fortune to Sukekiyo, their elder brother. However, Sukekiyo is away at war, and if he doesn’t return in six months, the money reverts to one of four people: the triplets and Tamayo, the Nekogami family’s maid and Sukekiyo’s fiancée. Axes, needles and razor-like strings fly as the triplets resort to murder to determine who will inherit and to protect the Nekogami fortune from outsiders.
The plot of Yoki Koto Kiku is pretty much non-existent, as Koge-Donbo merely runs from gag to gag, and by the end of the volume, no one is dead and nothing has been resolved. Kosuke Gindaichi, amateur detective, investigates the case throughout the volume (except there really isn’t a case of murder), but ends up as a victim of the triplets’ violence. This is a typical doujinshi parody work, not created for anything more than an exercise in writing and drawing and a tribute to the original.
Yoki Koto Kiku isn’t an entry-level manga, and it’s not the best example of Koge-Donbo’s work. The art is solid, but I found Pita-Ten’s artwork much more compelling. This is my first time reading a manga from Broccoli Books, and I feel they did an excellent job with difficult material. Included is a color page at the front, and an afterword from Koge-Donbo in the back, along with the extensive translation notes. Also included in the back is a mail-in questionnaire from Broccoli Books, redeemable for a dust cover for this manga. It’s a nice extra touch. The cover itself is very stiff, making the volume very durable, but difficult to keep open while reading.
Physically speaking, I like the feeling of this book, as it’s well put together and a great adaptation. But in terms of content, I found Yoki Koto Kiku lacking. Perhaps the cultural gap is a little too much for this work. If you’re a fan of Koge-Donbo, pick this up. If not, you may want to skip on this one, or borrow it from the library.