Normally, I don’t read a lot of shoujo, but… MATH! Murders! Sexy nerds!
Did I mention: Math!!??!
I’m really sad to report that the three chapters available for Kakuritsu Sousakan Mikoshiba Gakuto / Probability Investigator Mikoshiba are probably all we’re going to get. In fact, it doesn’t even look like it’s been licensed in English, and the last time anyone bothered to scanlate it was over four years ago. I mean, it’s basically a rip-off of any number of crime dramas that involve geniuses, but I really liked the heroine, Niizuma.
Our heroine, Niizuma Tomoki, has recently been on administrative leave from the police force for brawling with another officer. Like, she punched the dude OUT.
She’s a good cop, however.
Thing is, she punched her partner because he was bullying a rape suspect into a confession. You may not know this, but getting arrested in Japan already sucks. There’s not nearly as much of this whole ‘you’re innocent until proven guilty’ bulls*t. Even with that, Niizuma decides her partner is crossing the line when basically shoves the pen into the suspect’s hand and forces him to sign.
I pretty much fell for Niizuma at this point. You don’t see a huge number of female protagonists quite like this–well, almost anywhere, but they seem especially rare in shoujo (please feel free to prove me wrong. I don’t read a ton of shoujo and so I might be missing out on some amazing heroines!) I love that she’s not necessarily any more aggressive than your average manga heroine UNTIL she’s faced with a moral choice. Then she takes her partner f*cking DOWN.
This is normally the sort of attitude you see from heroes, you know? Guys get to be mousey and proper and yet deeply honorable and willing to fight when push comes to shove.
It’s super-refreshing to see this in a lady.
It’s even more refreshing that she gets REWARDED for this behavior. Yeah, sure, she’s been put on leave. She punched a colleague, what are you going to do? Niizuma is also seriously considering tendering her resignation because she’s uncertain who would be willing to partner with her after such an outburst.
But, she has an ally. A guy we ever hear from again, who was a friend of her father’s, puts in a good word. Dad was also a cop and, he, too, was an honorable person. He’d never give up, says the family friend, and neither should you. In fact, the family friend has recommended Niizuma to a special division, Special Investigations Counter-Measures Unit.
She goes for it.
And, maybe this is where other people lose interest, because the ‘love interest’ is the titular math professor, Mikoshiba Gakuto. He’s a bit of a ‘genius’ stereotype, right down to the mild Asperger’s.
He doesn’t get metaphors or proverbs, preferring straight-forward, logical thinking. He’s anti-emotions because he thinks they get in the way of clear thinking, and, of course, he mocks Niizuma for being “a biased, emotional woman.” He’s weird, too. When they first meet, he sniffs Niizuma just to make sure she’s not an alien (even though this is contemporary times and there are, for all I know, no evidence that extra-terrestrials are walking among us in this story’s universe.)
Even though Mikoshiba is a Sherlockesque rip-off, I ended up kind of enjoying their developing relationship, anyway. Mikoshiba and Niizuma are good foils for each other, and, in the course of the three available chapters, they satisfactorily solve a mysterious case. I was particularly satisfied because I was able to do that thing you want to be able to do with well-written mysteries, in that I figured out the true guilty party exactly one step ahead of the protagonists. (But, then maybe that just means the mystery was obvious? I don’t read enough mysteries to know for sure.)
I guess I’m just trying to understand why the scanlators lost interest in this particular manga. I mean, I realize that often they just can’t get enough volunteers together, etc., but I can’t help wondering if that inability to find people to work on this manga happened because I’m alone in liking a main character like Niizuma. (There’s plenty of material left to translate: there are three full volumes available in Japan. We only got half of the first volume here.)
As someone who has published mainstream romance in America, I do wonder if there are similar biases against certain types in Japan. Shoujo is it’s own marketing category, of course, being aimed a far different audience then the adult women I was writing for, but there are still these THINGS that romance often conforms to.
Kakuritsu Sousakan Mikoshiba Gakuto / Probability Investigator Mikoshiba does do that whole BUT I HATE HIM! HOW COULD I EVER LOVE HIM?! set-up. Mikoshiba spends a huge amount of time disrespecting Niizuma’s intelligence, and, just as classically, by the end of the third chapter, they’re well on their way to mutual respect.
But, then there’s Niizuma. She’s not overly voluptuous. She’s pretty, but in a very understated way… and what she has as a salient character trait is one that most shounen heroes get to have: honor–honor she’s willing to fight for, physically, if necessary.
She’s also, we discover, a good investigator. Her ability to ‘be emotional’ isn’t a weakness, of course, but a strength.
This is not the sort of stuff that’s kept me away from shoujo titles. Normally, what I dislike in shoujo is all the heteronormativity–girls being girlish in the most traditional ways and boys getting to have all the fun. Girls blush, boys strut. Girls swoon, boys carry them off heroically.
In this one, what I love is that it’s not JUST a reversal (though Mikoshiba is definitely the silly one), but that they are both equally interesting and equally STRONG.
Who knows, maybe the pirate translators gave up on it because they read ahead and discovered that all the stuff I love about it gets subverted by the end. (I wouldn’t put it past publishers and editors, honestly.) Maybe I’ve been spared another OMG I HATE THIS F*CKING ENDING IT RUINS EVERYTHING moment.
I guess I’ll tell myself that.
In the meantime, if you’re curious, go for it. It is very short–though, at least, the murder mystery *is* solved in what we have.
If those of you out there that love shoujo know other manga with a heroine like this one, PLEASE recommend it to me. I’d love to have my knee-jerk biases against this genre go the way that the ones I held against romances did when I started reading more of them.