MANGA REVIEW | "Usotoki Rhetoric" - Volume One
A great detective knows when someone is lying. It can be a tick, a way one looks, or even a kind of body language that acts as a tell. For young Urabe Kanoko, her means of finding lies is a lot more simpler: she can just tell from what people are saying. In Ritsu Miyako’s Usotoki Rhetoric, new kinds of mysteries (well, new for 2012!) unravel in a town from the year the Showa era began.
Because of Kanoko’s ability, she was labeled a creep by her hometown. To no longer be a burden on her family, Kanoko leaves and finds herself in the city of Tsukumoya. She collapses from hunger, only to find herself under the care of Detective Iwai Soma. However, Iwai’s got his own sorts of problems: he’s broke, untrustworthy, and has no clients.
But when a child goes missing, Kanoko and Iwai set off to find him. It’s when Kanoko points out the culprit when Iwai finds a new partner in his business. With Kanoko’s power to hear lies and Iwai’s means of bluffing, the two become a detective powerhouse in a matter of days. Well…they wish that, but clientele is hard to come by!
There’s a great mixture of comedy and mystery in Usotoki Rhetoric. When in laid-back mode, Kanoko and Iwai do their best to get through the daily grind with slice of humor and silliness. Iwai wants to find the easiest way to make a buck, whereas Kanoko’s powers make it hard for her to let the detective act dishonorably. But when the two are in work mode, that’s when their strengths are at full blast!
A great example of this comes in the third and fourth chapters, as it appears a young woman is kidnapped at a theater. But Kanoko can hear through the lies of the one who was watching her: her butler Koichi. How she and Iwai solve the mystery is somewhat reminiscent of Detective Conan or even Mob Psycho 100, where the “leader” solely uses his “assistant’s” powers to solve the case. Thankfully, it’s the repertoire of these two that make the whole reveal all the more fun.
Visually, Usotoki Rhetoric is very pretty to read through. Author Miyako brings about some great detail within the early Showa era fashion and landscapes. (The designs of the kimonos are also spot-on, as they fit with the era while looking fashionable enough to still wear this present day.) When it comes time for a laugh, the looser visual style punches up the gags, especially when it deals with Iwai’s wacky mannerisms.
I don’t know why it’s taken a decade for Usotoki Rhetoric to come Stateside, but I’m glad it finally has. The mysteries and the way they’re solved are fun to watch unfold, thanks to the likability of both Kanoko and Iwai. With its mixture of comedy and unique mystery, Usotoki Rhetoric delivers the sorts of adventures that would’ve made even the best British detective novelists smirk with delight!
Promotional consideration provided by Eric Margolis of One Peace Books.