MANGA REVIEW | "Hard-Boiled Cop and Dolphin" - Vol. 5 [FINALE]
It can be a bummer when a manga series ends too soon. Telling a writer to wrap things up because it’s not popular enough isn’t just sad; it also damages the creative process. Because of this, many manga writers have to rush every idea they had out the door, resulting in a conclusion that’ll satisfy nobody. Despite him trying his best, Ryuhei Tamura can’t escape those issues with the finale of Hard-Boiled Cop and Dolphin.
As the fight in the undersea ruins continues, Chako is brought into the midst of the battle. With the hand of Poseidon near every one’s grasp, it’s a face-off between Team Kamuro and Team Orpheus to see who’ll obtain it. But as the fight goes on, the mysteries behind the pasts of Chako, Orpheus, and Kamuro are fully revealed. And what occurs, well, let’s just say it’s a bit of a downer.
When I first read Hard-Boiled Cop and Dolphin, I was all in for the humanoid dolphin police officer. There needn’t no explanation for his existence; it was too brilliantly bat-shit insane to need one. So for Tamura to give him a back story that revealed an original human form, it kind of took away from the craziness that this series gave us in the beginning. Basically, the less we know, the better for the overall experience.
Alas, some editor probably forced Tamura to give the aquatic policeman a tragic flashback. While it’s nice to know who Chako’s mother and father are, having to place Orpheus in the story as a human-turned-dolphin doesn’t exactly ring true to what this story was going to be. Since Chako has the ability to turn anything she says to be true, I could’ve lived the rest of my life thinking that Orpheus was a concoction of her own creation. But no, we had to go all “magic science” on his background, which does no favors for both Orpheus and the readers.
Honestly, I get that there needs to be some sort of sensical element to Hard-Boiled Cop and Dolphin, but that should’ve been left with Samejima. He was the guy that made heads-and-tails of things, somehow finding a reason for the craziness of Anegashima. But Deus Ex Machina had to kick in due to Tamura being rushed to finish the story, so we’re forced to go through one long exposition filled to the brim with clichés and overdone story arcs. In laymen’s terms, it goes against everything this manga promised us it’d be in its beginning.
The finale’s not all bad, though. Kamuro bringing forth a tsunami for the last big fight was cool, and seeing Samejima come out superhero-like was fun to read. Even its epilogue felt true to the spirit of what Tamura wanted to bring to this series overall. Sadly, because everything was rushed for the finale, the good parts seem to come in far too conveniently to make them feel like you’re witnessing something important in the narrative. There’s a lot of potential for narrative growth, but it feels squandered due to the manga’s cancellation.
Hard-Boiled Cop and Dolphin lost its porpoise in its final volume, but Tamura’s not to be blamed. If anything, this — alongside what happened with Masashi Kishimoto & Akira Okubo’s Samurai 8 — should be blamed on editors who don’t know when to give a writer the space needed to create a proper conclusion. Like in the video game world, if you rush a manga and force a deadline, then you’re gonna get a product that rusts instead of shines. I get that manga gets canned all of the time, but for what Hard-Boiled Cop and Dolphin wanted to do, forcing a conclusion like this goes against everything that it promised its readers it would be.
FINAL GRADE (Vol. 5):
FINAL GRADE (series):
Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media