I just finished reading Jiraishin and here we go with the review. All images are copyright to Tsutomu Takahashi, presented to you to educate you on this relatively cool detective story.
Mr. Towelhead reviews:
The manga is written and illustrated by Tsutomu Takahashi between the young and tender years of 1992 and 1999, it comprises 19 volumes of seinen manga (for young adults). The story is not gory, nor unnecessarily bloody, its actually crude and realistic yet graphic images are blurred. The story is not complex, once again its a compilation of police cases and most of them are realistic and straight forward. Fantasy is not an element (mostly). There is some nudity and very few graphic depictions of some really f***ed up images, that never the less, must belong to the life of a police detective and the story never relies on this images to shock or glorify violence and what not.
The western genre is action, mystery and detective fiction and that is exactly what you get.
Jiraishin is a compilation of police investigations. If you know series like Law & Order, you will feel right at home. Each file (chapter) is a case that must be solved. The manga goes around the protagonist, a police detective and a very few other main characters as they work. There is no such thing as an antagonist, as the story goes from case solved to case solved. There is little mystery as the cases are handled like “real” cases, with the focus being on interviews, criminal investigation, intuition, searching for clues, red tape and so on.
Our dashing protagonist will solve the case no matter the cost and keep his cool haircut at all times :P
There is no such thing as an overarching story that defines the whole. Its one case after the other. However the story is chronological and things do change in between. People die, new detectives come into play, people get married and so on. For good or bad, everyone around the main protagonist grows and changes, while he continues to be stoic and cold. Cool and what not, but oblivious to the passing of time.
The story matures, or better said, the author matures as the cases become more and more realistic and well handled. The first cases barely comprise a chapter, the bad guys are a bit cliché and have weird physical traits. As the manga goes on the cases go along more and more chapters, the villains get more realistic, and some of the cases are truly interesting (and f***ed up).
Graphic content is not seen (at least not a lot), more over the goal is to show how despicable crime can be.
There is but a sign of the toll the cases have on the soul of the protagonist. He smokes more and more as the story progresses.
Jiraishin has a decent style to it. It’s not a “typical” manga with HUGE EYES and the likes, although people don’t look particularly japanese or anything. They look like mangas :P And its just funny to read how they refer to some as Korean, American, European and what not, while you can barely detect changes in the style. But there are changes, so the author had the minimal courtesy to try.
The story surrounds the protagonist a lot, and you’ll get enough of his coolness, style and stoic-ism. Oddly enough, when the story concentrates on other characters you’ll be like “Oh no! Go back to Ida (the main character)!”
The world around them is a contemporary one. They go to cities and places that exist, the weapons and vehicles are the ones you would expect. They are all well drawn at least.
Sometimes the illustrations grasp on a crazy vibe, mostly around villains, to accentuate the madness, desperation, frustration, guilt they may feel at the moment. That was actually pretty cool, to witness the misery of humanity. Crime never pays.
There is a price to pay for murder, justified or not.
Even our dashing protagonist will face the emotional consequences of using a gun.
The dialogues are, for me as an amateur, what I would find familiar in criminals and detectives (and normal people interacting with the police and thugs). They go, as I would call it, smoothly. There were no occasions when people talked or behaved in ways that were unexpected or unrealistic.
I was only a bit annoyed at the main characters constant mistrust. But that must be part of the job as well.
What did bother me is that the main character gets himself, often, into situations from which he could never come out alive. And suddenly something happens that saves him or he just happens to say the right thing at the right moment and destroys the villain (from the inside). These situations were unbelievable at times.
Jiraishin is a police detective story, through and through. More than mystery, action or adventure… Jiraishin is a realistic drama. Cases are solved, every time, often at a great cost of lives, resources, time or simply put, nerves. You’ll notice that cases get better and better, and that’s what makes the experience decent.
One thing though. The very first case is kind of misleading of the Jiraishin experience. Provided its the first, and probably a pilot to get the manga going. If you compare it to the rest, it kind of makes sense, but it definitely gives you the impression the story will go somewhere else. It kind of set the mood for a prolonged protagonist vs antagonist relationship, but no, case closed and we go on.
And also, the last case is quite weird and goes, almost against the whole feeling of Jiraishin bringing in esoteric/fantasy concepts and thriving in these concepts. It feels like a way to say good bye/end the whole with a very sad case closed. It’ll be weird enough to call your attention, but not weird enough to soil the experience.
The last case goes along and ends with unrealistic elements…
… quite unfamiliar with the rest of the manga.
All in all, Jiraishin is the first detective manga I have EVER read, so bare with me if I’m a bit forgiving.
It deserves a:
8 / 10
If you like series like Criminal Minds or Law & Order you will like Jiraishin.
P.D. I personally think that the manga could very well have been better if more characters were added to the mix. Such a story didn’t need a physical antagonist, but that would have been nice as well, a challenge to the hero. I would have been happy with a self inflicted challenge. A fight against alcoholism or something, you know, a realistic distraction to the horrors behold.
There is a follow up called Jiraishin Diablo, but just by reading the plot summary I don’t feel like it. I don’t want to be disappointed like I was with Battle Angel Alita and its “sequel” Last Order.