Illustrated by Sango Harukawa
Atsushi Nakajima, an outcasted orphan, stumbles along the banks of a river, hoping someone comes along so he can rob them and buy some food. He ends up saving someone who has jumped in the river, trying to commit suicide. Turns out, the man he saved, Osamu Dazai, has a penchant for committing suicide but never fully goes through with it. He also works for the Armed Detective Agency, a group where everyone has a special ability. Dazai is on a mission to hunt down a deadly tiger loose in the area. Nakajima is invited to join the employment rolls of Detective Agency, and the two take on missions that would otherwise baffle the police.
This first volume didn't do much in the way of character development or world-building. There is a significant amount of time spent on Dazai and his hair-brained schemes to commit suicide, including inviting an attractive young woman to join him in a lover's suicide. The fixation on suicide may be insensitive to students who are survivors of or have lost friends in this manner. Many of the main characters are styled after Japanese authors, and their special abilities are linked to the works they write, so this might not land with American audiences unfamiliar with Japanese literature.
Harukawa's characters are somewhat similar to each other, so readers will have to lean on hair styles and favorite outfits to distinguish some characters from others.
Skip this one in favor of less tone-deaf mystery-detective titles, like Black Torch, Erased, or Moriarty the Patriot.
Sara's Rating: 5/10
Suitability Level: Grades 11-12
Tags: Rating: 5/10, Suitability: High School, Manga, Mystery
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