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4. On Q.E.D. and ‘The Owl of Minerva’

So, against my best efforts, I’ve already failed to keep my commitment of a blog post a day. Lamentable, truly lamentable. So, I finally got up, decided to stop being lazy, and have started to write. This time, with a fresh topic, that of Q.E.D.

First, some backstory. Q.E.D. is written by Motohiro Katou, who’s also done C.M.B., Rocket Man and Sora no Grifters, the last regrettably not scanlated as of August 2022.

Q.E.D. ran for 50 volumes and 99 chapters, with one extra special chapter to promote the drama. After the magazine’s cancellation, it’s currently running under the name “Q.E.D. iff”.

I am a very big Q.E.D. fan. I’ve read the series thrice over the past 6 months, and each time I find something new. So, before I begin, I’d like to thank Irregular Scans for making this manga, and many others of this type, including C.M.B. and Rocket Man available to the English side of the world. If you are so inclined, you can find their server here: https://discord.gg/yRbxfDDPRw

Spoiler-Free:

Anyways, on to the story proper. President Arita, in charge of a game company, is found murdered in his office. There are exactly six possible suspects, Head of Software Development Juuzo Shikijima, Vice-Director Ryuuzo Kishikawa, Programmer Tokuji Namiki, Head of Operations Hiro Asanuma, Co-Designer Tadashi Furuike, and Arita’s secretary, Tohko Minamida. These were the people who were on the floor when the president was found stabbed.

However, at this very point in time, Kana Mizuhara, high-school girl, is visiting a video game arcade with her friend Noriko. It is there that they meet Sou Touma, a classmate in Kana’s class, who has angered one of his opponents in a fighting game by claiming that his actions were “too predictable.”

After rescuing Touma, Mizuhara asks Noriko about him, who says that he’s a student from M.I.T., but he is at a Japanese high school for reasons unknown. Suddenly, Noriko recieves a call from someone, and soon, the three of them are at the game company. However, Touma and Mizuhara are not allowed to enter. They are just about to leave, when suddenly Mizuhara sees her father, who is an inspector. Worried, she enslists Touma to help her find what’s going on.

Here, we see Touma’s first, or second, if you count the game arcade, real moment of smartness, where he manages to find the PIN code to access a staff elevator. Granted, the trick, or at least something along those lines, is something you’ve probably seen before but still.

We also get a sense of his reluctance to get embroiled in any of this, when he asks Mizuhara what he’s doing in the first place, and is strongly rebuked for speaking so coldly.

And it is here that now Mizuhara and Touma learn of the case. After some initial interviews with the six suspects, consisting of them briefly telling the good Inspector about what they were doing around and including the time of the murder.

There is something a little refreshing in seeing Inspector Mizuhara not be a bumbling fool, as the man certainly has enough initiative to do things successfully by himself.

There is one more important thing of note, mainly, the fact that the victim was found holding a King ◊. (I just realised I could type these special characters, that’s honestly wonderful.) Apparently, the victim liked to collect cards. Clearly, this is a dying message of some kind, but what can it mean?

Later, while back at school, Mizuhara and Noriko are discussing the case with each other, and while Noriko is crying, the other sees Touma up on the stairs, recluse that he is. Mizuhara demands help from Touma, and after some “persuasion” (read: violence), he agrees to help.

We also get our first instance of fanservice, when Mizuhara is required to undress for Touma to place a wire on her. It’s interesting to see the lengths necessary to interview suspects, especially as later on in the series, this will not be as much of as an issue.

The next few pages consist of Mizuhara interviewing the suspect through pretending to be a reporter. Unfortunately, during one of these parts, there is a hint of transphobia, when to escape some suspects who are interested in her, she claims to have previously been a man, and is promptly abandoned. Of course, times were different when this story was written, and in the end, it had a negligible effect on my enjoyment on this story.

However, soon after these interviews, a second suspect is found dead. Is it a suicide or a murder? After this death, Touma and the Inspector finally meet, and Touma reveals the fact that he finally has enough evidence to identify the killer’s identity.

Now, for the solution itself, as well as my ability to solve it! When I first read this story, was I able to solve this? No. The fact is, this story relies on a trick commonly seen for many impossible crimes, and so, I believed it to be incredibly obvious. In fact, I fell for a false solution that was debunked in the summation gathering. The explanation for the second death is nothing special, but nothing too off-putting. There is an exceptionally clever bluff played, though I find myself doubting whether it would work.

What I enjoyed about the solution the most was the fact that the dying message was not relevant on Japanese knowledge whatsoever, unlike, say, Detective Conan. The fact that’s it’s purely symbolical adds a greater sense of fair-play to it.

Well, now, time for spoilers! Enjoy!

Spoiler-Full:

Asanuma being the killer was a bit of a surprise, as I had thought for sure that he and Noriko would end up together. I guess I was a bit blinded by love back then, especially as I when I read this in hindsight, I found it especially obvious. For example, how could he tell that the victim was stabbed by a knife when there was no knife nearby (that I could tell) anyways.

The meaning behind the King ◊ is something quite clever. I didn’t know the connection behind the cards and historical figures when I read that story, and was properly pleased when finding out.

The false solution, incidentally, that I fell for, was the one about imitating voices in the bath. I really thought myself clever for that, but alas, it wasn’t to be.

Well, Q.E.D. has stayed as strong in my mind as it always has! No regrets upon reading this at all! Tomorrow (hopefully), I’ll complete this first volume of Q.E.D. with the second story, ‘The Silver Eye’. Enjoy this reading, and uh, farewell for now!

Cases Solved: 3

Cases Unsolved: 3

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