Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Title: Remote
Author: Seimaru Amagi
Artist: Tetsuya Koshiba
Publisher: Tokyo Pop

Remote is one of the few manga I read regularly, what with there being so much of it and it being so hard to pick titles that look good and read good and are interesting. Remote probably initially caught my eye because of the name, since its part of the email/website I've been using for 10 years now. I wrote about it back when I had read the first few books, Remote is now up to volume 9 and remains worth reading.

Kurumi Ayaki was a traffic warden in book one, who quit her job to marry a car salesman that she gave a parking ticket. But with the recession his job suddenly looked unstable and Ayaki was forced to go back and ask for her job. Too late, her job had been filled, but there was a position with Unsolved Crimes Division's Special Unit A - assistant to Inspector Himuro, the brilliant young detective who chews assistants up and spits them out. Something happened in the past, so that Himuro is an emotionless genius who will not leave the shelter of his house's basement. So he needs assistants like Ayaki to go to crime scenes, to provide all the information they can, so that he can solve the crime. So Ayaki became the latest of Himuro's remotes.

There are two minor problems with Remote. The first is that clearly the material has been serialised somewhere previously, so you get that recap every 10 pages or so, which can be off putting. Then there is the fact that few of the stories are self-contained, inevitably the books are printed in such a way that a new story starts in each book, so that you have to buy the next to find out what happens. Which I would guess puts as many folk off reading any more as it does ensure that folk come back for more. Though the way the book develops should be enough to keep those who are interested coming back regardless.

One of the more unusual things about Remote though is its pacing, while each story is not a self-contained volume, it could be. While most manga can take 20 books at 200 pages each to cover one story, each story in Remote is about 200 pages. This means Remote reads differently from most other manga, and perversely is probably actually one of the reasons why I enjoy it as much.

Remote has become part crime drama, part romantic comedy as it progresses. Ayaki's fiancé is determined to have sex with her, though she remains oblivious to his raging desires and attempts to get her into bed. Especially since too often each hotel room booked, each weekend away ends with a murder that Ayaki has to get involved in solving with Himuro's guidance. That aspect is contrasted by Himuro's Sherlock Holmes act, compiling every piece of data that Ayaki passes to him to unfailingly work out who the killer is. And as it progresses Ayaki starts to transform, changing from the giggly traffic warden to a detective spotting key clues to pass on herself.

Through murderous clowns, attempted school bombing, crack shot assassins, a murdered author, and a killer in a forest cabin we reach book 9. Book 9 starts with the conclusion of book 8's new story - the police have received a garbled phone message at midnight on the 10th of November someone will die in the ghost building. Ayaki has arrived shortly before midnight to find a group of people there, each having received instructions from an anonymous source. Sure enough midnight comes and someone is murdered - every one of these people is a suspect, but they were with a police officer at the time of the murder. So they all have a motive and an alibi - or do they?

Over the course of the last few books Ayaki's career as a car salesman has fallen by the way side and he has decided to become a journalist. So when he isn't trying to get Ayaki away, he is tagging along in case he can get a good story he can sell. So all through the ghost building incident he was appalled to see how confident Ayaki is becoming, how much praise she heaps upon Himuro. So in the second story in book 9, the rarity of a self-contained story, Ayaki's fiancé schemes to move their wedding along and suggests that they go flat hunting. Of course when they do, they stumble on a bunch of gold diggers keen to gain their gran's money and stop her renting out her house, which quickly leads to murder.

Remote book 9 ends with perhaps the biggest cliff-hanger of the series to date. A brief epilogue that sets the next book - Ayaki's fiancé has managed to get a short notice wedding date and insists that she quit her job once they are married, while at the same time Himuro has found out that the "snail" is back, the villain responsible for the fact that he no longer leaves the house. Good stuff.

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