Genres: Contemporary, Manga, Mystery
Dr. John H. Watson returns from war wounded, broken, and seeking something to replace the chaos of the battlefield, as well as better living accommodations. One day he runs in his old friend, Mike Stamford, and is told that there is someone else looking to start a flatshare. Meanwhile, people are dying in a series of mysterious suicides. Who could solve this baffling mystery? Sherlock Holmes!
Before we begin, I want to apologize for the LONG absence I made. Due to real life (studies, life events, etc.) occurring, I was unable to devote time to this manga review. But I am back! And I’m here with a fairly recent favorite that’s also a tie- in to one of my favorite TV shows. This is the review of ‘Sherlock: A Study in Pink’.
First, let’s have a look at the cover. Naturally you’ll see that all but the title and the name of the artist…is in Japanese. SORRY! This is the one title that I have ONLY in Japanese, and that’s how it’ll stay until they release it here in the States or England in translation. So, unless you’ve seen the show or know Japanese (which I have, and do), then it’s going to be hard to find this one in anything but a scanlation- which isn’t very nice for the distributors. ANYWAY, the cover! The artist, known as Jay, did a spectacular job in translating the now iconic images of Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock on the left) and Martin Freeman (as John Watson on the right) in to a manga form. This is but a sample of what is to come in the actual pages, as the images from the episode are brought to life via his artwork, capturing the essence of each player, from Rupert Graves’ Inpector Lestrade to Mark Gatiss’s Mycroft Holmes.
The manga, now officially a series, was first released in Kadokawa’s Young Ace magazine, and is marketed towards teens and young adults, but trust me, lots of adults buy it! And especially us older ladies. Though, I admit, my copy came from winning a raffle (so lucky!). Though I do intend to purchase any releases that come in the future for upcoming adaptations.
Now for the actual story. Major spoilers for the TV episode, so, if you haven’t seen it, STOP READING NOW! Go watch! If you’re ready, onward!
We begin with Dr. John Hamish Watson, retired Captain of the Royal Army Medical Corps, having nightmares about his experience in battle. After being shot in the shoulder in Afghanistan, he was sent home to England, and now has a psychosomatic limp, and a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress disorder. He lives in a tiny one-room apartment (or bed-sit), and sees a therapist often. She advises him to start a blog to help him begin his mental recovery. But John replies to her, ‘Nothing happens to me’, to explain why he feels the need for a blog to be absolutely useless.
Meanwhile, London begins to see a strange pattern happening. Three people die, apparently from suicide. None of them had horrible lives, none were depressed or suicidal. They just seemed to ingest a poisonous pill and died. New Scotland Yard is on the case, but not even Detective Inspector Lestrade, or young Detective Inspector Sally Donovan, can seem to pinpoint who or what is behind it. But someone seems to, and while the D.I.’s are in a press conference covering the incidents, that someone texts every journalist to tell them that the police are WRONG in every theory.
We return to John, who meets his old friend, Mike Stamford, in the park. John mentions that he has little choices in his current living situation, due to the small pension he receives from the army, and doesn’t think anyone would want someone like him for a roommate (or flatmate). When Mike mentions someone else said that very same thing very recently, it begins a spiraling series of events that brings together the most infamous duo in all of history: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
Really, the story itself, penned by Moffat and Gatiss, takes elements of the original stories, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and re-imagines them beautifully in a modern setting. We watch a Sherlock, with a very Ashpergers-like mental state, solve crimes with Watson right behind, an adrenaline junkie who also sees in Sherlock a lot of good things… If Sherlock would learn to act a little more human. We have memorable side characters in the form of Sally Donovan, who resents that an amateur walks in to her crimescenes and spouts her private life to everyone near and far, and Molly Hooper, who admires our Detective but isn’t noticed. We even have in this volume the first hint of our great villain, the evil genius Moriarty. The whole thing is great, calls to Holmesian canon and takes liberties to add its own twist to the tale.
If you can’t tell, I LOVE this series. The television series, and now the manga series. If I could rate the show, I’d give it 5 stars. But since this is a manga review, I’m giving it a 4. While I adore the material and the sources (I have cosplays for both John and Sherlock, and am working on a Mycroft), because we don’t have official English versions, this makes this manga hard to find and harder to read unless you’ve got an episode transcript. Therefore, the scoring has to go down a star. BUT if you can find a way to pick it up, I suggest you DO. Now, if you’ll excuse me, the game is on!