Detective Manga: A well-written mystery is the most engaging genre of fiction. The way its suspense builds up as the protagonist(s) investigate leads, avoid false information, and eventually track down the bad guy(s).
It’s effective in the manga, too, whether the story at hand is a lighthearted mystery like Case Closed or a dark, gothic tale like Death Note. Both of them, along with many others, were able to ride the success of anime to new heights. However, some were not erased from the pages of history. Find out which detective manga made it to print below.
Naoki Urasawa’s oeuvre could be considered for inclusion here. His crime manga Mujirushi: The Sign of Dreams is an intriguing blend of crime and dreams, and his crime manga Billy Bat, based on comics from the 1940s, is also a strong contender. Both involve detective work and a sense of mystery, but neither has been made into an anime yet. Pluto, a Blade Runner/I, a Robot-style adaptation of Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy, is his most exciting crime manga. Studio M2 announced the anime adaptation in 2017, but it has yet to be completed as of 2022.
It originally ran in the 2000s as part of Big Comic Original and followed Europol robot-detective Gesicht as he looked into a string of murders involving humans and robots. Evidence points to a robotic perpetrator targeting the most advanced robots in the world and human activists defending their civil liberties. Astro Boy and his “dads,” Professors Tenma and Ochanomizu, appear as “persons of interest” in Gesicht’s investigation because they are all former peace ambassadors.
2. Metropolitan Police Department Special Offenses 007
Alternatively, you may say “Keishich Tokuhanka 007,” which is a bit more challenging to say. This mystery novel belongs to the shojo genre. The author, Eiri Kaji, discusses the establishment of a new Special Offenses 007 Unit to combat the increasing crime in Tokyo. Teenage prodigy Fuyuki Ichikawa is the latest recruit, and he works alongside the serious detective Kagami ‘Kuze’ Kyichir.
She’s a vibrant 17-year-old with psychic abilities, and he’s a gruff man whose past trauma has left him unable to form meaningful relationships with others. He watches out for Fuyuki, and she’s grown enough to deal with even the toughest of investigations. This series, which ran in Ichiraci Magazine from 2006 to 2013, is unlike any other shojo story since it manages to be both darker and still clearly within the genre. This comic is perfect for those who are sick of the typical cutesy stories but appreciate a good dose of fantasy.
The comic by Yoshiaki Tabata and Yûki Yugo, dubbed “Destroyer of Evil,” is set in a fantastical near future where politicians and millionaires indulge themselves at the expense of the rest society, leading to a recession. Shna is the daughter of a successful businessman, but she and other women like her are forced to work as escorts to pay off their parent’s debts. Nonetheless, her first day on the job goes wrong when a man wearing an Oni mask shows up at a party and passes bloody judgment on the party’s most important visitors.
She recognizes her school classmate Sh’s face in him at first glance and is devastated when he is shot dead by the police shortly after that. When Sh unexpectedly resurfaces the following day, she is even more aback. Then additional men in masks, known as Oni, show up and start slaughtering people. No way could Sh be in two places at once, much less in several. Even though the manga ran in Weekly Shonen Champion from 2002 to 2006, a new version set in the 2020s could be more successful.
How about we try a softer approach? Shibata’s most unsettling aspect is the main character’s preternatural capacity to see “the reaper’s hands” encircling those about to die. Taketa Shibata is an ordinary kid in junior high who moonlights as a police detective. To solve crimes in the region before his more challenging police department colleagues get involved, he uses his extraordinary sight, various disguises, and his buddies to investigate them.
The strip, authored by Yuma Ando and illustrated by Masashi Asaki, originally appeared in the late 2000s issues of Weekly Shonen Magazine. Similar to Case Closed, it would have been great as an anime series, but that hasn’t happened so far. It got a live-action series instead, starring former child actor Teppei Koike, in 2008.
5. Brutal: Confessions Of A Homicide Investigator
Akin to The Shield’s Ice Blade, Brutal can be considered Dexter. This Kei Koga and Ry Izawa manga debuted in the 2019 issues of Comic Titan. The story follows Dan Hiroki as he does charitable acts. He finds the truth about criminal situations, makes his findings public, and then successfully resolves them. However, the law does not always catch up with those he exposes.
Many of society’s most heinous offenders never face the consequences for their crimes. Whether playing games with the law or using their connections to influence corrupt officials, they can walk free. Dan works for free on the side to make sure they get what they deserve. They’re drugged with gory, disgusting stuff. Although he only metes out his ‘justice’ to the worst of the worst, viewing his actions is still not recommended for the weak of his stomach. It lives up to the harshness of its name in every way.
6. Ice Blade
The title of Tsutomu Takahashi’s 1990s manga, especially in its original Japanese, suggests something more akin to a fantasy epic (Jiraishin). Contrary to its seinen label, this (then) recent story set in Shinjuku, Tokyo, was published in Monthly Afternoon magazine. The tone is darker and more clinical than in typical police procedurals, more akin to shows like NYPD Blue or The Shield.
Rather than reading them their rights, vicious investigator Kyoya Ida would rather deal with them with his revolver. His new partner Eriko is one of the few people he works with who likes him despite his attitude. Nonetheless, he has a softer side that conceals the reason for his hardening. In Jiraishin Diablo, published in 2008, an older Kyoya investigates a viral outbreak, continuing the story begun in the manga. But ever since it concluded in 2011, nothing has happened.
7. Ouroboros: We’re Here To Judge The Police
The detective story written by Kanzaki Yaya was also adapted into a live-action series, with Gintama’s movie star Shun Oguri playing a significant role. It ran from 2009 to 2016 in Comics@Bunch and is notable for having protagonists on opposing sides of the law but are yet striving towards a common aim of revenge. The two boys, Ikuo Ryzaki and Tatsuya Danno, were taught by Yuiko and cared for lovingly in the orphanage.
Her death by an unknown assailant shattered their world. They inform law enforcement that they saw the Killer but are subsequently silenced. At that point, they begin to suspect that there is more going on than meets the eye. Ryuzaki joins the police, and Danno joins the yakuza, and for the next 15 years, they both work covertly to find the truth and bring justice to those responsible. It’s an intriguing idea that should be shared with more people.
8. Multiple Personality Detective Psycho
After nearly twenty years in print across three magazines, the best that could be done with the manga by Eiji Otsuka and Sh Tajima was a live-action TV adaptation. Yet, it was directed by Takashi Miike during his creative zenith, between his horror classic Audition and the Japanese crime picture Ichi, the Killer. A serial killer killing Yôsuke Kobayashi’s girlfriend sent the detective over the edge in the manga.
He suffers from dissociative identity disorder and begins to hallucinate, alternating between being the calm and controlled investigator Kazuhiko Amamiya and the vicious psychopath Shinji Nishizono. After serving time for killing his girlfriend’s Killer, he’s released and decides to get back into the detective game by looking into a series of murders in which the victims all have barcodes in their eyes. Perhaps there is more to the murders and his several identities than he is aware of.
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