The Melody of Logic Must Be Played Truthfully

I don't consider myself to be a devoted or active participant in the worldwide anime and manga community, since my knowledge of that sphere, after all these years, is still nil, but as a casual fan I still marvel at the enchanting stories and beautiful animation of this particular medium. A couple of series and movies that spring to mind include such classics as: Cowboy Bebop, Summer Wars, Death Note, Trigun, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Sword of the Stranger and Samurai Champloo. Well, maybe not all of them should be labeled as classics, but they've done for yours truly what they set out to do: to entertain.

But of more interest to the readers of this blog are manga books, also known over here as comic books and graphic novels, which really shows the knack the Japanese have for telling stories. Series I follow religiously are Case Closed (a.k.a. Detective Conan, one of the best modern detective series out there, but more on that later), Hikaru no Go, The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning – to which this blog entry is dedicated. 

Oh, and listen to this while you read the below.

The unlikely paladin of Spiral is Ayumu Narumu, a gloomy 10th grader, who has always lived in the tall shadow of his elder brother, Kiyotaka Narumu, a world-renowned detective and prodigy pianist – who mysteriously disappeared two years before the opening of the story. The only clue he left behind was an allusion to the Blade Children.

Fast forward to the here and now, and Ayumu's school has become the backdrop for a series of brutal crimes that include an impossible fall from a rooftop, the unlikely flight of an arrow, poised to kill, and a dying message left in a locked room – and everything can be traced back to a small group of students. Determined to uncover the truth about his brother he starts pursuing them, but quickly has to conclude that everyone is just playing their part in a elaborate cat-and-mouse game – including himself!

Take note that despite the conventional opening, which at first glance suggests another high school mystery, that this is not a traditional detective or thriller, but one vast, multi-layered battle-of-wits that's being played on many different levels – and the story continuously morphs as the plot develops. The orthodox approach is soon ditched for a logical survival game, involving a neat bomb-race across town, and from there into a more hardboiled and action orientated story arc – with recursive reasoning sessions at gunpoint. The maintenance of reason, no matter what the situation, is fairly typical for this series, and makes for pleasant reading – at least, I think so.

I realize that my description has been more summary than usual, but it's very difficult to talk at length about Spiral, pass the first three or four volumes, without spoiling important plot elements. This really is a series that one has to discover on his own, but with an open mind as this is not a story that tries to capture the essence of reality. It's a triumph of intertwining logic with the fantastic. If you're looking for something different in a mystery, Spiral is a good place to find it.

Note of warning: if you plan to read this series, try avoiding the spoiler riddled synopsis' from volume 6 onward. They reveal too much regarding the main plot thread of who's pulling the strings behind the scenes and for what purpose Ayumu is used by this shadowy entity.  

There are fifteen volumes that make up this fun and fascinating series and the conclusion is to be released later this month. 


  1. You know, I'm now convinced that you're trying to make me go bankrupt. First The Whistling Hangman, then Jumping Jenny, then Puzzle for Players... And I'm not stopping to mention those books in between like The Frightened Stiff! And after watching me blaze through Case Closed, you introduce another manga series! You're a dangerous internet friend to have...

    That being said, this sounds fairly interesting! I might check it out sometime...

  2. Ah, reviews of Japanese material. Now you're coming close to my expertise :D Most manga-reviews I usually do via the AniWay though, seldom on my blog (it would just feel weird to suddenly discuss Detective Conan as a series there).

    I still have to finish Spiral myself actually, but an AniWay review is already planned, so this month, maybe next month.

    And while it's even further away from an orthodox detective than Spiral, I'm wondering whether you started reading Liar Game already? The Death-Note-ish series about deceiving other people should interest you.

  3. Oh, and I hate to be the one to say it, but "the melody of logic must be played truthfully" just really bugs me as a rather strange translation of the original line (literally "the melody of logic always plays the truth"). Yes, nitpicking.

  4. @Ho-Ling

    I haven't read it yet, but probably will in the next two or three months, seeing as several of my series will come to a close before the start of the summer – and I really need something good to cushion the blow of having to say goodbye to Spiral and Hikaru no Go (a series I enjoyed as much as Detective Conan). By the way, I'm surprised it took you until now to write an article on Spiral. Yes, your studies and such, but really, what a lame excuse is that? ;D


    Aha, paranoia with a dash of strong persecutory delusions. Very interesting *scribbles down notes* Now, tell me about your earliest childhood memory.

  5. It's always a bit of a problem to decide what's interesting to discuss, and I can tell you it's a bit harder to get older series in the magazine (unless they're mega-hits/classics). I managed to push it this time because the article would (more or less) coincide with the completion of the NA release ;) It's all going exactly as planned.

  6. You know, I'm jealous of Ho-Ling here. If I could read Japanese, I could read more books by the author of the wonderful "The Tokyo Zodiac Murders". As it is, my only other option is to re-read the translation. Life is unfair.

  7. @Ho-Ling

    I love it when a plan comes together, and hammer down the fact that Spiral shares the analytical battle-of-wits and recursive reasoning with Death Note - which is the surest way to hook that audience. Darn, I forgot to mention the name we invented for this particular type of detective/thriller. Oh well, I'll safe that for the review of the final volume.

    You see, I don't care what I discuss here, as long as it's mystery related. For example, I will do a review of Bertus Aafjes' De Vertrapte Pioenroos in the not so distant future. Considering the success of his counterpart, Robert van Gulik, he really should be better known outside our borders.


    John Pugmire said that there would be a translation of one of his short stories in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine later this year. Hey, it's better than nothing.

  8. Certainly, it's better than nothing. It would just be nicer to have such a good author, who understsands mysteries well, translated and known more. It rather reminds me of what the ambitious Langtail Press set out to do by making old classics available once again. (Incidentally, the guy responsible for the Langtail Press is apparently AC's great-grandson. I wonder if that means we can expect good things in the future...)