Holmes of Kyoto Vol. 3 Review

Return to Kyoto, if only in spirit.

The New Year is just around the corner, but Aoi doesn’t have much to look forward to when her sagging grades have her parents’ threatening to make her quit her part-time job. Luckily, Holmes is willing to pitch in on tutoring in between a gamut of rather salacious mysteries involving adultery, broken engagements, and even an ex-girlfriend of Holmes. Oh, and, yes, there also manages to be time for yet another birthday party tossed in, this time one that’s interrupted by Holmes’s would-be rival, the forger Ensho.

And this is where I part ways with this series, the mysteries of which have collapsed into being Jerry Springer-esque nonsense. As much as I like Aoi, and as much as I enjoy the insights on Kyoto and traditional Japanese arts and entertainment, it simply cannot overcome the tedium that the mysteries present at this point. This will likely sound overly heavy-handed of me, but on a basic level, myself and this series have very different fundamental values, and its time to just admit that and move on. So many of the “mysteries” resolve in “bitches be crazy and men sleep around, its just the way it is”. One case involves Holmes concealing that a man had sex with his ex during his engagement party to another woman, and him then arguing that this is actually fine because his fiancee would just get irrationally upset if she knew. An earlier tale involves a woman sabotaging safety equipment because another woman tells her the first one’s boytoy said she was old and icky. We also run across yet another situation wherein we’re implicitly encouraged to see nothing at all troubling by the prospect of high schooler Aoi dating a grad student, since a woman in her 20’s is engaged to a man about a decade her senior, which is definitely the same as a kid dating someone in their 20’s.

Any issue I had with the story itself in no way reflects on the quality of this release from J-Novel Club, handled professionally as always. With a series like this where a good working knowledge of Japanese culture and history is vital, I especially want to give kudos to the translator, which here is Minna Lin. For every famous and well-known bit of Kyoto lore the narrative dips into, there’s scads of much more obscure stuff.

So, I’m done here, which is too bad, because this is one of the very few non-fantasy LNs for a female audience that is licensed in English. And I do like Aoi, and the series has given me so many ideas for what to check out whenever I next get to Kyoto (someday… I hope…). But it just isn’t worth wading through the foolishness at this point. In the meantime, I’ll hold out for the chance that some more non-fantasy stuff gets licensed.

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