(DrMaster, 2005)
™ and © 2003 Gentosha
Read right to left; black and white graphic novel.

Eccentric Suehiro Detective Agency doesn’t track down hardcore killers so much as retrieve lost pets for its clientele or provide cheap lifestyle counseling to its dysfunctional family members. The idiosyncratic staff consists of Hisago the manager, who lets nothing get by him in person or in business, Shimeki, the meticulous genius investigator who is obsessively in love with his tiny Pomeranian dog, and Nagi Tsukumo the receptionist, who sometimes acts as the voice of reason, but mostly daydreams of falling into a torrid soap opera romance. The title gathers its name from the symbolically named Hisago (1, 3, 5) and Shimeki (7, 5, 3) , because added together, their names equal “888.” (Nag’s name means 99% serenity, although she is anything but.)

The trickle of clientele provides just enough excuse to sustain 888’s episodic pace as the Suehiro trio spend their time trying to avoid kidnapping by knife-wielding ex-spouses, playing with Kobayashi-kun (Shimeki’s Pomeranian dog), and living off of checks from Hisago’s father (who runs a real detective agency and drops in for counseling).

The artwork is sketchy at best, but strangely endearing, and the characters, once you get to know them, are equally endearing despite their imperfections. A definite recommendation for readers who loved ComicsOne’s Imperfect Hero or Maniac Road.

— Shiaw-Ling Lai

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