Kids Joker

    (ADV Manga, 2005)
™ and © 1999 Maki Fujita

Hotaru is a fearless, pretty high–school student with an overwhelming sense of righteous indignation that compels her to dole out beatings to wrongdoers. Her dream of turning pro as a police officer gets an unexpected wake–up call, when she stops to help a woman who’s assaulted in the street and gets in way over her head. However, when she’s rescued by Yui (a mysterious secret agent), naturally, she wants to become part of his dangerous world. “Veronica Mars meets Alias” would be the cute way to encapsulate this one, but it’s a bit better than that, a prime example of genre the Japanese do very well: the psychological mystery. The why of the crimes (and, of course, how it affects the detective personally) is far more important than either the clues or the body count. And it doesn’t hurt that this is actually a heroine who wants to protect instead of being protected. It features nice art made up of lots of interlocking panels and, while not overwhelmingly original, it’s definitely engaging.

— S.A. Bennett

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